More than 100 people gave up their bank holiday Monday evening this week to stand in Victoria Square holding candles in silence to commemorate the tragic events 25 years ago when the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant exploded. This was a disaster that changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Nuclear materials spewed from the reactor were carried around the world. However, much of the fallout landed in Belarus poisoning the country’s farmlands and forests with radioactive particles which will lie in the soil for hundreds of years. Despite the evacuation of over 400,000 people, it is estimated that there are still two million people living on seriously contaminated land in Belarus. Incidences of cancers, heart problems, respiratory illnesses and birth defects have soared.
At the vigil a keynote speech by Cath McElholm from the Chernobyl Children’s Project was very informative. One of the problems with Chernobyl was the initial down-playing by the authorities of the sheer scale of the disaster and the danger from nuclear radiation. Many people died because of this – both villagers and people who worked to clean up the disaster. Will history will repeat itself at Fukushima?
Jenny Maxwell of West Midlands CND emphasised the dangers inherent in any nuclear reactor, and in the carrying of nuclear waste: a process always likely where there is nuclear power. Part of her speech is on the link below.
Chris Crean of Birmingham Friends of the Earth said it was now time for groups like Chernobyl Children’s Project, FOE and CND to work together on publicising the dangers of the nuclear industry and bringing these, again, to the forefront of people’s consciousness.
A short clip of Hall Green CND members at the vigil, showing also the striking effect of the candles is here
Full details of the event mentioned in the clip above, a Fairport Concert in aid of the Chernobyl Children’s Project, on 10 May are on a downloadable poster, here