A somber 30th anniversary – Chernobyl’s legacy

The 30th anniversary of the devastating accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the former Soviet Union in the town of Pripyat is not something to celebrate, especially given that the site is still struggling with properly containing the destroyed Unit 4 reactor that exploded on that fateful day. This anniversary date is especially somber given that the populaces here in the West were told that our reactor designs couldn’t suffer such a fate, which was proven false just five years ago when a GE reactor design used here in the U.S. also experienced a triple reactor meltdown at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear facility in Japan.

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant reactor number 4, the enclosing sarcophagus and the memorial monument. Photo: Matti Paavonen - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Though many have heard nuclear power proponents talk about “inherently safe” nuclear technologies, especially recently in terms of small modular reactors (SMRs), the reality is that nuclear power can be inherently unforgiving.  Thankfully, energy technologies have advanced over the past thirty years to the point where there are a plethora of low- to no-carbon choices available today, such as wind, solar and energy efficiency, among many others, that are safe, affordable and without the serious, some experts would say insurmountable, risks posed by nuclear power.

In commemoration of today’s somber anniversary, please take time to learn more about the Chernobyl accident via the brief commentary and resources below. And make a pledge to contact your elected officials and demand that your local, state and federal governments and your power utilities move towards safe energy choices that offer a clean energy future for generations and generations, not a legacy of contamination and suffering.

  • A look at the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in numbers” in the Washington Post. Such as, More than 2 billion euros ($2.25 billion): The amount of money being spent by an internationally funded project to build a long-term shelter over the building containing Chernobyl’s exploded reactor.
  • 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Chernobyl” by Greenpeace International’s Celine Mergan in EcoWatch. For instance, did you know that Chernobyl caused what the United Nations has called “the greatest environmental catastrophe in the history of humanity.”
  • 30 Ways Chernobyl and Dying Nuke Industry Threaten Our Survival” by Harvey Wasserman in EcoWatch.
  • Register here for the next #NuclearIsDirty series webinar from the Nuclear Information Resource Service (NIRS): “Chernobyl +30: A Look from the Inside, with Lucas Hixson” on Monday, May 2 at 2pm Eastern – get an inside view on the impacts and ongoing mitigation efforts at Chernobyl.

Note: If you’re in Atlanta, you can take part in an action at noon today protesting the under-construction nuclear reactors at Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle along the Savannah River. Learn more about what happened at the action here.

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