Tomorrow marks the twentieth anniversary of the disaster at the Chornobyl’ nuclear power plant (Chernobyl is more properly transliterated from Ukrainian as Chornobyl’, in case you’re wondering about my spelling). CNN reports that “Ukraine opened a week of commemorations … as international radiation and health experts gathered for a three-day conference to discuss the lessons of the Chornobyl’ accident.”
NPR reports on efforts to contain the facility:
The ruined Chernobyl nuclear facility still contains some 200 tons of radioactive fuel. A “sarcophagus” – a steel and concrete shell built soon after the disaster to contain the radiation is increasingly unstable.
Engineers plan to slide an enormous Quonset hut-shaped cover over a breached reactor to keep more radiation from reaching the atmosphere.
Although the BBC reports that the “exclusion zone around the Chornobyl’ nuclear power station is teeming with life” despite the lingering high radiation levels, the human toll of the disaster continues to be disputed. NPR has a very moving story entitled Voices Of Chornobyl’: Survivors’ Stories, among several other features commemorating the disaster.
Slate magazine, in collaboration with Magnum Photos, has a somber Flash photo essay entitled Chornobyl’ Legacy that is narrated by photographer Paul Fusco. Der Spiegel has several photo galleries by Igor Kostin, which include some of the first pictures taken at the site as well as pictures documenting some of the horrific effects of the disaster.
The web site Chernobyl.info is an “international communications platform on the longterm consequences of the Chornobyl’ disaster” that allows different organizations to submit their information into a central repository, with the goal of coordinating research and aid efforts.