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Despite Fukushima and Chernobyl Has World Learned Nothing?

On Anniversary of Chernobyl Ukrainians, Greenpeace Decry Nuclear Energy

- Common Dreams staff

"The Chernobyl disaster underscored that mankind must be extra careful in using nuclear technologies," said President Viktor Yanukovych at a ceremony today, the 26th year Anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

Ukrainians hold candles commemorating the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Kiev, Ukraine,Thursday, April 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov) "Nuclear accidents lead to global consequences. They are not a problem of just one country, they affect the life of entire regions."

Today, about 2,000 Chernobyl cleanup workers and victims protested outside of parliament in Kiev, demanding an increase in compensations and pensions; many Ukrainians are continually unhappy with the handling of the 1986 explosion that spread massive amounts of radiation throughout region and forced hundreds of thousands out of their homes.

"It is a disaster that left a 30-kilometre uninhabitable exclusion zone, displaced hundreds of thousands of people, and still threatens the lives of tens of thousands," writes Greenpeace today. "It’s 26 years later and what have the nuclear industry and its supporters learned? Nothing."

"Instead of learning, the nuclear industry continues to push for new nuclear reactors despite Chernobyl, despite near-misses in Sweden and South Korea, and despite the triple nuclear meltdown at Fukushima and it’s disastrous consequences in March last year."

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Greenpeace: The Chernobyl nuclear disaster: 26 years ago today

Today is the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl. It is a disaster that left a 30-kilometre uninhabitable exclusion zone, displaced hundreds of thousands of people, and still threatens the lives of tens of thousands.

The legacy of the day that Chernobyl’s Reactor Four exploded, throwing radioactive contamination across Europe, is still with us and will be for many years to come. We must never forget the magnitude of the disaster and the people who suffered then and continue to suffer now as Greenpeace found when we returned to the area surrounding Chernobyl last year. [...]

The nuclear industry still hasn't realized or admitted that its reactors are unsafe. Reactors are vulnerable to any unforeseen combination of technological failures, human errors and natural disasters. That puts the tens of millions of people living near the worlds more than 400 reactors at risk. [...]

So today we remember the terrible legacy of Chernobyl and the price paid by the people. But we also pledge another legacy: one of a sustainable future built on safe and clean energy. It’s within our grasp.

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Associated Press: Ukraine marks 26th anniversary of Chernobyl

Urging all nations to be extremely cautious with nuclear energy, Ukraine's president thanked donors for financing the construction of a new, safer shelter over the damaged Chernobyl reactor on the 26th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster.

President Viktor Yanukovych spoke during a ceremony Thursday inaugurating the initial assembly of a gigantic arch-shaped steel containment building to cover the remnants of the exploded reactor. The structure — weighing 20,000 tons and big enough to house New York's Statue of Liberty — is due to be completed in 2015, allowing the delicate and dangerous job of dismantling the reactor and cleaning vast amounts of radioactive waste still around it to begin. [...]

The April 26, 1986, explosion spewed a cloud of radiation over much of the northern hemisphere, forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes in heavily hit areas of Ukraine, Belarus and western Russia. The Soviet government initially tried to hush up the explosion and resisted immediately evacuating nearby residents. It also failed to tell the public what happened or instruct residents and cleanup workers on how to protect themselves against radiation, which significantly increased the health damage from the disaster. [...]

Yanukovych said 2 million people have been hurt by the tragedy and it was the state's obligation to protect and treat them.

But his reassurances fell flat with some Chernobyl cleanup workers and victims. About 2,000 protesters staged an angry rally Thursday outside parliament in Kiev, demanding an increase in compensations and pensions.

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