Disasters & Accidents

Chernobyl, 35 years later: from disaster to symbol of hope

By Olga Tokariuk

Kiev, Apr 26 (EFE).- In the early hours of 26 April 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the Soviet Union exploded, triggering the world’s worst ever nuclear disaster.

Thirty-five years later, millions of people — an entire generation — still suffer because of the accident at the power plant just a few kilometers from the northern Ukrainian city of Pripyat.

“I was evacuated from Chernobyl when I was two weeks old, but that trauma haunted me years later,” Olga Zakrevska, who used to live in Pripyat with her parents and seven-year-old brother, tells Efe.

The Chernobyl disaster had a severe impact on the surrounding region, as it released a radioactive plume that spread to neighboring Belarus and several western Russian areas.

But that damage was nothing compared to what the families of those who worked at the nuclear power plant had to live through.

Zakrevska’s father was working at the station at the time. He immediately understood how severe the situation was and got the family out of Pripyat as quickly as possible.

She only knows about what happened from what her parents have told her, but she says the disaster has nevertheless haunted her entire life.

“As a Chernobyl child, I had to undergo scrupulous medical checkups every year. I remember doctors telling me they didn’t know what impact the Chernobyl disaster and radiation might have on my health in the long-term,” Zakrevska says.

Certainly not what a child should be hearing, and she was left perpetually anxious and uncertain of her own long-term health.

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