"I didn't like your photos of the old toys. All abandoned like that it gives me the sense that the children who once played with them went the same way."Withered and lost.
So said my brother after having seen my photos from Pripyat.
At the time, not knowing any better, I calmed him by saying that everything was all right because "the evacuation happened fast enough".
May it be that the very process of evacuation went fast enough, but still that wasn't good enough. By the time of evacuation, 36 hours had already passed since the second explosion at the 4th reactor block at the ChNPP and since then, there had beel a fallout of Strontium-90, Caesium-137 and Plutonium-239; not to mention Iodone-131.
For a growing, still physically evolvling individual, the thyroid glands, where Iodine is stored, are extra sensitive to ionizing radiation, and already at the evacuation of Pripyat the childrens' thyroids were absorbing the radioactive Iodine like sponges. -Had the wind blown in a different direction, larger parts of Ukraine would have been affected, but instead Belarus took the big hit, receiving approximately 75% of the Chernobyl fallout and especially Strontium-90 and Iodine-131 would play a great part in the this far visible consequences.
In Poland, having been alerted concerning that something was boiling down like a dried kettle, they started to treat their children with a special fluid equivalent to the Iodine pills that are furtherly known, shortly after the Chernobyl breakdown, and concerning Pripyat, it was said that Iodine pills were given to the children before the evacuation but as I do not have a concrete reliable source for this information, I will not state this as a fact.
In Kiev, Iodine pills were handed out to the population 14 days after the accident as a symbolic act (which the people did not know much about), but of course in vain - Iodine-131 has a half life of only 8 days, so by then the pills were not of much use.
The Romanian born Igor Kostin, was the only photographer in the world to document the early stages of the disaster. At the night of the accident he is said to have been alerted by a helicopter pilot who usually worked with Kostin concerning journalistic assignments, and the next day they would fly together, over the ChNPP. Some days after that, Kostin would be back in Kiev, photographing the May 1st celebrations, which he would later refer to as the Parade of Death. By then the radioactive cloud was all over Ukraine's capital.
The children of nothern Ukraine and Belarus were the first victims of the Chernobyl disaster, after the first firefighters and liquidators. An alarming increased number of thyroid cancer cases amongst children and young individuals from the concerned areas were reported up to 20 years after the disaster, but since then it has been hard to find any recent updates concerning the cases of illness, health defects and physical abnormalities.
There are a number of organizations actively working to support the children of Chernobyl in different ways. Most of them are serious but my task of investigation concerning this is how they get their fundings and how they're used.
Searching for information, I found the Swedish Tjernobylbarnens Vänner (site in Swedish only) and I have written to them and asked about their work. The same concerning the Irish Chernobyl Children International. There are Belarusian and German equivalents as well, which I intend to get in touch with as well to try to get a more recent picture of the biological outcome this far in matters of birth defects, chronic illness and so on. Some effects are yet to be seen.
The Belarussian Yury Bandazhevsky, former director of the medical institute in Gomel performed experiments on hamsters, feeding pregnant female hamsters Caesium contaminated food. The result was severe birth defects on the unborn ebryos that were deformed or missing eyes or vital organs. Due to his research, Bandazhevsky was deprived of his work and employment and put under house arrest for several years. His wife, Galina Bandazhevskaya, has given an interview for the Chernobyl Children International. It's poorly translated and the writer's text is too much angled but there are still some few interesting facts.
The issues are piling up. As you can see, I have a lot of things to go through. The Chernobyl matters aren't only concentrated, but speread like the fallout and it will take time to clear the radioactove dust coulds.