When the Devil Gets Old...

V. Bryukhanov and N. Fomin during trial in 1986.
Like Anatoly Dyatlov, Viktor Petrovich Bryukanov - the former director of the Chernobyl NPP was persecuted and convicted due to actions and decisions made during the preceeding hours as well as the critical period of the disaster.  On the 3rd of July in 1986, the Politbyuro decided to sentence Bryukhanov to 10 years of imprisonment for "serious errors and shortcomings in the work that lead to the accident with severe consequences." Bryukhanov was also expelled from the communist party as to further underline the degree of seriousness. This as an alternative to the threatening death sentence.

Having received large doses of radiation (approximately 250 REM), Viktor Bryukhanov was suffering from radiation sickness and due to bad health, he was released in 1991, having served five years of his sentence. While Anatoly Dyatlov consistently blamed the accident on the reactors, Bryukhanov never doubted the safety of the reactors and Soviet Nuclear Power Plants, and would keep on insisting that the plant remained open, even 14 years after the disaster [The last of the ChNPP reactors were taken out of operation in 2000].

In 1992, Bryukhanov was, ironically enough, hired as a consultant by the Ukrainian energy company Ukrinterenergo where he appears to have remained until retirement. 

Today, at the age of 75, Viktor Bryukhanov [who along with with Anatoly Dyatlov, Aleksandr Akimov and Leonid Toptunov remains one of the four most rumored Chernobyl scapegoats] still claims that there was nothing wrong with the reactors - the error according to Bryukhanov was simply in the forth block. However he does no longer  believe that the personnel at the 4th reactor block was responsible for  what happened on the morning of the 26th of April 1986. Instead, in an interview with the Kiev Weekly [April 2011] he praises the courage of the employees by the following words:

"There were no cowards or dodgers. All were dedicated to the plant, loved it and defended it. Moreover, they knew how to conduct themselves and where not to go... Of course, there were heroic moments. I recall how the assistant manager of the electrical workshop Oleksandr Lelechenko, understanding it was dangerous to leave the hydrogen generator, performed the necessary work to displace it and spent long hours in conditions of high levels of radiation. As a result, he took in a huge dose of radiation and ended up dying in a hospital in Moscow."
Generally Bryukhanov's orignial points of view haven't changed much over the years but he carefully avoids making definite statements, but still claims that the real truth about Chernobyl will never be learnt because "they are still concealing it" and he doesn't believe that the disaster has taught anyone anything. 


Exhibition Dismantled

Panorama of my exhibition by L-G Johansson.
Yesterday afternoon I, assisted by my brother, disassembled my exhibition at the Gothenburg City Library. There was nothing special about it - we spent approximately 45 minutes climbing around, taking down the posters and cleaning the walls from super extra strong double adhesive tape and then that was it. It felt both a little sad, and like something of a relieve to have gotten it over with: On one hand it will feel strange to visit the library without marching right away to the spot and attend to it, but on the other hand it feels good not to go there every day worrying about theft or vandalism. 

Here are some notes left in the guestbook: 

"Awesome you to spread the truth! It's just the way to do it!"
"A beautiful and frightening exhibition. Thanks for making it!"
"A bloody awesome excellent exhibition, I like the photos and all the drawings!" 
"Beautiful exhibition! I'm really happy that such subjects are taken up today. I'd love to find out more!"
"Thanks for a pleasant exhibition. It would have been nice, though, if it all had been placed so that someone who's 161 cm tall could read the upper parts too. Suggestion: Move the four lower images to the side and move down the larger "posters'." 
"Good to see a Chernobyl exhibition the day before CBRN education. Thanks!" 
"Thought provoking! Strong images!" 
"Om nom nom. Reactor." 
The story continues... 


Showbiz Chernobyl

Recently I found a copy of the America based newspaper "The Ukrainian Weekly" [as it says, pulished by the "Ukrainian National Association Inc. - a fraternal non profit organisation"]. The date of publishing was April 23rd 1989, that is, almost exactly three years after the diaster at the ChNPP. The major part of the issue was dedicated to the disasters, consequenses and current updates but for some reason especially one thing caught my attention. In February 1988, the Russian journalist and science editor of the Moscow Pravda, Vladimir Gubaryev, set up a theatre play about the Chernobyl disaster, simply entitled "Sarcophagus". This was displayed in Princeton, New Jersey in the U.S.

The Ukrainian Weekly had a 2 pages report, written by Larissa M.L Zaleska Onyshkevych, concerning this, including the views of the play's creator Gubaryev, whose opinions and ways of expression gives a very illustrating display  of the contradictions concerning Chernobyl and the use of nuclear energy. The following is a transcription of the article (all photos are from The Ukrainian Weekly):

"The only play this far, on the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, came to Princeton, N.J last February. The play "Sarcophagus" is by Vladimir Gubaryev, a Russian journalist and science editor of the Moscow Pravda. While the writer is only a beginning playwright and the play is not really a drama (in terms of the genre), after reading it one could really be concerned how this work will be produced. 

Upon entering Princeton's McCarter Theatre, one notices the unusual stage setting: the background in a form of  a semicircle with nine tall columns. Just before the beginning of the performance, with the lights still on, a grey background appears, with details of a photo of this cyclorama. It is a composit picture of the Chornobyl nuclear station in Ukraine. An eerie monotone sound gradually surfaces and increases in volume: one has the feeling of being on a submarine with the sonar testing the waters. Then flashes of red light covers the top of the plant. And as the photograph slowly fades, the columns become dark, like rods in an atomic reactor. A buzzing sound follows several jarring piano notes. Is this a bomb shelter or a hideout? As the unnerving sound hovers in the air, a silent protagonist appears on the stage, inspecting the setting. 

The stage becomes a foyer in a hospital with lounge chairs and two nurse stations. The lower parts of the column then changes into 10 doors leading to patient rooms. This changeover of setting is accomplished very swiftly and dramatically. The play is ready to begin. 

The plot of the "Sargophagus" actually deals with the stories that nine patients relate to a prosecutor, each other and to one called Bessmertniy [this means "immortal" - ed. note] who has been in the hospital of the institute of Radiation Safety for 487 days. He's the only patient who's been exposed to megadoses of radiation and managed to survive, thanks to 16 operations  and seven bone marrow transplants. 

As the only successful case he becomes a symbol of hope for others affected with high radiation dosages, as well as a source for dissertation research for the medical staff. Just as we learn about the details of this case - nine people are brought in from Chornobyl, after the 1986 explosion. 

They're all assigned to one of the 10 individual cubicles. While some treatment is administered, a special investigatior appears asking for individual statements of the details of the explosion and of the first minutes following it. There is a sudden blackout between scenes, as the stage becomes dim, music is heard again and on the backdrop a photograph appears, showing a dead forest, while a radio voice talks about basic emergency steps if there is an explosion of a nuclear bomb. 

In between other scenes, the columns  on stage becomes lighted rods as flashing stars appear and a voice over the radio describes the threat of radiation from a bomb and the necessary evacuation procedures. Then the doors/columns light up, becoming burning red while dead trees appear on an enlarged photo comvering the entire backdrop. 

Amongst those affected by the radiation of Chornobyl, there are people from different walks of life; the nuclear plant director, an engineer, a radiation dosimeter (Geiger counter) technician, a young firefighter - chief of the firefighters and his driver, a control room operator, a peasant woman, a physicist and a passing cyclist. 

While bits and pieces of information surface about the explosion, individual reproaches are also heard. The technician feels guilty for informing the engineer that the radiation was not threatening -- because he had an old meter and did not believe that the radiation could bring the pointer so far off the scale. The engineer went to perform some necessary repairs and exposed himself to the highest radiation on the roof of the reactor. While the technician suffers from remorse, the engineer admits that he guessed what the real situation was and went willingly to save the plant from a greater mishap.

The individual reports and the ensuing discussion of events prior to the explosion inevitably turn to the question as to who gave the order to disconnect the cooling and the safety systems.

The fire chief and the plant director are blamed for tolerating improper procedured and standards, but the general verdict is that it was the "system" the general way of life and work, that led to the accident. The artistic director of the performance in Princeton wanted to underline this search for the guilty party, and in the theater's foyer buttons were distributed with the question "Who is guilty?".

As the depositions and discussions continue, over the doors of the individual cubicles lights occasionally flash as crisis occur, and when the inevitable death quickly overtakes the patients one by one -- the light simply fades away. Finally, only the plant director remains as the only persons for whom no bone marrow donors are found. It is then that Bessmertniy volunteers his own, well knowingly that this may be his final surgery, he wants the plant director to come out of the operation alive so that he would live, be judged and punished, and then shown to the children as one of the culprits of Chornobyl, as an example not to be followed. It is here that the writer could not make up his mind as to the guilt. If it was the "system" that made people irresponsible then why punish one of the cogs in it? Why not attack the system? 

Then, on a white background, a black and white photograph of the Chornobyl plant appears; the columnar doors slowly fill up with red. Shadowy flames of Chornobyl encase the stage like in hell, and then the columns appear. One may envision the skeleton of a dinosaur. Or is it a sarcophagus, a tomb? A pounding rhythm, that of a heartbeaat, becomes louder and louder as the names of the 10 first victims of Chornobyl are read at the end of the play; seven of the people were Ukrainian, two were Russian and one Byelorussian. 

This striking production in Princeton was directed by Nagle Jackson, artistic director of McCarter Theatre for 10 years. This is his last year in this theater and it's crowned by his best production ever; "Sarcophagus" , despite its dramatic weaknesses, the way it was staged is an unforgettable and haunting work of art. While much of the success is also due to the masterful acting of Edmund Davys as Bessmertniy, it is the unique stage design that provides the impression of the skeleton-sarcophagus. The designer's clever use of the simple setting, supplemented by photographs and lights creates a marvel of a design.

In discussion of this production, Mr. Gubareyev told me that he considers Eduard Kochergin, the guest designer from Leningrad's Gorky Theatre, simply a genius. Besides designing the set, Mr. Kochergin also assisted the artistic director during rehearsals. (While he probably contributed many good suggestions, he can personally be blamed for one that was inappropriate. When the peasant woman from the Chornobyl area, probably a Ukrainian or Byelorussian, crosses herself, it is not in the form of a large Ukrainian cross only with little crosses over several parts of her face - in manner of peasants in the Moscow area.)

The author said that out of the 150 theaters in the world that staged his play, he saw about 20. He considers that two productions (one in Italy and one at London's Royal Shakespeare Theatre) together with the one at McCarter in Princeton, were the most outstanding ones. 

When Mr. Gubaryev went to Chornobyl shortly after the explosion, it was as a science reporter, but after filling his articles he was not satisfied. He said that the terrible pain that one felt there, could only be expressed in the theater and therefore the play came into being -- because of journalism's powerlessness: "I wrote only the truth, but I felt that the people didn't understand the whole truth." He then wrote the play in six days. 

While during the early months of glasnost, he was not certain if it should be censored, he was immediately informed that as a major Moscow periodical Znamya (which was to publish it) was not subject to any censorship. The play was published in that periodical in September 1986.

Although subtitled "a tragedy", Mr. Gubaryev's "Sarcophagus" is hardly that. In fact, hardly any critics considers it even good literature. It is a message play and on a very current subject. The play was stage in an excellent English translation by Michael Glenny. While "Sarcophagus" has also been translated and staged in numerous languages of the world, it hasn't been staged by any Ukrainian theaters in Ukraine. Last year an opening performance at the Kiev Theatre of Drama and Comedy was cancelled at the last minute so that the audience "would not be unduly excited". Only once, and after special intercession by Mr. Gubaryev, was a visiting Russian theater from Tambov allowed to stage it in Ukraine, in Cherkassy. 

While the play, or rather the "piece a these" deals with the general and universal problems of personal job responsibility, especially in the unique situations of a nuclear plant -- a lot of propaganda dissemination is inevitable. especially as the writer is primarily a journalist and science editor.

Mr. Gubaryev considers himself a Russian (although one parent is Byelorussian and he was born in Byelorussia) and also sees the accident in terms of Soviet, or rather even Russian, losses. Not once is Chornobyl's national identification mentioned; there is not a word about the Ukrainian and Byelorussian human and egological losses. In the play's discussions between physicians in the hospital and a visiting American "Dr. Kale", talk is only about  Russian science and Russian medicine -- not Soviet.

In the play the author states that ours is not the age of the atom but the age of catastrophe -- due to "the system of irresponsibility" which prevails within the bureaucracy that has no public accountability. In the "system" practised for many years in the USSR that contributed to the poor workmanship and the shutting off of the warning systems. 

However, the accusation is not directed at the Soviet Union alone. There is much criticism of the American way of life and standards, as well as American science (which supposedly often benefits from Russian experiments and gain experience at the expense of the Russians). The Chornobyl accident is treated as a warning against nuclear war, especially with the Americans holding a finger on the button.

The claims while he has become an active pacifist, he's not against nuclear energy. In an interview published in Ukraine (September 1988) , he said that "Ukraine always demanded an increase of industrialization and the building of atomic stations" (Just how Ukraine demanded this, he did not say. Who authorized and signed such demands -- whether it was Shcherbytsky or the Energy Ministry? Was it in Kiev or in Moscow? Current discussions in Ukraine's press shows just the opposite: it demands to stop the building and to take down the nuclear stations.)

However, in a personal interview, Mr. Gubaryev claimed that Ukraine needs so many nuclear stations due to its large population: no mention was made of the large proportions of energy that it can now afford to export. 

Since the play definitely carries an anti nuclear message - that is probably why following the first three performances of the play at the McCarter theater, there was a symposium on nuclear power and nuclear arms. Besides Mr. Gubaryev, the other panel discussants were Jonathan Schell (journalist and author of "Fate of the Earth"), Prof. Frank von Hippel (Princeton University), Celestine Bohlen (then a Washington Post correspondant in Moscow covering Chornobyl) and Fred Friendly (former president of CBS News). The plan for the panel was to discuss "whether public policy is a journalist's responsibility".

In discussing the lack of information about Chornobyl in the first days after the accident, Ms.Bohlen complained about complete initial denials of any casualties when she telephoned the plant after some papers already carried the figures of 27 dead. She summarized the communication situation stating that Chornobyl became "the trigger for glasnost for the govenrment".

Mr. Gubaryev in turn explained, however, that the denial was only in the first three days, because no one really understood what went on, in fact, he implied that the authorities in Kiev were keeping the details secret from Moscow; even on May 27 Gubaryev was told in Kiev that actually nothing out of the ordinary took place. He said, that actually on the forth day after the accident "new forces" took over, and when experts from Moscow arrived, true reports were issued.

In terms of glasnost, Mr. Gubaryev said that while a year ago he had to watch out what he was saying, things are different now. But he did admit that in Ukraine the press was not allowed to print the information that was permissible for the press in Moscow. On the whole he said that very much information is published now about the Chornobyl disaster; there are supposed to be even dosens of photograph albums. 

However, he also claimed that American secretiveness isn't any better from the Soviet one, when in reference to Plutonium most of the imformation is still being kept secret. 

Mr. von Hippel compared Soviet bureaucracy to that of our State Department's. Most of the comments from the panelists and the audience expressed sentiments against building nuclear power plants in this country.

Mr. Gubaryev himself did not shrink from attacking the United States; he claimed that America, with our nuclear power, can destroy the Earth 17 times over, while the Soviets - only eight times. When asked about the 1957 Soviet plutonium accident in Kyshtym, in the Urals, Mr. Gubaryev said that there were no deaths, only an ecological contamination. Contrary to the reports by Zhores Medvedev and other scientists, Mr. Gubaryev claimed that radiation effects there were minimal, and that the place is now used only as a testing site. 

While the symposium and the discussions about the "Sarcophagus" was to deal with the fallout from Chornobyl -- it aired largely antinuclear sentiments and criticism of bureaucracy, with little concern for the people most painfully affected by the actual fallout in the Chornobyl area, in Ukraine and in Byelorussia.


Valery Alekseevich Legasov: About the Disaster at the Chernobyl NPP

Valery A. Legasov.
Valery A. Legasov, born in 1936, became an academic at the age of 36. At the time of the Chernobyl accident, he was the chairman of the Department of Chemical Technology at the Chemistry Department of Moscow State University. Legasov was the man sent to the Chernobyl NPP to aid, try to gain control over the problem and to investigate the disaster; what caused it, what the consequenses could be and how it at all could happen. 

It may seem funny that a professor in chemistry was sent to the site of a nuclear disaster, but the truth is that Legasov was the only man present in Moscow at the time who was at all qualified to attend the emergency. Legasov,  by his wife being refered to as a strong and honest individual who wasn't afraid to speak his mind was the very person insisting on the evacuation of Pripyat, and obviously his voice was heard in this matter. Apparently this was not the case concerning some following issues - The Soviet regime allegedely forbade him to speak the truth, during the IAEA conference in Vienna (August 1986, where of course also Hans Blix attended), concerning the RBMK reactors and previous accidents and problems with said reactors throughout the Soviet Union.

After the immediate threats of the ChNPP's 4th reactor had settled and the Sarcophagus was built, Legasov would experience that his carreer had been damaged due to the being forced to hide the truth. For this he'd try to make up by writing several papers which were either censored nor not at all published. Eventually, the sense of failure became overwhelming for Valery Legasov, who committed suicide in 1988. On April 26th,  the 2nd anniversary of the disaster, Legasov's hanged body was found by his son returning from school. By then Legasov had been dead for approximately four hours. Valery Legasov became 51 years old.

The suicide of Legasov wasn't mentioned in any Soviet media.

Anatoly Dyatlov, the vice deputy chief engineer at the ChNPP, in charge of the experiment at reactor block 4 at the morning of the accident, was (as I've mentioned before) persecuted and sent to prison for criminal minsmanagement of potentially explosive enterprises. This man wrote a book entitled "Чернобыль - Как это было" ["Chernobyl - As it was"], where he told the story from his own point of view, blaming the construction of the RBMK reactors for what had happened. Dyatlov also wrote a letter to Hans Blix where he tried to explain the cause of the disaster, but not much more is currently know about this letter.

Valery Legasov didn't write any books, but (supposedly) the hours before his death, he made voice recordings covering five cassettes where he told about the Chernobyl affair. These tapes were found and eventually transcripted to written text. Some time ago, I found these documents. In spite of a long habit concerning the modern technology involving computers and so on, I still am not comfortable with reading from a screen so today I printed the 123 pages of Legasov's text set recordings. Leaving the copying service office, I started looking over the papers and found that it's actually understandable to me. I think that it will be possible for me to translate this. I am going to give it a try. As a matter of fact, I will start right away. 

New horizons

These days research craves more time and effort then it allows me to write here. Today, I cannot provide you with any articles or news as I'm currently going back in history on many different levels concerning all this. What I can give you is another update of what has recently happened in the process.

Of my exhibition only  a few days remain. On Sunday I'll be dismantling it all. The response this far has been only positive but I am very disappointed concerning the Gothenburg City Library's way of handling things so I am not likely to exhibit there again in this way. 

Anders Markgren, assistant information officer at the Forsmark NPP, did not respond to my message. I will have to phone him.

I have taken the book project into further concideration and have started to look for publishers to support this future part of the over all Chernobyl project. Next week we'll have the annual Book and Library fair here in Gothenburg. It's the largest event in Sweden concerning this area and almost all publishers, major as well as minor will be there exhibiting. And so will I, in matters of hunting for those publishers. My hopes are not too high, but if someone get hooked it's just a bonus because no matter what I'll go through with this. I'm not going comersial; merely trying to raise an interest.

Perhaps joint efforts with a likeminded. The picture has changed.


Letter from Hans Blix

H. Blix (middle) at the ChNPP in 1987
Regular readers are already aware of the fact that I some time ago decided to contact Hans Blix, the former chairman of IAEA, but those of you who missed out on that part may read about it here.

Last week I finally got around to write that letter I had had in mind since late August. I sent it with regular mail, rather than calling or writing to any official work address in order not to come off as imposing and also in order to make sure to be noticed. A digital message can easily be ignored or forgotten, but these days a nicely articulated, hand made (I cannot say "hand written" as I did use a printer) catches and demands more attention. 

Today I received a reply. Having put down my contact information in matters of residential address, phone number and e-mail address, it was an easy thing for Hans Blix to simply respond by e-mail, and I was happy to receive this message because even though he cannot afford the time nor effort to get into detail with me concerning Chernobyl, he provided me with very useful information and pointers to where to direct further questions. 

Hans Blix wrote to me: 

"I have my hands overflowing with work regarding questions of disarmaments and the future of nuclear power and thus I'm not prepared to aid you..." "...At this point I'm not  involved in the questions concerning the causes or consequences of the accident, only when it comes to the Shelter project..."

The man is admirable. At the age of 84, he's still working and still dedicated to it. 

I will not hide my slight disappointment concerning not getting the opportunity of a thorough Q & A with Hans Blix, but as I didn't expect to get an answer at all but still received a long and elaborate e-mail, I really cannot complain as it's very useful for me and my continued research. It's a push forward. This has made paths branch further and I intend to investigate every stray.


News Broadcast, Sweden 1986

The other night I found a recorded clip from Swedish national TV concerning the Chernobyl accident in 1986. I assume that this news clip is from late April in 1986, as it seems like the most likely thing, although the clip wasn't dated in any other way than the obvious, stating the year of broadcasting.

I have taken the liberty of "taking care" of the clip, translated it and provided it with English subtitles so that also others than Swedes can take part of it. Apologizes to the Russian speaking part of my readers - I'm not yet confident enough in the language to make a Russian version.

Note that you need to select the English subtitles in the menu attached to the clip frame.

The Children of Chernobyl - Part III

Okay, let's get down to business, shall we. 

14 years after the Chernobyl disaster, the UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Nuclear Radiation) report of 2000, it is said that there were no stated indications of the Chernobyl fallout's effect on children, spare from a theoretical view. Maybe this report has been revised since then, but if you start reading this at page 497, you will discover the opposite and five years later, USCEAR reported about 6000 cases of thyroid cancer cases amongst children who in one way or another were exposed to the radioactive fallout from the destroyed 4th reactor. In this text I explain why the thyroid glands of young individuals are extra sensitive to readioactive exposure. Iodine-131 has a tendency to be stored in milk from mammals. This includes cow milk and goat milk as well as the milk from human females. As children need milk for the development of skeleton and teeth, Iodine contaminated milk consitutes a health danger, but that's not all. The isotope of Strontium, Strontium-90 resembles Calcium (milk is rich on Calcium) and goes straight to the bone in the very same way. Strontium-90 increases the risk or bone growth retardation when it comes to young individuals and may cause skeleton cancer based in the bone marrow for human individuals all ages. 

By 2005 UNSCEAR, even though having admitted the 6000 cases of thyroid cancer, still states that:

"...there is no clearly demonstrated increase in the incidence of solid cancers or leukaemia due to radiation in the exposed populations. Neither is there any proof of other non-malignant disorders that are related to ionizing radiation. However, there were widespread psychological reactions to the accident, which were due to fear of the radiation, not to the actual radiation doses.
There is a tendency to attribute increases in the rates of all cancers over time to the Chernobyl accident, but it should be noted that increases were also observed before the accident in the affected areas. Moreover, a general increase in mortality has been reported in recent decades in most areas of the former Soviet Union, and this must be taken into account when interpreting the results of the accident-related studies."

One year later, this is contradicted by UNICEF. The deputy director at the time, Kul Gautam, stated that: 

"One thing is absolutely clear. Increased incidence of childhood thyroid cancer caused by radioactive Iodine fallout has been the most dramatic health impact of Chernobyl. There are over 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer affecting the ‘Chernobyl generation’ of children. But cancer is only the tip of the iceberg. Widespread iodine deficiency in the vicinity of Chernobyl and other parts of Belarus, Russian Federation and Ukraine is leading to a whole generation of children growing up potentially brain-damaged."
In Gautam's statement, compared to the report dealt with here, it's all focusing on the effects of radiation on fetuses and the possible retardation of brain development but that is perhaps one of the least risks. At least compared to the unknown number of cases of leukemia, various kinds of leukepenia and skeleton deformations. 
UNICEF as well as UNSCEAR may have been correct, but still rash in some of their conclusions, as most of the defections cannot be seen in the first generations but in Belarus - that received a large part of the Chernobyl fallout, there's been over 10 000 confirmed cases of thyroid cancer amongst children, 25 years after the accident, and we'll see these numbers increase in all the affected areas of the former Soviet Union and Europe for the next decades to come. 

I deliberately avoid stating more numbers as these are unknown and sources continue to contradict each other and I'm not looking to upset people with shocking images, but the main disorders and defects tens of thousands of children suffer from as a consequence of the Chernobyl disaster are thyroid cancer, leukemia and other forms of cancer related to blood and skeleton. Many children born just before, and after the disaster in the fallout areas have problems with their lungs, heats, immune system, and they will never recover. 


The Children of Chernobyl - Part II

Let's continue this subject with something quite funny; funny in a very sarcastic way that is, but first some facts.

There are  theories that fetuses in the wombs of women exposed to highered levels of radiation are at the risk of being damaged in a way that causes mental retardation (amongst other defects). Even though I've previously listed is as more or less a known fact in this article, there are still no concrete evidence for such a statement. Being exposed to extreme levels of radiation may cause damage and disturbance to the central nervous system of an adult human but generally receiving highered levels of radiation will not affect the brain of a physically grown up individual as the brain cells eventually cease to divide. However, as it's known that young not fully evolved brains take greater damage from substances such as drugs and alcohol (due to still being vulnerable in the process of development), we can also assume that the brain of a fetus that through its mother is exposed to radiation will take more damage than  its mother. This far it's all correct.

In 2007, an American published report was made concerning 560 000 children born in Sweden between the years of 1983 and 1988,  apparently based on the research of Swedish scientists at the Stockholm University. They assumed that because the academic performance of the children still in uterus during the time of the fallout, "was generally weaker", it must be directly connected to the radioactivity. 

This may all seem logical at a first glance, but studies made on children born after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs show that quite high doses of radiation received are required to cause actually retardation: Of 100 children, as fetuses exposed to 1 Sv (100 R), 40 would turn out mentally retarded, but with lower exposure the risk  decreased. It's assumed that there's even a threshold between 100 and 200 mSv where the risks are eliminated. This is however not yet completely proven, but even if we assume that this is a fact the pregnant women living in the parts of Sweden that received the most downfall, did not receive even close to that much. According to studies made by the Swedish radiation safety authorities, the highest increased doses (received by less than 1000 individuals) were no more than 2 mSv. The major part of the Swedish population (approximately 70%) recieved less than an increased 0,04 mSv in the year of  1986. Adding all this together it's a riddle where the previously mentioned scientists got their results from. It seems to be the same kind of media appealing fraud as the claims of increased rates of cancer cases in Sweden due to the Chernobyl disaster, which has no solid grounds to rest on whatsoever.

This is an example of how angles can be twisted depending on who is taking the picture. In other parts of Europe, the direct oppsite is claimed: There are absolutely no effects on the children.

Next up I'll refute that as well. 


Correnspondence and Encouraging and Series of Events

 I went back to the library today, to attend the no known exhibition and found a note in the guestbook reading: 

"Awesome you who tell the truth - the way it should be"
This sincerely brought warth to my heart and will be added as fuel to what makes me proceed with my work. 

I've been writing many letters lately.
Encouraging is always also when people take their work seriously.
As mentioned in this post, I very recently found out that there's still a Swedish organisation caring for children of Chernobyl. I choose the word "still" because when I was visting the Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum in Kiev there were, as a part of the exhibition, brochures in Swedish, encouraging donations for supporting summer camps for Chernobyl children. These pamphlets were from the late 80's and I cannot recall ever having seen anything like that here. Thus, I was happily surprised when the secretary of information at Tjernobylbarnens Vänner sent me a reply to my message this soon. What surprised me is the fact that this organisation is only 6 years old and has nothing to do with what I saw in Kiev, but even more was I pleased to see that there are people who care not out of tradition, but out of their hearts. Every summer since 2005 they have arranged camps for up to 32 Ukrainian children between the ages of 6 and 15, all suffering health consequenses from the Chernobyl disaster.

A Swedish trade is to have a bad conscience and to feel guilty. Or is it rather about big hearts with a certain sense of taking on responsibility? I honestly, don't know, but to mind is brought the efforts of Liutenant Colonel Vladimir Michailovich Maksimchuk.

Vladimir M. Maksimchuk
Maksimchuk was one of the Chernobyl firefighters who attended not at the night of the disaster, but when there again was a large danger at hand. On the 32rd of May in 1986 sources indicate there that another fire had started at the NPP. The fire rapidly approaced the engine room of the 4th reactor, which was full pipes containing hydrogen gas. Again there was a risk of thermal explosion and Vladimir Maksimchuk and his men were sent in to put out the fire. They could only work firve at the time, for no more than ten minutes each, but Maksimchuck himself stayed close to the area for 12 hours. He received more than 7 Sv/Gy of radiation and was later sent to be hospitalized. 

As soon as Vladimir Maksimchuk had begun to recover, he was sent back to duty. In 1989 he lead the extinguishing work at a chemical plant in the Luthianian city Ionave. In spite of being very ill from radiation sickness, Maksimchuk proceeded with his profession until 1994. In April 1994, the Swedish Red Cross offered the already deadly ill Maksimchuk medical treatment and he was to be transfered to Stockholm by helicopter but it was too late. On May 22nd in 1994 another hero of the big disaster died.

I keep asking myself about the reasons for Sweden to have shown such concern for Chernobyl, its victims and children. May it have something to do with the fact that this country was the very one to expose to the world that something wasn't quite as it should? May it be a way of saying that "as we discovered this mess, it's our duty to help cleaning it up"? Or rather because that they actually asked for help? 

Someone once said:

"Yellow and blue and Chernobyl and Poltava entwine Sweden and Ukraine forever

I'll resume my research concerning Chernobyl fallout effects on children and also concerning Vladimir Maksimchuk.


Keeping your fingers to yourself

This will just be another short update concerning my exhibition, currently going on at the City Library of Gothenburg. 

Due to my condition, I have not been able to attend it, but it is obvious that my presense is needed. 
And I'm greatly disappointed with hoe the library manages things. On Tuesday, early afternoon, I received a report from two visiting friends who told me that the exhibition had been littered with irrelevant flyers, brochures, and so on. Already by then the disease had started to infest my body and I was in no condition to go, but as I was also infuried by it all, plus being informed about the delivery of flowers for the exhibition, I decided to go anyway. This is all old news. I also found that people had taken the liberty of providing themselves with the reading copy brochures, that is the same text as on the wall posters but for people who for different reasons find it difficult to read the wall text. Mind you, I do wonder: If they cannot read "Reading copy only" how will they understand the contents of the brochures? There were only one of each.

By Thursday, my condition had worsened severely and thus a friend asked me if there was something she could do for me or the exhibition. I asked her to go and see if everything was all right. Again, there were a number of irrelevant things littering the area, but she removed them.

Yesterday, Saturday, I could finally go there myself. The purpose was of course to maintain it all, but also to spread some flyers about this blog. I found yet another bunch of irrelevant paper matters and also the remaining brochures had been taken by visitors. Including a text, essential for the photo section. In spite of this showing that some people have an interest, I am greatly annoyed with this. If people cannot even let cheap, simple paper matters be, the Ukrainian government were right in their decision to keep them out of the Zone.

For this guest book, where people will be able to write their feedback, I've made a 2 meters long chain that will prevent people from stealing it. 
Tomorrow, no matter what condition I'm in, I will finally go to attend it all, bringing items that will only be on display for the time I'm there. If there's still anything left to attend, that is. 

The Children of Chernobyl - Part I

"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.