On April 26, 1986, Reactor No 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the Ukraine exploded. Even though it is 23 years ago the world remembers it as the day the biggest technological and industrial disaster ever began. The irreversible and catastrophic impact on health, environment and economy will affect generations to come. Here we list, at random, a few of the actions that took place in different corners of the world.
Indonesia: Some 1,500 residents of the Kembang district staged a rally protesting against a government plan to build a nuclear power station in their village. The rally, also held to commemorate the Chernobyl tragedy, was started from Proliman Balong. Wearing bandages bearing writings saying "No to PLTN" (nuclear power station) they rode on trucks to a site near Kembang district administration office. There they spread a 500-meter banner, on which they signed names to express support for the refusal of the nuclear project.
Namibia: Earthlife and the Labour Research and Resource Institute (LaRRI) are working together on an ongoing awareness campaign, which aims to inform the public of the dangers of a nuclear power plant. As part of this campaign, Earthlife produced a booklet ‘Uranium - Blessing or Curse’ informing about general issues regarding the uranium industry, while LaRRI published a booklet ‘Uranium Mining in Namibia: The mystery behind low level radiation’, which focuses on the impacts of uranium on mine workers health. On April 27 they organized meetings, screenings of movies and debates in the Namibian capital Windhoek.
Belarussia: A few hundred demonstrators gathered in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, to mark the anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. The anniversary had traditionally had the most impact in Belarus, the country worst affected by the catastrophe, with about one-quarter of its territory contaminated. The annual Chernobyl commemoration in Minsk reached a peak on the disaster's 10th anniversary in 1996, when tens of thousands of protesters clashed with police in central Minsk.
Turkey: Besides a demonstration in Sinop (the place still being named as the location for a Turkish nuclear power station) a small group of activists is holding a ‘cycle tour against cancer’ alongside the Black Sea. The cycling trip is set to be completed in 33 days and will follow the Black Sea coast because this was the region most affected by Chernobyl in Turkey. “We aim to inform and raise the awareness of people in the Black Sea area, where the possibility of getting cancer has increased by 40 percent since the Chernobyl disaster. We want to inform people about cancer, types of treatment, the rights of patients and the effects that Chernobyl had. As part of this project, the authorities responsible for Chernobyl will be asked for reparations to meet the financial costs of patients in Turkey. We are also aiming to bring to the attention of the authorities the necessity of appointing experts to the region’s early diagnosis center to serve the public.”
Finland: An antinuclear rally organized by a platform of many groups including Greenpeace and the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation gathered 800-900 people for a demonstration in front of the Finnish national parliament. According to the platform “Finns are quite hard to get on the streets. It’s been a while since we have felt that kind of energy on the streets in Helsinki and that makes me all the more optimistic about our struggle. Participants weared masks, banderols and a Trojan horse with yellow stones symbolizing nuclear waste. The main banner read "Risks for Finland - electricity for export?"
Australia: Noisy protesters targeted a global nuclear conference in Sydney, saying they wanted attendees to know they were not welcome. About 60 people from the Sydney Anti-Nuclear Coalition were demonstrating against the ‘World Nuclear Fuel Cycle’ conference. The police dragged several protesters away after they tried to get into the building and ordered the demonstrators to move on, but made no arrests. Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Dave Sweeney praised the group. "It's been a bright and bouncy protest. It's had a bit of passion as it should, because there's high stakes here," he said.
France: Too much to list, more than 160 actions and activities took place, sometimes more than 10 in one big city. Demonstrations, debates, blockades, meetings, film screenings.
Germany: About 1,000 people demonstrated against nuclear power generation in the north-western German city Münster. The city is surrounded in close proximity by a nuclear waste dump at Ahaus, Germany's only uranium enrichment plant at Gronau and another such plant at Almelo in neighboring Holland (95 km northwest). The demonstrators demanded that nuclear power production be stopped immediately. One day later, two similar demonstrations took place in northern- and southern Germany, also with about 1,000 demonstrators each.
United Kingdom: The Chernobyl disaster is still felt in the Lakes (district in England) with nine Cumbrian farms still under restrictions. The damage to the Children of Chernobyl is ongoing. Chernobyl Children’s Project (UK) says: “Time has not been a healer for the people of Belarus and the greatest fear is for the children of future generations”. In Cumbria, ‘Radiation Free Lakeland’ along with other anti nuclear groups, former Sellafield workers and Green Party Representatives walked around Wastwater Lake talking to tourists and locals. The lake, England’s deepest, is used to provide fresh water coolant for Sellafield, with over four million gallons (a UK –or Imperial- gallon is 4.5liter) of fresh water abstracted every day.
Please take a look at www.chernobyl-day.org for more action reports.
Sources: thejakartapost.com, planetark.org, several emails, www.chernobyl-day.org