The Irish charity, Chernobyl Children International (CCI), is embarking on a major visit to the region next week ahead of the 30th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.
Founder Adi Roche, who has since the 1986 accident overseen the delivery of nearly €100m in medical and humanitarian aid to the Chernobyl-affected regions and whose charity has brought over 25,000 children to Ireland for recuperative holidays, said the five-day visit will mark the start of a series of major commemorative events due to take place over the coming months.
“The Chernobyl accident happened a long time ago and there is a view that it no longer poses a threat to the world,” she said.
“But the reality is very, very different. Our message is that Chernobyl is forever. The impact of that single shocking accident can never be undone.
“It’s in the DNA of the people there and you can’t undo the genetics. It serves as a cautionary tale and reminder of the kind of irreversible damage an accident like this can leave behind. Our visit will not only be commemorative, but it will also shine a light again on something that has been to some extent relegated to history.”
The trip will include visits to CCI and Irish government- supported care home and medical projects. The delegation will also visit the reactor site, and tour the vast nuclear exclusion zone around the plant.
The catastrophic nuclear accident occurred on April 26, 1986, when the core in reactor four exploded during an emergency shutdown exercise. The explosion and resultant fire killed dozens of firefighters but thousands more who were involved in a desperate battle to contain the contamination and avert a greater catastrophe were also exposed to fatal doses of radiation.
Studies have estimated Chernobyl may have caused about 1,000 cases of thyroid cancer and 4,000 cases of other cancers across Europe.
Some models predict that by 2065, 16,000 cases of thyroid cancer and 25,000 cases of other cancers can be expected as a result of the radiation from the accident.
It is still classed as one of the world’s worst nuclear accidents, alongside the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
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