A quarter-century has passed since the accident in northern Ukraine at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant in April 1986 - a catastrophe, which in a few seconds forever changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. It remains the most dramatic and far-reaching civil catastrophe in modern history and still affects the lives of million of people as much today as 25 years ago. As a result of a wrong scientific experience the explosion has destroyed nuclear reactor and spewed radioactive material across much of the European Continent. Over 145 thousand sq. km of the territory of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia was contaminated with radionuclides. More than 2.2 million people in Ukraine have a status of victims, including 255 thousand participants in the liquidation of the accident. Ukrainian economic losses as a result of the Chornobyl disaster are about $180 billion.
Chornobyl has become a symbol of the uncivilized treatment of the nuclear power, human mistakes and Soviet era authoritative and negligent attitude towards the humanitarian consequences of the governmental actions. In that sense, what happened at Chornobyl is capable of transforming not only those who endured the tragedy itself, but all of us - if we learn the lesson that we are all connected.
On April 19, 2011, upon an initiative of President of Ukraine Mr.Victor Yanukovych, in cooperation with European Commission and French Government, a high-level meeting “Kyiv Summit on Safe and Innovative Use of Nuclear Energy” was held in Kyiv.
The delegations, representing more than 60 states and international organizations, including South African delegation headed by Minister of Energy Ms. Dipuo Peters, met in Kyiv to discuss the ways to consolidate efforts of international community aimed at enhancing nuclear energy safety and security and preventing technogenic accidents in the future.
The Kyiv Summit participants, including 17 Heads of States and Governments, leaders of international organizations, expressed their belief that implementation of efforts to enhance nuclear safety and security have to continue to be a top priority in all activities related to nuclear energy use. After the Summit and the Donor Conference, the international community has gathered around 550 million euros to build a new safe confinement over the damaged unit of the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
The main challenge of Chornobyl, especially in the light of the resent tragedy at Fukushima, is to recognize that the circumference of our responsibility has become the Earth itself. We should always remember that.