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The 35th Anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster - a cautionary tale

On Monday April 26th, I spoke in response to a Minister's statement  on the 35th Anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.   It is a warning to all of us to pay attention to safety and to  be aware of the costs of cleaning up environmental disasters.

Chernobyl Disaster 

Mr. Gerrard: Mr. Deputy Speaker, together we remember 35 years ago the Chernobyl disaster as the largest nuclear disaster ever.

Less well appreciated is the role it had in the disintegration of the Soviet Union because it exposed major problems in the supervision of nuclear facil­ities. In 2006, Mikhail Gorbachev wrote: "The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl 20 years ago this month, even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union."

      There were, in the disaster, two staff killed, 134 people hospitalized, of whom 34 died from radiation and 14 more died in the next 10 years from what's believed to be radiation-induced cancer. There were, as well, many, and probably not fully ever countable, secondary deaths to radiation exposure in countries throughout Europe.

      It was very costly, and one example, the total cost for Belarus over 30 years was estimated at US $235 billion–and, of course, in today's dollars, much more.

      There was contamination in many, many countries: 49,800 square kilometres in Russia; 37,200 in Ukraine; 29,900 in Belarus; 12,000 in Sweden; 11,500 in Finland; 8,600 in Austria; 5,200 in Norway; and 4,800 in Bulgaria and others.

      There was a major impact of the Chernobyl disaster on global attitudes toward nuclear energy and nuclear reactors, in particular, countries like Italy and Germany. This encouraged and really was a major start of the anti-nuclear movement and anti-nuclear protests in many other countries around the world.

      In Germany, there was a minister of the environ­ment started, and that minister has the responsibility, even today, I understand, for safety and disasters like the Chernobyl disaster. It is a warning to all of us of the incredible ex­pense of en­viron­mental disasters and environmental liabilities. It is a day on which we remember, together with many from Ukraine and other European countries, of what happened and dedicate ourselves to doing better globally in the future.

      Thank you. Merci. Miigwech. Dyakuyu.

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