Trying to Keep History from Repeating Itself

Former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officer Rebekah Koffler, in an interview with Fox News, said, “the threat of a Chernobyl type catastrophic event as a result of the [Zaporizhzhia] plant’s structural damage is serious, but efforts are underway to mitigate it.” 

The ghostly remains of a nuclear disaster. This was taken in Pripyat city, Ukraine, part of Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone, in October of 2019. Image Credit: Viktor Hesse via Unsplash

Let’s not forget that Chernobyl is located in Ukraine. It’s only 90 kilometers north of the capital city of Kyiv. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), 150,000 square kilometers of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine were contaminated with radioactive materials after the accident. The contamination zone stretched to the north of the plant for almost 500 km. With the 1986 explosion of Chernobyl’s fourth reactor, more than 100 radioactive elements were released into the atmosphere. The most dangerous of these were iodine, strontium, and cesium, whose respective half-lives are eight days, 29 years, and 30 years.

Radioactive iodine can cause thyroid cancer, especially in children. Strontium exposure can precipitate leukemia, and cesium can wreak havoc on the entire body, especially the liver and spleen. IAEA reports more than 1800 cases of thyroid cancer in kids from birth to age 14 at the time of the accident. Fortunately, no studies have proven a direct link showing the negative health effects of the increased radiation levels outside Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus.

Suffice it to say, the last thing the Ukrainians want today is another nuclear power plant disaster. And, if you recall, the plant at Zaporizhzhia is the largest of its kind in Europe.