THIS week marked the 30th anniversary of the deadly explosion in one of the nuclear reactors at the Chernobyl power plant in northern Ukraine, which has had such dire consequences for the place and its people as well as nearby areas such as Belarus, which were also badly affected by the radioactive cloud emitted which blew across the western part of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and into parts of Europe.
Even though the death toll from the explosion was put at just 31, it is estimated that up to a quarter of a million people may have died since from cancers caused by the fall-out and there are several thousands of people who were not even born when it happened living with the ill-health legacy of the accident. Some of them were lucky enough to have been given new lives in Ireland by caring families, thanks to the work of Adi Roche’s Chernobyl Children International charity, which has organised over €100m worth of aid for people in the areas worst affected by the Chernobyl disaster.
Five years ago, in Japan, we had another nuclear plant on the brink of meltdown in the wake of an earthquake and resultant tsunami, almost leading to another catastrophe. Nuclear energy is being put forward once again as an alternative to harmful greenhouse gases-emitting fossil fuels, which have been undermining the ozone layer that helps protect life on our planet, but it is something we need to be very wary of.