April 26th is the International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day denoting the most heinous human error in history and serves as a constant reminder of the significant steps we must take to prevent nuclear disasters from happening again.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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April 26th is the International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day denoting the most heinous human error in history and serves as a constant reminder of the significant steps we must take to prevent nuclear disasters from happening again.

“If we don’t figure out how this happened, it will happen again,” a dialogue from the critically-acclaimed Chernobyl miniseries, echoes the thoughts of all those who are perplexed by the events unfolding in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. As we read constant reports stating the possibility of nuclear war, can the world afford another cataclysmic disaster like the one that occurred in 1986? The accident at Chernobyl was due to a flawed reactor design and human error, releasing 10 times the radiation that the Tsunami-affected Fukushima disaster in Japan. Or, for that matter, other disasters, such as one of the world’s worst industrial disasters, the Bhopal gas tragedy in India, just two years before Chernobyl.

The 1986 disaster caused the death of millions because of severe radiation sickness, with 31 people dying as a result of severe complications in the first three months. According to reports, numerous others have been diagnosed with cancer, with deaths ranging from 4000 to half a million.

Every year on April 26th, the International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day is held to raise awareness of the consequences of the 1986 nuclear disaster in the Ukrainian city. And, nearly 36 years later, the reactor that exploded still requires regular maintenance to avoid additional radiation leaks. There is still a significant amount of spent nuclear fuel that requires routine maintenance. And, today as Europe is reeling under a global crisis, this nuclear plant has come under the lens as Russia continues to wage war in the country that houses the volatile plant.

The UN SDSN recently sent a letter urging the UN to mediate the conflict between the new nations, as the threat of nuclear war grows with each Russian invasion. A member of the European Parliament is still in shock that Russian troops stomped on the site, calling it a “nightmare,” and fearing that every nuclear plant could be used as a pre-installed nuclear bomb.

This is one of the reasons why Russian troops snooped around the Red Forest, the highly contaminated area around the reactor, in an irresponsible manner. Ukrainian authorities feared that if Russian troops stormed the country, there would be another leak in their hands. The confinement necessitates regular power and a working ventilation system. Fortunately, the troops did not destroy the plant, but they did steal valuables from the authorities. According to reports, the Russian troops who invaded the contaminated zones will suffer the effects of radiation exposure because they dug trenches in the area.

In addition to the decommissioned Chernobyl reactors, Zaporizhzhia has four other active power plants, including the largest in Europe. However, it wasn’t until 2016 that the reactor received a massive steel and plastic dome.

Chernobyl requires international protection under a stronger UN mandate, lest it becomes the epicenter of another international nuclear attack. This is why we must never forget and continue to remember this day as not only one of the largest accidents of its kind in history, but also as an environmental disaster caused by faulty human thought.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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