The Chernobyl series, why now?

Pinar Demircan

Pinar is a Turkish activist-researcher, Coordinator of & Nuclear Energy Editor at Yesil Gazette.

This article first appeared in Yesil/Green Gazette.

We earlier published her interview and articles on our website.

Although it is being criticized as the film trying to blame the USSR and the communist regime for Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, it is mostly seen as an attempt to provide public awareness of the dangers of nuclear power plants around the world. While the Chernobyl memory is getting old, the main purpose of such series might be to deconstruct the facts of Chernobyl nuclear disaster and nuclear industry.

In order to understand and to evaluate the reasons to produce Chernobyl series which has been widely seen in the world and to answer the questions asked to me, I watched the film and read almost all comments and critics in Turkey. In fact, my interest grew more as soon as I noticed that being far from the insight of failure of a government and nuclear power plant the main debate was focused on the opposition against criticism of the Soviet system (USSR). Perhaps this is the reason why this article can be considered as a critique of the critics about the film and will try to show another dimension of the issue. However, Craig Mazin, the writer, and producer of the film, emphasizes in his interviews that this production does not carry an anti-nuclear mission; the wrong reactor design and the privacy policy of Soviet Russia is highlighted as the reasons for the disaster ; and the film reminded me of the BBC documentary on Chernobyl which I watched many years ago are some other reasons for me to write this article.

No wonder, the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe has an important impact on the public awareness of the risks of nuclear power plants. It is a great loss that in the first 10 years after the disaster has started approximately 8 million people have become victims of cancer and some other diseases have been growing in Europe plus, it is not possible to carry out agriculture, forestry and fishing activities in radioactively polluted areas for hundreds of years. Moreover, a scientific research published in 2016 indicates that there will be 40 thousand new cancer cases due to Chernobyl for the next 50 years and it shows that Chernobyl will stay with us for tens or hundreds of years more. Since there has been no scientific study conducted by governmental offices in order to understand the effects of Chernobyl in Turkey, it is difficult to predict future cancer cases for my country. In fact, it is even difficult to understand where cancer cases are concentrated too. The only research on the health effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Turkey was produced by the Turkish Medical Association. It emphasized that there were also some difficulties even in determining where cancer cases occur due to people were not treated in which city or even region they have been living. On the other hand, it has been widely known that contaminated nuts and tea were distributed to citizens for free just like it was done in many other countries. At this point, I kindly invite you to think about why and how it is covered up all over the world.

Despite Soviet Russia government and the nuclear power plant are accused of spreading radiation to the atmosphere, governments and political authorities of other nations whoever did not protect their people from and let them exposed to the spread radiation from Chernobyl must be counted as responsible. In fact, the worldwide communities have seen how negative effects of nuclear power plants were hidden by the administration of the United States (USA) just after the USA dropped the atomic bomb. USA officials kept the records of Japanese people who were exposed to cancer and other diseases without even sharing the results with neither the local authorities nor with the patients themselves. This practice of the USA administration was also formalized in 1959 when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the world-wide top institution, signed an agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO), a non-governmental organization, to undertake to monitor of nuclear health records.

Unfortunately the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which occurred 25 years after the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, once more showed us how the effects of radioactivity on human health and the environment were covered up. This assertion is based in particular on the fact that people released from Fukushima are invited to live permanently in places 20 times higher than the annual radiation limit dose, where they are advised to return to rebuild their homes, or even to be forced to do so because their compensation has been discontinued. However, the fact that tens of millions of people were invited to watch the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, that ball games will be held in Fukushima, shows that the increases in cancer cases after Fukushima have been ignored by both the government in Japan and the world governments and companies that support the Olympic Games, and moreover.

Why now?

Declaring Soviet Russia as the sole perpetrator of the world’s largest nuclear disaster over the Chernobyl series by ignoring nuclear realities to the extent I have described above, shows that the image of the risks on nuclear power plants around the world is tried to be reshaped. It is understood that the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, which the nuclear counterparts used to draw attention to nuclear risks as the Chernobyl memory is getting old each year and can be introduced to the new generations as a product of Soviet Russia by linking them to a state system that does not exist today. Because even though we hear that there are exits from nuclear power plants in Europe after the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, nuclear power plants are introduced as carbonless technologies. We can see a similar effort by pronuclear groups and nuclear industry saying ” Greta go Nuclear! to Greta who called on the worldwide governments to overcome the climate crisis.



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