For those old enough to remember the worst man-made disaster in history, yesterday was a time to honor the thousands of victims of the Chernobyl explosion as it marked the 26th anniversary.
On April 26th, 1986, a power surge at the reactor plant caused a horrific explosion which sent dangerous levels of highly radioactive smoke into the atmosphere around Ukraine, as well as over large parts of the Soviet Union and Europe. The effort to contain the disaster, as well as the cleanup which occurred afterward, sent the Soviet economy into a tailspin; the real disaster, however, was the effect the toxic radiation had on the people who lived in those areas. Painful deformations, cancer, and leukemia have taken their toll on thousands over the years and have been attributed to the fallout.
Construction began yesterday on a new shelter for the remains of the site, which was given a hastily-built steel covering after the explosion and has developed weaknesses over the years. The new shelter will enable decontamination work to be done safely inside the structure and was financed by donations from various countries, including Japan and China. Due to the economic toll the disaster took, a cleanup was never able to be completed and Pripyat--the site of the plant--became a ghost town.
"In the name of Ukraine, I express my deep thanks to all the donor countries to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund for their understanding and effective aid to our country in overcoming the consequences of the worst man-made disaster in human history," Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych said.