June 2002 Archives
By Prof. R. Curtis, National University of Ireland
On April 26th 1986, the unthinkable occurred, the explosion of a nuclear reactor in Chernobyl and the worst man-made disaster of our time unfolded. The scale of the disaster, though initially shrouded in secrecy is now well known -- the 4-day struggle to contain the fire, the 30km exclusion zone, the evacuation of 15,000 people from their homes and the 2000 dead from radiation sickness. This calamitous event brought both radioactive and economic fallout on over 4 million men, women and children in Belarus,the Ukraine and Russia, most of whom are still living with the horrendous consequences16 years later.Today we honour two remarkable women -- Ali Hewson and Adi Roche - who have madean extraordinary contribution to environmental issues generally, and to the Children ofChernobyl specifically. Adi Roche is the founder and Executive Director of the ChernobylChildren Project, an Irish registered charity, and Ali Hewson is its active working patron.Tireless and seasoned campaigners for those innocent victims of the nuclear disaster,they continue through diverse aid programmes to improve survivors' health care intandem with raising awareness of the ever present danger of another such accident occurring, particularly close to our shores in Sellafield.