Sunday 25 February 2018

Chernobyl still needs help, 30 years on, Adi to tell UN

HISTORIC: Adi Roche will call for radiation check-ups to be re-instated in her UN speech
HISTORIC: Adi Roche will call for radiation check-ups to be re-instated in her UN speech
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Adi Roche has revealed the "four pillars" which will be the cornerstone of her historic speech at the United Nations later this month.

Thirty years on from the world's worst nuclear disaster, the Chernobyl Children International founder will become the first representative of an Non-Governmental Organisation to speak at the UN General Assembly in New York on April 26.

The Chernobyl disaster was the catastrophic nuclear accident that occurred on April 26, 1986. A botched test at a power plant sent clouds of deadly nuclear material into the atmosphere, which spread over the then western Soviet Union and parts of eastern Europe. It remains the worst nuclear power plant accident in history in terms of cost and casualties.

"Chernobyl is forever; the impact of that single shocking nuclear accident can never be undone," Ms Roche told the Sunday Independent.

"Countless millions of people are still being affected by its deadly legacy."

Now, in an unprecedented move, the Belarusian government has asked Ms Roche to give the lead address, during its allocated speaking time at the General Assembly.

It is seen as a special gesture, to recognise the role Ireland and the Chernobyl Children International charity has played in helping the victims of the catastrophe.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Ms Roche revealed her 10-minute address will contain four key "pillars". The first is to press for the speedy completion of the €1.3bn "sarcophagus" that is being built to make Chernobyl safe for the next 100 years. This is a special new construction designed to shelter the core of the damaged reactor and prevent any further leakage.

Secondly, she will call for funding for adequate "food monitoring" to protect people living in the region.

She will also demand radiation check-ups be reinstated for locals, so that children and pregnant women are regularly monitored throughout their lives.

Lastly, Ms Roche will draw particular attention to the continuing needs of the 700,000 Chernobyl "liquidators".

These were the soldiers, helicopter pilots, firemen, and engineers, who were sent to Chernobyl to undertake the deadly task of trying to contain leaking radiation from the crippled reactor.

Sunday Independent

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