The World's Worst Nuclear DisasterThe worst disaster of the brutal Soviet Communist regime occurred in the early hours of April 26, 1986, when a botched test at the nuclear plant in then Soviet Ukraine triggered a meltdown that spewed deadly clouds of atomic material into the atmosphere, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes.
Over the past three decades, thousands more have succumbed to radiation-related illnesses such as cancer, although the total death toll and long-term health effects remain subject of intense debate.
The anniversary has garnered extra attention due to the imminent completion of a giant 1.5 billion Euro (1.7 billion Dollar) steel-clad arch that will enclose the stricken reactor site and prevent further leaks for the next 100 years. The project was funded with donations from more than 40 governments. Even with the new structure 1,000 square miles of forest and marshland, on the border of Ukraine and Belarus, will remain uninhabitable and closed to unsanctioned visitors.
The disaster, and the government's reaction to it, highlighted the flaws of the Soviet system with its unaccountable bureaucrats and entrenched culture of secrecy. For example, the evacuation order only came 36 hours after the accident.
Chernobyl Children's Project International was founded in Ireland in 1991 by Adi Roche in response to an appeal from Ukrainian an Belarusian doctors for aid. Roche, previously a volunteer in a nuclear disarmament group, received a fax in 1991 which read SOS Appeal. For God's sake, please help us get the children out. This inspired her to take action and that same year, she set up a small workspace in a spare bedroom in her home and began organising Rest and Recuperation for a few Chernobyl children, recruiting Irish families who would welcome and care for them, CCPI began in Ireland in 1991 and expanded into the United States in 2001. It changed its name to Chernobyl Children International in 2010. The organization has grown from strength to strength and is now the largest contributor to Belarus and the fallout from Chernobyl. It works closely with the Belarusian government, the United Nations and many thousand volunteers in Ireland, Belarus and worldwide to deliver a broad range of supports to the children and the wider community.
To date, Chernobyl Children's contributions exceed 91 million dollars in direct and indirect aid, and the Rest and Recuperation program has brought over 22,000 children to Ireland, returning an average of two years to each child's lifespan.