Chernobyl touched us to the core: Barbados

Chernobyl

The best tribute to the victims of the Chernobyl tragedy is to ensure that lessons learned from the accident will bring about lasting improvements in nuclear and radiation safety. That’s what the representative of Barbados told a recent special commemorative meeting in observance of the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl Catastrophe. Speaking on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, Ambassador Joseph Goddard noted that 25 years ago, the world witnessed the worst accident in the history of the nuclear power industry. He said the disaster at Chernobyl was a major catastrophe that caused the release of large amounts of radioactive materials which affected large areas of what are now the Russian Federation, Belarus and Ukraine.

Ambassador Joseph Goddard : Today we pray tribute to the lives lost as a result of this tremendous catastrophe – innocent victims, including residents, emergency workers and plant workers, who paid the ultimate price. We also express our concern for and solidarity with the men and women who continue to suffer the consequences. Chernobyl affected the entire international community. This tragedy touched us to the core. It changed not just the communities involved but attitudes to nuclear power on a global scale. We are encouraged that there is growing evidence that we have learned a number of lessons from this tragedy. In the aftermath of the incident, the following have all come under review: international radiation standards, strategies for improving the nuclear engineering process, safety standards and procedures, processes for managing nuclear waste.

NAR: Ambassador Goddard pointed out that now, a quarter of a century later, efforts have already begun to reassess the present situation in the affected areas with a view to developing new policies and strategies for recovery.

Ambassador Joseph Goddard: We welcome the findings of the UN Chernobyl forum, which, while acknowledging that certain negative effects will persist for decades to come, have shown that an improvement in the present circumstances is a realistic prospect for people living in affected regions. The need for international cooperation continues, especially in the area of research and follow-up studies, in order to cope with the health consequences and the long-term environmental impact of the disaster. The GRULAC region has offered significant cooperation assistance to the affected countries and will continue to lend our strong support.

NAR: Goddard said the Latin America and Caribbean Group looked to countries that are interested in expanding their present nuclear programmes, or considering introducing nuclear power to implement the highest possible safety standards. Regional representatives also stressed the need to learn from the accident, as well as from the current experience in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami, in order to ensure the safety of nuclear energy for the future.  Following those statements, the General Assembly stood for a moment of silence in memory of the victims of the Chernobyl disaster. The explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986 spread a radioactive cloud over large parts of the Soviet Union, now the territories of Belarus, Ukraine and the Russian Federation, exposing 8.4 million people in those countries to high radiation, according to the anniversary web site.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration:3’57″

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