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  Sunday, September 22, 2019
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The Chernobyl nuclear accident was inevitable
The Chernobyl nuclear accident was inevitable, the senator who oversaw clean-up efforts at the nuclear power plant in 1986 said Tuesday. Speaking at an international conference ahead of the anniversary of the tragedy, Nikolai Ryzhkov, then chairman of the Soviet Union's cabinet of ministers, said: "The Chernobyl disaster was not an accident. Russia's nuclear power industry had been inevitably moving toward the tragic event." "I had the impression that scientists, builders, power plant workers had lost the feeling of danger and vigilance," Ryzhkov said. Ryzhkov singled out three reasons behind the April 26, 1986, catastrophe, which affected 116,000 people and 640 populated areas in Ukraine, then part of the U.S.S.R., and nearby regions: reactor depreciation, a poor emergency protection system, and poorly qualified personnel who routinely violated safety requirements. He also blamed scientists who had not foreseen emergencies while designing the reactor. The Chernobyl accident was a major blow to nuclear research in Russia, Ryzhkov said. Coupled with funding problems, the tragedy scared qualified experts away from nuclear research centers, he said. While criticizing Soviet and Russian authorities for effectively ignoring the health problems of clean-up workers and local people, Ryzhkov also said the international community had provided no aid to the former Soviet Union after the world's worst nuclear disaster. "Instead of receiving medicines and equipment, we heard only criticism," Ryzhkov said. While thousands of people have been evacuated from Chernobyl and other affected areas, many people stayed in or have returned to the city, although radiation is still being emitted from the site.
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