Chernobyl proposed as World Heritage Site

35 years have passed since the night of 26th April 1986, the night of the tragedy that involved the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and, in general, humanity. During these years, man has had to face the consequences of the nuclear disaster caused by a failed test.

It was not easy to manage the emergency, including first aid and attempts to contain and prevent contamination, as well as the management of hospitals.

In this regard, the WHO writes: “The accident’s radiological and non-radiological consequences affected directly and indirectly the lives of millions of people in Europe. This anniversary offers an opportunity to take stock of lessons learned, reflect on the recovery process, and appreciate once again the heroic efforts of the first responders who rushed to the damaged reactor on 26 April 1986 and sacrificed their health, and in many cases their lives, to save others.”

What we are experiencing today with the Covid pandemic partly recalls the difficulties experienced by Europe for the Chernobyl power plant disaster, and it is also why the Ukrainian government is relaunching the request to insert the Chernobyl power plant and its surroundings among the world heritage sites.

Today a gigantic steel arch, 108 meters high and 162 meters long, weighing 36,000 tons, covers the reactor of the plant, thanks to the contribution of the international community with a 2-billion-euro project entrusted to the EBRD, the European Bank for reconstruction and development.

Axel Reiserer, Head of Media Relations for the EBRD, called it “the largest mobile facility ever built”. The arch, completed in November 2016, was then handed over to the Ukrainian authorities, and now, explains Reiserer, “it’s time to plan, agree and carry out the next phase of the work”.

In fact, it is estimated that 200 tons of radioactive nuclear fuel remained inside the reactor, and that some parts of the old sarcophagus of the plant are starting to fail. It is urgent that these parts be removed, with work getting closer to the reactor, according to Reiserer.

A story that seems to belong to the past, is actually still ongoing, and it will take a long time before we can put a full-stop to this tragedy.

Today the tourism linked to the deserted city of Pripyat continues to be very solid, with new documentaries and reconstructions of the event. So, Kiev is relaunching the request to include Chernobyl in the list of world heritage sites, protected by UNESCO.

Ukrainian Minister of Culture, Oleksandr Tkachenko, added that “putting Chernobyl on the Unesco list is a first step in making this place a unique destination of interest for the whole humanity. The importance of the Chernobyl area goes beyond the borders of Ukraine”.

Chernobyl is not only a site of cultural interest, but also a real place of memory, where we still remember the first 31 victims of the disaster, including nuclear power plant operators and firefighters, and the thousands of people who died in the following years , due to diseases caused by radiation.

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