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Chernobyl: Apathy kills

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May 31, 2003 | From the print edition
Secret police documents released in Ukraine reveal the Chernobyl nuclear plant faced problems even before it exploded in 1986 - the world's worst civilian nuclear disaster to date. Officials did not pay sufficient attention to deficiencies in the third and fourth reactors of the plant, and to the poor quality of some equipment imported from Yugoslavia, the reports inform

Chernobyl Disaster

Secret police documents released in Ukraine reveal the Chernobyl nuclear plant faced problems even before it exploded in 1986 - the world's worst civilian nuclear disaster to date. Officials did not pay sufficient attention to deficiencies in the third and fourth reactors of the plant, and to the poor quality of some equipment imported from Yugoslavia, the reports inform.

The declassified archives were made online by Ukraine's Security Service on the eve of the 17th anniversary of the disaster. They contain a report by the Ukrainian police directorate to Moscow on safety breaches during construction works between 1976 and 1979. The documents also disclose that small doses of radiation were released during an incident at the plant in 1982.

The 1986 explosion released 100 times the radiation from the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The UN estimates that between 15,000 and 30,000 people have died from the accident, while about six million people continue to reside in contaminated areas.

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