School of Health Sciences and Social Work
University hosts Chernobyl survivor
Tue, 01 May 2012 16:29:00 BST
The University recently hosted a talk by Oleksandr Shimanskiy, Fire and Rescue Engineer, who was involved in the clean up operation after the Chernobyl explosion.
The talk was hosted by Chris Penney, of the School of Health Sciences and Social Work, who is involved with Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline, a charity that brings children affected by the Chernobyl disaster over to the UK for a month each year. The children take part in a range of fun events, including trips to amusement parks and parties. They also receive free dental check ups from the University’s Dental Academy.
Also in attendance was Jim Smith, of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Jim is one of the world’s experts on radiation and its effects and is studying the on-going impact of the Chernobyl disaster.
On April 26, 1986 at 1.23 am technicians at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station in the Ukraine allowed the power in the fourth reactor to fall as part of a controlled experiment. To carry out their tests, they deactivated several major safety systems that would have shut down the reactor in case of accident.
The experiment went wrong. Two explosions blew the top off the reactor building and a fire started in the core which burned for several days. A cloud of deadly radio activity dispersed into the surrounding environment. This silent killer continued to pour from the damaged reactor for ten days.
Oleksandr was a liquidator, a general name for anyone involved in the clean up process, who was drafted in to help during phase 2 of the clean up, after the sarcophagus had been fitted. Oleksandr’s job was to demolish and bury the red forest, a job so radioactive that people were only permitted to stay in the machines for 25 minutes at a time. He did this job for a month, until he had absorbed the maximum amount of radiation he was permitted to by law.
He was awarded several times by the military unit he was subscribed to for acting in life threatening conditions whilst carrying out his duty.
People had to be used to clear the area, as the robots that were initially used all broke down within three days.
In 2005 he founded a branch of a national public organisation “Chernobyl Union of Ukraine” in Inguletski District of Krivoi Rog city. He is working hard to protect interest of many other Chernobyl liquidators who belong to the branch. He is an active member of local public movements and sits on the local council. He was awarded for his work by the national office of “Chernobyl Union of Ukraine” in Kiev, Ukraine.
Oleksander spoke of his fear that Chernobyl would be forgotten about, and the 48,000 ex liquidators who are in need of medical and social care, would be forgotten.