Those of us of a certain age
remember the terror when we hear the name Chernobyl. The nuclear
accident in 1986 which killed 31 people and radiation fall out
which continues to affect 10's of thousands of people today,
Wetwheels was recently contacted by
the Chichester branch of the charity Chernobyl Children's Life Line
asking if we could take a group of young people out for trip on
Wetwheels. It was a no-brainer, we rescheduled a few
commitments so we could make it happen and we had a fantastic few
hours on the water. Coming from the Ukraine and Belarus, none of
the young people had ever been on the water or on a boat before so
it was a special experience for them and we were delighted to have
made that a possibility for them.
For more information on this great
charity, visit their website. http://www.ccll.org.uk/ho/
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 de-activated several major safety
systems that would have shut down the reactor in an emergency.
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
The resultant fallout of radioactive
material was over 90 times greater than that of the atomic
bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined!
Over 70% of it fell on Belarus. Some of these highly carcinogenic radioactive
particles have an half life of 24,000 years.
Children are particularly
susceptible to radiation induced illnesses and many have leukaemia,
cancer of the thyroid and other cancers. Babies are still
being born with serious deformities.
Before this tragic event, Belarus
was known as the breadbasket of Russia, with a stable economy. Now
the people live with radiation all around them. They drink
contaminated water and wash with it. There is very little to eat in
Belarus and what there is, has a high chance of being contaminated.
The compromised food chain means that they now have to import a
high proportion of their foodstuffs. The most disadvantaged have no
option but to eat crops grown in the contaminated earth - a
The Chernobyl Children's Life Line
looks after children who are ill, organising respite
breaks to Great Britain to give them a chance to live in a
"clean" environment and eat uncontaminated foods for a month. Some
43,000 children from Belarus have visited Britain since
1992. During their stay all of the children receive
medical attention such as dental care and having their eyes
Doctors in the some of the cancer
hostpitals in Minsk (capital of Belarus) believe that the children
returning from respite breaks have their life expectancy extended
by up to two years. This is because their immune systems have a
chance to recover as a result of the "clean" food and the lack of
heavy background radiation in this country. Many of the host
families keep in touch with the children and some invite them for