Media Release

30th Anniversary of Chernobyl – Time for SA to think about our future

by Greens' MLC Mark Parnell

April 26th, 2016 12:00 pm

“As South Australians toy with the idea of further entrenching ourselves in the nuclear industry, the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster is a stark and sobering reminder of the dangers inherent in this industry,” says Mark Parnell MLC, Parliamentary Leader of the Greens SA.

Today is the 30th anniversary of the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.  This remains one of the worst nuclear accidents in history and three decades later, is still unresolved.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the accident released approximately 400 times more radioactive fallout than that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.

In 2011, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) published a report entitled "Health effects due to radiation from the Chernobyl accident”.  According to this report, the Chernobyl accident caused a number of severe radiation effects almost immediately and the effects are ongoing.

The magnitude of this disaster:

  • Of the 600 workers present on the site during the early morning of 26 April 1986, 134 received very high doses of radiation and suffered from acute radiation sickness. Of those, 28 workers died in the first three months.
  • 350,000 people have been relocated away from the reactor site.
  • 4.5 million people still live on contaminated land.
  • 600,000 registered recovery operation workers have been engaged in firefighting, burying radioactive waste, constructing a “sarcophagus” around the plant to contain radiation and other related tasks.
  • The original “sarcophagus” is failing and a new “safe confinement” structure costing $3 Billion is being built.  That too will eventually need to be replaced.
  • The World Health Organisation reports increased rates of thyroid cancer & leukaemia in affected communities.

“As we remember the victims of Chernobyl, it is timely to consider South Australia’s future involvement in this dangerous industry.

“With the Royal Commission’s final report due next week, South Australians should ask themselves whether the best our State can aspire to is becoming the world’s nuclear waste dump?” asks Mr Parnell.

Authorised by M. Parnell, Parliament House Adelaide.