Abandoned children in Belarus after Chernobyl

Adopting children in Belarus who have disabilities (Kathy Miller)

Here is a website for a foundation helping kids who are currently experiencing the effects of chernobyl:
Map of Chernobyl - It's in the country of Belarus

At the website http://www.greenfacts.org/en/chernobyl/l-2/0-what-happened-chernobyl.htm they explain what happened in Chernobyl. I have copy and pasted the most important part of it:

"The Chernobyl nuclear facility is located in Ukraine about 20 km south of the border with Belarus. At the time of the accident, the plant had four working reactors (units 1, 2, 3, and 4).
The accident occurred in the very early morning of 26 April 1986 when operators ran a test on an electric control system of unit 4. The accident happened because of a combination of basic engineering deficiencies in the reactor and faulty actions of the operators. The safety systems had been switched off, and the reactor was being operated under improper, unstable conditions, a situation which allowed an uncontrollable power surge to occur. This power surge caused the nuclear fuel to overheat and led to a series of steam explosions that severely damaged the reactor building and completely destroyed the unit 4 reactor.
The explosions started numerous fires on the roofs of the reactor building and the machine hall, which were extinguished by firefighters after a few hours. Approximately 20 hours after the explosions, a large fire started as the material in the reactor set fire to combustible gases. The large fire burned during 10 days. Helicopters repeatedly dumped neutron-absorbing compounds and fire-control materials into the crater formed by the destruction of the reactor and later the reactor structure was cooled with liquid nitrogen using pipelines originating from another reactor unit.
//radioactive materials// from the damaged reactor were mainly released over a 10-day period. An initial high release rate on the first day resulted from the explosions in the reactor. There followed a five-day period of declining releases associated with the hot air and fumes from the burning graphite core material. In the next few days, the release rate increased until day 10, when the releases dropped abruptly, thus ending the period of intense release. The radioactive materials released by the accident deposited with greatest density in the regions surrounding the reactor in the European part of the former Soviet Union."

This information comes from a site created by the UN and Switzerland on the Chernobyl incident.
Almost 1800 children in the countries affected by the fallout effect from Chernobyl have been diagnosed with Thyroid cancer, mostly in Belarus which was most severely affected. The cancer that these children were diagnosed with is caused when radioactive particles, in this case radioactive uranium particles, come in contact with the cells of the body, producing particles called free radicals that cause damage to the DNA and can impair cellular function. It is agreed upon in the scientific community that damage to the DNA can cause cancer. In addition to thyroid cancer, there has been in increase in breast cancer and malignant tumor diagnosis, and in a variety of other non cancerous diseases.
The reason that there is such a high cancer rate over a wide area surrounding Chernobyl is due to the fallout effect of the meltdown. The fallout effect is a term used to define the airborne distribution of radioactive from nuclear weapons or reactors, in the case of Chernobyl, that are spread through the atmosphere to other areas. To give an example of how extensive the fall out effect of Chernobyl was, the crops of farmers in Britain and the viability of the soil there were effected by the fall out of Chernobyl.
Here is a link to some graphs showing the increase of thyroid cancer in adult, children, and adolescents. To give perspective, the Chernobyl event occurred in 1986. You can see if you look at the graphs that there is a major increase in thyroid cancer diagnosis in the years following 1986.

It took three years before the true extent of the Chernobyl incident was revealed and foreign aid was allowed into the country of Ukraine by the Soviet Union (modern Russia), which had full control of aid programs up to that point. Once foreign aid was commenced in 1990, UNICEF along with several other international agencies and continuing Russian aid efforts tried to mitigate the effects of Chernobyl in the affected countries of Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, which included insuing health effects and economic problems. The developed aid programs tried to combine efforts of both Russian and UN aid groups to help the most affected groups (women, children, and people who worked at Chernobyl) and offer social and economic support.

Major Nuclear Power Plant Accidents

Here is a list of some of the major nuclear power plant accidents in chronological order. The list ranges from the date 1952 to 1999.
The core of a plutonium-producing reactor at the Windscale nuclear complex in Britain was destroyed by fire in October 1957. The destruction caused clouds of radioactivity to be sent into the atmosphere. It is thought that the radiation that was leaked could have caused many cancer deaths near Liverpool.
An accident involving an experimental reactor at a US plant in Idaho Falls cause the death of three technicians on
January 3rd, 1961
The Soviet Union's first nuclear-power submarine had a pipe rupture in the control system of one of it's two reactor and caused the captain of seven of the crew members to die. This happened of July 4th, 1961.
When a sodium cooling system failed in Detroit, Michigan on October 5, 1966, the core of an experimental reactor melted partially.
December 7, 1975, an electrician's mistake at the Lubmin nuclear power complex on the Baltic coast of former East Germany caused a short circuit which resulted in a fire. There was almost a meltdown of the reactor's core.
A partial meltdown of one of the reactors cause the residents of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to be evacuated because of the radioactive gas that was sent into the atmosphere. This is considered America's worst nuclear accident and it occurred of
March 28, 1979.
February 11, 1981 more than 100,000 gallons of radioactive coolant fluid leaked into the Contaminant Building at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Sequoyah 1 Plant in Tennessee.
About 45 workers were exposed to radioactivity while a plant in Tsuruga, Japan was being repaired on
April 25, 1981.
April 26, 1986 a fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant caused an explosion that released radiation over a lot of Europe. 31 people were dead right after the accident and the hundreds of thousands evacuated from the area are suffering from radiation exposure. This nuclear accident is considered the worst nuclear accident in the world.
November 1992 France's worst nuclear accident occurred. It caused the contamination of three workers who had entered a nuclear particle accelerator in Forbach without protective clothing. For failing to take the proper safety measure, the executives of the plant were put in jail in 1993.
At least 35 workers had minor radiation after a fire and explosion happened at the power reactor and nuclear fuel development Corporation Reprocessing Plant in Tokaimura, Japan in
March of 1997.
Workers at a plant in Tokaimura, Japan were mixing uranium and nitric acid and accidentally used too much uranium and and uncontrolled reaction was the result. More than 300,000 people living near the plant were ordered to stay indoors and 55 workers were exposed to radiation. This happened on
September 30, 1999.

Birth Defect Controversy

Most of the genetic mutations caused by Chernobyl are not seen until the affected have kids because the mutations are recessive, so two people who have the recessive trait have a 1 in 4 chance of getting the mutation. What and how the effects effect someone depends upon the amount and time of the exposure. Some people won't see effects for years to come.

Those it is widely believed that radiation can cause birth defects, the risk of abnormalities and the consequences for human genes is debates. Some studies including the one by the United Nations Scientific Committee concluded that there were no birth defects caused from the radiation, and yet there are many studies that show an increase in abnormalities. A Belarusian geneticist even showed that the number of birth defects before and after the accident rose proportionately with the amount of radioactive contamination. Researchers also found that the number of birth defects in children born to parents effected by radiation after Chernobyl was seven times higher than children born to these parents before the incident. Whether or not these birth defects are a result of Chernobyl is a huge controversy, and because the accident killed few people at the time, it is often overlooked.

Mikhaila Rutherford

Seventeen year old Mikhaila Rutherford was born 3 years after the Chernobyl explosion. She spent the first four years of her life in a Russian orphanage because her parents gave her away when she was born without the lower part of her right leg and a couple of fingers and toes. Her birth defect it directly attributed to Chernobyl. Yet even though she has this obstacle, she calls it her biggest blessing. She says, "Because of the disability, my parents gave me up for adoption. Otherwise, I never would have made it to the U.S. And I think about how grateful I am that I'm here. I'd trade my leg and fingers and toes any day to live here." When she came to live with her adopted family in the US, excelled in swimming, even with her prosthetic leg. She is now a Paralympics swimmer, winning 3 gold medals and 1 silver medal in the 2004 Athens games. Her best stroke is the back stroke, and she holds the world record in the 100-meter back stroke.
Mikhaila was born in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, though her parents spent most of their lives 18 miles from Chernobyl, only leaving when there were complications with her pregnancy. As soon as Mikhaila was born, she was put up for adoption because her father would have left her mother if she had kept her. Thus when she came to America she shunned everything Russian, and doesn’t remember much of her early years. She does remember loving to swim, and though she is taking off time to focus on her studies, she hopes to compete again soon when she is in college.
Surprisingly enough, she still keeps contact with her birth family, especially her brother, who is a year younger. There is still contamination where they live. Mikhaila considers herself one of the lucky ones.

Images of birth defects from Chernobyl


A Child is a Belarus orphanage was born with his brain outside his skull.