BELARUS. 1997. Novinki Asylum, Minsk. Unable to walk, these boys move by crawling, rolling, or sliding. Paul Fusco / Magnum Photos
Nineteen years ago, Chernobyl exploded, vomiting 8 tons of radioactive ash into the air which swept across the lands poisoning 25 per cent of the population and 25 per cent of the lands of Belarus. And now the new generation of children bears its legacy through a horrifying and bewildering array of afflictions. Some children are born brain-damaged, others have genetic, physiological, neurological and psychological damage.
BELARUS. Minsk. Children’s Cancer Hospital. Maria is a 9-year-old orphan receiving chemotherapy. ‘At first I cried a lot, but now I think it is a wonderful place.’ All of the nurses in the hospital treat her like family. Paul Fusco / Magnum Photos
Some of the most damaged children are kept at Novinki – a psychiatric institution on the outskirts of the capital Minsk. At birth most of these children are immediately abandoned to the State and within months sent to Novinki.
BELARUS. Maiski. 1997. Nikolai Yanchen, one of 600,000 ‘liquidators’ conscripted to fight the fires and clean up the radioactive ash and contaminated villages. He lost his right leg to cancer. He can no longer work and lives alone in a small village in a contaminated area near the 30km ‘hot zone’. Paul Fusco / Magnum Photos
They are kept clean and fed but they live lives of almost total deprivation. There is no perceived future for them and they are left mostly to themselves. They are not steered to a better life, they are simply trained – if they can be – to eat, to bathe, to go to the toilet, and to follow directions from their carers. Some play with other children but many cannot even move without help. Many live solitary lives, frozen in time and space, reacting in secret with the phantoms that inhabit them.
BELARUS. Minsk. Children’s Home No 1. This hospital receives many of the most deformed babies soon after birth. Nurse Alla Komarova hugs 3-year-old Yulya, whose brain is in a membrane in the back of his head. Paul Fusco / Magnum Photos
“No evidence of problems..” ..Beddington. Chernobyl: between 1989-1990, a sudden increase in genetic malformations in animals was noted. In the year following the Chernobyl disaster, almost 400 deformed animals were born, living only for a few hours. In 1990, Igor Kostin took photographs of these mutations, including this eight-legged foal, and sent them to Gorbachev to encourage him to set up an international commission to investigate the causes; he received no reply. In addition, Kostin gave a set of photographs to Supreme Soviet deputy Yuri Chtcherbak, who showed them to the Congress of Deputies in Moscow, proclaiming, “If you don’t want your children to look like this, you need to act.” Since then, no government commission was created to investigate these phenomena – caused by radioactive leaks from the Chernobyl sarcophagus.
Beddingon– The town of Pripiat, which housed staff from the Chernobyl site, was evacuated on April 27, 1986. In an abandoned hospital, the remains of a dog, petrified by radiation, were discovered several months after the catastrophe.
“Do we have a problem? Absolutely not.”..Beddington doesn’t have a problem with this. But human beings do. Sasha is one of the Chernobyl children at the Vesnova orphanage. More than five million children are living in the affected areas of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.
Fukushima Radiation effects on Plants.
One comment on “The Devastating Effects of Nuclear Radition on DNA”