The Road from Chernobyl
GENEVA – Like a modern-day Pompeii, the streets and buildings of Prypyat stand frozen by a disaster. But, unlike the eruption of Mount Vesuvius nearly 2,000 years ago, Prypyat was destroyed by a manmade – and thus preventable – catastrophe.
Weeds and grey desolation are all that thrive in this once-bustling community, which housed the workers of Chernobyl’s doomed nuclear power plant, whose devastating meltdown 26 years ago still inflicts physical and socioeconomic harm on many in Ukraine and nearby countries. Back then, the world was, for an instant, shocked by the folly of nuclear technology. But, as with Hiroshima, Three Mile Island, and last year’s Fukushima meltdown in Japan, the spike in global dismay was all too fleeting.
This myopia is a symptom of steady population growth, coupled with consumption-driven economies and ever-increasing demand for cheap energy. But the risks clearly outweigh the alleged benefits. While nuclear energy’s advocates often claim that there have been only two major calamities, a very different picture emerges if we consider other “accidents” that caused loss of human life or significant property damage.