Interview with Chernobyl cleanup survivor, Natalia Manzurova

 

Natalia Manzurova, shown here in 1988 in the “dead zone”
of Pripyat, is one of the relatively few survivors among
those directly involved in the cleanup of Chernobyl.


In memory of all those affected by the nuclear accidents at Fukushima and Chernobyl :

Shortly after the Fukushima nuclear accident occurred in March 2011, Natalia Manzurova granted this interview with aol.com. She is one of the few survivors among those directly involved in the cleanup of Chernobyl. Just after the nuclear catastrophe, the 35-year-old engineer was told to report to the wrecked plant in northern Ukraine. She spent 4 1/2 years helping clean the abandoned town of Pripyat, which was less than two miles from the Chernobyl reactors. Several years after working there, she developed a benign thyroid tumor. Half the thyroid was removed. Around the time of the operation, the government passed a law saying the liquidators had to work for exactly 4 1/2 years to get their pension and retire. The law concerning benefits kept changing because the government did not want to admit to what extent the liquidators were being affected. It would have looked bad for the industry. “The nuclear industry is dangerous. They want to deny the dangers.” Manzurova became disabled at age 43. Today she is an advocate for radiation victims worldwide.

Chernobyl Cleanup Survivor’s Message for Japan: ‘Run Away as Quickly as Possible’
by Dana Kennedy, aol.com, 22 March 2011

Natalia Manzurova, one of the few survivors among those directly involved in the long cleanup of Chernobyl, was a 35-year-old engineer at a nuclear plant in Ozersk, Russia, in April 1986 when she and 13 other scientists were told to report to the wrecked, burning plant in the northern Ukraine.

It was just four days after the world’s biggest nuclear disaster spewed enormous amounts of radiation into the atmosphere and forced the evacuation of 100,000 people.

Manzurova and her colleagues were among the roughly 800,000 “cleaners” or “liquidators” in charge of the removal and burial of all the contamination in what’s still called the dead zone.

She spent 4 1/2 years helping clean the abandoned town of Pripyat, which was less than two miles from the Chernobyl reactors. The plant workers lived there before they were abruptly evacuated.

Manzurova, now 59 and an advocate for radiation victims worldwide, has the “Chernobyl necklace” — a scar on her throat from the removal of her thyroid — and myriad health problems. But unlike the rest of her team members, who she said have all died from the results of radiation poisoning, and many other liquidators, she’s alive.

AOL News spoke with Manzurova about the nuclear disaster in Japan with the help of a translator on the telephone Monday from Vermont. Manzurova, who still lives in Ozersk, was beginning a one-week informational tour of the U.S. organized by the Beyond Nuclear watchdog group.

AOL News: What was your first reaction when you heard about Fukushima?
Manzurova: It felt like déjà vu. I felt so worried for the people of Japan and the children especially. I know the experience that awaits them.

But experts say Fukushima is not as bad as Chernobyl.
Every nuclear accident is different, and the impact cannot be truly measured for years. The government does not always tell the truth. Many will never return to their homes. Their lives will be divided into two parts: before and after Fukushima. They’ll worry about their health and their children’s health. The government will probably say there was not that much radiation and that it didn’t harm them. And the government will probably not compensate them for all that they’ve lost. What they lost can’t be calculated.

What message do you have for Japan?
Run away as quickly as possible. Don’t wait. Save yourself and don’t rely on the government because the government lies. They don’t want you to know the truth because the nuclear industry is so powerful.

When you were called to go to Chernobyl, did you know how bad it was there?
I had no idea and never knew the true scope until much later. It was all covered in secrecy. I went there as a professional because I was told to — but if I was asked to liquidate such an accident today, I’d never agree. The sacrifices the Fukushima workers are making are too high because the nuclear industry was developed in such a way that the executives don’t hold themselves accountable to the human beings who have to clean up a disaster. It’s like nuclear slavery.

What was your first impression of Chernobyl?
It was like a war zone where a neutron bomb had gone off. I always felt I was in the middle of a war where the enemy was invisible. All the houses and buildings were intact with all the furniture, but there wasn’t a single person left. Just deep silence everywhere. Sometimes I felt I was the only person alive on a strange planet. There are really no words to describe it.

What did your work as a liquidator entail?
First, we measured radiation levels and got vegetation samples to see how high the contamination was. Then bulldozers dug holes in the ground and we buried everything — houses, animals, everything. There were some wild animals that were still alive, and we had to kill them and put them in the holes.

Were any pets left in the houses?
The people had only a few hours to leave, and they weren’t allowed to take their dogs or cats with them. The radiation stays in animals’ fur and they can’t be cleaned, so they had to be abandoned. That’s why people were crying when they left. All the animals left behind in the houses were like dried-out mummies. But we found one dog that was still alive.

Where did you find the dog and how did he survive?
We moved into a former kindergarten to use as a laboratory and we found her lying in one of the children’s cots there. Her legs were all burned from the radiation and she was half blind. Her eyes were all clouded from the radiation. She was slowly dying.

Were you able to rescue her?
No. Right after we moved in, she disappeared. And this is the amazing part. A month later we found her in the children’s ward of the (abandoned) hospital. She was dead. She was lying in a child’s bed, the same size bed we found her in the kindergarten. Later we found out that she loved children very much and was always around them.

How did working in the dead zone begin to affect your health?
I started to feel as if I had the flu. I would get a high temperature and start to shiver. What happens during first contact with radiation is that your good flora is depleted and the bad flora starts to flourish. I suddenly wanted to sleep all the time and eat a lot. It was the organism getting all the energy out.

How much radiation were you subjected to?
We were never told. We wore dosimeters which measured radiation and we submitted them to the bosses, but they never gave us the results.

But didn’t you realize the danger and want to leave?
Yes, I knew the danger. All sorts of things happened. One colleague stepped into a rainwater pool and the soles of his feet burned off inside his boots. But I felt it was my duty to stay. I was like a firefighter. Imagine if your house was burning and the firemen came and then left because they thought it was too dangerous.

When did you discover the thyroid tumor?
They found it during a routine medical inspection after I had worked there several years. It turned out to be benign. I don’t know when it started to develop. I had an operation to remove half the thyroid gland. The tumor grew back, and last year I had the other half removed. I live on (thyroid) hormones now.

Why did you go back to Chernobyl after getting a thyroid tumor?
Right around the time of my operation, the government passed a law saying the liquidators had to work for exactly 4 1/2 years to get our pension and retire. If you left even one day early, you would not get any benefits.

Really? That seems beyond cruel.
It’s why the nuclear industry is dangerous. They want to deny the dangers. They kept changing the law about what benefits we’d get because if they admitted how much we were affected, it would look bad for the industry. Now we hardly get any benefits.

Did your health worsen after you finally finished work at Chernobyl?
I was basically disabled at 43. I was having fits similar to epileptic fits. My blood pressure was sky high. It was hard to work for more than six months a year. The doctors didn’t know what to do with me. They wanted to put me in a psychiatric ward and call me crazy. Finally they admitted it was because of the radiation.

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Reposted at
http://mieuxprevenir.blogspot.com/2013/04/interview-with-chernobyl-cleanup.html
Posted under Fair Use Rules.
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U.S. utility regulators recommend nuclear power as clean and asks EPA to incentivize nuclear reactor construction

Today the professional association of public utility regulators in the U.S. — the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) – approved several resolutions during their annual conference in San Francisco.
http://www.naruc.org/Resolutions/14%201119%20NARUC%20Board%20Substantive%20Resolutions%20Packet.pdf

One of these resolutions is about nuclear power. This resolution advances the interests of the nuclear power industry.

Astonishingly, it states

“In the absence of a public safety or environmental concern, the premature shutdown of these valuable assets may cause economic, social, reliability and environmental harm to families and businesses”.

The public utility commissioners ignored all the safety issues and problems from these plants. That is shocking. Was the accelerating Fukushima disaster even mentioned in their deliberations? What about the harm from not shutting down these plants and from the new ones they plan to build?

This resolution, directed to the Environmental Protection Agency, now represents the official position of the utility regulatory commissions in the United States.

For more information on this conference, here is the conference schedule of workshops and presenters
http://www.narucmeetings.org/MeetingPrograms/2014AnnualProgram.pdf
and the list of attendees
http://annual.narucmeetings.org/registrants.cfm?orderby=3

Though these are state officials supposedly working for the public, the conference is almost exclusively a conference of the commissions and the industry.

For an article on this conference –
http://smartmeterharm.org/2014/11/16/u-s-public-utility-regulators-in-san-francisco-nov-15-19-for-annual-conference-with-industry/

Note: “Baseload power” is an energy industry term for energy that is dependable and constant “all-the-time-on” power. Currently, that comes from coal, natural gas, nuclear, oil. To flip on a light switch and have the light always turn on requires baseload power. Wind and solar power are not baseload, because they are variable and undependable.

EL-1 Resolution Recognizing the Importance of Nuclear Power in Meeting Greenhouse Gas Goals

WHEREAS, Reliable, clean and affordable electricity is vital to local, State, and national economic growth, jobs, and the overall interests of citizens; and

WHEREAS, As demonstrated during the Polar Vortex of 2014, maintaining reliability and fuel diversity; while ensuring compliance with proposed carbon reduction rules, are common challenges for our States and we jointly recognize the need to maintain the existing, baseload nuclear generation fleet; and

WHEREAS, Nuclear power plants provide approximately 20% of the nation’s total electricity generation, and can provide carbon-free electricity for decades into the future; and

WHEREAS, On June 2, 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued proposed regulations for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants, known as the Clean Power Plan, in which EPA identified the avoidance of the retirement of existing nuclear capacity as one of the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) methods;[i]1and

WHEREAS, EPA states in its proposed regulations that policies “that…discourage premature retirement of nuclear capacity could be useful elements of GHG reduction strategies and are consistent with current industry behavior;” [ii] and

WHEREAS, Nuclear energy has played a substantial role in the achievement of existing GHG State or regional emission reduction goals to date, and continued operation of nuclear power plants is vital to States’ ability to economically meet new federal regulations, and provides an essential tool to manage risks associated with potential GHG emissions reduction requirements; and

WHEREAS, In the absence of a public safety or environmental concern, the premature shutdown of these valuable assets may cause economic, social, reliability and environmental harm to families and businesses; and

WHEREAS, The United States Department of Energy, grid operators, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioners have cautioned that the premature shutdown of nuclear power plants could jeopardize both the nation’s electric reliability and the ability to timely address climate change; and

WHEREAS, The EPA’s proposed GHG regulations for existing power plants would lower a State’s allowed GHG emissions rate by counting approximately 6 percent of its nuclear capacity as being “at risk” and including this zero-carbon energy in the goal-setting formula, leading to lower (more stringent) emission rate targets for States that have nuclear power plants; and

WHEREAS, The EPA’s proposed rule treats new nuclear power plants under construction as though they are already operating, and uses their output in the rate-setting formula, which drives down the States’ emission rate goals, and

WHEREAS, State commission actions to approve the uprating of existing nuclear power plants or the siting of new nuclear power plants have and will play a substantial role in GHG emissions reduction goals; now, therefore be it

RESOLVED, That the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, convened at its 126th Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California, urges the EPA, to the extent it regulates carbon from existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, to adopt final GHG rules and regulations that: 1) will encourage States to preserve, life-extend, and expand existing nuclear generation; and 2) remove the generic approximately 6 percent at-risk nuclear and nuclear under construction from the calculation of State-specific emissions targets; and be it further

RESOLVED, That, to the extent the EPA regulates carbon from existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, that States may include in compliance plans and thus receive emissions credit related to all output of new nuclear capacity (including uprates of existing plants) that begins operating after the issuance date of the proposed rule.

________________________________

Sponsored by the Committee on Electricity

Recommended by the NARUC Board of Directors November 18, 2014

Adopted by the NARUC Committee of the Whole November 19, 2014

 

[i] ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, 40 CFR Part 60, [EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602; RIN 2060-AR33, Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, June 2, 2014, at p. 114.

 

[ii] Id., at p. 151-152

 

Movie: “KAKUSEI: The Fukushima End ” Pre-Screener Version

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQydg6d05kU
IMDb, Blondion Productions:

Today the Japanese government assures its people of Fukushima’s safety and urges residents to move back. However, citizens are not convinced… Through the experiences of five individuals, this documentary reflects upon how culture has influenced the choices citizens make everyday, and how those have changed.

Closing scene from ‘Kakusei’:

  • Hikaru Abe, student in Soma, Fukushima (40 km north of Fukushima Daiichi) who stayed behind after his mother and younger brother evacuated: “Nothing has gotten better… The government was incapable to deal with issues, covered up information we needed and even put pressure on us. While many human errors were seen, people in Fukushima worked hard to move on with the support from all over the country. Fukushima is in the process of recovery. Our government abandoned us. Anyone, please, please save the lives of Fukushima people and children. Japan is clearly going insane. It seems like we are about to get killed.”

“Please lend your strength to Fukushima.”

The documentary is extremely well produced. Its thoughtful subject matter, eye-catching cinematography and excellent sound design will hopefully soon be seen by millions. According to the film’s official trailer posted last year,

“We are currently in need of funding to complete and distribute the film. Please lend your support and donate: http://www.blondion.com/support.”

This letter by Tomoko Hatsuzawa, a mother in Fukushima City, expresses sentiments similar to those shared by Hikaru. Hatsuzawa gave the letter to Hiroko Tabuchi of The New York Times, who also translates:

“To people in the United States and around the world, I am so sorry for the uranium and plutonium that Japan has released into the environment. The fallout from Fukushima has already circled the world many times, reaching Hawaii, Alaska, and even New York. We live 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the plant and our homes have been contaminated beyond levels seen at Chernobyl… But the government will not help us. They tell us to stay put… I was eight years old when the Fukushima Daiichi plant opened. If I had understood what they were building, I would have fought against it. I didn’t realize that it contained dangers that would threaten my children, my children’s children and their children. I am grateful for all the aid all the world has sent us. Now, what we ask is for you to speak out against the Japanese government. Pressure them into taking action. Tell them to make protecting children their top priority. Thank you so much.”

Watch the Kakusei pre-screener here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQydg6d05kU

From Dion Blondion:
Let us work together and spread the message. Please show this film to everyone around you and I would love to hear your comments.

I would like to quote Miss Tomomi Abe, who inspired my courage to make this film, “We won’t give up. We will never give up. We’ll never give up on the lives of Fukushima children.”

Visit us at:
http://www.blondion.com

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https://www.facebook.com/projectkakusei https://www.facebook.com/blondionprod…

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https://twitter.com/blondionpr