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Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011

NGO offers wisdom from Chernobyl


NAGASAKI — A Russian nongovernmental organization supporting children affected by the Chernobyl disaster is offering to create safer environments for Japanese youths caught up in the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

News photo
Chernobyl lessons: Anton Vdovichenko of a Russian nongovernment group lectures at an antinuclear event in Nagasaki on Aug. 8. KYODO PHOTO

Anton Vdovichenko, a leading member of Radimichi: For the Children of Chernobyl, said in a recent interview in Japan that he wants to say to those trapped by the crisis at the radiation-leaking nuclear plant they are "not alone."

Vdovichenko, 34, said he grew up in the town of Novozybkov, an area that was designated a contamination zone even though it is about 180 km northeast of the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant.

He said the group his father Pavel set up a year after the 1986 accident to support young people in the disaster-hit areas has expertise that can help the people in Fukushima, who are likely to encounter similar problems in several years.

The group conducted health checkups on 10,000 people 12 or older in the town and other regions and found that 70 percent of them were suffering from thyroid diseases and other health problems, he said.

In Novozybkov, people are still warned it is dangerous to eat mushrooms and fish from the rivers. Many have lost their jobs but only receive 500 to 600 rubles (about ¥1,300 to ¥1,500) per month each in compensation.

Vdovichenko was visiting Japan for the first time to attend a series of antinuclear conferences organized by the Japan Congress Against A- and H-Bombs in Fukushima, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Vdovichenko, the father of a 14-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl, said his NGO is also helping young people struggling with drug abuse and alcohol addiction.

"The parents don't have enough money and one thing they do every day is drinking . . . beer or vodka. And their children start to do the same," Vdovichenko said. "I hope the people in Fukushima would not have the same problems as we have."

Storage of soil planned


FUKUSHIMA — National policy minister Koichiro Genba said Sunday that irradiated soil and sludge that is to be removed from areas around the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant should be stored temporarily within Fukushima Prefecture before final disposal measures are worked out.

Genba, who doubles as chief policymaker of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, told reporters: "We should store the soil and sludge somewhere in the prefecture as an interim measure. The central government should be responsible" for the issue.

Genba made the remarks after visiting temporary housing in the prefecture for evacuees who were affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

He made the comment as the problem of how to handle enormous amounts of polluted soil and sludge looms as cleanup work is expected to get into full swing when the government lifts an evacuation advisory put in place outside the 20-km exclusion zone around the Fukushima No. 1 plant soon.

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