KIEV, Mar 14 – The risk of a nuclear meltdown after Japan\’s earthquake brought back the nightmare of Chernobyl for Ukraine on Monday even as experts predicted it would not compare with the world\’s worst nuclear disaster.
With horrific timing, the explosions at the ageing Fukushima nuclear plant after the 8.9 earthquake have come just over a month before Ukraine and its neighbours on April 26 mark the 25th anniversary of the catastrophe.
"The Japanese Chernobyl," headlined the mass-selling Ukrainian daily Segodnya.
The Chernobyl disaster remains an unforgettable trauma in Ukraine with repercussions that persist to this day. According to official figures, 2.3 million people are considered to have suffered following the disaster.
The Ukraine edition of the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda carried an interview with atomic scientist Ilgiz Iskhakov, one of the thousands of people who worked as "liquidators" to clear up the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster.
He said he and his former colleagues had not left their computers over the last few days as they awaited fresh information from Japan.
However Iskhakov also said it appeared that the world had learned its lesson since April 26, 1986.
"The lessons of Chernobyl meant that the nuclear community started to prepare more carefully for the most improbable situations," he told the newspaper.
He also praised the Japanese authorities for providing rapid information about the extent of the risk, in contrast to the Soviet Union which notoriously kept the Chernobyl disaster under wraps for days.
"The Japanese government started working very efficiently right from the first minute. The main thing is that they inform the people about what has happened and the level of security. They don\’t take people for idiots," he said.
The head of the Chernobyl Centre for Nuclear Security, Valeriy Glygalo, told the Interfax Ukraine news agency that the state of the Fukushima power station could in no way be compared with that of the doomed Chernobyl plant.
"The Japanese reactors are of a modern type and designed for earthquake zones even though what has happened has exceeded the evisioned norms. There should not be serious consequences like those from Chernobyl," he said.