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Novozybkov

Earth Day/Chernobyl 09 Honors Fran Macy

Earth Day/Chernobyl Day 2009 Honors Fran Macy In schools in Novozybkov and surrounding Bryansk region, Viola organization celebrates Earth Day and Chernobyl Day 2009, with teaching about staying healthy amidst contamination and with honoring of Fran Macy. Fran visited these schools and encouraged Viola's work over the years. Pictured at the head of the class is Ludmilla Zhirina, founder-director of Viola.

 

Bryansk in the Aftermath of Chernobyl by visiting scientist, J. Donald Hughes

The following is a chapter in the book: An Environmental History of the World: Humankind’s Changing Role in the Community of Life by J Donald Hughes; London and New York: Routledge, 2002 (available in paperback); used by permission of the author.

BRYANSK: THE IMPACT OF CHERNOBYL

Sitting in my friend's apartment kitchen, I look through a stack of school children's drawings and paintings from the Bryansk Region, the section of the Russian Republic that received the highest level of radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident. One depicts two little hedgehogs in a forest, with suspiciously dark clouds overhead. The first hedgehog has picked some mushrooms, a favorite activity of all Russians. The other hedgehog asks, "Zachem ty nesësh' gribok? On zhe radioaktivnyi," that is, "Why are you picking mushrooms? They're radioactive." The first replies, "Kushat' khochetsa," "I want to eat." A second drawing shows a girl with a basket crying beside a sign prohibiting entrance to a forest due to a high level of radiation. Yet another is of a swan flying into a radioactive cloud and coming out with soiled wings. Then there is an imaginative painting representing mutated insects and animals, including a dragonfly with two heads. Finally, a drawing by a seven-year-old girl shows an empty school playground, with a pony looking at it and saying, "Gdye dyeti?" "Where are the children?" The answer is that they have all been evacuated because their homes are too radioactive to live in.

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VIOLA photo gallery 2003

Gallery of photos of VIOLA's work in Novozbkov and nearby villages.

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We use 4 different modifications of radiation meters, which were bought for our new program: “Radiation meters are the best help in the radiation zone.”

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VIOLA's activity in 2007, first report

REPORT FROM BRYANSK REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATION "VIOLA"

"Conducting Radiological Monitoring in the city of Novozybkov and the Novozybkov District"

Dr. Ludmila Zhirina, President

Part One August 24, 2003

I Stage One April 2003

Members of Viola contacted technical and medical stores in Bryansk to find out what kind of radiation measuring instruments were for sale. After study of all available types, three were chosen as most useful and economical. They are produced in Minsk (Belorus), Slavutich (Ukraine) and Moscow (Russia). All cost in the $30-40 range. One example of each make was purchased to test for convenience and value to people living in radioactive zones. Viola also acquired an American-made instrument "Monitor 4" to use as a check on the accuracy of the other three.

II Stage Two April 2003

Volunteers of Viola wrote up instructions for the use of each monitoring instrument and these were duplicated in 200 copies so that each instrument would have with it several copies for use by a number of families.

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VIOLA's 2007 visit to Chernobyl (photo gallery)

Concerned about contradictory governmental reports on radiation levels at Chernobyl, a team from Viola went to conduct measurements themselves. Access is permitted by buying tickets from the Ukrainian tourist agency which organizes trips to the disaster site. Igor Prokofief, Executive Director of Viola, and a group of young Viola volunteers visited the fated nuclear station and the adjoining, now deserted city of Pripyat. With their own radiation monitors, they sought to assess changing patterns of contamination and new threats of its spreading through rain and wind to their home territory in nearby Bryansk.

They also harvested the pctures below. They write: "These photos show the future that will be ours if humanity continues its games with atomic energy. In the empty houses and schools, the abandoned toys, the silhouettes on walls painted by visitors, we see the horror of their consequences. We see vegetation absorbing the city of Pripyat, soon to look like the ruins of an ancient people lost to history. We hope these photos do not show the future of our planet."

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This is the entrance to the Chernobyl area and the 13-kilometer zone around the nuclear station with the highest level of radiation.

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VIOLA's Plans for Novozybkov 2008

VIOLA, the environmental NGO founded by biologist Ludmila Zhirina, reports a discovery recently made public by medical researchers. In the western part of the Bryansk region, in and around Novozybkov, studies of soil and water reveal an abnormal and serious lack of iodine, fluoride, and selenium. These elements normally protect tissues from radiation; their absence makes people yet more susceptible to thyroid and bone cancers, mental disabilities, and early mortality.

To Ludmila and her VIOLA team these findings help explain the morbidity they continue to see in and around Novozybkov. In response they are undertaking bold, new plans for 2008.

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The story of the Elm Dance is interwoven with the story of Novozybkov, an agricultural and light industrial city of 50,000 a hundred miles downwind from Chernobyl. With its surrounding villages in the Bryansk region of Russia , directly east of Chernobyl, Novozybkov is considered to be the most contaminated city of its size that is still inhabited. And the contamination does not subside. Through wind, water, and fodder, it continues to move through the ecosystem affecting the food supply. As it mixes with automotive and industrial pollution, it produces grim new toxins. In recent years newcomers from war-torn areas, like Chechnya and Tadjykistan, have taken refuge in abandoned and contaminated barns and buildings.

Because of my promise to people in Novozybkov in 1992, I have told their story in virtually every workshop I conduct. To help me do that, I began sharing the folk dance they had loved when we were together--and the Elm Dance began to spread throughout the US and other countries. So did interest in Novozybkov. Thus the desire grew to offer support to this town and the villages around it, as their families struggle with appallingly high rates of radioactive contamination. How were we to do this?

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