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7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope


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28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidans three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countrys stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.

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Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.

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Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.

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Ukraine Today

Chornobyl Today The Life of a Dead Facility

Driving recently to Chornobyl, where Im from, my thoughts travelled back to 1986, and to what happened then in Ukraine and my own north-central region of it, known as Polisya. I remembered how my elderly relatives broke down history into two halves: the era before April 26, 1986 was before the war, while the era that started that day was after the war.


Chornobyl NPP has been decommissioned, but the site of the worlds worst nuclear accident doesnt just disappear. Some 3600 workers are still present at the plant. I was eager to see what they do at their ominous place of employment. It turns out that many them are still employed at the plant just as they were in the past: working the same jobs, for the same pay, more or less in the same work spaces. There are differences, however. One is that the Chornobyl NPP no longer produces electricity. Another is that the plant is no longer a showcase of Soviet progress and engineering, but the notorious Chornobyl, a famous disaster zone. Engineers and scientists working here tend to have problems with depression, and retaining workers is a real problem for the human resources department. The G7, the European UNI0N and other Western countries have pushed Ukraine to close the Chornobyl NPP completely and remove most of the staff out of the remaining plants in the former Soviet UNI0N that utilise so-called RBMK technology, Chornobyl is the only one thats attracted that sort of criticism. Such news obviously spreads fast in the world of nuclear power, so its no surprise that the turnover at Chornobyl is a problem. Many feel like theyre guard dogs working a particularly dangerous shift. As one of the NPPs engineers told me, We feel like hounds standing outside a kennel. If morale is generally low, the workers at the sarcophagus or shelter object, the massive concrete shell that covers the melted-down reactors, seem to know what theyre doing. Theyve done a huge amount of work to figure out how best to build the sort of long-term structure the shelter needs to be. This work includes long-term planning and deep research into how to build a coffin that has to be more than air- or watertight: it has to contain, for an indeterminate length of time, some of the most poisonous matter in the world. In 2000, on the basis of engineers recommendations, the facility adopted the Shelter Implementation programme, which determined what kind of stabilisation work was necessary for the structure and indicated directions for future work. The process of building up the infrastructure has been going on for awhile. At this supposedly moribund facility, I was surprised to see a construction site, a new dressing-room facility that can accommodate 1430 people, a training centre for contract personnel, a rehabilitation centre, and new roads. The Chornobyl NPP Unit 4 premises, the power and water supply systems, and other elements were also being rebuilt. Whats the situation at Ground Zero now? The radiation background today around the Chornobyl NPP administrative building averages 65 microrentgens per hour. Around the shelter object it averages 1.20 millirentgens per hour. To compare, the suns natural radiation rate is about 10 microrentgens per hour. The nuclear safety parameters for the shelter object are within the limits established by the facilitys operational regulations. According to site monitoring data, there are 3400 rentgens per hour inside the shelter, enough to kill you in seconds. The temperature near the fuel-containing materials is about 29 degrees Celsius in a low-grade way, the fire down there is still burning. Its under these conditions that the shut-down Chornobyl NPP now exists. What of the future? Chornobyl NPP has started dismantling the shelter facilitys unstable parts. But it hasnt done anything about the dry storage facility for nuclear fuel thats still down there in the plant. The fuels doused in water next to the reactors, or else remains in reactor number 3. The international community established the Chornobyl Shelter Fund in 1997, and the G7 countries, the European UNI0N, Ukraine and others have pledged more than one billion euros in its support. The fund is managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and is committed to dealing with the long-term dangers the Chornobyl accident poses. Its specifically involved with the construction of a new shelter facility and with ensuring the safe storage of nuclear fuel. The facility will be a semicircular structure thats 257 metres wide, 105 metres high (as tall as New York Citys Statue of Liberty) and 150 metres long. It will weigh 20,000 tons, the same as Paris Arc de Triomphe, and its operational life will be at least 100 years. During that time, scientists will have to get to work finding an even longer-term solution to the Chornobyl problem. By that time the disaster will have cost the Ukrainian economy over $200 billion.

 Anatoli Artemenko


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Comments (1)
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Oksana B. | 04.05.2008 15:43

I have read this article with a great interest. The small town of Chernobil (and Pripjat) became tragically famous to the rest of the world. The nuclear power disaster that have happened more than two decades ago changed lives of thousands of people and is very costly not just in a dollar amount but also in regard to health issues for many Ukrainians.
As a scientist myself, I do hope that the lesson will be learn and new information will be gathered that will help to avoid this kind of catastrophe in the future.


 
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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnt Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they dont understand the meaning of these words.


    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades childrens favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. Whats On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.

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