Photos of the children of Chernobyl

In Ireland, unlike most of the developed world, antipathy towards the idea of nuclear energy is the last sacred cow. In general, people are against it and, so far anyway, it has never been up for serious debate.

I’m all for this. Common sense tells us that if you have an energy ‘solution’ which must simply never, ever fail or the consequences will be disastrous, then you look for a different solution. Common sense, of course, isn’t that common however, and the results are the irregular , once-in-a-blue moon catastrophes of such gargantuan proportions that I’m really forced to wonder – are humans too stupid to survive?

In April 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant in Ukraine released vast amount of radioactive material into the atmosphere, covering much of Northern Europe and Russia. The disaster is claimed to have cost 200,000 human lives and the consequent clean-up operation was so great that it crippled the economy of the then USSR.

The disaster’s effects on human health have been debated for years but it is clear that rates of thyroid cancer sky-rocketed, as did rates of children born with Down Syndrome, chromosomal aberrations and neural tube defects.

America photographer Paul Fusco spent time in the areas affected by the Chernobyl disaster, documenting the effects the radiation have had on the population, with special emphasis on children.

The photos are sobering and disturbing.

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