Chernobyl: Interviews From Inside a Nuclear Disaster Area By Interviews That Matter From Read An Interview.Com 2013

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1 Name: Class: Chernobyl: Interviews From Inside a Nuclear Disaster Area By Interviews That Matter From Read An Interview.Com 2013 The Chernobyl disaster was a catastrophic nuclear accident that occurred on April 26, 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. The disaster was the worst nuclear disaster in history. Thirty-one people died in the accident itself, but the long-term effects of cancer-causing radiation in the area are still being investigated. As you read, find evidence to answer this question: What is the legacy of Chernobyl? [1] Pripyat, once a city of more than citizens, has become a ghost town. The Chernobyl power plant remains one of the world s most horrible nuclear disasters. A lot of people are intrigued by environments that can resemble the end of the earth, says journalist Bo Levin, who visited the danger zone only two years after the explosion. On April 26, 1986, during a routine test, a sudden power surge occurred in reactor four of the "Entering Chernobyl" is licensed under. Chernobyl power plant in former Soviet Union. Several steam explosions followed, exposing sensitive parts of the reactor to air, a combination which set the reactor on fire. The fire in turn sent radioactive fallout into the atmosphere, affecting a large area of modern Ukraine and the rest of Europe. The nuclear blast released four hundred times more radioactive material than the bombing of Hiroshima in It resulted in an unknown number of deaths and malformed humans and animals. The nearby city of Pripyat remains a ghost town. [5] The official death toll by the Soviet Union, to which Ukraine belonged at the time, is a mere 31. However, the extent of the aftereffects such as cancer, birth defects and a number of illnesses due to the exposure to radioactive material is still disputed. Some 500,000 took part in the work of trying to contain the waste and prevent an even greater disaster, and according to Bo Levin some research point at the deaths of thousands. The people who helped were constantly exposed. The city of Pripyat, which is the closest large city to the power plant, is still an unlivable region. Today, there s a so-called forbidden zone of around 30 kilometers surrounding Chernobyl. Bo Levin, journalist and documentary filmmaker, went to Ukraine together with a photographer only two years after the blast. The purpose was to cover the aftermath of the event and the attempts of the Soviet government to cover up the extent of it. This is the story of what he saw and how he did it. 1

2 InterviewsThatMatter: You were in Chernobyl when it was still hard to get access. How did you get in? Bo Levin: I ve been there three times. The first time we had help from an environmental organization to get in, and later from critics of the regime to get around. ITM: Can you tell a bit about what you saw? [10] BL: In the city of Naroditje, close to the border of Belarus, we met a veterinarian. He d been one his whole life, and his dad one before him, so he had access to statistics on most occurrences in the last 50 years. He was very concerned with the increased amount of malformed animals. Since the government tried to silence the true extent of the effects, the veterinarian secretly collected malformed animals in large barrels. We could photograph pigs with two heads, two genitals, malformed eyes, and several calves and a horse with six legs. We also went to the ghost city of Pripyat, which used to have 40,000 inhabitants but today is closed down and deserted. And I ve been to a few of the around 400 towns that are extremely contaminated. Many of them have been buried in the ground. ITM: Pigs with two heads? It all sounds shocking. What was your reaction to the sight of the animals? BL: I still have dreams about it, the smell of formalin and the sight of the animals. ITM: Are there still people living in the area? Have you met any? [15] BL: I ve met people who refuse to move out of the forbidden zone and live their lives in a highly radioactive environment. I met people like that in Fukushima in Japan as well when I went there to film in ITM: Why do you think they stay? BL: A lot of elderly people have lived there for generations and have a hard time leaving. Besides, they wouldn t know where to go. A lot of the ones I ve met are dead now, especially of those who helped with the decontamination. I ve met a lot of people who are feeling very bad, especially psychologically. Cancer in children has increased a lot according to the World Health Organization, and diseases such as leukemia, heart diseases, and so on continue to grow in extent. ITM: You said you were in Fukushima as well. What was that like compared to Chernobyl? [20] BL: It was like a déjà vu experience. Desperate people who fled their villages, closed societies where grass had started to take over streets and squares. And the radiation gauge which sometimes showed several hundred times more radioactivity than normal. ITM: What does it take to get in to Chernobyl today? 2

3 BL: As the Ukrainian government has discovered that they can make money on Chernobyl you can hire educated guides and visit the area for 24 hours. You can enter the reactor and visit Pripyat, if you re willing to pay up. The guides also know where the radiation is particularly high and can keep tourists out of danger. ITM: Would you call it catastrophe tourism? BL: Well, a lot of people are intrigued by environments that can resemble the end of the earth. It triggers our imagination. At the same time, myths appear surrounding what has happened. In the case of Chernobyl, however, what can be scientifically proved is more than enough. [25] ITM: Do you believe that young people today, who might not remember when the accident happened, have a correct perception of the incident? BL: No. I ve met young people today who have never heard of Chernobyl, despite the fact that the damage of it is still serious. Around six million people still live in areas with too high radiation levels. Some animal meat still has too high cesium content. "Chernobyl: Interviews From Inside a Nuclear Disaster Area" from ReadAnInterview.com, 2013, Interviews That Matter. Reprinted with permission, all rights reserved. 3

4 Text-Dependent Questions Directions: For the following questions, choose the best answer or respond in complete sentences. 1. How does the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Power Plant in Japan help us understand the effects of the Chernobyl disaster? A. The Fukushima nuclear incident was handled very well by the Japanese government, and those lessons can be applied to the Chernobyl disaster. B. The two power plant disasters had similar outcomes, including people fleeing their villages, and high levels of radioactivity. C. While the radioactivity levels that resulted from Fukushima are still unknown, science has proven that those levels are still very high at the Chernobyl site. D. Medical advances that took place after Fukushima are now being used to treat humans and animals affected by Chernobyl. [RI.3] 2. PART A: What is meant by the phrase, catastrophe tourism as it is used in paragraph 23? [RI.4] A. An opportunity in which people visit sites of catastrophe in order to learn how to avoid similar incidents B. An industry in which the government can profit by traveling to neighboring countries to teach others how to avoid similar incidents C. An industry in which the government can profit by allowing curious people to visit the site of a disaster D. A practice in which the government invites mourners from around the world to pay their respects 3. PART B: Which detail from the text best supports the answer to Part A? A. the Ukrainian government has discovered that they can make money on Chernobyl (Paragraph 22) B. The guides also know where the radiation is particularly high and can keep tourists out of danger. (Paragraph 22) C. people are intrigued by environments that can resemble the end of the earth. (Paragraph 24) D. what can be scientifically proved is more than enough. (Paragraph 24) [RI.1] 4. How does Bo Levin s statement, A lot of people are intrigued by environments that can resemble the end of the earth, affect our understanding of the Chernobyl disaster? A. It illustrates how morbid people exploit the pain and suffering of others B. It reflects how fragile life is for every citizen of Earth C. It reinforces how devastating the Chernobyl disaster was D. It illustrates how little is still known about the Chernobyl disaster [RI.5] 4

5 5. What are some of the lasting effects of the Chernobyl disaster? [RI.2] 5

6 Discussion Questions Directions: Brainstorm your answers to the following questions in the space provided. Be prepared to share your original ideas in a class discussion. 1. How will people remember Chernobyl? In other words, what is Chernobyl s legacy? 2. Are disasters like this one an inevitable part of progress, or could this disaster have been prevented? Explain your answer. 3. Nuclear power is hailed by some as a cleaner, cheaper alternative to coal and oil. Evaluate the use of nuclear energy in light of the Chernobyl disaster. 4. Bo Levin claims that the government tried to cover up what happened at Chernobyl. Why might a government be motivated to keep a disaster like this a secret from the public? Explain your answer. 5. What are the costs and benefits of technology? Use evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer. 6

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