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Friday, February 25, 2022

Russia invades Ukraine and captures Chernobyl !!

It is 35 years since – an area once too busy was silenced after the meltdown – then portrayed as  a paradise for wildlife. Photos showing  foxes roaming the buildings of abandoned towns and bison and wild horses flourishing after people were permanently evacuated were in circulation – the place is again in International news ! Guess what ?

Artemisia vulgaris, (common mugwort)  is a species of flowering plant in the daisy family Asteraceae.   It is also occasionally known as riverside wormwood,  felon herb, chrysanthemum weed, wild wormwood, old Uncle Henry, sailor's tobacco, naughty man, old man, and more; they are  used medicinally and as culinary herbs.  No post on the plant and its usages !  .. .. .. about a city that has the same name for Artemisia vulgaris.

It is in news as Russia and Ukraine fight for its control – Chernobyl, the abandoned city in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, situated in the Vyshhorod Raion of northern Kyiv Oblast, Ukraine. Chernobyl is about 90 kilometres (60 mi) north of Kyiv, and 160 kilometres (100 mi) southwest of the Belarusian city of Gomel. Before its evacuation, the city had about 14,000 residents, while around 1,000 people live in the city today.

First mentioned as a ducal hunting lodge in 1193, the city has changed hands multiple times over the course of history. Jews were introduced to the city in the 16th century, and a now-defunct monastery was established near the city in 1626. By the end of the 18th century, Chernobyl was a major centre of Hasidic Judaism under the Twersky Dynasty, who left Chernobyl after the city was subject to pogroms in the early 20th century. The Jewish community was later murdered during the Holocaust. Chernobyl was chosen as the site of Ukraine's first nuclear power plant in 1972, located 15 kilometres (9 mi) north of the city, which opened in 1977. Chernobyl was evacuated on 5 May 1986, nine days after a catastrophic nuclear disaster at the plant, which was the largest nuclear disaster in history. Along with the residents of the nearby city of Prypiat, which was built as a home for the plant's workers, the population was relocated to the newly built city of Slavutych, and most have never returned.

As the World would remember, the  Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the No. 4 reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the city of Pripyat in the north of the Ukrainian SSR in the Soviet Union.  It is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history both in cost and casualties.  The accident occurred during a safety test on the steam turbine of an RBMK-type nuclear reactor. During a planned decrease of reactor power in preparation for the test, the power output unexpectedly dropped to near-zero. Upon test completion, the operators triggered a reactor shutdown. But a combination of operator negligence and critical design flaws had made the reactor primed to explode. Instead of shutting down, an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction began, releasing enormous amounts of energy.  The core melted down and two or more explosions ruptured the reactor core and destroyed the reactor building. This was immediately followed by an open-air reactor core fire. It released considerable airborne radioactive contamination for about nine days that precipitated onto parts of the USSR and Western Europe, before finally ending on 4 May 1986.  The reactor explosion killed two engineers and severely burned two more.  Chernobyl's health effects to the general population are uncertain.   

The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (ChNPP), officially the Vladimir Lenin Nuclear Power Plant, is now a closed nuclear power plant located near the abandoned city of Pripyat in northern Ukraine.  The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone was the site of fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces during the Battle of Chernobyl on 24 February 2022, as part of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian forces captured the plant the same day.  It is of strategic impotance as Chernobyl sits on the shortest route from Belarus to Kyiv, Ukraine capital, and so runs along a logical line of attack for the Russian forces invading Ukraine. In seizing Chernobyl, Western military analysts said Russia was simply using the fastest invasion route from Belarus, an ally of Moscow and a staging ground for Russian troops, to Kyiv.

The capture is part of strategy of decapitation in ousting the Ukranian Govt.  After the meltdown, the radioactive strontium, caesium and plutonium mainly affected Ukraine and neighboring Belarus, as well as parts of Russia and Europe. Soviet authorities initially sought to cover up the disaster and did not immediately admit to the explosion, tarnishing the image of reformist Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his "glasnost" policies for greater openness in Soviet society. A make-shift cover, or "sarcophagus," was built within six months of the disaster to cover the stricken reactor and protect the environment from radiation. In November 2016, a so-called "New Safe Confinement" was moved over the old sarcophagus.

Sooner Ukraine would fall but would other Nations pitch in and would the war escalate are the worst fears lurking in everybody’s mind. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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