Offer to send experts on Chernobyl crisis


UKRAINE:UKRAINE HAS offered to send atomic power experts who dealt with the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl accident to Japan to help handle the crisis at its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

A huge explosion tore apart the Chernobyl plant in what was then the Soviet republic of Ukraine on April 26th, 1986, when an experiment on a reactor’s cooling system went disastrously wrong.

Official Soviet figures said 31 people died in the immediate aftermath of the accident, but hundreds of thousands are thought to have suffered long-term health problems as a result since then.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said nuclear experts were ready to fly to Japan after a series of explosions fuelled fears of a meltdown at the Fukushima plant, which is of a much more modern and robust design than Chernobyl.

Japan did not immediately give an official response to Kiev’s offer, but two of the experts, Vladimir Asmolov and Valery Strizhov, were yesterday reportedly preparing to fly to Tokyo to discuss the emergency and to go to the stricken Fukushima power station if necessary.

“We are ready to go to the scene if needed,” said Mr Asmolov, who is the deputy head of Russia’s state nuclear power company, Rosatom.

Mr Strizhov is deputy director of Russia’s Institute for Safety of Nuclear Energy.

“We are ready to provide whatever advice is needed, whatever we know, but we will not interfere in management processes,” Mr Asmolov added.

“The situation has taken a sharp turn for the worse.

“Most important is to keep providing water and power supply to the station.”

Ukraine also said a 45-strong unit of rescue workers with specially trained dogs and radiation detection and protection kits was ready to travel to the areas worst hit by last Friday’s powerful earthquake and tsunami which hit the northeast of Japan.