Democracy, Nuclear Disasters and The Chernobyl Accident

Freedom to express one’s views is the essence of democracy.

Democracy is not a structure but a way of life. Openness and the freedom to express one’s views is the essence of democracy. Democracy and free media are synonymous with one another or one can say is a synergistic combination. 

The Chernobyl Accident in 1986 is termed one of the two nuclear energy accidents rated at seven—the maximum severity—on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. However the repercussions of these two accidents are different and this is because on one side we had an open, democratic government of Japan that made no efforts to hide any facts about the accident. On the other side, we had a totalitarian regime that hid from the world and its people the ill effects of the accident.

The Chernobyl Accident happened con 26 April 1986, but its ill effects became visible months, years, decades later. Officially the Soviet Media said that 30 people were killed but experts estimate that the figures could be much higher. The absence of free and fair media made the exact calculation of the casualties impossible.

On the other hand, the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan caused a bigger debate about the costs that mankind will have to pay for nuclear energy. Numerous Nuclear power plants were shut around the world and a fresh look at the safety requirements for running the nuclear plant was made.

Lack of information also forced more than 60,000 people who worked selflessly for months to try to contain the radiation caused by the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Engineers, Nuclear Scientists, Firefighters, miners, servicemen all worked round the clock to contain the damage being fully aware of the harmful radiation will cause on their bodies.

After the first explosion, thousands of workers worked to create a shroud of concrete on the radiating core to prevent further radiation. 35 years have elapsed since the Chernobyl accident and mankind is still paying a heavy price for its follies which could have been prevented if there was a free open and democratic system of governance.

The Afghan War, Chernobyl Accident and Mikhail Gorbachev all happened in the last days of the Soviet Union before it collapsed. In a way, the Chernobyl accident proved to be the final nail in the coffin of Communism and the Soviet Union.  When Chernobyl happened the media was controlled and the losses multiplied many times over since there was no independent news source to tell the people of the gravity of the situation.

The worst lesson learnt from the Chernobyl accident is that it was not an accident. Routine tests were fast-tracked to show the progress to the higher echelons of the Soviet hierarchy, safety elements were compromised to cut costs, and it was a disaster that was waiting to happen. Had there been a free and alert fourth pillar of democracy, the media, it would have pointed to these dangers.

Thus Chernobyl Disaster was not an accident but a result of a clash between Nationalism and Jingoism. Democracy is therefore the right balance between the two.  

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