My first memory: Chernobyl.

Credit: D. Markosian: One Day in the Life of Chernobyl, VOA News, photo gallery.

This story in The Atlantic Cities about children living in the area near Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has jerked my memory. The story is about how children in the area affected by the nuclear disaster are kept indoors, and consequently seem to suffer from a variety of health ailments.

My first memory – ever – is the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. When it happened in 1986 I was about two-and-a-half years old: I distinctly remember being scared of going near the windows, and trying to figure our how our whole extended family would fit in my grandmother’s cellar (which measures about 1mx1m), where she used to store home-made cordial.

Ever since I’ve been fascinated, in a scared kind of way, of nuclear power. In lower secondary I did a project/exhibition about Chernobyl. Finland was one of the countries affected by the fallout, and some claim that radioactivity still persists, though I ate mushrooms throughout my childhood.

Interestingly though, Finland was not the country to first alert the world the Chernobyl disaster – that was Sweden. A quick Google won’t confirm this, but I’ve been told that’s because there was a general strike in Finland the day the radioactive fallout arrived, and the only person at the station where radiation levels were measured was a cleaner or janitor who simply turned the alarm off.

Even though I wasn’t really affected, the memory of Chernobyl has stayed with me to this day. I can only imagine what the children of Fukushima will remember.


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