Monday, April 24, 2006

It's already been 20 years since Chernobyl

[ - Chernobyl�agony felt 20 years on - Apr 24, 2006] And that makes me feel old because I was on a train to Leningrad on a Junior High field trip when the Chernobyl disaster happened. We found out about the disaster the next day on the radio in an English language broadcast in Leningrad. At the end of our trip, we flew back to Luxemburg and we had to stay on the airplane until a guy with a geiger counter checked us over.

Later that day, we returned to our Junior High at Ramstein Germany and they had a kind of triage thing set up in our gymnasium. They scraped dirt from our fingernails, asked us if we ate any seaford, waved Geiger counters over our shoes etc. I think they were trying to get a picture of how much radiation ended up in Leningrad on the dates we were there. The Commies weren't saying much about what happened and we were, apparently, important test subjects to get a picture of what was going on. Turns out that we were ok.

I am profoundly grateful that for me and my family the long term lasting impact of the Chernobyl disaster is that I can tell my kids about it. Many families in the Ukraine are not so fortunate.

I see that they are having a Conference on what can be learned from the disaster. I guess the big lesson would be "don't have a multi-national enviornmental disaster inside a closed country that won't tell the rest of the world what's going on"


Jen said...

we're old... I saw the headline on my yahoo page and thought of your trip. I remember being at home and worried about you guys.

Ethan said...

Mike, could you drop me a line at

Dawnawanna said...

That's funny, when I saw the headline I thought of your trip too. I remember you having to collect your urine for a week. I only remember because it was in a container in the refridgerator the whole time.