Radiation high over Europe after Chernobyl disaster – archive, 3 May 1986

How to Wear a N95 Mask

By dusk last night, every country in mainland Europe had experienced higher than normal radiation as a result of the Chernobyl disaster. Only the Iberian peninsula was still clear, as governments in East and West, having recovered from the initial panic, started to count the medium-term costs.

Changes in wind direction from the epicentre at Kiev created fresh uncertainties throughout the day. The consensus among meteorologists was that the south-east wind which had done its worst earlier in the week in parts of Poland and Scandinavia was now veering towards due east, affecting Greece, Yugoslavia, and south-west Germany.

France reported “a minor increase” in atmospheric radioactivity, while Holland reported yesterday that, for the first time since the disaster, radiation levels were markedly higher than normal. In that country, government plans to air details of a proposed shift to nuclear power in the 1990s were shelved indefinitely.

The brunt of the contamination continued to be borne by the countries closest to the disaster area – notably Poland and East Germany – as well as Sweden, which has been seeking to take remedial measures since the beginning of the week.

The Swedish authorities ordered farmers to keep their cattle indoors – possibly for some weeks – and said people should not drink rainwater or eat wild vegetables or mushrooms. One fear in Stockholm is that the wind could veer back towards Sweden early next week.

In Poland, the most acutely affected East European country, the public debate continues to be exhaustive but not enough to prevent the panic buying of iodine and uncontaminated foods. The official aim last night was still to give everyone under 16 – well over 10 million – an antidote of sodium iodine to prevent contamination.

The East Germans said that radiation levels in East Berlin were more than 100 times higher than normal but not a danger to health, but the West Germans said they were limiting supplies of fresh milk from the most affected parts of the country. Last night these were Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, the Rhineland, and the Saarland.

The Government and the health authorities, however, warned people against taking iodine pills to counter the possible effects of radiation, as the first cases of iodine poisoning were reported in Hesse.

Over the past few days, chemists have reported a run on iodine tablets all over West Germany, and particularly in West Berlin, where stocks were sold out.

Both Romania and Yugoslavia reported sharp increases in radiation levels. There were warnings from Bucharest not to drink water indiscriminately, and from Belgrade not to stay over long out of doors.

In the Benelux countries, officials reported higher than usual radiation and called for vegetables to be washed, while the Swiss authorities said that, despite radiation at 10 times higher than normal levels, they would be pressing ahead with plans for a further nuclear plant in the 1990s.

Italy yesterday prohibited the sale of salad greens and barred a variety of imports from northern Europe. The Health Minister, Mr Costante Degan signed an order that forbade vendors from selling fresh leafy vegetables.

Source by [author_name]

Share this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *