Natalia Manzurova, shown here in 1988 in the 'dead zone' of the Pripyat, is one of the relatively few survivors among those directly involved in the cleanup of Chernobyl. Courtesy of Natalia Manzurova / aolnews.com

By Dana Kennedy
Mar 22, 2011 – 1:23 PM

Natalia Manzurova, one of the few survivors among those directly involved in the long cleanup of Chernobyl, was a 35-year-old engineer at a nuclear plant in Ozersk, Russia, in April 1986 when she and 13 other scientists were told to report to the wrecked, burning plant in the northern Ukraine.

It was just four days after the world's biggest nuclear disaster spewed enormous amounts of radiation into the atmosphere and forced the evacuation of 100,000 people.

Manzurova and her colleagues were among the roughly 800,000 "cleaners" or "liquidators" in charge of the removal and burial of all the contamination in what's still called the dead zone.

She spent 4 1/2 years helping clean the abandoned town of Pripyat, which was less than two miles from the Chernobyl reactors. The plant workers lived there before they were abruptly evacuated.

Manzurova, now 59 and an advocate for radiation victims worldwide, has the "Chernobyl necklace" -- a scar on her throat from the removal of her thyroid -- and myriad health problems. But unlike the rest of her team members, who she said have all died from the results of radiation poisoning, and many other liquidators, she's alive.

AOL News spoke with Manzurova about the nuclear disaster in Japan with the help of a translator on the telephone Monday from Vermont. Manzurova, who still lives in Ozersk, was beginning a one-week informational tour of the U.S. organized by the Beyond Nuclear watchdog group.

AOL News: What was your first reaction when you heard about Fukushima?

Manzurova: It felt like déjà vu. I felt so worried for the people of Japan and the children especially. I know the experience that awaits them.

But experts say Fukushima is not as bad as Chernobyl.

Every nuclear accident is different, and the impact cannot be truly measured for years. The government does not always tell the truth. Many will never return to their homes. Their lives will be divided into two parts: before and after Fukushima. They'll worry about their health and their children's health. The government will probably say there was not that much radiation and that it didn't harm them. And the government will probably not compensate them for all that they've lost. What they lost can't be calculated.

What message do you have for Japan?

Run away as quickly as possible. Don't wait. Save yourself and don't rely on the government because the government lies. They don't want you to know the truth because the nuclear industry is so powerful. …

Chernobyl Cleanup Survivor's Message for Japan: 'Run Away as Quickly as Possible'

1 comments :

  1. Anonymous said...

    Thank you for your insightful information.........i am old, 69 but my memory is very good and i had to look long and hard to find out about your plight during your horror. The sad fact is ALL governments react the same.
    "Say anything to shut them up and keep them quiet."  

 

Blog Template by Adam Every . Sponsored by Business Web Hosting Reviews