Radioactive contamination from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster is still causing problems, Pravda said Monday in an article that appeared to support fears that the fallout was worse than initially thought.
The Communist Party newspaper published the first comprehensive map of the areas affected by the contamination and said some people wrongly thought that all the problems caused by the April, 1986, accident had been cleared up.
“There are people who are trying to prove Chernobyl is in the past as if it is time to forget about it,” Pravda said in a commentary accompanying an article by Yuri A. Izreal, chairman of the Soviet state committee on hydrometeorology.
“Of course, enormous work has been done but we should not relax now, because many years will be needed to put the tragedy into the past and the main task is to draw conclusions from the accident.”
Thirty-one people were killed as a result of an explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the Ukraine, which sent a cloud of radioactive particles over Europe.
A 1988 study showed 230,000 people were living in areas where contamination was higher than the maximum permitted level set by the Soviet government for those who live near the accident zone, Izreal wrote.
This posed no danger to their health as long as uncontaminated food supplies were brought in from elsewhere and safety checks were continually carried out, he added.
More than 3,800 square miles of Soviet territory had contamination levels exceeding the maximum permitted, Izreal said.
The map in Pravda was the first to appear in the main Soviet press and the first to give an overview of the situation in the European part of the Soviet Union.