Chernobyl Veteran

Chernobyl Veteran medal

Chernobyl Veteran medal

This medal was awarded for veterans of the Chernobyl Veterans(Russian: ВЕТЕРАН ЧОРНОБИЛЯ), the the civil and military personnel who were called upon to deal with consequences of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster on the site of the event in the former Soviet Union. The veterans are widely credited with limiting both the immediate and long-term damage from the disaster. The accompanying certificate was awarded with the medal shown above. The Russian “ЧАЕС” is an abbreviation for Nuclear Power Plant.

Most Soviet-time veterans were coerced to work for a certain medically reasonable time by

Chernobyl medal award certificate (outside)

Chernobyl medal award certificate (outside)

means of direct order, motivation and withholding information on the operation’s life-threatening occupational hazards which included exposure not only to radiation and severe stress but also to poisonous materials used to contain the destroyed reactor building. However, thousands of liquidators volunteered to participate or to extend their work beyond the initial compulsory term. The medal says “Veteran”.

Presently, all liquidators qualify for significant social benefits due to their veteran status—something that was not even mentioned at the time of the disaster management. Many liquidators were praised as heroes by the Soviet government and the press, while some struggled for years to have their participation officially recognized.

Chernobyl medal certificate (inside)

Chernobyl medal certificate (inside)

The colloquial term “Liquidator” (Russian: ликвида́тор, likvidator) originates from the Soviet official phrase in Russian “участник ликвидации последствий аварии на Чернобыльской АЭС” (uchastnik likvidatsyi posledstviy avarii na Tchernobylskoi AES, literally “participant in liquidation of the Chernobyl NPP accident consequences”) which was widely used to describe the Liquidators’ activities regarding their employment, healthcare and retirement. This exact phrase is engraved on the Soviet medals and badges awarded to the Liquidators.

Exposures and health effects experienced by liquidators

Between 1986 and 1992, it is thought between 600,000 and one million people participated in works around Chernobyl and were exposed to some level of radiation.

Total recorded doses to individual workers in Chernobyl recovery operations during the period through 1990 ranged from less than 10 millisieverts (less than 1 rem) to more than 1 Sievert (100 rems), due primarily to external radiation. The average dose is estimated to have been 120 millisieverts (12 rem) and 85% of the recorded doses were between 20 and 500 millisieverts (2 to 50 rems). There are large uncertainties in these individual doses; estimates of the size of the uncertainty range from 50% to a factor of five and dose records for military personnel are thought to be biased toward high values. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) estimates the total collective dose to the total of about 530,000 recovery operations workers as about 60,000 person-sieverts (6,000,000 person-rem).

Because of the dissolution of the USSR in the 1990s, evaluations about liquidators’ health are difficult, since they come from various countries (mostly Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, but also other former Soviet republics). Furthermore, the government of Russia has never been keen on giving the true figures for the disaster, or even on making serious estimates. However, according to a study by Belarusian physicians, rate of cancers among this population is about four times greater than the rest of the population. All the figures quoted by various agencies are controversial.

Location: 18-E1

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