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Human Rights and the Consequences of Chernobyl Belrad Institute and the « Lost Villages » of Gomel – Belarus


Over two million Belarusians are living on soil contaminated by the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986. Since then, inhabitants have been eating contaminated food, causing an accumulation of radionuclides in organs and the central nervous system.

This is a rural population, very attached to its natural environment. The forest, mushrooms, berries, game, birch juice and water for fishing. These natural products are the most dangerous food sources in terms of radiation. Resulting chronic contamination has harmful effects on health and children are the most affected. Populations in most affected zones depend on minimal support from the Belarusian State and the Minsk-based Belrad Institute, which is represented in France by the Enfants de Tchernobyl association.

The institute was created in Minsk in 1990 by Professor Vassili Nesterenko, a former senior nuclear physicist who after the accident converted himself in radioprotection. He developed a system measuring children’s Caesium 137 radioactivity level and a pectin-based treatment reducing the accumulated rate in their body. 

The Belrad team visits the most affected villages and measures children’s internal Caesium 137 rates, provides them with free pectin and does some educational work to radioprotection with families and in schools. The institute also offers scientific support to children’s convalescence trips abroad.

Belrad, through radiological measures presented in analytical studies, is currently the only irrefutable witness of radioactive contamination in part of Belarusian territory. Their work goes against the reassuring vision of Belarusian government and international organisations under the aegis of World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). They have claimed that territories affected by the accident are no longer dangerous to populations.

We have been supporting Belrad’s work for many years and been participating in advocacy work to cancel the IAEA/WHO agreement and to re-establish WHO’s independence on nuclear radiation sanitary consequences in partnership with Independent WHO work group.