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Nuclear Textbook Provokes Debate

Published: April 18, 2006 (Issue # 1162)


As the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster approaches on April 26, a group of Russian environmentalists has published a school textbook about the accident and begun nationwide distribution.

Titled Chernobyl Lessons, the book, put together by experts from Ecodefense, Greenpeace Russia and Bellona, describes the disaster and its consequences in great detail, explaining the dangers of radiation, analyzing the mistakes that were made and suggesting protection strategies for similar situations.

The lectures give a critical assessment of nuclear industry in general, and offer a comparative study of the risks and benefits of nuclear industry versus renewable energy, such as, for instance, wind energy. The book is intended to be used during lessons on biology, physics, sociology and personal safety.

One of the sections contains the testimonies of Chernobyl survivors.

Local teachers have been keen to acquire the book, Rashid Alimov, editor of environmental portal Bellona.ru, told The St. Petersburg Times on Friday.

We received orders for over two hundred copies after just the first two presentations, and the interest is growing, Alimov said.

In Alimovs opinion, the book should be of special use in St. Petersburg. The Leningrad Nuclear Power Station still exploits the Chernobyl-type reactors, and the plant is close to the city, he said. People need to read it, if only for safety awareness, and because nobody else seems to be willing to educate them about it.

Andrei Ozharovsky, one of the books authors and a leading expert with Moscow-based environmental organization Ecodefence, said the general syllabus in high schools in Russia gives a light-weight superficial coverage of the worlds largest-ever nuclear catastrophe.

The teachers, if they touch on the topic at all, tend to present the Chernobyl disaster as some kind of technical malfunction, without putting the accident in context with the risks that nuclear industry presents as such, Ozharovsky said during the books presentation at the Regional Press Institute on Friday.

The book quotes Lyudmila Ignatenko, the widow of a man who survived the initial blast. As a firefighter, he was sent to the scene of the accident without any special protective gear. He was wearing a shirt, and all his colleagues were too, Ignatenko said.

They hadnt been warned about the radiation, they were told it was an ordinary fire.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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