reprinted with permission from
Poison Fire, Sacred Earth,
TESTIMONIES, LECTURES, CONCLUSIONS,
THE WORLD URANIUM HEARING, SALZBURG 1992
. . . It was painful to look at the people, whom we had to evacuate from there. How many tears -- especially children, especially the old people -- because they didn't understand why they had to leave their house, their property.
. . . But we still have another concern. There is uranium ore at present in Estonia and a so-called Uranium Lake, which is situated 6.5 kilometers away from the Gulf of Finland. Now, at the present moment, an international group of experts is working there and we do not know yet what the results will be, but, according to the opinion of the experts, 1,200 tons of pure uranium is lying there.
Andres Illan, Estonia. Member of a clean-up task-force in Chernobyl.
(This speech was held originally in Russian)
Good morning, dear Friends! First of all, I would like to thank you for the invitation I received from your coordinators. As for the speech here was about Chernobyl, I would like to include two parts in my speech: The first part about the happenings in Chernobyl where I worked as a liquidator -- nowadays I am disabled; the second part will be about the uranium lake which is located in the Estonian Republic.
In 1986, there was an information blackout in the whole Soviet Union, as we know. We didn't know what had happened, but we noticed it when the Military Commissioners' Office began calling up soldiers for reserve duty, who had earlier served in the Soviet Army. For our motherland -- Estonia -- it amounted to genocide, because they didn't ask us if we wanted to go there or not. They took the people from their houses, they came at night, they came to the work place. They gathered them in the morning. In the case of refusal they could deprive us of our liberty for three years, so that we had to choose -- either prison or Chernobyl.
I, personally, I worked as a driver in a Red Cross car, as an ambulance man at that time; they had taken me from work as soon as I appeared there. I didn't have time to say good-bye to my family and within two hours, I was already in a military uniform. There was not any elementary medical commission, which could have estimated the state of the health of the people.
That was in the year 1986. In the following years, there was some medical control, but we know that in the year 1986, there was not a Chernobyl catastrophe, it was like a nuclear war for me and for the 5,000 people who were taken from 1986 until 1990 from the Estonian Republic. The main, most important facts about Chernobyl have been told now. I will not repeat them. I will only say a few words about the conditions under which we had to live there. The conditions were very basic, as you have already heard, i.e. what was necessary there -- the protective mask and protective clothing -- all one could do was dream about it. We lived under field conditions there, we slept in tents, we slept in the same military uniform. It was painful to look at the people, whom we had to evacuate from there. How many tears -- especially children, especially the old people -- because they didn't understand why they had to leave their house, their property.
When I think about it nowadays, I don't regret about having been there, although the result of it was that I lost my family, lost my health. I don't regret, because I saw that the work which I did there was necessary, though many things from what more than 600,000 people were doing there within four years, not less than one half was there simply -- I can't find the words -- senseless work, engineering work, deactivation. Now these places are all empty, but the people endangered their health.
We are happy that we separated from the Soviet Union, by whom we had been occupied. We are very grateful to your states, to the 34 countries, who recognized the Estonian Republic again in the year 1991.
I want to tell you that now in Estonia already 53 people out of these 5,000 people have died up until now. 17 invalids -- all this is the evidence of what they have done to our people. But we still have another concern. There is uranium ore at present in Estonia and a so-called Uranium Lake, which is situated 6.5 kilometers away from the Gulf of Finland. Now, at the present moment, an international group of experts is working there and we do not know yet what the results will be, but, according to the opinion of the experts, 1,200 tons of pure uranium is lying there.
Among other things, I want to present a little token to the listeners of the Uranium Hearing. I want to present an Estonian flag. I am proud and I am very glad that I do that because as far as uranium is concerned, our parliament has taken the decision to remove at once two reactors which are situated on the Estonian land.
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