Chernobyl has demonstrated that the earth is too small a place
for a nuclear accident to happen.
Chernobyl is not the past,
Chernobyl is not history,
Chernobyl is the beginning.

With these words, photographer/author Pierpaolo Mittica states the premise of his passionate personal mission to investigate, research, document and expose the catastrophe that remains and continues 21 years after the nuclear explosion at Chernobyl in 1986.

To many of us, the event seems like old news. But in this excellent book of extended research, photodocumentary and reporting, the faces and facts are presented in compelling clarity. The expanses of abandoned cities, buildings left in a hurry, and decaying rural villages — all still contaminated with megadoses of deadly radioactivity — become mutely horrifying testimonies of the extent of damage.

Worse yet, many of the thousands of victims of nuclear-related pathologies (mostly young, since many older victims are already dead) tell their stories from cancer wards and orphanages for handicapped children with genetic defects. Older residents from the surrounding contaminated areas have chosen to return to their homes to live out their limited lives on their own familiar turf rather than in substandard state-sponsored housing projects. One elderly resident acknowledged the danger but said this: “Here we can cultivate the land and raise animals. We know that everything is contaminated by radioactivity, but we prefer not to die of hunger.”

More than one million people have already died from Chernobyl, yet the tragedy continues to take its toll. “At the present time nine million people in Belarus, the Ukraine and western Russia continue living in areas with very high levels of radioactivity, consuming contaminated food and water.”

The series of photographs are interspersed here and there throughout the book with short easy-to-read essays, statistics, maps, and quotes from scientists, doctors, residents, and international governmental reports. The facts and photographs build on each other toward a frightening conclusion that is impossible to dismiss. It is engrossing, enlightening, and unforgettable.

The bibliography includes a long list of sources, including books, documentary films, web sites, and footnotes to some 200 scientific, medical and governmental reports. The widespread political–economical cover-ups that continue to minimize the extent of damages and ongoing danger are mind-boggling and maddening. It is outrageous to think that the World Health Organization (WHO) is in collusion with proponents of nuclear power, but Mittica’s research claims that lies and censorship are rampant throughout the UN and related agencies.

If you are ambivalent about nuclear energy, I assure you that you will quickly become well-informed about the costs, consequences and ongoing risks created by the existence of even one nuclear power plant anywhere in the world. In the former USSR alone there are still 11 defective Chernobyl-style reactors in operation. There are no plans in place to dismantle these time bombs.

I encourage you to buy the book, read it, and pass it on to your intelligent friends.

—Jim Casper

Chernobyl: The Hidden Legacy
Photos and text by Pierpaolo Mittica
With additional text by Naomi Rosenblum, Rosalie Bertell, Wladimir Tchertkoff
Paperback, 40 pages, 80 tri-tone images
Trolley Press 2007
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