The most notorious legacy of pollution from the
is the April 26, 1986, accident at the Chornobyl' nuclear
plant in Ukraine. Some 70 percent of the radiation spewed
carried by the wind to Belarus, where it affected at least
percent of the country--especially the Homyel' (Gomel' in
Russian) and Mahilyow (Mogilėv in Russian)
(sing., voblasts'), or counties, in the south and
southeast, and 22 percent of the population. Although more
million people (including 600,000 children) lived in areas
affected by fallout from the disaster, the Soviet
tried to cover up the accident until Swedish scientists
for an explanation of the unusually high levels of
radiation in Sweden.
The Belorussian government's request to the Soviet
for a minimum of 17 billion rubles to deal with the
was answered with Moscow's offer of only 3 billion rubles.
According to one official in 1993, the per capita
the accident was one kopek in Russia, three kopeks in
and one ruble (100 kopeks) in Belarus.
Despite the government's establishment of the State
for Chornobyl', the enactment of laws limiting who may
contaminated areas, and the institution of a national
research on the effects, little progress was made in
the consequences of the disaster, owing to the lack of
the government's sluggish attitude. In 1994 a resettlement
program for 170,000 residents was woefully underbudgeted
behind schedule. To assist victims of Chornobyl', a
organization, the Know-How Fund, provided many Belarusian
with training in the latest bone-marrow techniques in
the United States.
The long-range effects of the disaster include an
incidence of various kinds of cancer and birth defects;
congenital defects in newborns are reported to be 40
higher than before the accident. Tainted water, livestock,
produce, and land are widespread, and the extensive
retain high concentrations of radiation. Cleanup of the
accounted for 14 percent of the state budget in 1995.
environmental problems include widespread chemical
the soil, which shows excessive pesticide levels, and the
industrial pollution found in nearly all the large cities.
Data as of June 1995