Ukraine envoy: ’86 accident vastly different

by Masami Ito

Staff Writer

Ukraine Ambassador to Japan Mykola Kulinich said Tuesday that what happened in Chernobyl was very different from Japan’s current battle at the damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and expressed his country’s support for Tokyo to overcome the incident.

Marking the 25th anniversary since the Chernobyl disaster, the ambassador held a news conference during which he stressed the need for nuclear energy despite such major accidents.

“My big piece of advice is not to discuss and not to debate should we use nuclear energy or not — we should,” Kulinich said.

“But the most important thing is what kind of nuclear safety we should have, what kind of protection we should have on the nuclear units.”

Ukraine relies on nuclear power for half of its electricity and cannot turn away from it, the ambassador said.

Kulinich pointed out that while Fukushima and Chernobyl both are level 7 disasters on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s standard, they are different in scale, cause and information disclosure from the government.

And while the Fukushima plant was damaged by a deadly earthquake and tsunami, the Chernobyl disaster was man-made.

“The nature of these two tragedies, these two accidents, are quite different,” Kulinich said.

“In our case, it was an experiment that was handled by the operators of the station, but a failed experiment.”