EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story is based on a pool report fil
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story is based on a pool report filed by the first Western reporters allowed to go to Kiev since the Chernobyl nuclear accident. The English-language press was represented in the pool by Reuters correspondent Charles Bremner.
KIEV, U.S.S.R. (AP) _ Radiation tests given to 20,000 people, including 5,500 children, in recent days have turned up no sign of ill effects from the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, the Ukrainian health minister said in an article published today.
The article in the official Pravda Ukrainy newspaper by Anatoly Romanenko also repeated recommendations that people wash well, water down their streets and yards and keep children indoors to avoid any contamination from radioactivity released by the April 26 explosion and fire at the atomic power plant.
The Soviets have said two people were killed and more than 200 injured in the accident, believed to the worst in history involving a nuclear reactor.
″The situation has markedly improved since my last address,″ Romamnenko said in today’s article. ″The level of background radiation is gradually falling. At present it is in the limit of the norms recommended by national and international organizations and does not represent a danger to the health of the population, including children.″
The Pravda Ukrainy article, however, did not make clear whether Romanenko was referring to the Chernobyl site, which has been evacuated, or the city of Kiev itself, 80 miles to the south.
On Thursday, Ukrainian Premier Alexander Lyashko told a group of visiting reporters that a fire at the four-reactor power plant was still smoldering.
″The temperature of the reactor has gone down to 300 degrees Celsius (572 degrees Fahrenheit),″ Lyashko said. ″This means that the burning has practically stopped. The radiation is stable with the tendency downward.″
Officials, however, did not provide precise readings.
Today, the mayor of Kiev told the reporters visiting his city, the third largest in the Soviet Union, that 250,000 children will leave school early this year because of the Chernobyl accident, but said the decision was not an emergency measure.
″We are simply advancing the normal school holiday a little bit,″ Valentin Sgursky said.
The selected group of Western and East bloc correspondents taken to Kiev found the city in a holiday mood with the approach of the annual Victory Day commemoration of the World War II victory over Nazism, to be celebrated today.
The journalists, escorted everywhere by Soviet officials, noted a heavy police presence on the streets.
From the bus that brought them from the airport downtown on Thursday, the reporters could see police stopping cars on the edge of Kiev. Residents later said police have been conducting spot radiation checks.
Water trucks washed down the streets as part to combat dust that may carry radioactive particles from the Chernobyl accident. Officials have warned residents not to eat lettuce and to keep their homes free of dust.
Otherwise, traffic appeared quiet. People strolled in the park and fished in the Dnieper River on an evening with 72-degree temperatures.
Nina, a guide for the government Intourist travel agency, said most Kiev residents heard about the accident before the government announcement.
″People were worried on the first day, we heard about it on Sunday, through friends,″ said Nina, who did not give her last name. ″Now, people are calm.″
She said Kiev residents ″thought in the first days that the authorities did not act fast enough. Now we have all the information.″