The radiation-contaminated town of Chernobyl, near the site of the world's worst nuclear accident, is being razed because it won't be fit for human habitation for decades, Pravda said Saturday.
Officials even plan to erase the Chernobyl administrative region by eliminating Communist Party and government bodies in the area and transferring seven villages to a neighboring region, the newspaper reported."That will be the end to the Chernobyl problem," Pravda noted in an article that objected to the plans.
Pravda complained that local authorities are taking drastic action without trying hard enough to clean up the 800-year-old town. It questioned why the decision was made without prior announcement and without consulting the people who wanted to go back to the area to live.
Pravda said the town's fate was decided by the local Atomic Energy Ministry Combine, and the newspaper suggested the Academy of Sciences or higher government organs should have been involved in the decision.
Chernobyl, once home to 10,000 people, was evacuated in April 1986 after a fire at the power plant with the same name spewed radiation worldwide. Officials said 31 people were killed.
"The radiation situation in Chernobyl is such that full life of people cannot resume for decades," V. Komarov, chief engineer of the nuclear power agency now running the power plant, was quoted as saying.
Local authorities in the town, which is 11 miles from the plant, burned one house and then bulldozed two streets of homes in the central district, the Communist Party newspaper said. Some of the buildings were just three years old.
At first, authorities planned to tear down only dilapidated houses, Komarov wrote in a power plant newspaper quoted by Pravda.
But "by the time normal life can return, all the houses will be equally dilapidated and living in them will be impossible," he was quoted as saying. "There will be scarcely anything to preserve at all!"