Quintina Valero

Life after Chernobyl
Location: Madrid
Nationality: Spanish
Biography: Quintina Valero is an award-winning photojournalist currently based in Spain. After a career in finance, in 2001 she moved to London (UK) to study photojournalism at the University of the Arts. Since then, Quintina has worked as a press... MORE
Public Story
Life after Chernobyl
Copyright Quintina Valero 2024
Date of Work Apr 2015 - Ongoing
Updated Nov 2020
Topics Abandonment, Agriculture, Cancer, Chernobyl, Disaster, Documentary, Energy, Environment, Family, Food, Health, Lands, Landscape, Migration, Nuclear, Photography, Photojournalism, Poverty, Radiation, Relationships, Science

In April 1986, Chernobyl’s nuclear plant suffered the biggest accident in history, being one of the greatest environment disasters on the planet. The amount of radioactive and toxic material was 500 times greater than the Hiroshima bomb in 1945.

The forced migration of the community, death, and terror seized the population of Ukraine. It was created an isolated zone of 30 km radius around the nuclear plant and although more than 600,000 people were affected; there are still no conclusive results on the real incidence of the accident.

These photographs portray the impact of the nuclear accident both inside the exclusion zone and the Narodichi Region. Located 50 km southwest of Chernobyl’s nuclear plant, Narodichi is one of the worst hit areas by the radiation and only detected five years after the explosion. Almost 100,000 people were affected of which 20,000 were children.

What was previously a prosperous area has become one of the poorest regions in Ukraine today. The effects of radiation, alongside the collapse of collective farming due to the fall of the Soviet Union, have had tragic consequences for the local people and their land.

Though evacuation was enforced in 1991, many families are still living in the region. They believed in their land, refusing to accept an invisible radiation that is less tangible than their sense of belonging. Now, however, many cry when they tell their stories and the illnesses of their children. 

People were advised not to eat produce from their land but poverty left them with no option but to return to farming forcing them to bring up children in areas where radiation still remain. About 60% of children suffer from malnutrition, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

These photographs are a testimony to the communities living with the poisonous ­­legacy of Chernobyl. The radiation is, and continues to be, their invisible enemy.

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Life after Chernobyl by Quintina Valero
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