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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 April 2006, 17:35 GMT 18:35 UK
Chernobyl voices: Mykhailo Martinyuk
Mikhailo Martinyuk

Mykhailo Martinyuk
Lorry driver at meat processing factory

I took part in the evacuation of the Chernobyl zone. We were told on 26 April 1986 to be ready, and on 2 and 3 May we were given the task of taking the cattle from a collective farm in Lelev (a village a few kilometres from the power station).

I never knew what dose I had absorbed. We did not have any dosimeters. But at the time we were told the radiation in Lelev was two roentgen per hour. We spent about 24 hours there. I destroyed my clothes before going home.

The cattle I delivered for processing did not react to commands - you could hit them, and they would not respond
I did various jobs moving cattle from different parts of the zone, over the following months and years.

We took some cows to the meat processing factory in Zhytomir, where I work, to be measured for radiation. The level was high, 60 to 80 milliroentgen per hour. So the animals were taken to other farms for a month "to get better".

Leukaemia

I brought some others cows back to the factory after just such a period of "getting better" and they appeared in fact to have got a lot worse.

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When we evacuated the cows from Lelev they behaved normally. But the cattle I delivered for processing did not react to commands. You could hit them, and they would not respond.

Of the 14 drivers based in Zhytomir who did this work, only four are still alive.

I began to feel ill on 18 December last year. I have since been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia.

Doctors have prescribed interferon, but finding the money for medicine is difficult here. I do not know whether I will be able to do it.

If I continue working I will have to give up being a driver. It is possible I will have to give up work altogether.





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