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Digital Archive International History Declassified

July 17, 1989

LETTER FROM ALEKSAKHIN AND ANNENKOV TO GORBACHEV AND RYKOV

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    Letter from director and deputy of the National Radiology and Agroecology Research Institute, being ready to lead the process of agricultural decontamination to reclaim irradiated land in 30 km exlcusion zone. In addition, they argue that there is no lack of competent specialists, contaty to the talks in Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet Union.
    "Letter from Aleksakhin and Annenkov to Gorbachev and Rykov," July 17, 1989, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Archive of the Ukrainian National Chornobyl Museum. Contributed by Anna Korolevska and Adam Higginbotham. Originally obtained from the Central State Archives of Public Organizations of Ukraine. Translated by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/208418
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   [CPSU CC stamp:      Secret

   20 JULY 89 14991]                      Copy Nº 1

to CPSU CC General Secretary

Cde. M. S. GORBACHEV

to the Chairman of the

USSR Council of Ministers

Cde. N. I. RYZHKOV

Serious concern at the state of affairs and the growth of social tension in the regions subjected to radioactive contamination as a result of the accident at the Chernobyl AEhS resonated at the USSR Congress of People's Deputies and at the first session of the USSR Supreme Soviet in a number of statements (A. Adamovich, A. Grakhovsky, Z. Tkacheva, and others).

The unfavorable situation which developed was caused by a number of factors:

- the complexity of the radiation situation in the broad territory of a number of oblasts;

- the lack in the country of a permanently operating body responsible for the effective realization of the measures developed and approved to eliminate the consequences of the radioactive contamination of the territory;

- radiophobia among broad masses of the population caused by the irresponsible and uninformed [nekompetentnye] statements of some popular writers, scientists, and other figures through mass media channels.

Calls are coming from the high tribune of the Congress "...to turn for help to foreign scientists, who have both more reliable equipment and more experience" (Z. N. Tkacheva), appeals to scientists "...to considerably step up all scientific research work at our Chernobyl' test range..." (A. A. Grakhovsky). The impression is unintentionally forming that there are neither competent specialists in the country nor the necessary knowledge and corresponding practical scientific experience to solve the problems faced, in particular in the field of agroindustrial production, the main "distributor" of radionuclides for humans.

[typed at the bottom of the first page: "Mb. 1/250s", followed by a stamp: PP-19570s]

But this is not so! In our country back at the end of the '40s and the beginning of the '50s biophysicists of the Timiryazev Agricultural Academy performed classical research on the migration of radionuclides, the results of which received world recognition and are being broadly used in our country and abroad. What is more, 30 years ago the world's first large-scale scientific production experiments were deployed to farm on contaminated agricultural land in the territory of the Eastern Urals Radioactive Trail (it appeared in 1957 after the Chelyabinsk tragedy at one of the USSR Ministry of Medium Machinebuilding enterprises). It was this unique scientific data and the results of the production experiments that laid the foundation of the recommendations to eliminate the consequences of the accident at the Chernobyl' AEhS (in the field of agroindustrial production) prepared by the USSR State Agricultural Production Committee's Commission of Scientific Experts in 1986.

As is seems to us on the whole the agrarian radiobiologists ended up  equal to the situation, and they responded to the tragedy in a timely manner and gave proper scientific support in the solution of the problems of radiation protection in the field of agroindustrial production. Along with that, it is entirely obvious that the measures being taken (frequently unsystematic) have not reduced the social tension in the regions of the disaster. It is completely justified, in our opinion, that the deputies raise the question of the development of "A Comprehensive USSR State Program to Eliminate the Consequences of the Accident at the Chernobyl' AEhS".

Our suggestions to the Program are formulated in the Attachment. The All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Agricultural Radiology [VNIISKhR] is ready to take on the function of the lead organization for scientific support of all the work in the area of agroindustrial production directed at reducing the radioactive contamination of agricultural production and the development of appropriate technologies.

The implementation of a package of work to create the conditions to return the land of the 30-km zone to commercial use should become one of the most important elements of this Program. From our point of view, there are opportunities in this zone (considering the spotty nature of radioactive contamination of the territory) both for the safe habitation of the population as well as for the organization of agroindustrial production of agricultural products with permissible levels of radioactive contamination. The scientific elaboration of this problem and appropriate scientific support of the work for its realization could be taken on by the VNII of Agricultural Radiology, which contains experimental subunits and a Department of Complex Problems of Agricultural Production, and has worked for a long time on problems of radiation protection and the support of the stable functioning of the agroindustrial complex in conditions of nuclear war.

Attachment: Suggestions on 15 pages, n/s [probably, "unclassified"] to the addressee only.

Acting Director of VNIISKhR,

Academician of the VASKhNIL [signature] R. M. Aleksakhin

[Translator's note: VASKhNIL = Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences]

Deputy Director of the VNIISKhR

for Scientific Work,

Honored RSFSR Figure of Science,

Professor [signature] B. N. Annenkov

[seal of the USSR State Agroindustrial Committee]

Mb. 1/250s

three copies printed

drafted by Annenkov

typed by Kalinskaya

17 July 1989

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