Chernobyl Disaster and Hands Across America

Published: 1986
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI

At first, a few Scandinavian nations thought their own nuclear facilities might be leaking radiation, but soon it became apparent, the skies of Northwestern Europe were becoming saturated with radiation from the world's worst nuclear power-plant accident. UPI's Luther Whittington relayed the first confirmation from the Soviet government.

Luther Whittington: Soviet TV said, aid is being given to those affected. The Soviet media only reports disasters when they affect foreigners or large numbers of Soviets.

Dennis Daily: The Soviets were slow to give details. Vice President, George Bush, told newsmen that US government was annoyed.

George Bush: There has been some response that I can't go into the detail, but it really isn't near enough and it's sparse at best.

Dennis Daily: It may take a century for the reactor to cool. On May 25th, millions of Americans in big cities, small towns, and rural areas alike linked hands in what was one of the most ambitious projects in the history of the world. Here are some echoes of Hands Across America.

Speaker: Everybody hold hands. Balloons, by the hundreds are being released here. Just a few minutes ago, we had a fire boat shooting streams of water in New York Harbor.

Speaker: They are holding hands out here in Long Beach. Thousands of people running right out to the end of top where the Queen Mary is. They are holding hands at the very end of the line, a family from a local shelter.

Speaker: President Reagan, Mrs. Reagan holding hands with some children.

Dennis Daily: The project was a success in raising money to help starving Americans, but it felt short of its announced financial goal. 1986, the Year-end Review continues in a moment on the UPI Radio Network.