Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster | The Chernobyl Accident | What Happened | The Long-Term Impact | Chernobyl 1986
The Chernobyl Disaster:
More than 30 years on from the disaster (Chernobyl 1986) that made its name infamous the Chernobyl nuclear power plant still holds an uneasy fascination for many.
The events of April 1986 have recently been dramatized in HBO series but what happened and why did it send shockwaves throughout the world?
The Soviet Union invested heavily in nuclear power after World War II and the VI Lenin nuclear power station 10 miles to the North of Chernobyl had become operational in 1977.
There were four RBMK nuclear reactors at the site each capable of producing 1000 megawatts of electric power.
On the night of the 25th of April 1986 sleep-deprived plant workers ran a series of tests on reactive four during a period of routine maintenance, they wanted to see whether the reactor could still be cooled if the plan lost power but they violated safety protocols and several power surges occurred inside the reactor.
It led to a chain reaction of explosions powerful enough to blow off the steel and concrete lid.
The reactor core exposed radioactive material spewed into the atmosphere.
Official reports claimed that 2 plant workers died in the initial explosion, but some estimates put the number closer to 50. Dozens of firefighters called in to extinguish the flames were also hospitalized with radiation sickness.
With the Cold War still going on the Soviet Union did all it could to avoid the disaster gaining international attention.
It was 36 hours until orders were issued for the neighboring town of Pripyat built for plant workers in 1970 to be vacuolated.
By the time airborne radioactivity was being picked up at Swedish monitoring stations, the Soviets could no longer sustain secrecy around the event.
They made a brief announcement on April the 28th and an outcry over the dangers posed by radioactive emissions began in many western European countries.
To contain the fire blazing in the exposed core sand boron clay and LED were dropped onto the flames.
The Soviets then tried clearing debris with remote-controlled robots but when the machine started breaking down in the toxic atmosphere, groups of men were brought in to clear 100 tons of radioactive material on the area.
Later in the year, the first steel sarcophagus was built to contain the plant’s fourth reactor, despite being structurally unsound it would remain in place until 2016 when a new container was built.
Even with this protection is estimated the zone around the reactor itself will not be habitable for another 20,000 years.
Consequences of Chernobyl 1986:
The Soviet Union eventually established a 19-mile-wide exclusion zone around the reactor. Uprooting some 335 thousand people, nevertheless, a UN report asserted that more than 6000 children and adolescents develop thyroid cancer as a direct result of the incident.
Hundreds of thousands people may ultimately have been affected.
On top of this, it’s estimated the disaster costs over 235 billion dollars in damages.
It contaminated almost 1/4 of agricultural land in modern Belarus and hastened the collapse of the Soviet Union.
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The current state of affairs – Chernobyl 1986:
Other than a few scientists and tourists intrigued by Chernobyl’s history (Chernobyl 1986), the zone around the power plant is now eerily quiet and remains off-limits to anyone without a permit.
Even today the full scale of the disaster isn’t fully understood and remains an area of active research.