The Chernobyl nuclear disaster took place on the 26th April 1986 in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the city of Pripyat. It was caused by a flawed reactor design that was operated with insufficiently trained personnel.
The resulting steam explosion and fires released at least 5% of the radioactive reactor core into the atmosphere and downwind .
- Two Chernobyl plant workers died on the night of the accident, and a further 28 people died within a few weeks as a result of acute radiation poisoning.
- UNSCEAR says that apart from increased thyroid cancers, “there is no evidence of a major public health impact attributable to radiation exposure 20 years after the accident.”
- Resettlement of areas from which people were relocated is ongoing. In 2011 Chernobyl was officially declared a tourist attraction.
It was a consequence of the Cold war and lack of safety procedures at the time. Two days later, after the Soviets attempted to keep the incident a secret, the world found out about the explosion. It was discovered when various plants recorded unusually high levels of radiation in the area. Although the Soviets first denied any knowledge of the event, they eventually admitted that one of the reactors had been “damaged.” During the cover-up, the Soviets also attempted to clean the up mess. They tried to douse the fires created by the explosion with water, sand, lead, and even Nitrogen but the fires were not put out until nearly two weeks later. Citizens were told to stay indoors and the town of Pripyat was not evacuated until a day after the incident, but the damage had already been done and the radiation, 100 times more powerful than that of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, began to affect the citizens.
Thirty-one people died immediately after the explosion but, as a result of the radiation, thousands more would die due to long term effects. As cleanup continued, contaminated topsoil and water were contained and put into sealed barrels. Soviet engineers also encased the remains of the fourth reactor in a large, concrete sarcophagus to prevent additional radiation leakage. However, it had already begun to crumble by 1997. This nuclear incident was (one of the worst environmental) the worst nuclear disaster in history, and made the world second guess the use of nuclear reaction for power. It also revealed that the European nuclear plant designs, known as RBMK’s which used a less stable graphite to assist nuclear reactions and no containment structures at all, were inferior to the U.S.— made ones which used water and had superior methods of containment and safety. To finalize the chapter in history, in December of 2000, after years of negotiations the Chernobyl power plant was finally shut down for good.