36 years ago the biggest nuclear disaster in the history of the human race occurred due to human error at the Chernobyl Nuclear facility. This meltdown caused the evacuation of more than 50,000 people within the matter of only 3 hours and tens of thousands more within the days to follow. 115,000 people were evacuated by 1986 and another 220,000 people in the subsequent years. An experiment caused a reaction that could not be stopped. An explosion occurred and spread radiation and radioactive material hundreds of miles around the reactor. This has affected the lives of everyone involved with the disaster as well as the generations that came after. Many people are still suffering severe health problems from this catastrophe. These images were taken over 30 after the incident and you can see that it is still a very contaminated area and will be for tens of thousands of years.
2. The World Health Organization estimates that 30,000 deaths can be attributed to the disaster.
4. Over 7 million people have been exposed to the radiation released.
6. The first person to die in the Chernobyl accident was Valery Khodemchuk, a plant worker who was monitoring the water pumps to the nuclear core.
8. Radioactive dust from the accident reached as far away as the eastern United States spreading cross Eastern and Western Europe.
10. The explosion happened in 1986 and officials say it could take up to 100 years before the plant is completely decommissioned.
12. Nuclear rain from the explosion spread as far as west Ireland.
14. The Chernobyl explosion unleashed at least 400 times more radioactive fallout than the bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima in 1945
16. It will take over 3,000 years for the neighboring town of Pripyat to be safe for people to inhabit again.
18. Birds in the area have brains that are significantly smaller than the same species living in non-contaminated areas.
20. Trees now grow much slower than their non-contaminated counterparts.
22. Game animals living in the area, including some found as far away as Germany, still show dangerous levels of radiation.
24. After the Chernobyl disaster, one nearby forest, now known as the “Red Forest,” turned a reddish color and died. However, even 15–20 years after the meltdown, the trees have not decayed.
26. Because of the lack of people and development, the wildlife in the area has seen immense growth in numbers.
28. 28 firefighters died within 3 months of being exposed to the Chernobyl disaster. All from radiation sickness.
30. Even though the disaster occurred in the Ukraine, Belarus received an estimated 70% of the contamination.
32. If the steam explosion wasn’t prevented by the 3 men named the “Suicide Squad” all of Europe would be uninhabitable foe hundreds of years.
34. Over 200 tons of radioactive material still remains inside the reactor.
36. The Soviet Union tried their best to hide the situation. The world was alerted because of a radiation detection device in Sweden.
38. Nearly 5 million people living in the area today are still considered contaminated.
40. People in the nearby town weren’t evacuated for 2 days after the incident.
42. Three other reactors on the site ran for 13 years after the disaster.
44. Tourist agencies actually have daily tours that bring you into some parts declared somewhat safe in the abandoned town of Pripyat.
46. Pripyat is highly contaminated and needs over 24,000 years just to reduce half of its intensity!
48. Radiation was so strong that the eyes of firefighter Vladimir Pravik changed from brown to blue.
50. The explosion was so strong that it blew a 1000 ton plate that covered the reactor core clean off.
The disaster has shaped nuclear technology and safety procedures in hopes of preventing any disasters like this from happening again. Its been over 25 years and the problem is still very real. Right now engineers have designed a shell that is going to be built over the reactor to filter out any radiation that would possibly be released into the air. This steel structure has been designed to last 100 years or more. When the disaster happened on April 26, 1986 a team designed a “sarcophagus” that covered the reactor. This was a temporary fix and is falling apart from the radioactivity contained within. We have the power to destroy ourselves and this is just one example of how detrimental human error can be when dealing with such powerful elements. Right now the only people allowed near Chernobyl are government officials, guards and people who are there to assess and evaluate the damages. Scientists estimate that the immediate area near reactor 4 will be unsafe for another 20,000 years.