One of the biggest nuclear disasters in history took place near the city of Pripyat, in northern Ukraine(formerly part of the Soviet Union), in the early morning hours of 26 April 1986, known today as the Chernobyl disaster.
The accident caused the largest uncontrolled radioactive release into the atmosphere ever recorded, and large quantities of radioactive substances were released into the air for about 9-10 days.
Where is Chernobyl?
The Chernobyl Power Complex is located about 130 km north of Kyiv, Ukraine, and approximately 20 km south of the border with Belarus. Within a 30 km radius of the power complex, the total population was about 130,000 at the time of the accident. About 3 km away from the Complex, in Pripyat were almost 49,000 inhabitants, and the old town of Chernobyl, which had a population of 13,000, is about 15 km to the south side of the complex.
What caused the Chernobyl disaster?
The main reason for the disaster is the combination of human error and poor design of the RBMK-1000 nuclear reactor. The Chernobyl Power Complex consisted of four nuclear reactors, units 1 and 2 were constructed between 1970 and 1977, while units 3 and 4 (with the same design of RBMK-1000) were completed in 1983. Two more RBMK reactors were under construction at the site at the time of the disaster.
How many died at Chernobyl?
After the explosion of reactor no4, workers died immediately from explosion and another 28 firemen and emergency workers died within 3 months from radiation. The saddest part is that at least 20,000 children got thyroid cancer from the radion and the rate of suicides, PTSD, and depression increased in the population around the area. Chernobyl was a massive tragedy that ultimately claimed at least 9,000 lives and affected millions more.
Around 350,000 people who lived near the Chernobyl Power Complex were relocated far away from the explosion.
What happened to the environment and animals after the accident?
The Chernobyl fallout had a major impact on both agricultural and natural ecosystems in Ukraine, as well as in many other European countries. Animals living in contaminated areas have suffered from a variety of side effects caused by radiation. Radionuclides were taken up by plants and animals, they were subsequently found in milk, meat, freshwater fish, and wood.
How was this area cleaned up after the accident?
It took nearly 600,000 people to clean up, those people were firefighters, members of the military, and blue0collar professionals such as janitors and miners. These positions were referred to as liquidators. The clean-up is still going on today, with people testing radiation levels on nearby areas to ensure that wildlife can people can safely begin to start living around the Chernobyl area again.
Is it safe to go to Chernobyl today?
A lethal dose of radiation is in the vicinity of 3 to 5 sieverts in an hour. During a Chernobyl tour, the levels of exposure can range from 140 to 2,610 microsieverts per hour (at least 1000 times less than the potentially lethal level).
“Several thousand people visit every year,” says Justin Francis, CEO of Responsible Travel. “The amount of radiation you’re exposed to is similar to on a long-haul flight.
If you want to visit Chernobyl is around 100k north of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv or a two-hour drive. It’s an easy day trip for tourists already in Kyiv.
Below are some photos with our days Chernobyl.