Chernobyl is a town located about 81 miles north of the city of Kiev, Ukraine and about 12 miles south of the border with Belarus. There were four Nuclear Power Plants designed and built during the 1970s and 1980s. The town had a population of 12,000 residents in year 1986 with the remaining region comprising of, mainly, farms and woodland. On April 26, 1986, at about 1 am, a devastating explosion occurred in the fourth nuclear reactor due to a fatal testing error. The explosion released radioactivity four hundred times more than that released when atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Here we have some terrible and shocking facts about the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident:
- The accident was the worst human made disaster in the history and its effects are being felt even today. There was nuclear rain that spread from the disaster even up to far-flung country, Ireland. The plume of highly radioactive fallout into the atmosphere drifted over large parts of the western Soviet Union and Europe.
- There were about 6, 00,000 to 8, 00,000 firefighters and emergency workers who came from the entire former Soviet Union to cease the fire. These people struggled for more than 2 years to help restore homes, storage facilities and also built a “sarcophagus”, a tomb-like structure around the nuclear plant to let not the radioactive material come out. Most of these workers are now dead, disabled or committed suicide.
- The nearest town of Pripyat was ordered for evacuation when the accident took place. There was a chaos all around and people had to leave their homes forever to relocate to other communities. As per data, more than 3, 50,000 people have got relocated to other safer regions.
- The accident affected more than 7 million people covering, majorly, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Sheep in Northern England and reindeer in Lapland were required to be killed because they had been exposed to the radiation.
- The accident left about 63,000 square miles of land affected, where, much of it is unfit to be used for agricultural purpose, forever. Rural areas were badly ruined and there are about 4.5 million children and adults still dwelling and growing food on the affected land.
- Consequent to the disaster, there has been a widespread rise in thyroid cancer among the people who were exposed to radiation when they were young. The people, so affected, are reported to have other thyroid diseases, immune system disorders and learning problems among children. People are facing high rate of blood and heart problems along with lung and gastrointestinal disorders.
- The water bodies and fish were also contaminated with the radioactive materials because of the accident. However, the level of contamination decreased as a result of dilution and decay. Many plants and animals found within 30 km of the nuclear reactor were also severely affected resulting into increase in mortality and decrease in reproduction.
- Belarus received the highest proportion of the total radiation released from the reactor. Any further explosion would have exposed the whole of Europe to enormous radioactive contamination. The disaster costs Belarus 20% of its national budget.
- The Chernobyl area, today, has been transformed into an exclusive zone containing a wildlife park and sanctuary. The government planted new forests all around to enable faster cleaning process.
- The set up of the United Nations Chernobyl Rehabilitation and Recovery Program helps affected people of the villages and communities for the betterment of their standard of living and in dealing with their health-related issues.