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The Chernobyl nuclear accident

On April 26, 1986, there was an accident at the nuclear power plant located in the town of Chernobyl. It has been, to date, the worst nuclear disaster not generated by a war. It is also considered one of the worst environmental disasters in history, along with the oil slick produced by the Exxon Valdez, the Bhopal toxic cloud (produced in India), the burning of the oil wells in Kuwait at the end of the War of the Gulf in 1991 or vinyl chloride contamination of the Minamata River in Japan.

  1. When Chernobyl started
  2. How Chernobyl Happened
  3. After the catastrophe

When Chernobyl started

It all started with a simulation of a power failure , a test, in principle, without any risk. Due to this action, and in less than two hours, there was a sudden increase in power in the central reactor, the most dangerous part in this type of installation, it overheated and exploded due to the hydrogen that was inside . From that moment on, the reactor began to expel all kinds of polluting and toxic gases: uranium dioxide, boron carbide, europium oxide, erbium, zirconium alloys and graphite.

It has been estimated that the radioactive power was about 500 times greater than that produced when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The Chernobyl accident caused the direct deaths of 31 people, but many others have died slowly afterwards due to the sequelae produced by breathing polluted air. In addition, to all this we must add thousands of sick people and children born with deformities. The government of the then Soviet Union ordered the evacuation of some 116,000 people. Radioactivity was detected in thirteen countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

How Chernobyl Happened

The accident in Chernobyl occurred in what is now Ukraine, about a hundred kilometers to the north of Kiev, the capital. The explanation for the accident was that the control systems failed, as well as a negligence in the way the operators reacted when the alarm occurred. But it was only two minutes since the steam that would explode the core began to be generated. After that couple of minutes, the reactor went out of control. Nothing could be done anymore.

Some of the radioactive components , such as the radioisotopes of iodine I131 and cesium, can take an average of thirty years to completely disappear from the atmosphere. Radioactive contamination affected an area of ​​which almost five million inhabitants lived. 23% of the area occupied by present-day Belarus, part of Russia and Ukraine, as well as some regions of Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany, were contaminated. Two days after the accident, the radioactivity in Berlin was twice normal.

Thirty people died of the team charged with putting out the fire and controlling the radiation from the reactor core. Tons of chemicals and sand were dropped from helicopters to try to put out the fires and keep the contamination from spreading. Later, more than half a million people, including military personnel, technicians, nuclear energy experts and volunteers, tried to seal the leaks that were still occurring.

After the catastrophe

After the catastrophe , the whole area was a desert, a gray graveyard. Any life around the plant was destroyed. In humans, many cases of cancer occurred in all nearby regions. In the vicinity of the plant, the pines turned brown and eventually died. The area is now known as the Red Forest.

At first, an attempt was made to minimize the consequences of the catastrophe. They did not want to explain. And the Soviet Union could not, politically, recognize a security failure in the nuclear power plant because it would have meant recognizing its decline as a superpower. Which finally occurred a few years later.

The first population that had to be evacuated was Pripiat. But soon the radiation reaches a radius of thirty kilometers around and all its inhabitants are ordered to flee from there. In the city of Chernobyl, some 40,000 people were evacuated. And that’s where the catastrophe takes its name. All agricultural and livestock production is destroyed. The areas closest to the area are completely devastated. There is no trace of life.

Many years later, non-governmental organizations estimated that some 20,000 people were killed or fatally wounded. Some 300,000 suffered from different types of cancer. Different reports have been produced with different figures. Until the Chernobyl accident, it was still questionable whether nuclear power plants were safe or not. From then on, it was known that no. Thereafter, these disasters are avoidable.

Nowadays, and although it seems incredible, Chernobyl has become a tourist destination .

If you want to read more articles similar to The Chernobyl nuclear accident , we recommend that you enter our Pollution category .

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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