Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

15 Things You Didn't Know About Chernobyl

Energy
15 Things You Didn't Know About Chernobyl

In the early morning of April 26, 1986, reactor four of the Chernobyl nuclear station exploded. It caused what the United Nations has called "the greatest environmental catastrophe in the history of humanity."

Chernobyl was the accident that the nuclear industry said would never happen.

Twenty-five years later the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan reminded us that the risk of another Chernobyl remains wherever nuclear power is used.

The long-lived radionuclides released by Chernobyl means the disaster continues 30 years later. It still affects the lives of millions of people. Here are 15 facts you may not know about the disaster:

1. Exactly 30 years ago, Chernobyl's nuclear reactors, located in Ukraine, exploded. Nearly 5 million people still live in the areas considered contaminated.

Local family with wagon of potatoes in Ukraine. Photo credit: Denis Sinyakov / Greenpeace

2. The amount of radiation released is at least 100 times more powerful than the radiation released by the atom bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Remains of the kindergarten in the town of Pripyat. Photo credit: Steve Morgan / Greenpeace

3. People in the nearest town, Pripyat, were evacuated only two days after the disaster. By that time many people were already exposed to high levels of radiation.

Life in the 30 km zone of Chernobyl. Photo credit: Jan Grarup / Noor / Greenpeace

4. Radioactive rain fell as far away as Ireland. The Ukraine, Belarus and Russia were the most affected countries. They received 63 percent of the contamination from Chernobyl.

Decontamination center in Pripyat. Photo credit: Clive Shirley / Signum / Greenpeace

5. Since Pripyat was abandoned by people due to high radiation levels, wolves, wild horses, beavers, boars and other animals have populated the town.

Wild horses in Pripyat. Photo credit: Vaclav Vasku / Greenpeace

6. Animals living within the 30km exclusion zone around Chernobyl have higher mortality rates, increased genetic mutations and decreased birth rate.

Stray dog in Pripyat. Photo credit: Vaclav Vasku / Greenpeace

7. You'd think the other Chernobyl reactors would have been shut down right away, but the three other reactors at the site were restarted and operated for another 13 years!

Reactor 1 and 2 at Chernobyl Nuclear Plant. Photo credit: Stefan Fuglister / Greenpeace

Read page 1

8. Radioactive material still remains in a crumbling cement sarcophagus built over the reactor following the accident. A new massive shell is being built over the current sarcophagus, but will only last for 100 years.

The new giant structure is intended to contain the nuclear reactor. Photo credit: Denis Sinyakov / Greenpeace

9. The nearby forest close to the disaster is called the "red forest" as radiation gave it a bright ginger color and left nothing but but death behind.

Measuring radiation at the Red Forest in Pripyat. Photo credit: Vaclav Vasku / Greenpeace

10. The nuclear industry and supporting governments in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus want to spend billions on other nuclear projects while ignoring their responsibility to support Chernobyl's survivors. They minimize the impacts of the disaster and hide the day-to-day reality of Chernobyl.

Village Drosdyn near Chernobyl. Photo credit: Jan Grarup / Noor / Greenpeace

11. Now you can even book a trip to the Chernobyl exclusion zone! Tourist agencies organize day tours in the abandoned town of Pripyat.

Thirty years after the nuclear disaster Greenpeace revisits the site and the Unit 4 with the New Safe Confinement (NSC or New Shelter). Photo credit: Denis Sinyakov / Greenpeace

12. Pripyat is highly contaminated and will remain abandoned as plutonium needs more than 24,000 years to reduce just half of its intensity.

Abandoned city of Pripyat in Ukraine. Photo credit: Denis Sinyakov / Greenpeace

13. Radiation was so strong that the eyes of firefighter Vladimir Pravik changed from brown to blue.

Abandoned hospital in Pripyat. Photo credit: Vaclav Vasku / Greenpeace

14. Sweden was the first country to inform the world about the disaster as the Ukrainian government decided to keep Chernobyl's explosion a secret at first.

Deserted city of Pripyat. Photo credit: Clive Shirley / Signum / Greenpeace

15. In the contaminated areas, Chernobyl touches every aspect of people's lives. Chernobyl's radiation is in the food they eat, the milk and water they drink, in the schools, parks and playgrounds their children play in and in the wood they burn to keep warm.

Resident sells local produce in Russian market. Photo credit: Denis Sinyakov / Greenpeace

Please speak out in solidarity with Chernobyl survivors and join us for a twitter thunderclap.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

The ‘Careful, Thoughtful’ Approach to Indian Point Is to Shut It Down Now


OlgaMiltsova / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Gwen Ranniger

In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter


JasonOndreicka / iStock / Getty Images

Twenty-five years ago, a food called Tofurky made its debut on grocery store shelves. Since then, the tofu-based roast has become a beloved part of many vegetarians' holiday feasts.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Protestors walk past an image of a Native American woman during a march to "Count Every Vote, Protect Every Person" after the U.S. presidential Election in Seattle, Washington on November 4. Jason Redmond / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."

Read More Show Less
Marilyn Angel Wynn / Getty Images

By Christina Gish Hill

Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.

Read More Show Less
Former U.S. Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz listens during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Isaac Brekken / Getty Images for National Clean Energy Summit

By Jake Johnson

Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.

Read More Show Less