Quantcast
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

Show Comments ()
Sponsored

Honeybees Are Struggling to Get Enough Good Bacteria

A study published in Ecology and Evolution Monday shows that the big changes humans make to the land can have important consequences for some tiny microorganisms honeybees rely on to stay healthy.

Keep reading... Show less
Palace of Westminster. Alan Wong / Flickr

UK to Review Climate Goals, Explore 'Net-Zero' Emissions Strategy

The UK will review its long-term climate target and explore how to reach "net-zero" emissions by 2050, Environment Minister Claire Perry announced Tuesday.

The UK is the first G7 country to commit to such an analysis, which would seek to align the country's emissions trajectory to the Paris agreement's more ambitious goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C.

Keep reading... Show less
Lesser is greater. The lesser long-nosed bat pollinates agave flowers. Larry Petterborg / Flickr

First Bat Removed From U.S. Endangered Species List Helps Produce Tequila

The lesser long-nosed bat made bat history Tuesday when it became the first U.S. bat species to be removed from the endangered species list because of recovery, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced.

Keep reading... Show less
Toxic fluorinated chemicals in tap water and at industrial or military sites. Environmental Working Group

Fluorinated Chemical Pollution Crisis Spreads

Two decades after pollution from highly toxic fluorinated chemicals was first reported in American communities and drinking water, the number of known contamination sites is growing rapidly, with no end in sight.

The latest update of an interactive map by Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University documents publicly known pollution from so-called PFAS chemicals at 94 industrial or military sites in 22 states. When the map was first published 10 months ago, there were 52 known contamination sites in 19 states. The map and accompanying report are the most comprehensive resources tracking PFAS pollution in the U.S.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular

Plastics: The History of an Ecological Crisis

The Earth Day Network has announced that this year's Earth Day, on Sunday, April 22, will focus on ending plastic pollution by Earth Day 2020, the 50th anniversary of the world's first Earth Day in 1970, which led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Water, Clean Air and Endangered Species Acts.

Keep reading... Show less
GMO
Mike Mozart / Flickr

Germany to Put 'Massive Restrictions' on Monsanto Weedkiller

German Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner announced Tuesday she is drafting regulation to stop use of glyphosate in the country's home gardens, parks and sports facilities, Reuters reported.

The minister also plans to set "massive restrictions" for its use in agriculture, with exemptions for areas that are prone to erosion and cannot be worked with heavy machinery.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

Species Threatened as Climate Crisis Pushes Mother Nature 'Out of Synch'

By Julia Conley

The warming of the Earth over the past several decades is throwing Mother Nature's food chain out of whack and leaving many species struggling to survive, according to new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study offers the latest evidence that the climate crisis that human activity has contributed to has had far-reaching effects throughout the planet.

Keep reading... Show less
EPA memos passed since December weaken air quality controls for the sake of industry. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

EPA Memos Show Sneak Attack on Air Quality

Behind all the media attention focused on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt's many scandals, the agency has quietly passed a series of four memos since December that have a net impact of reducing air pollution controls to benefit industry, The Hill reported Wednesday.

The Hill's report comes just days before the world celebration of Earth Day on Sunday, April 22. The first Earth Day, in 1970, is often credited with leading to the passage of the Clean Air Act that same year, but now the Trump administration seems intent on rolling back that legacy.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!