Top 20 interesting facts about Chernobyl
The terrible Chernobyl disaster is known all over the world. On 26 of April in 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster struck, which became the largest in the history of nuclear energy. The tragedy killed thousands of people, caused many diseases, brought enormous damage to the environment and, of course, changed the history forever.
After the explosion of the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, the life of the whole world changed irrevocably. People realized the danger of nuclear energy, even if it was used for peaceful purposes. And even now, after so many years, many details of the disaster remain unknown. Here are some interesting facts about the atomic tragedy at Chernobyl that you probably didn’t know before.
1. Radiation, like from 500 atomic bombs
As a result of the explosion of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, there was a radioactive release capacity of about 50 million curies. This is equivalent to the explosion of 500 atomic bombs, like those that were dropped on Japan.
1.9 million people in Ukraine suffered from radioactive radiation because of the Chernobyl’s station explosion. In total, 8.4 million people in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, and other countries were affected.
This is interesting that the radiation is not distributed evenly around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Some places in the 10-kilometer zone are ten times more dangerous than the territory near the NPP itself.
2. Belarus suffered the most
It was obvious that the Chernobyl disaster would affect the neighboring cities, but not as much as it did in Belarus. The borders of the country were just 10 km from the Power Plant. Scientists say that 70% of the pollution after the Chernobyl catastrophe affected not even Ukraine, but Belarus.
3. The Soviet government kept Chernobyl nuclear accident as a secret for more than 2 days
Local authorities kept this incident in the secret for around two days. They didn’t want the whole world to know that such a huge catastrophe happened in the Soviet Union. However, when it was not possible anymore to hide the truth, the government made a statement.
“There was an accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. One of the reactors was damaged. Measures are being taken to eliminate the consequences of the incident. Victims provided the necessary assistance. A government commission has been set up.”
4. Disaster liquidators
800,000 soviet people took the risk and were exposed to radiation, eliminating the consequences of the disaster. Unfortunately, 25,000 of them died, another 70,000 became disabled. In addition, the first victims were firefighters who didn’t know the nature of the accident. They did their work without any protection from radiation. A few days later they all died.
5. Radiation sickness
On the first day after the accident, radiation sickness was found in 134 people. All of them were either liquidators or employees of the Chernobyl NPP. In total, as a result of the Chernobyl disaster, about 8.5 million people suffered from radiation sickness.
Radiation sickness is damage to your body caused by a large dose of radiation often received over a short period of time.
6. Ghost town
Over 200,000 people were evacuated from the affected area. Almost none of them returned home. By the way, people did not know that they were leaving their homes forever and took only their passports with them.
7. Pink Floyd in Chernobyl
The famous rock band Pink Floyd in 2014 shot a clip in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, in the city of Pripyat.
8. Red forest
Not far from Pripyat is situated the Red Forest, which is the most radioactive forest in the world. After the accident, it was destroyed, but then the forest grew up again. It got its name due to the fact that the foliage and needles of trees became red after the accident.
9. The concentration of toxic substances is constantly growing
Another fact is that the presence of americium in the environment is constantly increasing. The highest concentration of americium will be reached by 2058. Also, all the plants grown in contaminated areas have serious generative mutations.
10. It takes 24500 years for the consequences of a disaster to disappear
The complete decay of the last radioactive element (plutonium-239) in contaminated areas will occur in 26486.
11. Today the station is sealed with a sarcophagus
In 2016, over the sarcophagus protecting the environment from radioactive particles, another one was built - Shelter-2. The old one, built in 1986, was designed for 20-40 years, but due to the high risk of its destruction, it was decided to build a new one.
12. Sweden was the first country officially alerted about the accident
The first country to officially register the Chernobyl disaster was Sweden. They recorded the presence of radioactive neptunium-239 in the atmosphere.
13. Increased incidence
By 1990 the number of thyroid cancer cases among children in Belarus increased by 33 times. Also, in January 1987, an unusually large number of cases of Down Syndrome was reported in Belarus.
Another shocking fact: any doctors in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe recommended that women have abortions in order to avoid the risk of having sick children.
14. Chernobyl is a tourism center
Visits to the Exclusion Zone are authorized mainly for scientists and the press. However, tour operators also began to organize short tours to the Zone. According to the Forbes magazine, the territory of the Chernobyl NPP is named one of the most unusual places for tourism on the planet.
There is even a hotel in Chernobyl. It has Wi-Fi, so you can share your impressions with friends and family right from Chernobyl. This hotel is the only place in the Zone that hosts travelers. However, local workers are allowed to stay in the Zone for 15 days, the next 15 they must live outside the Zone to minimize the effects of radiation.
Each visitor to the Forbidden Zone undergoes a radiation scan at each approach to the city. Removing anything from Chernobyl is prohibited.
15. Thousands of people are still working in Chernobyl
About 5 thousand people still work in the Exclusion Zone: these are mainly field guard, firefighters protecting the territory from forest fires and infrastructure workers. Like the hotel team, they work 2 weeks after 2.
16. The area is invaded by animals
After the inhabitants of Pripyat left because of the high radiation levels, wolves, wild horses, and other animals took possession of the premises. But we are far from a return of nature to the wild: some insects, birds or small mammals have disappeared or are very rare.
However, animals living within the 30 km exclusion zone around Chernobyl have higher mortality and birth rates.
17. The radioactive material is well covered
The radioactive material is still confined in a kind of sarcophagus that covers the reactor. A new containment with titanic dimensions now covers this first sarcophagus for safety reasons. However, its lifetime will not exceed 100 years.
18. Other nuclear projects are under discussion
Governments and the nuclear industry in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus want to spend billions on other nuclear projects. But, they do not take responsibility for the Chernobyl survivors. They minimize the impact of the disaster and hide what has become of Chernobyl on a daily basis.
19. Rehabilitation centers for children
A recreation and rehabilitation center built in 1984 is now home to several thousand children from contaminated areas in Belarus following the Chernobyl accident.
20. Firefighters perished
A lot of firefighters got radiation sickness and died. In fact, a fire burst in the power plant. The firefighters were exposed to a higher level of radiation which led them to illness, cancer and fatal consequences.
What caused the tragedy at Chernobyl?
The explosion occurred during an experiment to generate electricity in case of emergency shutdown of the reactor. For this, a power of 700 MW was needed, but before the procedure began, it dropped to 30 MW. The operator tried to restore the flow, and when the power began to increase sharply, he pressed the emergency shutdown button.
For more than 20 years, it was the operators of the console who were considered to be responsible for what happened. However, later they were acquitted. According to the report, employees acted according to safety instructions and regulations.