Chernobyl: 25 years on
The Chernobyl incident is a grave warning that despite all the benefits of nuclear power, it can have deadly consequences.
Twenty-five years ago to the day saw a catastrophic incident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. An experiment at the plant went badly wrong and a huge explosion sent massive amounts of radiation into the atmosphere.
Thousands of people are said to have died from radiation-related diseases as a result of the accident, with figures varying depending on who you ask. The World Health Organisation say 4,000 people died, Greenpeace say it was much more serious and 200,000 lost their lives.
The radiation at Chernobyl was the equivalent of 20 of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the USA at the end of the Second World War.
Hushed up by the Soviet Union, radiation flooded into neighbouring countries like Belarus, Russia and even as far as Scandinavia and Great Britain. Thousands of people living near the plant were forced to flee their homes and never return.
Now the area around Chernobyl is derelict, rotting and full of radiation. The nearby town of Pripyat lies abandoned, a ghost town, left as it was when the 50,000 inhabitants fled in 1986, three days after the incident occurred. Wolves, boars and wild horses are the only residents now.
Chernobyl ranked as a seven of the International Nuclear Event Scale (the scale that determines the severity of nuclear incidents – seven being the highest), and by far the biggest nuclear accident to ever occur.
A huge sarcophagus was built to secure the radiation and to prevent further radiation leaks occurring. The problem – the sarcophagus has begun to crumble and erode away. That’s why the Ukranian government, along with several other European countries, have clubbed together and raised $785 million to build a new 20,000 tonne steel arch to protect the damaged reactor for another century.
The incident at Fukushima in Japan has brought up all of the fears and worries surrounding the issue of nuclear energy. The reactor, damaged by the earthquake that struck on 11 March, suffered substantial damage and radiation seeped out of the damaged plant.
A 12-mile exclusion zone has been set up around Fukushima and thousands of people have been evacuated from the surrounding area.
Fukushima, like Chernobyl has registered as a level 7 incident on the nuclear scale. The amount of radiation leaked at Fukushima is not as severe as Chernobyl, with only one-tenth of the radiation leaked at Fukushima.
To put it into context, around 630,000 terabecquerels of radiation are estimated to have been leaked at Fukushima. More than five million were released at Chernobyl.
Chernobyl taught the world about the dangers of using nuclear energy. 25 years later, the world is better equipped to deal with and more aware of its risks. Nuclear energy may be, for the most part, safe, but Chernobyl will serve as a reminder of what can happen when nuclear energy goes badly wrong.
Posted on April 26, 2011, in construction news, train4tradeskills and tagged Chernobyl, Chernobyl 25th anniversary, Chernobyl disaster, Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, environment, Fukushima, Fukushima Prefecture, Fukushima radiation chernobyl, nuclear accident, Nuclear and radiation accidents, Nuclear power, Pripyat, radiation, Soviet Union, t4ts, train4tradeskills. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.