When thinking about the Chernobyl disaster, many people conjured images of desolate land comes to mind. This is often followed up with sick persons, animals and non-edible food. Needless to say it is warranted as the Chernobyl accident is the biggest commercial nuclear plant disaster to date. However, without falling into the generalizing category, the main question that remains is just what is the Chernobyl disaster?
- 1 What is the Chernobyl Accident?
- 2 Facts that you should Know about the Chernobyl Disaster
- 3 Where is Chernobyl
- 4 Inside Chernobyl: The Immediate effect
- 5 Population Before and After Chernobyl
- 6 Health Effect of Chernobyl Disaster Facts
- 7 Chernobyl Environmental Issues
- 8 Causes Of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Reactor 4 Explosion
- 8.1 When the Reactor was Built
- 8.2 Chernobyl reactor 4 Setup
- 8.3 Events Preceding the 1986 Chernobyl Disaster
- 8.4 Design of the Chernobyl Reactor 4
- 8.5 How the Design Contributed to the Explosion
- 8.6 The Reactor 4 Accident
- 8.7 Chernobyl Reactor 4 Consequences
- 8.8 Environmental Effect of the Chernobyl Reactor 4 Explosion
- 9 Interesting Facts You Did Not Known About the Chernobyl Accident
- 10 Chernobyl Accident Time Line
- 11 25 Facts about Chernobyl, Chernobyl Facts
- 12 Effects of Chernobyl (Level of Radiation and the Effect on Other Countries)
- 13 Cause of Chernobyl
- 14 Chernobyl Environmental Effects
- 15 Chernobyl Effect on Humans
- 16 Chernobyl Effect on Children
- 17 Chernobyl Effects on Animals
- 18 Chernobyl mutations
- 19 Chernobyl economic effects
- 20 Chernobyl 25 years later
- 21 If you want to visit Chernobyl and Pripyat – place order for Tour and we will do it!
What is the Chernobyl Accident?
The Chernobyl accident is what can be in its entirety be deemed as a catastrophic nuclear accident. This event occurred on April 26th 1986 at the Chernobyl nuclear power complex located in Pripyat in Ukraine. Ideally the accident in itself is an explosion of a reactor that caused extensive and almost irreparable damage to the facility. This explosion caused a release of radioactive elements into the sky that inevitably spread throughout the atmosphere to most parts of Europe. To date, the Chernobyl disaster is still categorized as the largest nuclear reactor disaster to happen in history costing a lot from a financial and economic viewpoint, repercussions and the number of lives lost inclusive of the effect on a person’s health that is still ongoing.
What really caused the Chernobyl Disaster?
With the accident of the Chernobyl power plant highlighted in the forerun, many people forget the reason why the plant was set up in the first place. Ideally, in its time period, the complex was built as the next generation project for producing a renewable source of energy that could power the whole city and country in the near future. Ideally, this needed complex nuclear reactors to be built in order to facilitate the different procedures that were needed. Needless to say however the 1986 Chernobyl disaster can unfortunately be attributed to human error.
From reports, the Chernobyl nuclear explosion was caused by what seems like another routine morning experiment that was carried out on the reactors to further improve the delivery system of electricity. Unfortunately, an unexpected power surge occurred during the experiment that forced an emergency shutdown protocol to be initiated to ensure no damage was caused. Unfortunately, during this period another yet bigger power surge occurred that made this impossible. Regrettably, the human factor comes into play in this event as the nuclear reactor vessels ruptured due to poor design mechanism that lead to the graphite moderator of the reactor to be exposed that lead to its ignition that facilitated the steam explosion and thus exposure to radioactive elements.
Facts that you should Know about the Chernobyl Disaster
As the negative implications have been highlighted over time in the news in regards to the mistakes that we should not make in the pursuit of harnessing nuclear power, here are five aspects of the Chernobyl accident that are often left unsaid.
- With numerous studies conducted to explain reasons why the Chernobyl explosion occurred, a unanimous fact that always comes through is the fact that the accident was due to human error. This fact is pinpointed further, highlighting the flawed design and operation by inadequately trained personnel as the main reasons
- The explosion that resulted from the exposure of the reactor graphite to the air caused a complete melt down of the fourth reactor. This fact lead to the exposure of up to 30% of the radioactive elements seeping into the air and ground, contaminating thousands of kilometers of clean air and underground water
- Ideally though often viewed as the worst nuclear reactor accident, the initial death toll was lower than often expected. In all this, only two people died due to the main explosion, while another 29 persons died in the subsequent days due to high radiation poisoning. From the 29 individuals who died afterwards, six of them were firemen who had initially responded to the fire at the roof top of the turbine building without proper precautions
- Health ramifications of the Chernobyl accident have over the years, been put under control. Extensive research has backed up claims that the area is relatively okay especially in relation to human safety. However as safe as it is, cases of people suffering from thyroid cancer near and around the area are common
- Since the 1986 Chernobyl accident, the resettlement of persons averaging almost 350,000 persons in general have been successfully made to keep people clear of this radioactive contaminated area. With the numerous areas to decontaminate this area with Chernobyl liquidators, the area now has a very low radio contamination and hence recently, the Chernobyl area has been declared a tourist attraction site in the UK.
Where is Chernobyl
Located in Europe, the Chernobyl power plant is located in Ukraine. This location happens to be 20 km from the south border with Belarus and slightly less than 130 km north of Kiev.
The location was chosen as the ideal place due to the availability of proper expansion area in case of success and availability of cooling water.
Ideally, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor was built between 1977 to 1990 where there was a total of four reactors, including a temporary replacement for reactor four. The Chernobyl plant is located just a few meters from the Pripyat tributary that branches off the Dnieper River. Within the complex was a relatively newly-built Pripyat city that was declared a zoned out area that was built for scientist and workers that were to work in the nuclear power reactor .
Inside Chernobyl: The Immediate effect
Well simply put, the effects of the Chernobyl disaster can still be felt decades later.
- After realizing the immediate effect of the reactor exploding, the government quickly intervened and allowed and facilitated the return and safe keeping of the 350,400 people. This fact started in the late 1986 to the year 2000 in order to fix the immediate effects. As the decontamination process by the Chernobyl liquidators is usually a big success, Chernobyl area radiation effects have reduced drastically and hence the announcement by Ukraine government to be a tourist attraction cemetery.
- Radiation poisoning to a certain degree has been highlighted even with the massive containment protocol that was used. Unfortunately, right before this, a total number of nineteen persons have died from it with many others on watch. A few months right after the exposure, a total number of 237 persons have been diagnosed with acute radiation syndrome and since then, 134 of them have been confirmed as per the year 2000.
- A few months after, cases of hair falling out for no apparent reason increased exponentially with the Chernobyl people and in surrounding towns. This fact was apparently more apparent in children as they were more likely to suffer. Needless to say however, that villages that decided to stay put regardless of the repercussions including death.
Population Before and After Chernobyl
As a relatively expanding or new city, the population of Chernobyl was relatively small at the time of the explosion. However with new economic activities coming underway with the full function of the power plant, many persons moved to Chernobyl without any fears. Ideally, near the complex power plant was Pripyat city that housed approximately 49,000 Chernobyl people. Ideally, a large number of the inhabitants lived within Chernobyl would be attackers. This city was built with workers of the nuclear plant getting adequate and affordable housing without the need of worrying. Right down from the Pripyat town is the old Chornobyl town. With little to offer in regards to the other city, the maximum number of inhabitants it had ranged up to 12,500 people. This fact backed down claims that the date specific number of the persons in Chernobyl town ranged at about 30 kilometers from the reactors.
With the whole area under scrutiny and overall safety concerns, the population of the surrounding area in relation to the Chernobyl power plant was evacuated to cover 30 kilometers comfortably. Needless to say that with more research, it was determined that this be expanded to cover up to 4300 square kilometers. Ideally, the evacuation process which was raised to 30 kilometers increased the number of people who were evacuated to a triple number of over 220,000. With this resettlement program, issues dealing with homeless persons every other day due to forced circumstances was eliminated.
The population at the moment is basically non-existent with only scientist peaking in their work. Chernobyl liquidators have increased to a startling figure of 200,000 to 600,00 persons. With this avenue, the decontamination of the water, surrounding land area and the likes is made possible. With a new means of decontamination tactics to be applied, the Ukraine government has officially declared Chernobyl city a tourist attraction site with almost negligible levels of radiation for a short period.
Health Effect of Chernobyl Disaster Facts
As expected, anything that is associated with a nuclear disaster will have adverse effects. Unfortunately, during the start of the Chernobyl explosion series, reports have determined that the whole set up and the evacuation order came way too late. As it was difficult to deduce the extent to which the damage was done, government officials lingered too long without taking proper action. This lead to a slower evacuation process of persons in the surrounding towns and slower reaction in sealing the leaking nuclear reactor at all times.
Recent research that has been released on the health findings showed that after a decade of undergoing an intense cleaning process, the area is officially safe to visit. However as a negative effect that is still felt, by year 2000 a collective number of persons who suffered from thyroid cancer increased to 4000 persons. There were cases in which the radiation level was way too high and hence it is too dangerous to live in the surroundings. This fact has brought upon cases of people suffering from cancer and leukemia and the likes, with children who were exposed to this still reeling from the effects of the radiation poisoning. Instances of seeing bald persons who have no medical or preferential capabilities are none. To back these claims up and exposing the area that is still unstable for children was collected. By year 2000, a collective number of persons who suffered from thyroid cancer increased to 4000 persons, a fact that it is being reviewed and diagnosed and treated in order to enjoy fuller lives.
Health repercussions dealing with other factors on the Chernobyl map area showed that people who left this area came back and embraced the surroundings while succumbing to death. As a rather traumatic effect in a person’s life, the Chernobyl psychological reaction is that of shock leading to a wide range of mental issues. Needless to say, the misconception that surrounds this has allowed Chernobyl people to simply exaggerate the trauma. They wanted help and simple financial assistance enabling them the opportunity of being lazy. This means that a perception of being weaker has crowded the functionality of the people and this has led to the perception of them being victims and not survivors. This leads to both physical and economic repercussions.
Chernobyl Environmental Issues
As expected with the explosion of the Chernobyl plant, many persons got radiation poisoning. With the release of these elements into the water and the air, certain areas are still out of reach. This initially led to the government producing food and water and the likes in order to share what they had. With Chernobyl liquidators, the prospect of the Chernobyl land area being able to fully revert to its old ways before the explosion is barely there.
The contamination of the farming area and the surrounding areas food was produced let to fix both economic and environmental failures. Failure to do so forced the government to produce province crops, and milk in areas that were largely affected. As no one could contact the government, a syndrome which vaguely implied that allowed the Chernobyl people to depend on them full time in certain aspects like finances. As a result, many people simply get lost in the food and drinks.
To date, there are certain crops that have a high iodide content like mushrooms, and berries are still considered extremely dangerous due to the radioactive properties. With them and cases of game animals, hunting and gathering is an ongoing wait in the coming decades.
Causes Of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Reactor 4 Explosion
Having been highlighted as the worst accident to happen at a nuclear power plant to date, the disaster still affects the people of Ukraine and ideally the rest of the world to date. Needless to say as much as countries learn about nuclear power from the Chernobyl power plant, one main question that remains is what really happened that scarred a society so severely. What really is to blame?
When the Reactor was Built
To get to know what really happened in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant that lead to the disaster, you first have to look at the history of the plant. Ideally, the power plant was taken up as a project of the future in order to get a sustainable yet efficient way of getting electrical power for generations to come. With the go ahead from the Soviet Union that still controlled Ukraine, the nuclear project was started in 1977 when the first reactor was built followed closely by the second reactor in 1978. With a revision of the design, reactor three and four were built in 1981 and 1983 respectively with the other two reactors scheduled for the late 1980’s.
Chernobyl reactor 4 Setup
After the completion of Reactor 2, a revision of the whole setup was done in order to make the Chernobyl power plant more effective in terms of production and delivery of power as a second generation unit. Ideally the difference in the setup allowed both reactors to have a more fitted setup that was considered to be more secure as it incorporated a more secure accident localization system. This system allowed the power plant system to be connected to a 330kV and 750kV electrical grid system. This system was further made unique by being connected to a single generator system that complemented the idea of the plant supplying power to itself.
Events Preceding the 1986 Chernobyl Disaster
One major unfortunate fact about the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is that there was a preceding minor meltdown before the 1989 Chernobyl Reactor 4 meltdown. From reports, this meltdown happened on Reactor 1 in 1982, a fact that was hidden from the public. Just like the Reactor 4 melt down, this accident that happened was also mainly due to human error especially in relation to the design of the reactor. As a means of continuing with the project, the reactor setup was quickly patched up and soon enough, was back online as a half faulty reactor that affected the whole operation of the complex. In relation to having a prior history with accidental mistakes the Chernobyl Reactor 4 meltdown, unlike its counterpart resulted in a complete meltdown that lead to this accident being viewed as the worst to date.
Design of the Chernobyl Reactor 4
Ideally looking at the design of Reactor 3 and 4, the ingenuity can and still is revered to date as it was quite unique. Having been designed as a second generation nuclear power plant, the reactor was by itself almost flawless, with a few shortcomings that could ideally be pinpointed to human error. The reactor four designs incorporated the use of graphite in its design as a moderated pressure tube reactor type. This whole concept revolutionized the running of the reactor and allowed the use of a boiling light water reactor as the main fuel component. This concept allowed the use of looped steam feeding loops to directly allow the flow to the Chernobyl reactor core.
This new concept was ingenious as it simply eliminated the need of having an intervening heat exchanger system that allowed it to be efficient in such as no steam and thus heat was lost in the cooling and heating mechanism. In Reactor 4, water acted as both the fueling agent that drove the interconnected turbines of the whole collective reactors and at the same time acted as a coolant when pumped at the bottom hence regulating the temperature of the water. To further complement this feature, the design allowed for the use of vertical pressure tubes. This also made great use of the zirconium alloy clad uranium oxide that allowed uninterrupted and uncontaminated flow of cooling water to and from the core at a rapid stable pace.
How the Design Contributed to the Explosion
Well, considering the fact that the design of the reactor is still considered to be top notch to date, you may wonder just how such a flawless design went berserk and caused the disaster. Having made great use of the new design that upped the safety features of the reactor, the reactor design was not the issue. Needless to say, having upgraded the design of the main reactors, facilitators failed to upgrade the design of the turbine hall and its electrical system in itself and relied heavily on the old system. To further understand this, the Chernobyl power plant still used open and large turbine halls that had the dividing feature that allowed them to be open and hence created a loophole in which accidents occur. Ideally this design facilitated the spread of fire in case of a fire outbreak that could in retrospect, affect the rest of the turbine leading to an explosion, as was the case in the Chernobyl Reactor 4 turbine.
The Reactor 4 Accident
The cause of the accident was for some time being deliberated on and still is ongoing to some extent. Needless to say however as part of the design system was liberated from blame, much of it is considered to be majorly due to human error. Ideally the reactor crew decided to have test runs on the morning of 26th April 1986. The test was to determine how the supply of electricity could be made plausible even in the event where the outside electrical supply was to be cut short. Regrettably, this was not the first test done by the crew as the previous year’s test had been determined that the power was very rapid and thus delivery and safe harnessing was deemed impossible at the time. With a new voltage regulator design, the test was repeated one year later.
The Shortfall that Lead to the Explosion
An apparent test that was to be a routine checkup turned out to be something else entirely due to a series of ill choices made by the Chernobyl Reactor 4 crew. Ideally the first major mistake that was done started with the disabling of the automatic shutdown system to facilitate the running of the test; a feature that was to alert them in case of any problems. With the disabling of the system, the manual shutdown initiation after a surge in electrical output was too late as by then the reactor was completely unstable and thus this lead to the explosion
Chernobyl heart Core
To further understand this, the set up design feature should come to play. Ideally as a means to make the whole reactor effective, graphite material was used in the core. This feature allowed for a flawless system that allowed certain elements like a counteractive cooling feature system to be eliminated. As the core features were connected to the turbines with the electrical wire system, it is this faulty feature that caused the ignition of fire. In retrospect from an engineering point of view, the same design concept that allowed for an effective delivery system also allowed power surge on the control pods as it facilitated the injection of power straight into the reactor heating it up. This fact was promoted by the interaction of hot fuel and cooling waters that led to increased steam production increasing the pressure and temperature in the reactor. With the automatic shut off system turned off by the crew, the power surge caused electrical short circuiting that caused the ignition of the insulating material and wiring.
Spread of Fire in the Reactor
With the igniting of fire in the reactors electrical system, hydrogen that was initially used as a coolant in the system acted as fuel forming the perfect conditions for fire in the turbine. As expected with fire, an increase in the already highly pressurized system was inevitable and hence the cover plate of the reactor gave way, detaching and finally rupturing the fuel channels that protected the main core causing exposure. With this series of events, jamming of the control cords was inevitable and thus this lead to the increased pressure and steam that had gathered and released in the form of an explosion. This first explosion leads to the release of the fission products into the atmosphere that further facilitated other explosions.
After the first explosion, conditions seemed perfect for another fire and thus a second explosion followed the first Reactor 4 explosions by mere seconds. With the graphite used in the core now exposed into the air, fire erupted that eventually caused a series of explosions. With the fission of the steam and graphite, hydrogen was released from the zirconium reaction. With no other safety measures in place, around 1200 tons of graphite were ejected from the Chernobyl Reactor 4 plant that caused an increase in the number of fires. This lead to the release of radioactive elements into the environment and thus the poisoning that caused untold suffering. Unfortunately with the numerous reports, it seems that with the main crew violating a series of operating principles, even without factoring the design feature of the power plant; an accident was inevitable.
To quell the fire that was being fueled by the rather incandescent fuel, 5000 tons of dolomite, clay and sand were dropped for days on end on top of the reactor. This played a major part in extinguishing the blaze that was becoming rather uncontrollable and thus limited the continuous release of the radioactive elements in the air.
Chernobyl Reactor 4 Consequences
Ideally the consequences of the Chernobyl Reactor 4 explosions had far reaching consequences than initially thought. The first notable consequences of the crews’ grievous mistakes are that the reactor was completely destroyed to a point where no amount of patching up could save it. An interesting fact with the explosion is that with Reactor 4 being a second generation reactor meant that the explosion to some extent had been shielded. This was directly attributed to the sarcophagus enclosure that prevented the further escape of radioactive materials. In retrospect, it is hard to believe only 30 % of poisonous elements were released. With the main explosion, 2 persons died directly from it with as many as 29 persons following in the next two weeks due to high radiation poisoning. Unfortunately the radioactive elements that were released continued flowing out for up to 10 days with them travelling specifically by air to other countries in Europe including Belarus and Russia. With the poisonous material in the air, the estimated number of men, women and children is placed officially at 6000 with many believing that it could reach as far as 10,000 people.
Far reaching effects felt decades later are the thyroid cancer cases that are still being discovered even with the curtain falling on this disaster. The cases are a result of continuous intake of radioactive iodine fall-out that material from parts of Europe that haven’t been excluded as a no live-in zone. Ideally this accident caused the displacement of the more than 49,000 from the Pripyat city that was made for the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant personnel.
Environmental Effect of the Chernobyl Reactor 4 Explosion
With most of the radioactive elements seeping into the ground, the resulting effect was an environment that was simply detrimental to one’s health regardless if one had a suit or not. Due to the unfortunate results of the few first cases of people suffering from radioactive elements, the government decided to increase the zoned-off area to a far reaching area displacing over 350, 000 people in a matter of days permanently. To date, the soil material of the plant area still has high levels of radioactive elements. Specifically seen is the high amount of uranium that is still active in the soils to date. With this the area and resulting water bodies are expected to remain active for more than 1000 years to come, with the project final shutdown and permanent relocation of still non-radioactive elements scheduled to end in the year 2022.
Interesting Facts You Did Not Known About the Chernobyl Accident
The Chernobyl reactor plant in Ukraine is recorded as the only accident in history involving a commercial nuclear power plant that caused a great number of fatalities. First incepted as a forward-thinkers program of having stable and continuous power, the flawed reactor design is to date considered the worst mistakes that were made in such a delicate setup. With the fatalities and consequences from radiation being experienced to date, the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster is still shrouded in mystery.
To shed some light on this issue one first the happenings of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The accident that happened in the morning of April 26th 1986 was facilitated by grave human error. Unfortunately a team of ill qualified personnel with no ability to safely comprehend consequences of their actions were on point in the reactor and agreed on doing tests on reactor 4 even when it was in an unstable state. With the numerous violations of plants technical specification and operating principles and lack of safety precaution disregarded; ill coordination and communication led to a series of fires that facilitated the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion.
What really Led to the Chernobyl Explosion?
In considering the Chernobyl Reactor 4 set up, the whole concept was built to facilitate a rather progressive engineering system. This setup made the collective nuclear plant be viewed as a high-powered channel reactor that had the ability to produce both plutonium and electrical power at the same time. Unfortunately, it is this very setup that also acted as fuel for the explosion. With the rise in steam and pressure in the reactor after initial set up failed, the 1000 metric cover came off that led to first explosion and that also facilitated the second explosion.
How the design caused the explosion
Unfortunately, even with an advanced setting system, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant setup has no massive containment structure as compared to other sites in the world. This flawed setback exposed every personnel and human settlement population to potential radiation in case of an accident as in the case with the Chernobyl explosion. As expected being a nuclear plant, the radiation levels were at a high that was extremely poisonous with effects seen immediately. Majorly seen were the personnel that virtually turned dark with them being given a nuclear tan. A fact that was also seen with the first emergency workers that responded to the disaster.
Chernobyl Accident Time Line
To further comprehend what decision led to the Chernobyl disaster, analyzing the timeline that led to the events is important .
- April 25th 1986, 1:06am
In the early morning of the 25th, normal operations were ongoing with the reactor at full power. Everything was running as usual and nothing seemed to be different from all the other days the plant had been in operation. Sticking to their set plan, specific experiments on the Chernobyl nuclear power plant reactor 4 was to be carried out hence steam was redirected to the power generator in readiness for the experiment. With the main reason for the test was to determine if the turbine could temporarily supply power to free the water pumps before the generator kicked in, conditions mimicking this were artificially being set up.
- April 25th, 1:00 pm
After a few hours, Reactor 4 was powered down to further provide conditions that were perfect for the experiment. As per the protocol, the power of Reactor 4 was placed at 1600MWt. This together with a decrease in steam production facilitated the shutdown of one turbine as one was sufficient. Even though power for the test needed was an average of 22% to 32%, a decision was made to maintain it at 50% power for another 8 hours.
- April 26th, 12:28 am
Permission to further lower the power level at which Chernobyl Reactor 4 ran at was granted and hence further reduction of the protocol continued. Unfortunately personnel forgot to reprogram the computer to remain at a constant power level of 30% that led to operating power dropping to a low of 1%. With this the reactor was filled with solid water and at that time shut down was imminent.
- April 26th 12:32 am
A few minutes later, a decision to pull out the control rods from the main core reactor was made in an attempt to salvage the situation. As expected, the reaction that was happening due to solid water presence in the core led to xenon poisoning that was evidently causing the reactor to be unstable. With the pulling out of the core, the reactor power level rose to 7% and thus this led to another decision to pull out more rods.
- April 26th, 1:15am
More than half an hour later, no change or rise in power was detected and hence a further drastic decision was made. The automatic shutdown of the whole reactor due to the accumulation of solid water, the emergency cooling system and the main automatic scram circuitry was manually disconnected. This was followed up with more rods being pulled out of the reactor till only six remained. With this even in case of emergency shutdown using the control system was completely disabled at this point making the setup very risky
- April 26th, 1:22am
With the power running at just 7%, the cooling pumps also ran at a low power and thus created no void fraction. This led to an increase in solid water in the reactor with no steam production. Unfortunately, instead of boycotting the test, the turbine was tripped to start the test under these unstable dangerous conditions. This directly led to four of the eight recirculation pumps switching off automatically as a result.
- April 26th, 1:23am
With recirculation pumps now down to four cooling mechanisms of the Chernobyl Reactor 4 power plant was not effective. Interestingly, pressure from the tubes increased exponentially and combined with the reactions at the core turned the accumulated water into steam, creating a positive void coefficient. As a means of initiating manual emergency shutdown protocol, all control rods were lowered back into the reactor. Unfortunately, a design problem that had been overlooked became evident as the control rods had graphite tips with lead ends that automatically increase power. With the lowering of all the control rods at the same time, an increase in pressure and reaction was noted surging to a power 100 times its normal output.
- April 26th, 1:24
With an increase in the power levels to unstable amounts, the Reactor 4 core started to break down from the intense heat generated. This lead to fuel assemblies fragmenting, warping of control rod channels and steam buildup and finally steam tubes bursting. This pressure that was created forced the 1000 ton biologic shield of the reactor to blow off, completely destroying the roof of reactor. This lead to the exposure of the core to the atmosphere with fire erupting everywhere in the building.
- April 26th, 5:00 am
Even with firefighters on the site to control the fires, graphite fire started hours later that led to radioactive material being released into the atmosphere, an event that continued for 10 days.
25 Facts about Chernobyl, Chernobyl Facts
- According to the international nuclear event scale, the Chernobyl accident remains the biggest manmade disaster of all times.
- The radiation released with the collapse of the Chernobyl Power Plant released radiation that is 100 times more than the nuclear bombs on Nagasaki.
- The nuclear particles, wind and rain had far reaching effects in Europe reaching as far as Ireland.
- As a means to salvage the situation, over 800,000 people volunteered to help contain and clean up the disaster. Among these. about 25,000 have died due to radiation poisoning while an estimated 70,000 people are now disabled.
- Though thousands of people have died due to the Chernobyl disaster, only 31 deaths happened during the event. Other deaths in association with Chernobyl were due to high radiation poisoning.
- Persons who were evacuated from the city of Pripayat and surrounding cities had a whole new city called Slavutych built to accommodate them, a city that was mainly funded by the plant operator.
- Ideally, even if the area has officially been opened up as a tourist attraction site, the area surrounding the Chernobyl power plant site will not be safe for human settlement for another 20,000 years.
- A special kind of fungus started growing at the Chernobyl site and fed off the radiation.
- The Chernobyl accident contributed largely to an increase in number of radioactive wild boars that are surprisingly, still thriving in the affected environment in Germany.
- Interestingly, even after the major disaster and suffering, official decommissioning of the Chernobyl Power Plant didn’t happen till the year 2000 after numerous humanitarian efforts to shut it down over the years.
- Cleaning up the Chernobyl site program was turned into a competition. With radiation levels high, the cleanup was just timed for nine minutes in which the volunteers had to hang a red flag at chimney 3, the reward was a bottle of Pepsi drink and a day off.
- With the area being condemned and excluded as radioactive elements were high, scientists tried experimental culturing of beans in the affected areas, and interestingly the beans adapted with the first try producing protective proteins that protected the human blood from further radiation.
- Out of the firemen who initially responded to the fire retracted their statement, radioactive elements, they would, moral obligation to stop the spread of the fire even in line of duty
- The Soviet Union denied claims that Chernobyl Reactor 4 had exploded for days, even after western countries had satellite images backing up the claims. It admitted only after the disaster set off alarms in a nuclear plant in Sweden that was more than 1000 km away.
- A middle aged operator at the Chernobyl site single handedly decided to venture into the radiation field by himself to stop younger men from doing so.
- As expected, the exclusion area that was zoned off and evacuated after the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant explosion has over the years, been reclaimed by the wild. At the moment the area is viewed as a major wildlife sanctuary that happens to be home to hundreds of wild animals like boars, deer, bears, eagles and beavers.
- Hemp was deliberately planted at the site to aid in the cleaning program. This plant has so far, proven to be useful in the removal of toxins in the process dubbed as phytoremediation.
- Most firefighters who initially responded to the Chernobyl site turned dark due as a result of the radiation poisoning. This fact was also evident in one particular firefighter whose brown eyes turned blue due to the radiation intensity level.
- After the initial explosion at the site, three men volunteered and actually swam in the radioactive waters to release it from the room. This was meant to avoid another steam explosion that could have had far–reaching and worse effects. All three later died from radiation poisoning
- As a means of containing the radiation, a sarcophagus was built around the destroyed reactor. In the event of the collapse of this containment structure, the resulting radiation will be enough to kill up to 100 million people within a few weeks.
- The use of robots in the cleaning process by the USSR was done to clear away radioactive debris. This was made possible by the adaptation of their unmanned lunar exploration robots.
- To ensure that the effect of radiation was limited, Moscow employed the use of silver iodide artillery to make rain clouds that ideally protected it from a further radiation fallout. This has worked for some time since the incident.
- The vehicles that were used in the evacuation of Chernobyl victims have not been destroyed due to the radiation elements present in them that can be potentially poisonous hence they are stored in a radioactive vehicle graveyard.
- Due to the radiation leaks that reached the surrounding areas, the forest turned a ginger color and was renamed as the “Red Forest”. An irk observation near the Chernobyl plant is the fact that fallen trees and leaves around the area are simply not decaying even with everything that has happened in the area.
- As a means to honor and compensate the people that were forced to evacuate due to the accident, any renovation of a house near the Chernobyl site has the name of the property owner inscribed on it.
Effects of Chernobyl (Level of Radiation and the Effect on Other Countries)
The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident in 1986 has gone down in the books of history as the only commercial nuclear power plant that led to death and massive losses from the effects of radiation. The incident occurred because of severely flawed reactors and human error. Looking at United States of America design, regulations and disaster preparedness, it is highly unlikely for such an incident to take place in this country. The Chernobyl aftermath saw twenty eight reactor and emergency members of staff lose their lives because of radiation and extensive thermal burns in less than four months after the incident took place. According to reports from different sources of information, it is believed that over 7000 individuals suffered from thyroid cancers because of the effects of Chernobyl disaster. This clearly shows how harmful nuclear power effects can be on our lives. By the year 2005, about 15 children inside Chernobyl had died because of thyroid cancer.
Although many people alleged that the truth about Chernobyl is still unclear, the nation has improved the process of monitoring its citizens to ensure that cases of thyroid cancer are detected in good time and addressed properly. According to the United Nations study, emergency workers as well as other people residing in contaminated regions received low-body radiation Chernobyl doses in their bodies. The study did not find any cases of increased solid cancer, congenital malformations or decreased fertility among people living in Chernobyl. However, the Chernobyl disaster effects report shows increased cases of leukemia as well as cataract risk among the emergency workers at this plant because of the high radiation doses they received. The government has ensures long term of their health.
Cause of Chernobyl
The Chernobyl cause was the violation of technical specifications of the plant. The incident occurred on April 26, 1986 after the operators of the plant allegedly ran it using low power without proper coordination or taking into account the required safety measures. In addition, it is alleged that the operators did not communicate with the personnel in charge of safety at the plant. The four reactors at Chernobyl had been designed to generate both electric power and plutonium making them slightly different from the standard designs that feature a water coolant and graphite moderator. At low power, the reactors were very unstable and unsafe because of the control rod design as well as the positive void coefficient. This accelerated power output and caused a nuclear chain reaction after the plant lost cooling water at some point.
These factors contributed to the power surge thereby causing the destruction of the entire plant. The power surge led to increased heat in the pressure tubes filled with fuel. There was a reaction between the hot fuel particles in the fuel tubes and water which lifted the heavy cover from the top of the reactor. The lifting of the 1000 ton metric lid from the reactor made the 1660 pressure tubes of the unit rupture. This caused another explosion and caused the exposure of the reactor core to the surrounding areas. The 10 day fire released large quantities into the environment making it unsafe for workers and people living around this plant. The plant did not have a containment structure featured like the modern nuclear plants. The lack of protection led to the escape of nuclear material into the surrounding region making it more dangerous for emergency workers as well as the local population in this place. The crippled plant is enclosed using a concrete structure that appears to grow weaker with time. The nation of Ukraine and eight other industrialized nations have made plans to construct an enormous structure around it. The structure will be strong enough to last up to 100 years. Reactor 2 was completely shut down following a fire that occurred in 1991 while Chernobyl 1 and 3 were closed down in 1996 and 2000 respectively.
Effects on Other countries
According to Soviet scientists’ reports, Reactor 4 of the plant contained close to 190 metric tons of fission products as well as uranium dioxide. About 13-30% of this amount escaped into the surroundings after the incident. Contamination spread from one place to another irregularly depending on the prevailing weather conditions at that time. Other reports from western and soviet scientists allege that about 60% of the contamination was received in the nation of Belarus. The area in the South of Bryansk was also affected by high levels of contamination following Chernobyl radiation effects. Some regions in the Northwestern side of this country also received high levels of contamination. The Soviet authorities were forced to evacuate residents within a period of 36 hours after the incident to safer places. In the year 1986, over 115,000 locals were moved to other places. Thereafter, the government decided to resettle 220, 000 more people. It is evident that increased cases of thyroid cancer were facilitated by high exposure or radio iodine emitted during this accident. Although the measures taken by the nation counter the effects of Chernobyl are deemed inadequate, it has implemented more measures to deal with the problem including
- Decontaminating areas of settlement where people and animals could live
- Treatment of pastures
- Providing animals with clean fodder that is not contaminated in any way
- Warning citizens against consuming different types of food that could be harmful to their health
Effects of Radiation
What are the effects of radiation? High spills of radiation into the atmosphere are harmful to animals, plants as well as human beings. The Chernobyl incident is not compatible with the testing of nuclear weapons because of the high amount of radiation released into the atmosphere following the incident. In addition, the isotopes released during the incident are considered to have lived longer when compared to those released during atomic bomb tests. This variation produces radioactivity curves with different shapes. Chernobyl radiation effects were evident in Ukraine, Belarus as well as Russia.
Effects from Radiation to the General Public
Adults living around Chernobyl were exposed to 20-1000 mSv doses of Thyroid while the infants were approximated at 20-6000mSv. Individuals who were evacuated early enough, their internal dose because of inhalation was about 8-13 times higher when compared to the external dosage because of the beta/gamma emitters. Those who remained at the place for ten or more days had internal dosages of about 50-70% because of inhaling the emissions. The highest dose was brought about by Iodine -131 as well as rubidium and Tellurium isotopes that accounted for about 20-30%.
Immediate Results and Short Term Chernobyl Radiation Effects
The explosion and subsequent fires at the plant led to the development as well as dispersal of a huge radioactive cloud that drifted into different countries including Belarus, Russia and Ukraine among others. The initial results about the major release of radiation was detected in Sweden and not Ukraine where a number of employees at Forsmark Nuclear Plant noticed radioactive particles on their clothes. In the process of searching for the source of these particles, the Swedish government discovered that they were originating from the Western Soviet Union. The government of France assured its citizens that the radioactive particles had stopped somewhere along the border of Italy hence they had no reason to panic. Italy went ahead to prohibit its citizens from consuming foods such as mushrooms and others because of the Chernobyl incident. The French government did not take such measures as a way of appeasing its people that everything was fine. The incident led to the hospitalization of about 203 people immediately with 31 of them dying instantly. Most of the people who died were rescue workers and fire workers. The victims had tried to control the situation without knowing how dangerous the effects of radiation can be to human beings, plants and animals as well. The Ukrainian government had to evacuate a number of people including 50,000 persons living in and around Pripyat. Experts also predicted that the region was going to experience increased cases of cancer for the coming 70 years.
The liquidators received high dosages of radiation following the incident. During their rescue mission, most of them were not well-equipped with dosimeters used in measuring the amount of radiation one receives. Most of them had to estimate their doses making them more vulnerable. Even those who applied dosimeters used different procedures. Although 300, 000 – 600000 workers took part in the cleanup process, most of them entered the zone where reactors were located 2 years after the incident. In addition, increased cases of DNA mutations have been reported among children whose parents took part in the process of mitigating the disaster as compared to those conceived before the accident occurred.
Chernobyl Environmental Effects
The environmental effects of Chernobyl were widespread from fauna and vegetation to lakes as well as rivers in different parts. A large percentage of the contamination from this plant ended up in the nation of Belarus. This led to the contamination of about 23% of this nation’s land. The contaminated region had a population of about 2 million persons living in over 3668 towns as well as villages. Ukraine had about 640km/square exposed to the contamination while Belarus had over 3000km/square. Chernobyl effects on the environment made the government encourage farmers to consider the idea of planting arable crops that could absorb less radioactive elements at the end of the day. Places that had less than 15 curies in terms of caesium contamination continued to support agriculture although the government had to restrict citizens from consuming milk and meat among other products. The British government also banned selling of lamb from regions with over 0.025 curie per square kilometer. For three years following the increased Chernobyl effects on environment, many natives believed that the 30km zone of exclusion marked the last point of the contamination.
Effects of Chernobyl on the Environment (Groundwater)
Chernobyl disaster effects on the environment made ground waters another area of concern among residents of this place. Contamination of groundwater occurred because of the method of disposal applied at the Red Forest. A large part of this forest was bulldozed and then buried in the trenches. Thereafter, the trenches were completely covered thereby forming long bermes. The materials released in water bodies decreased after some time because they decayed, got diluted and then absorbed into the soil within the surrounding regions.
Effects of Chernobyl on the environment (urban)
High amounts of radioactive elements were released in the urban centers located around the plant. The government had to evacuate most of the residents from the place so that they do not get exposed to the harmful materials. Other centers also received high levels of contamination and are still receiving it because of poor methods used to counter the same. After this incident, it was common to discover radioactive materials in parks, lawns, roads and buildings among other areas. Although wind, rain and cleanup reduced the amount of contamination, it led to secondary contamination in the sewerage systems among other areas. The level of radiation in most of the urban areas has gone back to the previous levels before the incident occurred except areas with undisturbed soils such as gardens among others.
In conclusion, the long term effects that accompanied the incident at Chernobyl have remained controversial among many citizens in the place for many decades. Over 300,000 had to be evacuated from Chernobyl following the terrible accident that occurred. Despite deaths and other problems, millions of people are still living here. There is also evidence of increased cases of cancer, mortality rate and birth defects among other complications associated with radioactive materials. The lack of funds and poor communication are some of the reasons that have made it very difficult for Russia, Belarus as well as Ukraine to address the problem fully. This is clearly shown by the weak structure constructed around the plant. Besides evacuation, plants and animals in this region were also affected. Some of the plant species are no longer existent because of the effect of radioactive materials released by the plant. With many years gone after the event, residents still live in fear because of the continued expose to the harmful radioactive materials. Some of them have given birth to kids with DNA mutations because of the materials and it looks like they not leaving the place any soon.
Chernobyl Effect on Humans
The April 28, 1986 explosion in Chernobyl is one of the worst incidents in the history of nuclear power plants in the entire world. People of Chernobyl lost their loved ones and properties worth billions. After the accident, life has never been the same again in this part of Ukraine. The United Nations Scientific committee on the effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) indicated that there were 49 initial deaths a few months after the explosion. Most of the Chernobyl victims succumbed because of acute radiation poisoning, thyroid cancer, trauma and helicopter crash. In this list of people who lost their lives, two died right at the scene of the explosion, four of died in a helicopter crash while trying to contain the situation and the rest died in a period of one month after showing acute radiation syndromes ARS. Among those who lost their lives were seven firefighters, one cinematographer, a physician, two security guards and power staff at the Nuclear power plant. It is said that there was no member of the public who was hospitalized within the first month of the accident.
Chernobyl recorded 4000 premature deaths
During the initial stages of the disaster, cases of thyroid stood at 6000 people in the affected region but the number has continued to rise over the past years because of poor measures taken by the three nations. The United Nation has approximated premature deaths caused by the incident at around 4000. On the other hand, the Chernobyl Forum has also acknowledged a gradual increase in the number of individuals with psychologically related complications following the disaster. According to reports from the Ukrainian government, over 800, 000 individuals known as liquidators took part in the cleanup process after the Chernobyl incident 25 years ago. Information about Chernobyl victims from Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian agencies indicate that over 25, 000 of those people who participated in the cleanup have died because of the high exposure to Chernobyl radiation. The liquidators’ Committee shows that Chernobyl death toll of stands at around 100, 000.
Chernobyl health effects
Seven million Chernobyl survivors residing in areas affected by the explosion received the highest level of exposure to radiation. Belarusian doctors’ reports on Chernobyl effects on humans indicate increased cases of different diseases among the population that was living around the plant. Some of the diseases noted include breast cancer that increased by over 200%, leukemia increased by more than 100 percent and thyroid cancer rose by 2400 percent. The mortality rate in this region also outstripped the rate at which children were being born during that time. It is clear among national as well as international experts that the health status of people living in contaminated regions is poor. Besides Chernobyl explosion, the other factors that have contributed towards this include poor diet, poor living conditions and poverty just to mention a few of them.
Chernobyl Effect on Children
What makes Chernobyl children born in 1986 different?
Chernobyl babies are among those who were affected greatly by the explosion. Today, over 6000 children born in Ukraine have genetic heart defects. It is also estimated that about 3000 of them will die because of poor or completely lack of medication. Chernobyl Kids born from the year 1986 have experienced over 200 percent increase in terms of birth defect and cases of Chernobyl birth defects reported to have increased by 250 percent when compared to the period before the event occurred. About 85% of kids born in Belarus are considered Chernobyl victims. Most of them carry genetic markers that have continued to affect their health and the same can be passed to the next generation. According to UNICEF, cases of children diseases have increased over the past years with about 38% increases the number of those affected with malignant tumors, 43% blood circulatory illness and over 63% affected with disorders to do with the bones, muscles as well as connective tissues. Children living in places such as mental asylum or orphanages have continued to receive financial supports from the government and other organization so that they can survive the trauma caused by the incident. By the year 2004, over 26% of children of Chernobyl aged below 17 years lived below the international poverty line. In addition, over 1m kids continued to reside in areas with contamination because there was no one to take care of them.
One of the greatest Children of Chernobyl is Thyroid cancer. This type of cancer occurs because of the absorption of radio-iodine. Thyroid hormone secreted by the thyroid gland helps in regulating growth, physical as well as mental development. Any kid affected with thyroid cancer should take thyroxin for the rest of his or her life to avoid many health complications associated with this problem. Ten years before the incident, only seven Chernobyl babies had been diagnosed with the complication. In less than four years after the incident, the number had risen by thirty times. The situations went unnoticed until 1995 when the world health organization WHO recognized that there was a close link between thyroid cancer in this region and the Chernobyl incident. Gomel region is among the areas that were greatly affected by cases of thyroid cancer. It is alleged that 1/3 of children aged 0-4 years when the incident occurred in this area are likely to suffer from thyroid cancer at one point in their life.
Leukemia is another disease that has been associated with Chernobyl children. Chernobyl Leukemia statistics have been among the most controversial reports from this incident. Generally speaking, the Gomel region has cases of children with leukemia increase by over 50% when compared to the period before the incident took place. Although the complication affected more children, adults were equally diagnosed with the disease. However, other researchers objected the fact that was increased cases of leukemia among Chernobyl kids. Many experts allege that there was an increase within the first two years but the number decreased later on.
Other types of cancer
Surveys undertaken by doctors from the Gomel indicate that in every 100,000 children in this area, 240 are highly likely to develop cancer during their life. The figure has since risen to about 346 cases. The most affects parts include Vetka, Narovlya, Bragin and Khoiniki among others. In the year 2004, reports published by the Swiss Medical Weekly indicated that there was a 40% increase in cases of cancer from the year 1990- 2000 among Chernobyl kids.
Chernobyl radiation effects on pregnancy
Radiation damages the rapidly dividing cells making up the fetus. This was evident during the Chernobyl incident. Within a few months after the incident, there was a relatively high increase in case of women with pregnancy disorders in Russia, Belarus as well as Ukraine among other neighboring nations affected by the Chernobyl disaster. Other Chernobyl birth defects/ Chernobyl deformities include
- Nervous system disorders
- Cardiovascular disorders
- Gastrointestinal diseases
Although the three governments and other organizations have reported increased cases of children affected with different health conditions, it is still unclear whether these complications were brought about because of what happened at the Chernobyl plant. Many children have been moved from the contaminated areas to other safer regions such as Minsk. Nevertheless, the lack of funds and poor communication has hampered the efforts to follow up with their medical conditions thereby making them more vulnerable. Reports have shown that cases of juvenile diabetes have been rising at an alarming rate in areas with contamination as opposed to other regions.
Chernobyl Effects on Animals
There are a very high number of mutant animals Chernobyl. Despite the increased amount of radiation after the 1986 incident, many animals have continued to thrive in the region. The population of deer, wild boar and elk around the region where the accident occurred is around four times those found in the uncontaminated region. There is also a huge population of wolves in the same region unlike in the past where with most of them were hunted by the residents because of their effect on the livestock. This goes against the initial findings indicating that the incident would affect the population of animals in the region. After the explosion that killed many plants and workers, animals of Chernobyl were also affected in terms of health for some months. The reproduction of these animals also declined greatly following the incident. However, recent reports have indicated that was no long term impact following the explosion. The number of big animals has been increasing since the last decade and Chernobyl disaster animals are no different. Many experts have attributed the high number of animals in this place to the lack of negative impact of human beings who used to reside in there before the incident occurred. Habitats are no longer being destroyed to create farming land or effects of deforestation. Although some researchers have alleged that radiation does not influence the lives of wild animals, it is more likely that the lack of human influence is one of the factors that have led to this situation in Chernobyl. The experts are still undertaking research to establish the overall physical condition as well as lifespan of animals thriving in this region. Despite this, initial studies have shown that radiation has a negative impact on insects as well as other small creatures in this region. However, this does not mean that radiation has a positive impact on animals. For instance, the overall population of wildlife in the areas around Chernobyl is slightly lowers when you compare them with the protected regions in Europe. Looking at this number, it is clear that radiation has a negative effect on the existence of wildlife. Moreover, Chernobyl radiation has greatly affected the lifestyle of animals that decided to come back to the region afterwards.
Chernobyl disaster animals
There are a number of animals that still exist around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Most of them are considered unsafe for consumption because they feed on contaminated plants. Some of the Chernobyl mutant animals include but not limited to the following.
Wild boar -The Chernobyl exclusion zone includes areas within the border between Belarus and Ukraine. In this region, there are high numbers of Chernobyl animals including wild boars thriving. Most of these wild boars have been tested highly radioactive. One of the reasons that have affected their condition is that they feed on truffles and mushrooms growing fully or partially contaminated soils. The fallout of radioactive materials did not only affect wild boars residing in Ukraine but also those in nations such as Germany and other countries have tested positive.
Eurasian Lynx – Eurasian Lynx is yet another animal that has survived around these regions. These animals have become extinct in the European continent for over hundred years. The exclusion zone in Ukraine has provided these animals with another chance to live. Nonetheless, it is not clear how radiation has affected their lives.
Red deer – If you visit the Exclusion Zone, some of the animals in Chernobyl you will come across are the red deer. The forests and meadows in this region are some of the things that have attracted red deer to thrive there. Mutant animals Chernobyl feed on the contaminated grass found in this region thus making them unfit for human consumption. Although the deer have not grown creepy glowing eyes, you cannot eat them even if you have the courage of hunting them.
In conclusion, a series of unsuccessful tests at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant caused an accident that changed the lives of people and animals living in this place. Although the soviet government tried all it could to cover up the incident at the initial stages, it had to admit what had just happened after the Swedish nuclear authority decided to share information about the explosion. Two people died immediately after the incident and others passed on a few days later on. The fourth reactor at the nuclear plant burned for about three weeks while a group of people called liquidators continue with their fight to contain the situation. Most of the liquidators died following exposure to radioactive materials. With over twenty five years gone since the event took place, the effects are still being felt to date. Some of them include Chernobyl deformities, increased mortality rates and reduced production.
Before 1986, Chernobyl had very few wild animals. Most Chernobyl animals’ habitats had been cleared to create land for soviet dairy farms as well as pine plantations. Larger Chernobyl disaster animals started to appear in this region after evacuation. Within a few years, population of Chernobyl mutations exploded. Wild boar and roe dear found in this place in the 1990s has over 2000 times of cesium in their meat making them unsafe for human consumption. Although the levels of radiation have continued to drop for the past decade, some of the animals in Belarus have been tested and confirmed to exceed safe levels. The most interesting thing about Chernobyl disaster mutations is that the animals appeared physically normal. This included the species that had tested positive of radioactive materials. However, there were some exceptional cases such as albino spots as well as a few Chernobyl deformities among barn swallows.
Most moose sightings occur in the exclusion zone of this region. During the early years after the disaster, when almost everything in this region was coated with dust, researchers discovered countless Chernobyl deformities including strange growths, gigantism, dwarfism and malformations among others. But most of the effects were seen in plants and not animals. No one has found zombies or even seriously deformed wild animals around the region of the power plant. Most of the Chernobyl animals affected with mutation were either born in the wilderness or eaten before anyone discovered them.
No matter the biological effect of radiation on animals, the fittest have continued to survive. The high number of normal looking animals in Chernobyl has greatly shaken how most biologists argue about the effects of radioactivity on the environment. The fact that the largest radioactive wasteland can turn out to become the biggest animal sanctuary in the whole of Europe has been considered counterintuitive by very many scholars. Nonetheless, the news is not good for all species of animals especially those that enjoy human company. Some of species that were greatly affected by the explosion include pigeons, white storks and swallows. These animals have since declined in their number after the incident with most of them leaving the region together with the natives. Furthermore, it is clear that small creatures are more vulnerable when compared to the larger species when it comes to radioactivity. This is among the reasons why rodents in Chernobyl occurred in smaller litters and had a shorter lifespan in studies undertaken in the 1990s. The number of stag beetles remained the same though they had uneven horns unlike before.
Since most studies judge the health of wild animals using their numbers and not physical conditions, a good number of experts allege that Chernobyl disaster animals are healthy. According to studies undertaken in Ukraine and Belarus in the last 27 years, there has a huge animal increase as well as diversity in the area affected by contamination . Scientists believe that the exclusion zone has turned out to become the unintentional sanctuary for most wild animals defying the effects of radiation on animals. The conclusion bases on the fact radioactivity materials are less harmful to wildlife as compared to human population. To challenge this view, a number of biologists such as Timothy Mousseau (University of South Carolina) and Anders Moller (University of Paris) have undertaken studies and came up with a series of publications alleging that the number of birds, mammals and insects in Chernobyl has continued to decline in the recent years despite the high levels of radiations witnessed. They argue that birds have been avoiding the highly contaminated areas and not the entire zone. This has made them to dismiss the initial reports about the increasing number of animals in this part of Ukraine with contrary reports on the same situation. The publications of these scholars have attracted the attention of most media houses and other nature enthusiasts in the world. However, researchers in environmental radioactivity have come out to question the methods and conclusions made by these scientists. A Ukrainian co-author undertook the field work and supported their articles with the argument that most radioactive areas have very few animals. One of the flaws of their studies is that they researched in the most inappropriate regions possible. According to these scholars, the greatest effects on the population of wildlife occur in most contaminated regions. This implies that they undertook tests on very many areas. Although Chernobyl exclusion zone has very many places, it has five main patches with high levels of contamination. The Red Forest is among the few places where you can easily find some of the deformed plants seen after the Chernobyl explosion. The young trees at this place are short and stunted because of the effect of radioactive materials. The area looks like a natural pine forest. The birds Moller and Mousseau allege have been avoiding the region are actually avoiding a strange looking habitat. Deep into the interior of the exclusion zone, you will find animals such as swans, egrets, ducks and black storks among others. A study undertaken in 2011 showed that the exclusion zone had the highest species diversity when compared to any other part of the country. This made Mousseau to concede that there might be more animals in areas that they never included in their initial studies.
Chernobyl economic effects
What are Chernobyl economic effects? How did the Chernobyl impact on the economy of Ukraine? After the 1986 accident in Chernobyl, the most affected regions were the rural areas. The main source of income in Ukraine was agriculture. Natives of this place owned large collective farms that provided them with wages as well as many social benefits. They also had small plots where they cultivated different varieties of crops for house consumption and sold the surplus to the local industries. The profile has not changed greatly although the three nations have approached the same from different perspectives.
The agricultural sector was among the most affected areas of the economy after this incident. Over 784 320 acres of land were rendered unproductive after the incident in the three countries. The production of timber was stopped in over 694, 200 hectares of land following the incident at Chernobyl. Moreover, there was restriction in terms of production of different food stuffs and other crops from areas affected by the explosion. Through remediation efforts made by the government and other organizations, there was introduction of clean food on the market. However, the cost of producing these foods became higher because of the fertilizers, special processes of cultivation and additives. Despite the remediation efforts made by the government and other organizations in this region, the Chernobyl Stigma has made most consumers to reject buying products from areas affected by radioactivity. Food processing industries in this region also collapsed because of the lack of market. There was also a fall in revenue from these industries with most of them shut down after the incident at Chernobyl. Most of the land in the nation of Belarus was rendered unproductive thus affecting the economy greatly. Policies directed towards protecting the local population against the Chernobyl economic effects did not work as expected of them. The nation of Ukraine also faced economic down turn in the 1990s although the explosion did not play a great role this time round. The disruption of trade in this part of the world led to collapse of the Soviet Union. Wages became lower and employment higher in affected areas than in the other parts of Ukraine. This led to reduced productivity, increase in the cost of production as well as closure of most businesses that had done well before the disaster. For the past 27 years, the cost of Chernobyl has continued to increase because of the following reasons
- Damages caused by the explosion directly
- The cost incurred to seal off the nuclear power plant’s reactors. The reactors have been crumbling thus exposing the surrounding to more contamination. Foreign donors have contributed 1.54 billion Euros to help in replacing the buildings at the power plant
- Designing the exclusion zone covering about 30 kilometers around Chernobyl nuclear power plan
- Resettling more than 330,000 affected by the explosion
- Healthcare costs for those who were exposed to radioactive materials after the explosion. The leakage doused more than 100, 000 people with very high amounts of radiations making them more vulnerable to diseases. Over four thousands kids were diagnosed with thyroid cancer because of drinking milk contaminated with radioactive material. More than 6000 emergency workers of the nuclear plant were also exposed to radioactive materials. Most of them died later after suffering from different health complications
- Over seven billion people from Belarus, Ukraine and Russia are still getting payments following the accident that affected their lives in one or another. This costs the nation of Ukraine about 5% of its annual budget and Belarus uses at least 6 % of its budget on its victims
- Monitoring radiation levels within the environment
- Cleaning and disposal of toxic waste material realized after the incident
- The governments have been spending a lot of money on researching how they can produce uncontaminated food for their population
- Loss of power generated by the power plant which continued to produce power until 2000 when it was completely shut down
- The loss of the entire Chernobyl nuclear power plant itself
- The opportunity cost to do with removing forests and farmland from production
- The cancellation of nuclear power plants programs with Belarus that led to a loss of about $ 235 billion
Chernobyl 25 years later
What is Chernobyl like today? Does anyone live in Chernobyl? After the incident at Chernobyl, the government of Ukraine issued a statement to assure the public that there was no risk to do with contamination out of the exclusion zone. This zone covers a radius of 30 kilometer around the nuclear plant. The government went ahead to assure citizens that it was working hard to contain the whole situation. The town of Chernobyl today receives tour groups up to 300 meters from the destroyed nuclear reactor.
Chernobyl radiation levels today indicate that the nuclear plant is still emitting over 25 times radiation and moving so close should be limited. The population of Chernobyl consists of 6000 people who work within the exclusion zone and 3000 people stay there permanently. Chernobyl now offers tourists and residents with fried chicken and borsch among other foods in cafeterias located less than one mile from the scene of the 1986 accident.
Chernobyl radiation today has declined as compared to the past years. Individuals aged below 18 years are not allowed to access the exclusion zone. The entrants to this place are also expected to stick to the given protocol so that they are not affected by the levels of radiation of contamination. The working shifts have been limited to 15 day stints. Chernobyl 25 years later anyone leaving the region is expected to undergo inspection through points located within 10-30 kilometers from the plant. Anyone whose levels exceed the thresholds considered safe is not allowed to live the place. Chernobyl disaster today shows that levels of radiation are higher near the reactor number four as compared to any other area. Life in Chernobyl after the accident has completely changed after many people decided to evacuate the places to safe areas. The Chernobyl now and then population has changed because of disruptions on agriculture which was among the main source of income and increased levels of radiation.
Although the nuclear power plant no longer generates electricity, the region still has hundreds of workers dressed in contamination suits. Nature seems to have overtaken settlements and villages left by the natives after the accident. A horde of horse has continued to thrive in Chernobyl 25 years later while tramping down the grass to prevent cases of fires. Deer and rabbits are the other animals filling the thick and green forests in Chernobyl. Large catfish reside in canals located a few miles from the nuclear plant. The high number of catfish has been attributed the bread tossed by thousands of tourists who visit this place throughout the year and not effects of radiation. Although it looks scattered, there is clear evidence of what took place in 1986 at Chernobyl leading to deaths, loss of property, reduced population and less productivity.
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