Thirteen shocking, little-known facts about Chernobyl disaster

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster still remains the largest man-made catastrophe that has ever happened on Earth. Its negative consequences for nature and humans are difficult to overestimate. The terrible disaster still echoes for mankind, even decades after the explosion at the nuclear power plant.

1. Radiation like from 500 atomic bombs

The explosion at Chernobyl nuclear power plant produced a radioactive output of 50 million curies. This number is equal to the consequences of the explosion of 500 atomic bombs that the Americans dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Ninety percent of nuclear fuel of the ChNPP was released in the atmosphere of the Earth. 

2. Heroic firefighters

The fire at the nuclear power plant was extinguished by more than 100 firefighters from the satellite town of Pripyat. Those people who were exposed to largest doses of radiation. According to Soviet data, 31 people were killed during the liquidation of the fire.

3. Atomic flame

The fire was also extinguished with the help of helicopters that would dump sand and clay on the NPP. The helicopters were also used to dump special mixtures for extinguishing and preventing chain reaction. No one knew that fire prevention actions were most likely increasing the temperature of the flaming reactor. The fire was completely extinguished only on May 9. 

4. Immediately after the accident

Most residents of Pripyat learned of the nuclear disaster by midday of April 26, 1986, the day when the disaster struck. The people were living and working as before at the time when radiation was spreading like lightning with the help of wind.

5. Zone of impact

The explosion affected the total area of ​​50,000 square kilometers in 12 regions of Ukraine. In addition, the Chernobyl disaster made 150,000 square kilometers around the station unsuitable for living.

6. Ghost town

The entire population of Pripyat, 47,500 people, had to leave the city the day after the accident. As many as 300 residents wanted to return home a month afterwards. The area, where they settled, was then called the Zone of Alienation. Those people's relatives were not allowed to visit them for 20 years afterwards. 

7. Victims of the disaster

As many as 250,000 people in total had been evacuated by late 1986 from the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The exact number of victims of the manmade accident is still unknown. According to various sources, the number varies from a few thousand to 100 thousand people. 

8. First victims of radiation sickness

Radiation sickness was found in 134 people present at the emergency block in the first day after the explosion. During one month, 28 of them died.

9. Radioactive irradiation

In total, 8.4 million people - not only in Ukraine, but also in Belarus and Russia - were exposed to radiation. 

10. Liquidators

About 600,000 people from all corners of the USSR took part in the activities to liquidate consequences of the nuclear disaster.

11. Is another Chernobyl possible?

To this day, there are 11 Chernobyl-like reactors in the Russian Federation. However, the reactors have been upgraded to exclude a possibility for another disaster to occur. 

12. Chernobyl as tourist attraction 

In recent years, the abandoned city of Pripyat and the reactor have become a tourist attraction for travellers from around the world. Tourists can take a look at abandoned buildings, schools and kindergartens. 

13. A new life

Two units of the Chernobyl power plant continued working for some time after the disaster. Several hundreds of workers and engineers were servicing the units. The authorities had to build a whole new town for them - Slavutich. The town remains the youngest settlement in today's Ukraine. 

Andrey Terentyev

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov