Chilling Photos Of Chernobyl 28 Years Later

Fear and decay in Ukraine.

1. In April 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine suffered a catastrophic reactor meltdown.

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2. The resulting explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere.

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3. It is the worst nuclear power plant accident in history in terms of cost and death toll.

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4. The disaster began in Reactor 4 during a systems test, shortly after 1am on Saturday, 26 April 1986.

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5. An unexpected power surge occurred during an experiment to test a new emergency core cooling feature.

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6. Workers attempted an emergency shutdown, but this failed, causing an exponentially larger power surge.

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7. According to some estimations, the reactor jumped to around ten times the normal operational output.

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8. The reactor vessel ruptured and burning lumps of material and sparks shot into the air above the reactor.

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9. Fuel escaping into the reactor’s exterior cooling structure caused the destruction of the reactor casing.

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10. The 2,000-ton upper plate of the reactor assembly was torn off by the explosion, sending it up through the roof.

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11. The combustible graphite moderator was exposed to air, causing it to ignite.

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12. The resulting fire sent a plume of highly radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and over a huge geographical area.

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13. Thirty one deaths are directly attributed to the accident, all among the reactor staff and emergency workers.

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14. Over 350,400 people have been evacuated and resettled from the most severely contaminated areas.

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15. The accident raised concerns about the safety of the Soviet nuclear power industry, and nuclear power in general.

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16. The disaster forced the Soviet government to become less secretive.

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17. The government coverup was a catalyst for reforms leading to the Soviet collapse.

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18. Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus have been burdened with the substantial decontamination and health care costs.

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19. Estimates of the total number of deaths that will eventually result from the accident vary enormously.

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20. The Chernobyl Forum predicts a death toll of 4,000 among those exposed to the highest levels of radiation.

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21. In 1991, a report showed the reactors at Chernobyl didn’t comply with accepted standards of nuclear reactor safety.

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22. An area originally extending 30km in all directions from the plant is officially called the “zone of alienation”.

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23. It is largely uninhabited, except for about 300 residents who have refused to leave.

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24. The Chernobyl reactor is now enclosed in a large concrete sarcophagus.

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25. The sarcophagus was built quickly after the disaster, to allow the other reactors to remain operational.

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26. Reactor 2 was shut down after a fire in 1992 and Reactor 1 was decommissioned in 1996.

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27. Reactor 3 wasn’t turned off until 15 December 2000.

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28. A new structure will be completed in 2016, the end of the 30-year lifespan of the original sarcophagus.

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29. The structure is being built adjacent to the existing sarcophagus and will be slid into place on rails.

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30. At 105m (344 ft) high and spanning 257 m (843 ft), it will cover both Reactor 4 and the hastily built 1986 structure.

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31. Radiation levels are so high that builders only work 5 hours per day for one month before taking 15 days rest.

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32. Ukrainian officials estimate the area will not be safe for human life again for another 20,000 years.

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33. But if you can’t wait that long, the sealed zone around Chernobyl was opened up to tourists in 2011.

Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images

Read more about the Chernobyl Disaster here.

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