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Chernobyl disaster

26 April 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Disaster - an environmental catastrophe that occurred as a result of a hydrogen explosion in power unit No. 4. The reactor was completely destroyed and a great amount of radioactive dust was thrown into the air. It was the biggest disaster in the history of the world's nuclear power industry in terms of loss of life and ecological impact.
The radioactive dust cloud passed over the European part of the USSR, most of Europe and even reached the eastern part of the USA. No less than 60% of the dust fell on the territory of Belarus.

200 000 people were evacuated from the contaminated areas. The Chernobyl explosion was a major political and social event for the USSR. This had an impact on the reasons for explaining the disaster. The interpretation of the facts changed over time and no single main cause emerged. At first, the leadership of Soviet Ukraine and the USSR tried to cover up the disaster. It was only after reports from Sweden, where elevated radiation levels were found, that the evacuation of 130,000 inhabitants of the Kiev region began. A total of 600,000 people were irradiated, in the first instance by the disaster services. A 30-kilometre exclusion zone was created around the Chernobyl power plant. The zone has recently been open for tours of Chernobyl. 

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The causes of the Chernobyl accident

There are at least 2 official versions of the cause of the accident and several alternative versions with varying degrees of plausibility. At first, the blame was put entirely on the personnel. This was the conclusion reached by the State Commission of Inquiry and the court. Staff were accused of negligence, such as conducting experiments at all costs without monitoring the reactor, disabling the automatic reactor protection system, which would have extinguished the reactor itself, or keeping the disaster quiet in the first days after the explosion. In 1993, a new report was published which spoke of irregularities in the design of the reactor. It debunked many of the conclusions that were considered to


be the cause in 1986, such as that the reactor was improperly designed and unsafe, the staff did not know about the danger, the staff made many mistakes and inadvertently broke the recommended instructions, and the shutdown of the protective system did not affect the development of the accident.

Effects of the accident

The result of the accident was a cloud of radioactive dust, which covered not only Ukraine, Belarus and the European part of Russia, but also - Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovenia, Poland, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, France and the UK. The first information about high radiation did not come from the USSR but from the nuclear power plant in Forsmark, Sweden, where radiation was detected on workers' clothing on 27 April. When the search for the source of the radiation began, everything began to indicate that a catastrophe had happened in the western part of the USSR. The contamination of the areas depended on the weather conditions and the direction of the winds. It was calculated that Belarus was most affected by radiation and received 60% of the harmful radiation, while Ukraine received 9%. After the catastrophe, an exclusion zone measuring 2.5 thousand km 2 was created and all inhabitants were displaced from it. 100,000 hectares were excluded from cultivation and 20 nearby kolkhozes were closed down. Two zones were established - one with a 10 km radius of "special risk" and one with a 30 km radius of "highest degree of contamination". The number of victims of the disaster can only be given as an estimate. Today, the radiation is already low and Chernobyl has become a guided tour site. The Chernobyl tour follows marked paths and can be attended by people who are at least 17 years old. The radiation dose received by the body during a tour of Chernobyl is equal to that of being in the sun all day.

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