Chernobyl By Brianna Studna

It was April 26, 1986, the workers in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant are startled by an alarm. A power surge has damaged the uranium fuel rods at Reactor Number Four, a steam explosion creates a huge fireball that blows off the roof of the reactor and a river of radioactive lava begins to eat through the facility. Eventually, though, the lava begins to cool down at the bottom floor of the plant.

A radioactive plume blanketed the nearby city of Pripyat. The cloud moved on, and contaminating land in neighboring Belarus then moved across Eastern Europe and over to Scandinavia. From the Soviets there was utter silence. No word that anything had happened. Then monitoring stations in Scandinavia began reporting abnormally high levels of radioactivity.

The reactor after the lava corroded it.

The impact

5 million people still live on heavily contaminated lands in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine and hundreds of thousands of people are sick or suffering whether it be from radiation or losing a loved one. But the true impact from Chernobyl may not be known for decades to come, scientists and nuclear experts say.

The blast immediately killed one person and a second died in the hospital after many fatal injuries. While the reactor burned for two weeks, discharging the most uncontrolled amount of radioactive material into the environment scientists have ever seen, the radiation that spewed from the plant killed 800,000 emergency workers. Chernobyl, an area the size of Rhode Island, will not be radiation-free, for an estimated 24,000 years.

Many firefighters and other emergency workers who responded to the Chernobyl explosion eventually died from radiation poisoning. An unknown number of other people were also killed before the site was sealed inside what was called a concrete sarcophagus. Twenty years later though, the ruined reactor still poses a threat.

Environmental Impact

A 30-kilometre area surrounding the reactor is heavily contaminated and remains closed, and some forests and lakes have also been closed off, but otherwise radiation levels have returned to acceptable levels.

At first glance, the marshes of Glebokye Lake in Ukraine appear to be paradise. Look on the horizon, though, and the skyline of Pripyat, a ghost city abandoned by 45,000 people is visible. So is the red-and-white-striped tower of the Chernobyl nuclear power station's infamous Reactor 4, which exploded nineteen years ago. Paradise? Not even close. Glebokye is one of the most radioactive lakes in the world.

The after effects of Chernobyl, which is now a barren ghost town

Radiation Poisoning: Radiation poisoning is rare, but serious, it damages your body from a large amount of radiation being absorbed in a short amount of time. The amount absorbed determines how sick someone will get.


Nausea- Within the first hour, most people with radiation poisoning will become nauseous and vomit, this happens earlier depending on how much radiation the victim was exposed to.

Spontaneous Bleeding- Victims can start to bleed from the mouth, nose, and gums. This is because radiation depletes the body of platelets so the fragments in the blood that stop bleeding don't work.

Burning Skin- The areas of exposed skin will blister and turn red, almost like a sunburn. Some of it may even fall, or 'slough' off.

Hair Loss- Radiation damages the hair follicles, so victims who are exposed to large doses will start to lose hair within two to three weeks. This sometimes is permanent.

Lowered Immune System- Because red and white blood cells are damaged, infections can be transmitted easier.

Making Chernobyl safe for the future

A new structure is being built to keep the additional toxic material from spewing out of the reactor. Resembling an aircraft hangar, the shelter was slid into place over the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site in Ukraine, 2016. The shelter, or 'arch', is the world's largest land-based moving structure.

The arch slid into place.

The arch, which was designed more than two decades ago and has been under construction since 2010, covers the deteriorating steel and concrete structure that had been hastily built after the explosion- The new structure, which is about 500 feet long, has a span of 800 feet, 350 feet high is designed to last at least a century.

Pictures after Chernobyl.


Created with images by Carl Montgomery - "The famous ferris wheel" • jsmiccolis - "untitled image" • Cameron † Evans - "Breathing Symphony" • benadlard - "Chernobyl" • benadlard - "Chernobyl" • benadlard - "Chernobyl"

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