On April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear and environmental disaster happened in Chernobyl. The nuclear power plant in Ukraine situated in about 81 miles north of Kyiv exploded.
The said explosion happened during a routine maintenance check in the power plant. It is a disastrous human fatal error.
According to the report, operators planned on testing the electrical systems of RBMK 4. It is one of the reactors of the nuclear power station in Chernobyl. The said reactor has been shut down the day before performing a system maintenance check.
Based on the report, turning off vital control systems of the reactor was against safety. The reactor reached critical and unstable low power levels, leading to the explosion.
The explosion caused severe radiation effects around the area. In the first few months of the accident, people died due to intense radiation. The accident contaminated areas of Belarus and Ukraine. The residents immediately evacuated.
Serious health problems like thyroid cancer followed the disaster. Until now, people are afraid of visiting the area because of the stigma made by the explosion. Experts claimed that fear of radiation poisoning is still widespread until now.
After that catastrophic event, authorities established the Zone of Alienation. It is an area around an 18-mile radius and heavily guarded with barbed wire. Only workers safeguarding the zone can access it.
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Is Chernobyl reactor 4 still burning?
Since the explosion, authorities have put in the effort to contain the contamination. There are actions taken to lessen the impact of radiation on health and the environment.
Shutting down of other reactors
Initially, both the Russian RBMK and Lithuanian RBMK permanently shut down. It lessened the fear that another catastrophic accident might happen in the future.
In 1991, reactor 2 ceased operation after a build-up of fire in its turbine. Then, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma promised to shutdown reactors 1 and 3.
Combined efforts of G7
It took the combined efforts of the world’s largest economies to close the reactors. The actions to lessen the impact of the disaster includes the following:
- Short-term safety upgrades
- Programs to lessen impacts on workers and families
- Establishment of Chernobyl Center for Nuclear Safety
Building of sarcophagus
The Soviet authorities initiated the establishment of the sarcophagus. It aims to cover the Chernobyl reactor 4 and its hideous disaster. The sarcophagus is a massive steel and concrete structure to cover reactor 4. It is a temporary fix to lessen the contamination made by the exploded reactor. It is in the restricted area near the explosion. There is another facility design after the deterioration of the first sarcophagus.
Since then, efforts to contain its impact are evident. Today, the radiation is into the soil, and the zone restriction is regulated. Yet, the roots of trees and other vegetation in the area might bring the radiation to the surface.
The wildfires in the area pose a threat that might stir up radiation. Authorities are taking full control of the situation to avoid any disaster.
What’s Chernobyl like now?
The efforts of the Ukrainian government authorities and G7 have positive results for Chernobyl.
Today, the areas in the exclusion are thriving with wildlife. Animals surround the place like wolves, deer, beaver, eagles, among many others. The National Geographic and the BBC documented these shreds of evidence of life.
It seems that Chernobyl is going back to normal where lives can thrive and sustained. There are trees and a growing population of vegetation present.
To some extent, the place is now recovering from the disaster. Chernobyl today is far from wasteland as what became to be a famous belief. It is far from the opposite of what most people think that it might not recover.
The New Safe Containment shield replaced the giant concrete sarcophagus is present. It has a positive and lasting effect to reduce the radiation levels surrounding the area. The said shield was able to stop the radioactive materials from escaping.
Residents and villagers outside the exclusion zone are settling and began sustaining lives. Tourists are now returning. Yet, policies and restrictions, particularly in the radioactive site, are strictly enforced. Thousands of tourists and visitors flock to Chernobyl every year. They want to see the abandoned towns and a real-time view of the aftermath of the disaster.
There are signs of economic growth and development present in the area. Just opposite the abandoned site, solar panels from a new plant are existing. It helps produce electricity for the numbers of villages and residents in the area. Hence, it paints a picture that Chernobyl recovered from the disaster.
Is it dangerous to visit Chernobyl?
After the devastating explosion of reactor 4 in Chernobyl, safety is a concern. The events caused by the disaster harmed the tourism industry.
Most visitors cannot shake off the thought of any radiation that may harm them when they visit. Yet, actions transpired to lessen the fear and to recover the travel industry.
Today, many travelers are now flocking to see the chilling effects of the explosion.
Chernobyl is no longer dangerous to tourists. The Ukrainian government authorities already permitted entry to the areas surrounding Chernobyl. Yet, this comes with strict policies and regulations.
In 2019, the President of Ukraine declared that there is a move to make the zone an official tourist site. Here are some guided tips to make your visit to Chernobyl safe and worry-free:
Secure day pass
The 30km exclusion zone is open for tourists. You will need to secure a day pass available from accredited tour operators. You should apply for the past ten days in advance.
Of course, the Ukrainian government ensures that tourists are safe when traveling. There are designated tour operators to guide you throughout your visit. It is just plain crazy if you disobeyed this simple rule, as this is for your good and safety.
Be mindful of the restricted zones
As safe as it is to travel, there are some restricted areas which tourists cannot pass. The machine cemetery of Rossokha is not open for tourists. There are zones marked as forbidden and stay away from them. Checkpoints are also present. Securing your passport before entry is crucial.
Keep your eyes open
There are debris and broken pieces that may harm you during a visit. It is advisable to be mindful of your surrounding and wear protective gear to keep you safe. You should wear appropriate gear when visiting the site.
How close can you get to Chernobyl?
The Ukrainian government announced that Chernobyl is open for tourists. After they assessed that the zone is safe for visitors, travel tours were accessible and regulated.
Since then, tourists have flocked into the area to see the power plant that made headlines a long time ago. The said disaster is one of the worst devastating explosions that happened in the world.
So, how close can you get to Chernobyl?
Here are the sites open for tourists that can give you a closer view of Chernobyl:
Chernobyl Zone and Pripyat
They are crucial areas to visit. It demonstrates the worst environmental disaster in history. The City of Pripyat and Chernobyl Power Plant is the most important site to see. Before you were able to pass, there is a special permit that allows access to the area.
Once you have the pass, a professional travel guide will get you through these sites. Remember, safety measures are still of paramount importance in your visit.
Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
What is there to see in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone? Well, you will have access to the control room of reactor 4. The famous RMBK 4 that exploded in Chernobyl. The government now allowed access to this restricted area. It was thirty years ago the zone was not open to tourists or visitors. For your safety and peace of mind, there will be a gamma team to go with you during the tour.
Inside the facility, nuclear power plants are areas that made an impact in the explosion. The Defense Construction Room is accessible. It is the place where the initial meeting took place to resolve the issue of the nuclear reactor explosions.
Further, you will be able to see ‘Skala”. It is an electronic computing machine that acted as a reactor monitoring system.
Kyiv Pechersk Lavra
Of course, when you visit Chernobyl, you still want to get a hold of what other things to see. Kyiv Pechersk Lavra is a worthy site to see. It is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the area, you can see the church and bell tower that has a panoramic view of the town. After which, just near the area, there is an underground cave complex to make your trip memorable.
Was Fukushima worse than Chernobyl?
The Fukushima and Chernobyl disaster are both level 7 nuclear accidents. Both have corresponding health and environmental implications.
Yet, what was the worse nuclear explosion between the two?
In the aspect of the release of radiation, Chernobyl released more plutonium than Fukushima. Three nuclear reactors exploded in Fukushima, only one reactor exploded in Chernobyl. Yet, the accident in Ukraine was far more dangerous than Fukushima.
Why? The damage made by the explosion of nuclear reactor 4 spread rapidly and violently. It is a different case in Fukushima.
Since the entire reactor exploded, massive fire and plumes spread all over the area. The reactor has no containment structure, making the radiation spread freely and heavily.
The reactors in Fukushima overheated and melted but did not exhibit intense dispersal. Unlike Chernobyl, there is an enormous amount of plutonium released.
In the first few months of an explosion in Chernobyl, there are hundreds of reported deaths. The workers directly involved in the power plant exhibited radiation sickness. There is an increasing number of cases with children having thyroid cancer. Even the milk produced is radiation-contaminated. The extent of health implications due to the Chernobyl nuclear explosion is more damaging.
Yet, these kinds of reports are not present in the Fukushima explosion. There are no incidents of radiation sickness reported.
The extent of environmental damage from both explosions is worth discussing. In Fukushima, there are pieces of evidence that genetic mutations among butterflies happened. The said insects showed deformation in their wings, legs, and even eyes.
In Chernobyl, after years of explosion, wildlife flourished. There are pieces of evidence of plans and vegetation, as well as living fox, beaver, and others.
The impact of disaster due to these explosions is not negligible. Both have corresponding unintended consequences to the health and environment.
Can you live in Chernobyl?
The evidence of wildlife can be present in Chernobyl after years of an explosion. But the zone is still unsafe for people to live in. After 20,000 years, the long period of radiation decontamination, the area may be ideal for living.
The Elephant’s foot is where the radioactive remains highly concentrated is still at risk. There are reports that the contamination level is not consistent in the area. The radiation still poses serious health risks even today.
When wildfires surround the area, authorities worry about radiation. The fire may cause radiation to level up and will have detrimental effects to the environment.
The Chernobyl nuclear disaster is the worst disaster this world saw. It opened the eyes of a lot of people, especially those who are directly involved, that man can harm the earth. The higher authorities learned a lot from the disaster. The presence of nuclear reactors and power plants is detrimental to living things. International policies concerning the existence of said power plant facilities are reviewed and assessed.