It has been almost 30 years ago since the nuclear disaster hit the small town of Chernobyl next to the newly built city of Pripyat Ukraine. Chernobyl had a population of 12,000 while Pripyat had 50,000 residents. These are the places mostly affected by the said disaster. A day prior to the nuclear disaster, plant operators shut down the plant for a routine maintenance. Sadly, safety regulations were violated and the automatic shutdown mechanism was disabled. It could have salvaged the plant in the event of a disaster. Then, the unexpected happened. An immense amount of steam was created that caused power surge and all hells broke loose. Let us take a look at 10 of the most interesting facts about the disaster that are worth recognizing.
The Disaster Could Have Been Avoided
All the 4 reactors of the Chernobyl plant were cooled by water. In the absence of this cooling factor during the disaster, the plan overheated instead of shutting itself down. This led to more problems. Add to that a couple of bad decisions and technical judgments. Eventually, the explosion of the 4th reactor was no longer placed to a stop. After realizing the problem, engineers tried reducing the reactivity using graphite control rods. Sadly, it did the opposite instead. Without these series of false judgments and security violations, no disaster could have happened.
Plants Were Almost Instantly Killed
After the damage to the reactor, the trees were immediately killed by the levels of radiation. It was eventually termed as the “Red Forest”. Though the trees were dead, they still emitted a bright ginger-like color. The governments bulldozed all the dead trees, and were buried in trenches.
The government did not realize the full scale of the incident up until one full day.
The Soviet government failed to understand just how serious the problem was up until the entire day when everything started to unfold. Hundreds upon thousands of people were relocated later on, but it was too late for many as the actions should have been a lot faster. Although only 28 people died instantly during the initial radiation along with those who fought the fire, hundreds upon thousands got affected later on. Others did not die instantly, but have suffered lifelong health consequences. In fact, nuclear clouds went as far as Finland and Sweden.
Children of Belarus suffered various health problems.
According to a research, children in 1986 started to drink milk from cows contaminated by radioactive materials. Thus, they received high amounts of these materials straight to their thyroid glands, leading to thyroid cancer. There were over 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer documented, but it is unclear if all other cancers in the area can be traced to the Chernobyl disaster.
Not everyone left after the disaster.
After what transpired on that fatal day, it is safe to say that everyone decided to leave and not go back anymore. However, the truth is that there were around 1,200 people, mostly older women who decided to run back home or not be evacuated at all. They said that they did not get as much support from the government as expected after the relocation and so they decided to go back home. Surprisingly, not all of them died with that decision. Some of them have even lived to their 80’s or older. There are those who are still alive up to now.
The Chernobyl plant was not placed on complete stop after the disaster.
With what happened in 1986, it is safe to say that no other activity with the Chernobyl plant remained active. The plant would have been shut down permanently. The truth is that the other 3 reactors that did not explode were soon restarted. They became functional again later that year and in the following year. Eventually, they were placed to a complete stop, but not until 1996 and 1999.
Chernobyl is still useful for so many reasons.
Due to the uniqueness of this event, a lot of scientists decided to continue their scientific explorations in the area. We have learned a lot after the disaster and we will surely learn a lot more. Chernobyl has also revealed a lot of scientific facts through the years. For some others, the area is a perfect travel destination. They loved the idea of heading to a spooky and abandoned town. Local officials also said that one day tours are not damaging to the health. The ground zero might even be visited and it won’t cause any health problem.
Some animals are thriving in the area
If plants died after the incident, a lot of animals were killed too. However, the current condition is actually perfect for a lot of wild animals. Some species of birds can now be seen in the area. They have some deformities, but they are still alive. The town of Pripyat, Ukraine has also become a haven for wolves, beavers and foxes. Other animals thriving in the area are deer, lynxes and eagles. They are known to be in a perfect health condition.
The Soviet government did not really spend a lot after the incident
A disaster of this scale could be very expensive. It is easy to say that the Soviet government spent a lot just for recovery. Well, they did spend a lot in a way. They have released over $3.5 billion in funds. However, if we are to calculate the total funds with the number of people affected, it is just like a little over $1,000 per victim for 20 years. The injury varies from one person to another though and some others received more.
The Chernobyl disaster did not slow down the nuclear power industry
It would be safe to say that a full scale disaster could easily scare countries to still go for nuclear power. The truth is that 10 of the leading nations in the world still produce 80% of nuclear power. Some developing countries even have plans to follow through. In fact, there is a nuclear power renaissance happening right now. It is now realized that by harnessing this industry, we can solve problems related to the environment and climate change.
This disaster might have taken place several years ago, but we can still learn a lot from it. We also feel its effects even until now, and it is worth reminiscing.