first big nuclear catastrophechernobyl, ukraine26 April 1986
form of distructionestimated deaths
The Chernobyl disaster was caused by a nuclear accident that occurred on Saturday 26 April 1986, at the No. 4 reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the city of Pripyat in the north of the Ukrainian SSR. It is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history and was caused by one of only two nuclear energy accidents rated at seven—the maximum severity—on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan.
The accident started during a safety test on an RBMK-type nuclear reactor, which was commonly used throughout the Soviet Union. The test was a simulation of an electrical power outage to aid the development of a safety procedure for maintaining reactor cooling water circulation until the back-up electrical generators could provide power. This gap was about one minute and had been identified as a potential safety problem that could cause the nuclear reactor core to overheat. It was hoped to prove that the residual rotational energy in a turbine generator could provide enough power to cover the gap. Three such tests had been conducted since 1982, but they had failed to provide a solution. On this fourth attempt, an unexpected 10-hour delay meant that an unprepared operating shift was on duty.
During the planned decrease of reactor power in preparation for the electrical test, the power unexpectedly dropped to a near-zero level. The operators were able to only partially restore the specified test power, which put the reactor in a potentially unstable condition. This risk was not made evident in the operating instructions, so the operators proceeded with the electrical test. Upon test completion, the operators triggered a reactor shutdown, but a combination of unstable conditions and reactor design flaws caused an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction instead.
A large amount of energy was suddenly released, vaporising superheated cooling water and rupturing the reactor core in a highly destructive steam explosion. This was immediately followed by an open-air reactor core fire that released considerable airborne radioactive contamination for about nine days that precipitated onto parts of the USSR and western Europe, especially Belarus, 16km away, where around 70% landed, before being finally contained on 4 May 1986. The fire gradually released about the same amount of contamination as the initial explosion. As a result of rising ambient radiation levels off-site, a 10-kilometre (6.2 mi) radius exclusion zone was created 36 hours after the accident. About 49,000 people were evacuated from the area, primarily from Pripyat. The exclusion zone was later increased to 30 kilometres (19 mi) radius when a further 68,000 people were evacuated from the wider area.
more then 1'480 ∎ 180 to 1'480 ∎ 40 to 180 ∎ 10 to 40 ∎less then 10 ∎kBq / km² Caesium
This image is a faithful digitalization of Chernobyl disaster, a historically significant photograph.
After the disaster, four square kilometres (1.5 sq mi) of pine forest directly downwind of the reactor turned reddish-brown and died, earning the name of the "Red Forest", though it soon recovered. This photograph was taken years later, in March 2009, after the forest began to grow again, with the lack of foliage at the time of the photograph merely due to the local winter at the time.
The New Safe Confinement in final position over reactor 4 at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.