The Chernobyl disaster (Ukrainian: Чорнобильська катастрофа, Chornobylska Katastrofa – Chornobyl Catastrophe) was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine (then officially Ukrainian SSR). An explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive contamination into the atmosphere, which spread over much of Western USSR and Europe. It is one of only two classified as a level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale (the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011).
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Quotations of statements made during the events of the Chernobyl disaster edit
- For the attention of the residents of Pripyat! The City Council informs you that due to the accident at Chernobyl Power Station in the city of Pripyat the radioactive conditions in the vicinity are deteriorating. The Communist Party, its officials and the armed forces are taking necessary steps to combat this. Nevertheless, with the view to keep people as safe and healthy as possible, the children being top priority, we need to temporarily evacuate the citizens in the nearest towns of Kiev region. For these reasons, starting from April 27, 1986 2 pm each apartment block will be able to have a bus at its disposal, supervised by the police and the city officials. It is highly advisable to take your documents, some vital personal belongings and a certain amount of food, just in case, with you. The senior executives of public and industrial facilities of the city has decided on the list of employees needed to stay in Pripyat to maintain these facilities in a good working order. All the houses will be guarded by the police during the evacuation period. Comrades, leaving your residences temporarily please make sure you have turned off the lights, electrical equipment and water and shut the windows. Please keep calm and orderly in the process of this short-term evacuation.
- Evacuation announcement in Pripyat, 27 April 1986 (14:00)
- There has been an accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. One of the nuclear reactors was damaged. The effects of the accident are being remedied. Assistance has been provided for any affected people. An investigative commission has been set up.
- Vremya, 28 April 1986 (21:00)
- Normally you have to wait for generations to see the effect of the environment on mutations, and most mutant animals are pretty damaged so don’t live long.
- In a world affected by climate change, we really need to understand nuclear energy as an option, and its potential effects on natural populations.
- We know that exposure to acute radiation is terrible, but actually low levels are nowhere near as bad as we think. And many of the animals around Chernobyl have actually done very well, because the humans left – and it turns out we are way worse than radiation.
- The risk projections suggest that by now  Chernobyl may have caused about 1000 cases of thyroid cancer and 4000 cases of other cancers in Europe, representing about 0.01% of all incident cancers since the accident. Models predict that by 2065 about 16,000 cases of thyroid cancer and 25,000 cases of other cancers may be expected due to radiation from the accident, whereas several hundred million cancer cases are expected from other causes.
- Cardis, Elisabeth; Krewski, Daniel; Boniol, Mathieu; Drozdovitch, Vladimir; Darby, Sarah C.; Gilbert, Ethel S.; Akiba, Suminori; Benichou, Jacques; Ferlay, Jacques; Gandini, Sara; Hill, Catherine; Howe, Geoffrey; Kesminiene, Ausrele; Moser, Mirjana; Sanchez, Marie; Storm, Hans; Voisin, Laurent; Boyle, Peter (2006). "Estimates of the cancer burden in Europe from radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl accident". International Journal of Cancer. 119 (6): 1224. doi:10.1002/ijc.22037. PMID 16628547.
- The developers of the reactor plant considered this combination of events to be impossible and therefore did not allow for the creation of emergency protection systems capable of preventing the combination of events that led to the crisis, namely the intentional disabling of emergency protection equipment plus the violation of operating procedures. Thus the primary cause of the accident was the extremely improbable combination of rule infringement plus the operational routine allowed by the power station staff.
- "Expert report to the IAEA on the Chernobyl accident" (in Russian). 61. Atomic Energy. 1986.
- NARRATOR: In 1986, in what was the Soviet Republic of Ukraine, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded, releasing 400 times more radioactive material than the Hiroshima Bomb. Thirty workers died; 50,000 people fled the nearest city, and the radioactive fallout spread over Europe. It was the world's worst nuclear accident.
Thirty years later, its hastily built enclosure is crumbling. In a race against time, engineers are struggling to prevent another catastrophic release of deadly radioactive debris into the environment.
- NARRATOR: In the vicinity of the reactor, the radioactive fallout forced a third-of-a-million people to evacuate, never to return.
It remains the world's worst-ever nuclear power plant disaster. It left the Soviet authorities with a monumental problem: around 200 tons of shattered uranium fuel rods and other radioactive debris remained inside the damaged reactor building. Left uncovered, it would continually release radioactive dust into the air, a poisonous cloud to threaten the surrounding area.
Over the next six months, workers braved extreme radiation to seal the reactor inside a 300,000-ton shelter, made from steel and concrete. It came to be called the "sarcophagus."
But it was flawed from the start. The extreme radiation prevented the workers from completing the welds needed to seal the prefabricated sections of the sarcophagus together.
- Chernobyl happened, first of all, because it was no automatic system of control. ... Why? It was a huge reactor, very heavy, ... very very heavy and big ... way bigger than reactors which we have here in the United States. So it is very more difficult to control. So, I would say, it was clear for many people that sooner or later it will be this accident.
- Alexander Fridman, (June 3, 2020)"Alexander Fridman: My Dad, the Plasma Physicist | Lex Fridman Podcast #100". Lex Fridman, YouTube. (quote at 2:15:42 of 3:38:33)
- A nuclear disaster did, nevertheless, occur—not because of war but as the result of an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on April 26, 1986. This event also changed Gorbachev. It revealed "the sicknesses of our system . . . the concealing or hushing up of accidents and other bad news, irresponsibility and carelessness, slipshod work, wholesale drunkenness." For decades, he admonished the Politburo, "scientists, specialists, and ministers have been telling us that everything was safe. . . . [Y]ou think that we will look on you as gods. But now we have ended up with a fiasco." Henceforth there would have to be glasnost' (publicity) and perestroika (restructuring) within the Soviet Union itself. "Chernobyl," Gorbachev acknowledged, "made me and my colleagues rethink a great many things."
- John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History (1986), p. 231
- The accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station was graphic evidence, not only of how obsolete our technology was, but also of the failure of the old system. At the same time, and such is the irony of history, it severely affected our reforms by literally knocking the country off its tracks.
- Mikhail Gorbachev, Memoirs (1995).
- I absolutely reject the accusation that the Soviet leadership intentionally held back the truth about Chernobyl. We simply did not know the whole truth yet.
- Mikhail Gorbachev, Memoirs (1995).
- We were just not prepared for that sort of situation.
- The Chernobyl disaster, more than anything else, opened the possibility of much greater freedom of expression, to the point that the system as we knew it could no longer continue. It made absolutely clear how important it was to continue the policy of glasnost, and I must say that I started to think about time in terms of pre-Chernobyl and post-Chernobyl.
- Our very lives might depend on this listening. In the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the wind told the story that was being suppressed by the people. It gave away the truth. It carried the story of danger to other countries. It was a poet, a prophet, a scientist. Sometimes, like the wind, poetry has its own laws speaking for the life of the planet. It is a language that wants to bring back together what the other words have torn apart.
- Linda Hogan (writer) "Hearing Voices" in The Writer on Her Work, Volume 2 (1991)
- The analysis of mutation rates in genomic repeat elements has also been applied to study transgenerational IR effects in human populations, namely in individuals living in the vicinity of the Chernobyl reactor accident or near nuclear test sites (Semipalatinsk, [Kazakhstan]]; Dubrova et al., 1996, 2002a, b). In all of these studies, they found an increase in the mutation rate among the progeny of the exposed parents. Taken together, these data support the hypothesis that exposure to IR can induce germline genomic instability that may predispose future generations to an increase risk of genetic diseases, infertility, and even cancer.
- Matt Merrifield and Olga Kovalchuk, “Epigenetics in radiation biology: a new research frontier”, Front. Genet.”, (04 April 2013).
- The Chernobyl accident in April 1986 caused the deposition of radionuclides across Europe, followed by a long-term artificial increase of the radiation background . In addition to the classical subject of mutagenesis after acute radiation exposure , the study of the time course of biological damage associated with chronic low-dose radiation exposure of mammals and the endeavors to predict biological damage in consecutive generations have become a relevant issue. Since there is little information on this topic [3, 4], the present work addresses these important questions. Starting with 1986, we were engaged in studying bio-logical effects of chronic low dose radiation in natural populations of bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus, Schre-ber) in a series of many animal generations. The bank vole is a widespread rodent species that is used as indicator of environmental quality. It is a convenient object for many genetic tests, which originally have been devised for the laboratory mouse . Comparison of own and literature data on doubling doses of acute irradiation for chromosome injuries had shown that the sensitivity of somatic cells of the bank vole to ionizing radiation is very similar to the sensitivity of human lymphocytes and germ cells of laboratory mice.
- Nadezhda I. Ryabokon; R. I. Goncharova, “Transgenerational accumulation of radiation damagein small mammals chronically exposed to Chernobyl fallout”,Radiat Environ Biophys (2006) 45: 167–177 (Received: 5 March 2006 / Accepted: 17 June 2006 / Published online: 22 July 2006© Springer-Verlag 2006)
- After the 1986 meltdown, radioactive fallout scattered across much of the northern hemisphere, while some 150,000 square kilometres in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine were contaminated, according to the IAEA. That contamination spread as far as 500 kilometers north of the site.
- Rob Picheta, “Europe’s largest nuclear plant is under threat. But experts say a Chernobyl-sized disaster is unlikely “, CNN, August 19, 2022
- Mankind has never experienced a misfortune of this magnitude, with consequences so grave and so hard to eliminate.
- The consequence of radiation exposure in fetuses is mostly based on observations rather than based on scientific research. Ethical issues prohibit researching on the fetus. Therefore, most of the data on the impact of radiation on the fetus derives from observations of patients who suffered Japan’s Hiroshima bombing and the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. Based on the observations made from the victims of the high level of radiation exposure, the consequences of radiation exposure can categorize into four broad groups, including pregnancy loss, malformation, developmental delay or retardation, and carcinogenesis. Pregnancy loss most often happens when radiation exposure happens during early gestation (less than two weeks).
- Ilsup Yoon; Todd L. Slesinger. “Radiation Exposure In Pregnancy”, (May 1, 2023).
“30 years later, we’re still trying to contain Chernobyl” (April 25, 2016) edit
Lawrence Crook, “30 years later, we’re still trying to contain Chernobyl”, CNN, (Published 7:39 AM EDT, Mon April 25, 2016)
- Next to a crumbling nuclear reactor destroyed in an explosion 30 years ago, an unprecedented project in the history of modern engineering is being built.
When it’s completed, the New Safe Confinement, or NSC, will be the largest movable object built on land, according to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or EBRD.
When an explosion tore through Chernobyl’s No. 4 reactor on April 26, 1986, near Pripyat, Ukraine, more than 30 people died and countless others have died from radiation symptoms since, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Health Organization. The Ukraine government evacuated some 135,000 people from the area and the 19-mile exclusion zone around the plant will re-main uninhabitable for decades.
- Vince Novak, the director of nuclear safety for EBRD, called the Chernobyl disaster “the worst accident that ever happened in nuclear history.”
“It’s more than just a shed,” Novak continued. “It is also a workshop. It has to provide an environment in which people will be able to carry out the waste management activities for a period of probably 100 years.”
- Building an arch in proximity to a nuclear leak has its fair share of challenges.
Before construction of the NSC began, workers helped decontaminate the area by removing the top layer of soil along with any potential radioactive material that might have been left behind. After that they poured a layer of concrete over a large area and erected a wall closest to the sarcophagus.
During peak construction times, there are around 1,200 employees at the site from over 27 nations. To ensure they are safe from radiation exposure, the millisievert (mSv), or the average accumulated back-ground radiation exposure dose, is closely monitored. The average dental X-ray exposes someone to about 0.014 mSv. A worker in the New Safe Confinement arch is exposed to 0.0075 mSv’s per hour.
A new, state-of-the-art changing facility with a capacity for 1,430 workers was built onsite and offers medical and radiation protection facilities. There also is an ambulance on duty, in case of emergencies. In addition, the Chernobyl Shelter Fund provides training facilities, radiation monitoring and medical equipment as well as a medical screening program for the workers, according to the EBRD.
All work on site is carried out under the strictest health and safety regulations by a specially trained workforce, according to Bouygues and Vinci.
So far there has not been a single case of exposure beyond permissible limits, according to the EBRD.
“Chernobyl to become official tourist attraction, Ukraine says” (July 11, 2019) edit
Lianne Kolirin, Jack Guy; “Chernobyl to become official tourist attraction, Ukraine says”, CNN, (July 11, 2019)
- Once at the centre of a 1,000-square-mile exclusion zone, Chernobyl has seen a sharp rise in visitors since an HBO mini-series about the tragedy aired earlier this year. And according to President Volodymyr Zelensky, it is now time for a different narrative surrounding the site.
“We must give this territory of Ukraine a new life,” Zelensky said as he signed a decree on Wednesday. “Until now, Chernobyl was a negative part of Ukraine’s brand. It’s time to change it.”
On April 26 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded, forcing a region-wide evacuation and sending radioactive fallout billowing across Europe. While the explosion itself caused around 31 deaths, mil-lions of people were exposed to dangerous radiation levels.
The final death toll as a result of long-term radiation exposure is much disputed. Although the UN predicted up to 9,000 related cancer deaths back in 2005, Greenpeace later estimated up to 200,000 fatalities, taking further health problems connected to the disaster into account.
For more than two decades, authorities maintained the exclusion zone around the reactor, including the city of Pripyat, once home to 50,000 people.
- In a statement posted on his official website, Zelensky said: “Chernobyl is a unique place on the planet where nature revives after a global man-made disaster, where there is a real “ghost town”. We have to show this place to the world: scientists, ecologists, historians, tourists.”
While much of the area has been open to tourists since 2011, the president’s words are likely to boost what some have described as “dark tourism” in the region.
That said, Zelensky is keen to develop the region for the better and give it more of a mainstream appeal. During a visit to Chernobyl on Wednesday, the president pledged to transform the “exclusion zone” into “one of the growth points of a new Ukraine.”
He added: “First of all, we will create a “green corridor” for tourists.”
- The president said black market practices would be stamped out with the introduction of electronic ticketing. “Unfortunately, the exclusion zone is also a symbol of corruption in Ukraine,” he said. “These are bribes that security officials collect from tourists, the illegal export of scrap and the use of natural resources.
“We will stop all this very soon. Let’s finally stop scaring off tourists and turn the exclusion zone into a scientific and upcoming tourist magnet. Let’s make it a land of freedom that will become one of the symbols of a new Ukraine. Without corruption. Without unnecessary prohibitions.”
- Only about 150 elderly people still live in the 19-mile radius exclusion zone, in defiance of authorities. Officials say it will only be safe for humans to live there again in 24,000 years, according to AFP, although with the right paperwork tourists can visit for short periods.
“There’s no hunting or fishing there so wildlife is booming,” Ivanchuk told CNN.
“Animals that left the area years ago are starting to come back like eagles, wolves and moose. Lynx were recently spotted there for the first time in more than 50 years.”
But Olena Burdo, a junior researcher at the radiobiology and radioecolo-gy department of the Kyiv Institute for Nuclear Research, did not welcome the government move.
More scientific research and funds for radiobiological study was needed, she told CNN, adding: “But we don’t need so many tourists.”
"Chernobyl: Legacy of a Meltdown” (April 4, 1996) edit
Larry LaMotte, [www.cnn.com/WORLD/9604/04/cnnp_chernobyl/index.html "Chernobyl: Legacy of a Meltdown”], CNN, (April 4, 1996; web posted at: 5:30 p.m. EST (2230 GMT))
- Ten years later, the radiation remains. It's there in the soil; in the animals; in the people.
Few know that better than three American scientists -- toxicologist Cham Dallas and geneticist Ron Chesser, both from the University of Georgia, and Texas Tech geneticist Robert Baker -- who are researching the accident's genetic effects in the shadow of Chernobyl's burned-out Reactor 4.
It is research with ramifications beyond the contaminated 30-kilometer zone around Chernobyl.
"We live in a society where Chernobyl may not simply remain here," said Dallas. "We may have a Chernobyl in America some day. Either from a nuclear reactor accident, or more likely, from use of a terrorist's nuclear weapon."
It is research with relevance for people worldwide.
"We are going to need this information. What are the consequences of long-term exposure to radionucleides inside the body? We're going to need to know," Dallas explained.
- The reason such information is needed is nowhere more obvious than at Chernobyl itself, where another nuclear accident could occur. Danger is increasing in what's left of Reactor 4 -- commonly called "the sarcophagus."
The concrete tomb encasing the reactor hasn't held up. And some believe it's a threat to the world. Forty tons of radioactive dust have accumulated inside. And there's a pressed slab of uranium and concrete that some believe could lead to a chain reaction, causing a more powerful explosion than the original one.
It's a terrifying possibility. The original explosion spewed radiation throughout Europe, and spread to parts of the rest of the world.
Human error, compounded by a faulty technical design, led to the accident.
Exposure to massive amounts of radiation immediately killed 32 plant workers and firefighters. Thou-sands more died later from effects of the accident.
The Ukrainian government now says hundreds of thousands of people suffer from Chernobyl-related illnesses.
- Among the scientists here, there's deep concern about long-term genetic damage to future generations. In an effort to find answers, Dallas, Chesser and Baker use the fields and abandoned villages around Chernobyl to collect and study radioactive mice.
"There's certainly enough radiation here to contaminate those mice and cause genetic effects that we're seeing," observed Dallas. "There's no doubt about that. We just like to know how much it takes before it's a hazard to humans."
They run tests on the mice at a nearby makeshift lab, set up in what was once a kindergarten classroom.
There is a sense of urgency to this work as the Americans try to solve some of the mysteries of radiation.
"They're mammals and we're mammals. If it's going to cause genetic effects in their DNA, then we know that we are also going to be at hazard if we get these same levels inside our bodies," Dallas said.
At hazard for what? And how soon? Studies are yielding startling answers -- answers so unexpected that universally held beliefs about radiation's impact on people and environments may be forever changed.