The Nuclear City

April 26 1986 saw one of the world’s worst nuclear incidents.  It was when reactor 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded. This disaster caused 30 men to lose their lives, and 600,000 people were forced to abandon their homes due to the radioactive clouds that covered the area. Chernobyl was a small city near the borders of Belarus in Russia, it was famous for its nuclear reactor plant which gave energy and its Las Vegas style of design. After the incident occurred Chernobyl is now seen as a ghost town, which no one can gain access to because of its hostile environment which scientists stated that will last about 20,00 years. So what caused this horrific accident? It simply was identified as a design flaw. But the real disaster was what the explosion resulted. Now Chernobyl is inhabitable due to the high radiation rates of the area. All the green life that was in the area is dead and any vegetables or fruits that were left can be salvaged due to their radio activeness. Animals within a 30km range were affected which lead to high mortality and decrease of reproduction to those species. The authorities of the Soviet Union and, later, of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) spent huge resources to deal with the consequences of the accident. Efforts were made to clean up contaminated areas and to reduce the amount of radioactivity in food and drink with varying degrees of success. In the year of the accident, a shelter was built to contain the damaged reactor. The shelter has some imperfections because it was built quickly and under very difficult conditions, as the construction personnel was being exposed to severe radiation levels. The economy of Chernobyl was hit badly by the incident since the labor force had all left. Some interviews with the survivors and people who live by show how bad the incident was. This is what Yuvchenko said when e was asked how it happened “There was a heavy thud,” he says. “A couple of seconds later, I felt a wave come through the room. The thick concrete walls were bent like rubber. I thought war had broken out. We started to look for Khodemchuk (his colleague) but he had been by the pumps and had been vaporized. Steam wrapped around everything; it was dark and there was a horrible hissing noise. There was no ceiling, only sky; a sky full of stars.” A stream of ionizing radiation was shooting star wards, like a laser beam. “I remember thinking how beautiful it was. “You don’t feel anything at the time,” he explains. “We had no idea there was so much radiation. We met a guy with a dosimeter and the needle was just off the dial. But even then, we were still only thinking ‘Rats, this means the end of our careers in the nuclear industry. We all thought, ‘We’ve been exposed now, this has happened on our watch’ and set about doing what we could. After about an hour, I started to vomit uncontrollably. My throat was very sore.” By 6am, he could no longer walk. He was taken to the local hospital. Still he had no idea of the huge hit of radiation he’d received. “We were thinking we might have had 20, perhaps 50rem. But there was a man there who’d been involved in a nuclear accident in the submarine fleet, he said it was more serious than that. ‘You don’t vomit at 50,’ he said. “At the hospital, they worked out (through measuring the fall in his white blood-cell count) that he’d received 410rem – or as it’s now since been styled, 4.1Sv (one Sievert is equal to 100rem) – a measure of the absorbed dose of radiation per kilogram of body weight. Chernobyl is still considered one of the worst nuclear accidents to recent history.

Majd Shaaban