Monday, April 26, marks the 35th anniversary of one of the worst man-made disasters in history, the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine, where the once-busy city of Pripyat has now been reduced to a ghost town
MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 26th April, 2021) Monday, April 26, marks the 35th anniversary of one of the worst man-made disasters in history, the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine, where the once-busy city of Pripyat has now been reduced to a ghost town.
While the plant was under construction, the Soviet government began the construction of the first Ukrainian and ninth Soviet atomic-town to house workers and their families. Before the nuclear disaster, the city of Pripyat had a population of about 50,000 people.
On the night of April 25 1986, a group of engineers at Chernobyl's number four reactor began an experiment to test new equipment. The operators needed to reduce the reactor's power capacity, but as the result of a miscalculation the output dropped to a critical level, triggering an almost complete shutdown.
A decision was taken immediately to increase the power level. The reactor started to overheat, and a few seconds later two large explosions occurred.
The explosions partly destroyed the reactor core, igniting a fire that continued to burn for nine days.
Radioactive gases, aerosols and dust immediately shot into the air above the reactor. A giant radioactive cloud moved toward European countries.
Evacuation measures began on April 27 and lasted for about 3 hours. About 45,000 people were relocated and some 116,000 were forced to leave the area and neighboring regions. About 600,000 people from all of the former Soviet republics assisted in the evacuation.
Thirty-one people were reported dead in the immediate aftermath of the nuclear disaster and the 600,000 "liquidators" received high doses of radiation, averaging around 100 millisieverts. The highest doses were received by about a thousand emergency workers during the first day of the catastrophe.
On July 7, 1987 six former officials and technicians at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant went on trial on charges of negligence and violation of safety regulations. Three of them - Viktor Bruyihov, the former Chernobyl power station director, Nilolai Fomin, the former chief engineer and Anatoly Dyatlov, the former deputy chief engineer - were sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Soon after the explosion an exclusion zone with a radius of 30 kilometers (17 miles) was established.
In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, workers built a temporary shield over the damaged reactor, called a sarcophagus. Over time, the sarcophagus has deteriorated and in 2010 construction of a new shied started to prevent further leakage at the crippled reactor.
The work on the shield has been recently suspended amid the crisis in Ukraine.