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News > Ukraine

Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Shocked the World 38 Years Ago

  • Chernobyl nuclear plant, 1986.

    Chernobyl nuclear plant, 1986. | Photo: X/ @TVPWorld_com

Published 26 April 2024

Radioactive elements contaminated 142,000 square kilometers in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.

On April 26, 1986, human error and design flaws caused the largest nuclear disaster the world has ever seen.


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In Ukraine, the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear plant released large quantities of radioactive material, causing tens of thousands of deaths, incalculable economic damage, and an environmental disaster that will last for centuries.

"Until the mid-1980s, few people knew that there was an important nuclear power plant... the place was unknown until April 26, 1986, when one of the four reactors at a plant began to burn ," journalist Sergi Alcalde recalled in an article published in National Geographic.

After a high-power capacitor exploded, failure to follow safety protocols allowed the uranium fuel in the reactor to overheat. This human error was compounded by the absence of a concrete dome to contain radiation inside the plant in the event of an accident.

"The explosion caused the dispersion of radioactive elements, (plutonium, iodine, strontium and cesium), which contaminated an area of 142,000 square kilometers in northern Ukraine, southern Belarus and the Russian region of Bryansk," Alcalde stated.

In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared April 26 as the "International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day" to remember nearly 8.4 million people who were exposed to the radiation.

"In its resolution, UNGA recognized that three decades after the disaster there remains persistent serious long-term consequences and that the affected communities and territories are experiencing continuing related needs," the UN recalled.

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