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In the early morning of 26th April 1986, the
Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the former

Soviet territory of Ukraine exploded, creating
what is usually described as the worst nuclear

disaster the world has ever seen.
The disaster spread radioactivity into the
atmosphere in one of the largest bursts of

unintentional radioactive release into the

Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus were subject
to significant exposure following the event

and the rest of Europe was on red alert.
Years of independent research and government
investigation followed as the world tried

to calculate the extent of the damage caused
by the disaster.

Today on the Infographics Show we take a look
at the aftermath of this tragic event and

see if the event was as disastrous as first

Let's take a look at – The Worst Effects
of the Chernobyl disaster.

Just over 8 miles north of Kiev and about
12 miles south of Belarus four reactors stood

next to a reservoir fed by the Pripyat River,
and close to the town of the same name with

a population of 50,000 when the disaster struck.
The town of Chernobyl was inhabited by 12,000
and the rest of the land surrounding the plant

was predominantly farms and woodland.
Water from the Pripyat River was used to cool
the reactors, as in most nuclear power plants.

The reactor used at Chernobyl, the RBMK-1000,
is now however well known to have a design

flaw in the cooling system.
On the 25th April plant operators were making
preparations for a maintenance shutdown.

In the early hours of the 26th hot fuel rods
were lowered into the cooling water creating

steam, and owing to that design flaw a power
surge caused an explosion killing two plant

For the following few days emergency crews
attempted to contain the fires and radiation

As more plant workers became exposed to the
radiation they later died of radiation sickness,

but fortunately most of the radiation leaked
had a relatively short half-life of eight

A day after the event on the 27th April 1986
the town of Pripyat was evacuated, many of

the townspeople suffering headaches, vomiting,
and other indications of radiation sickness.

In the months following the event 28 plant
workers died, and this number grew to 31 after

3 months, in addition over 6,000 cancer cases
have been linked to the event, however the

true number of cases attributed to the event
are near impossible to calculate as people

naturally suffer from various cancers.
Many doctors in Eastern Europe advised pregnant
woman to abort their unborn children for fear

of them bearing children with birth defects,
although in hindsight the level of radiation

exposure was probably too low to have caused
any such complications.

The trees in the surrounding woodland were
killed from the radiation and the region became

known as the Red Forest owing to the color
the flora turned after the radiation exposure.

The contaminated trees were torn down and
buried in purpose-dug trenches.

Shortly after the disaster birds living in
the area were found to have developed with

smaller brains.
Swallows in the area demonstrated albino plumage,
deformed feet and tail feathers, and tumors.

Some cattle born after the event exhibited
signs of radioactive mutation.

In 2011 though the Ukraine opened up the area
to tourists wishing to see firsthand the effects

of the disaster.
The region nowadays has become one of the
world's most thriving wildlife sanctuaries

hosting thriving numbers of deer, wolves,
boar, elk, bear, eagles and other species

scarcely found in other surrounding regions.
Despite this recent explosion in fauna experts
predict that the area will not be fit for

human habitation for another 20,000 years.
Post-disaster children seem to have been most
affected in the form of a thyroid cancer outbreak,

caused by the absorption of iodine-131 into
the thyroid gland in children in Ukraine and

Studies show that adults were less affected
and the children who were youngest during

the incident were most at risk.
Before the event the cases of thyroid cancer
in Belarus were under 1 case per million people-

by 1995, cases were up to 100 per million
per year.

Clearly the nuclear event was to blame for
this upswing.

In West Germany Down Syndrome peaked for some
9 months with a cluster of 12 cases born in

January 1987 that may have been connected
to the disaster.

In 2006 a group of 8 UN agencies including
the World Health Organization and the International

Atomic Energy Agency along with hundreds of
scientists and health experts assessed the

damage of the event.
The number of fatalities has not reached the
tens of thousands that were predicted shortly

after the disaster.
Fewer than 50 deaths have been directly attributed
to the event.

9 children died of thyroid cancer thought
to have been caused by the disaster.

The report concluded that “By and large
we have not found profound negative health

impacts to the rest of the population in surrounding
areas, nor have we found widespread contamination

that would continue to pose a substantial
threat to human health.”

It is interesting to note that over 1,000
reactor staff were heavily exposed to radiation

and around 200,000 workers were involved in
recovery operations yet only 50 died from

cancer 20 years later.
But we aren't out of the woods yet.
Scientists are divided in predicting the number
of cancer deaths we can expect over the next

20 years with the report suggesting a further
4,000 people will die of cancer.

The town of Pripyat is still considered uninhabitable
although popular with Dark Tourists who venture

in to the zone to see firsthand how the event
changed the landscape.

Radiation in large volumes kills living things,
but amazingly the flora and fauna surrounding

the plant have learned to thrive and in some
cases benefit from the radiation.

For example a fungus exists that uses radiation
to produce its own energy source much the

way solar panels use sunlight.
This radiotrophic fungi performs radiosynthesis
using melanin pigment to convert gamma radiation

into chemical energy growth.
So while Chernobyl was undoubtedly a disastrous
event we have learned much about the dangers

of nuclear radiation as a consequence and
hopefully this knowledge will help us understand

nuclear energy better.
So what do you think about the Chernobyl Nuclear

Was the event as terrible as we first thought?
Let us know in the comments.
Also, be sure to watch our other video called
What Was It Like to be Jailed at Alcatraz?

Thanks for watching, and as always, don't
forget to like, share and subscribe, see you

next time!
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Diseases Caused By Chernobyl

133 Folder Collection
April Lu published on June 12, 2019
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