Chernobyl station is located 130 kilometers north of “Kiev”, and 15 kilometers north of “Chernobyl”.
The plant was planned to include six power plants with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts and started operation in 1977 using three nuclear reactors. In 1983, the fourth reactor was started and the fifth and sixth reactors were under construction.
Details of the disaster
In 1982, the core of the reactor melted (1), but the accident was hidden and not publicized until it was repaired. It was again used in 1985.
The events of this disaster began in the early hours of the morning of Saturday 26 April 1986, where an experiment was conducted in the fourth unit.
During the experiment, a malfunction in the cooling circuit took place, which caused the temperature of the reactor heart to rise to 4000 ° C, melting the core of the reactor, and a huge explosion occurred in reactor No. 4, followed by another explosion.
The two explosions destroyed the reactor roof, causing a hole in the reactor building which exposed its core to external air. a fire broke out in the graphite surrounding the reactor nucleus, smoke from the reactor rose about 1 km into the air carrying uranium fuel as well as other fissile materials and gases.
The heavy parts of the explosion fell close to the site of the reactor, while the light particles flew with the radioactive cloud northeast of the reactor to pollute everything that landed on it, the lighter parts rose in the air one kilometer, then headed northeast of the site of the reactor.
The wind carried the radioactive cloud to many European countries. The effects of radiation reached Finland, Sweden, Germany, and France, as well as central Europe, northern Italy, and Turkey.
Confronting the disaster
The residents of the contaminated areas were warned not to leave the houses and to close the windows and doors. Preventive measures were taken and the area and its surrounding within 10 km were declared a restricted area and the roads leading to it were closed, and the evacuation of residents from areas near the reactor began, and careful precautions were taken during the deportation.
The radioactive material continued to be released from the reactor for 11 days. The firefighters initially tried to extinguish the fire using water, but the water was completely evaporated due to the intensive heat. The water was also decomposing, emitting hydrogen gas, which caused heavy explosions. The army forces had to throw large quantities of boron, dolomite, lead and cement using helicopters.
The emission of radioactive materials ceased completely on May 6, and the experts installed the large concrete basin base at a depth of 40 meters below the reactor to stop the leakage of radiation into soil and groundwater.
At the end of June 1986, the reactor was covered with concrete until it was completely buried.
Pollution caused by the disaster
The radiation rate in the region was 200 times greater than the radiation from the atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the radiation level detectors were unable to measure the radiation from the reactor.
The effects of the disaster can be illustrated as follows:
The explosion killed 33 people directly and brought about 300 people to the hospital for exposure to large doses of radiation. The number of dead in the years of the disaster was estimated at 7000 to 10 thousand.
More than 135,000 people were evacuated from their homes and cities, and entire cities disappeared from the geographical map. In the three years following the incident, the inhabitants of 85 villages in the Republic of Belorussia, 4 in Ukraine, 31 in Russia were evacuated.
The accident affected primarily the population of Ukraine, where the number of people infected with thyroid cancer was estimated at 3.4 million, and a large number infected with diseases causing hair loss and skin splitting. A marrow transplant was carried out for hundreds of patients, and some have been exposed to radiation doses that have caused sexual dysfunction and lead to genetic abnormalities.
Pollution experts believe those living in the area will suffer from the risk of radiation within the next 30 years and early effects will appear on residents near the nuclear reactor area because of the effects of radiation on brain cells, kidney, and liver and affect the reproductive and immune systems.
Environmental experts in Britain and West Germany believe that people will suffer from an increase in cancer that could reach about 10,000 cases for 20 years within 260 miles of the accident zone.
At the end of 1994, reports by radiation protection experts to (IAEA) showed a significant increase in the proportion of thyroid cancer in children in radiation-contaminated areas, and an increase in oral cancer.
Water has been contaminated by radiation as a result of this incident. There is concern that the Dnieper River the most important watercourse in the state of Ukraine may have been contaminated by radiation. Groundwater has also been contaminated in the reactor area as radioactive elements have been leakage from the bottom of the reactor.
Water was also polluted in the Netherlands, England, Scotland and Germany.
The authorities advised the residents of these areas to keep the children indoors, to wash the vegetables well and to keep the livestock in the stables, all for fear of contamination by radioactive materials in the rainwater.
Soil and Plants
The agricultural soil was severely affected by this incident, as about 2 million hectares of agricultural land adjacent to the reactor in Ukraine and Belarus became contaminated with radiation as a result of the fall of the radioactive cloud with rainfall over these lands.
Many trees were cut off from forests and burned for fear of radiation transmission. The government warned against eating vegetables contaminated with radiation, and the surface of the contaminated soil has been swept away and removed so as not to produce contaminated products.
The radioactive cloud caused by the accident, which spread over Europe, caused contamination of farms and various crops, and people abstained from eating many foods and vegetables, and contaminated vegetables and fruits were terminated.
In 1987, 64 cows and mutilated pigs were born, including headless cows, some without legs and some without eyes. In 1988, 76 cows were infected with deformities. .
Most countries were concerned about the dangers of radioactive materials to children because they drank milk from cattle fed on polluted green grass. Many countries were ordered not to let the cattle feed on the green grass and to feed on the stocked fodder. Many countries have banned imports of contaminated animal meat as well as milk.
In Scotland, in the cities of Dumfries and Galloway, more than 25% of the animals were found to have had a higher radiation rate than the limit, making them unsuitable for consumption.
The cost of the evacuation, housing and feeding of citizens was estimated at about $ 400 billion in the Soviet Union, and the neighboring countries suffered considerable material damage. For example, the Federal Government of Germany paid compensation of DM 260 million to farmers who had to destroy their farms following this incident, 132 million marks of them for dairy producers.
The cost of population displacement, decontamination, reactor burial and other necessary measures to address the incident is estimated at $ 20 billion.