Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko visits Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant on the 29th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.
It was the result of a flawed reactor design being operated by inadequately trained personnel. Even former President Gorbachev acknowledged the fact that Chernobyl was a more important factor in the fall of the Soviet Union than the reforms under Perestroika.
The Chernobyl Power Complex was situated in a thinly populated region of the Soviet Union 130 km north of Kiev, Ukraine and 20 km south of Belarus border. It had four nuclear reactors; two more reactors were under construction at the time of the accident. The accident occurred when operators ran a test on an electric control system of one of the reactors under improper, unstable conditions. As a result an uncontrollable power surge occurred.
This led to a series of explosions and fires that completely destroyed the reactor, damaged the building, and released massive amounts of radioactive materials over a ten-day period.
The most serious accident in nuclear history changed the lives of many- a radioactive cloud spread over Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and other parts of Europe.
An area of 19-mile (31 km) radius from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was officially designated as exclusion area and placed under military control. It is even today one of the most radioactively contaminated areas in the world. Over 300,000 people living in this area were evacuated; more than 5600 contaminated or broken down buildings were demolished.
A new Ministry of Chernobyl Affairs monitors this Exclusion Zone.
Today 29 years city of Pripyat in Ukraine is ghost town and radioactive zone- abandoned after the catastrophe. How long until it will be safe for human habitation. Many areas in the exclusion zone are forever going to be contaminated with plutonium isotopes. Some scientists say it could be 20,000 years before the area becomes safe and radiation-free again.
Every year, thousands of survivors, their relatives and families of those who died return to their abandoned homes on Chernobyl Memorial Day. Ironically the day the disaster occurred was Radunitsa- a day of rejoicing when people remember their dead. More than 300,000 people were displaced after the disaster. Many of whom just fled leaving all that they owned behind.
The trees in the surrounding forests absorbed vast quantities of radiation following the event and turned reddish-brown colour. Hence the name ‘Red Forest’. Today large portions of the Red Forest has been felled and buried deep inside the earth. But some branches can still be seen rising above the ground.
A new safe confinement structure is being built to contain the reactor. The Chernobyl Shelter Fund was set up in 1997. By 2014 it had received overall €2.15 billion as contribution from 43 governments but still had a funding shortfall of €615 million. The project is running behind schedule, and is expected to be completed by 2017.