33 years later, the Chernobyl Disaster remains one of the worst nuclear accidents in world history – if not the worst. In the early morning hours of April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded. Within the first 24 hours, many plant workers and first responders lost their lives. Unfortunately, the toll would continue to rise over the next decades. In fact, it continues to increase today.
More than thirty years have passed; however, we still have plenty of unanswered questions. What do we really know about the day that changed our vision of nuclear power? For years, the Russian government tried to keep the details of what happened during and after the Chernobyl disaster hidden from its citizens and the world at large. Now, however, facts about the accident itself, as well as its impact on the environment, wildlife, and mankind, are finally coming to light. Read on to discover everything you never knew about the Chernobyl disaster…
1. Where Is Chernobyl?
The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is located about 1.5 miles south of Pripyat, a small town in Ukraine, and about 12 miles west of the border with Belarus. The Ukrainian government founded the city of Pripyat – named after the nearby river – in 1970. The government created the town for the sole purpose of housing workers from the power plant. It was also a “closed city,” meaning the government restricted who could come and go from Pripyat.
In 1986, before the disaster, Pripyat thrived as a city, with roughly 50,000 residents. Thousands of those citizens worked at Chernobyl; meanwhile, their families went along with their lives. Pripyat had a theme park, movie theater, school, everything. No one imagined it would become a ghost town that year.