On April 26, 1986 the worst nuclear disaster happened in the human history. A test was carried out to check how the nuclear plant would work if it would have lost power. The result was a explosion of the reactor 4 which was powerful enough to blow off the ceiling of the nuclear power station, which let out 190 tons of uranium and graphite out into the air. How did this happen and what were its effects?

In the early morning of April 26, operators of the nuclear plant were told to see how the nuclear plant would act without power. Inside the reactor core plant operators made a dangerous environment which was the mistake the operators did. When they shut down the power this disabled safety systems including turbine systems which produced cooling water for the reactor to keep the reactor at a cold temperature. When the turbine system was switched off, the cooling water that was inside the reactor now did not have a cooling system which caused the reactor to boil. Operators saw the change in temperature and tried to slow it down by using control rods which is used to control the fission rate of uranium and plutonium. This was shortly destroyed by the strong pressure of the heat which cut through those rods. The steam now had travelled through the whole reactor and because of this a explosion occurred because of high temperature inside the reactor. The first explosion knocked off the ceiling which caused nuclear material to escape into the air. Soon after a second explosion followed which came from the fuel channels and from the hot graphite. This caused nuclear fuel to melt through the reactor  vessel and the remains are still there today which is called the elephant’s foot. It is two meters wide and weighs 100 tons.

When the explosion happened only locals knew about it and the leaders of the Soviet Union. Civilians knew some type of accident happened but did not know how bad it was. They could not keep it as a secret for a long time as the wind blew away nuclear material. 30 hours later it reached Sweden and they detected radioactivity in their air space. They checked where the wind was blowing and they plotted Chernobyl as one of the possible places of where the radioactivity came from. Sweden was in contact with Moscow to ask about if a accident had occurred but Moscow simply responded "no". Soon they admitted that they had a accident in Chernobyl. Gorbachev told them the truth as he believed that the Soviet Union should have less censorship. This caused panic across the whole union as they were always told they were the best and had the best things. Not only it caused panic but it also caused the truth about the past to pass around. Horror stories of what Stalin used to do prisoners. This was a possible reason for the collapse of the Soviet Union as censorship was now less present and the union was becoming more democratic.

A few days after the explosion of the reactor thousands of workers were sent to help build a massive structure called the sarcophagus to help contain the radioactivity inside of the nuclear plant. 600,000 were sent between the disaster and today to start building the structure around the nuclear plant which is now called the sarcophagus. The radiation was 90 times worse than the radiation from the Hiroshima bomb. They had to get rid of debris around the reactor, get rid of buildings and forests, anything that could become contaminated and built roads to make it more accessible to get to Chernobyl. Many people volunteered to help. The workers were to prevent a further explosion as scientists had found the elephant’s foot which was highly radioactive which could have caused a explosion if it would had been in contact with water. This was why the sarcophagus was built. Workers also had to drain out a water pool which provided water to the cooling system of the reactor. If the nuclear fuel would have touched the water, the whole of the chernobyl station would have exploded. Which would have caused a explosion 10 times bigger than Hiroshima’s which would have had destroyed half of Europe and make it uninhabitable for up to 500,000 years. Next to the reactor was a water pool which created cooling water for the reactor. That had to be drained out and three civilians volunteered to help do this. They had to go through the pool with pitch black darkness and with radioactive water up to their knees. 4,000 workers died while building the sarcophagus with many others falling ill due to the radiation. The operation continued until 1989. Just to give a idea how lethal the elephant’s foot was back in 1986, in 300 seconds you would be guaranteed to die in the next two days if you stood next to it. Fortunately it is getting weaker and now it will take one hour to stand next to it to have a guaranteed death.

Straight away after the explosion around 50 people died (workers and a few civilians). The spread of the radioactivity caused disease. Radioactivity was spread in neighbour countries, for example Belarus and Scandinavia. The most common disease was thyroid cancer which people got from drinking milk from cows in contaminated areas. The milk was taken from the cows and the cows ate grass from pastures which was contaminated by radiation. It is estimated that around 70000 people were contaminated with radioactivity, including workers and evacuees (around 30000 of these died).

People that lived in a radius of 800 km squared from the Chernobyl 4 reactor were evacuated. That was more than 300000 people that had to be relocated. Their items were told to be left as the government said they would back in two weeks. Animals were also told to be left as they could have had radioactivity on them which the government did not want to spread more. The radiation that spread around nearby forests turned them into a red forests that soon became dead. This affected nature and it also affected animals living in the ‘dead zone’. Scientists found out that animals which lived around chernobyl had mutated slightly. They would have had different eyes, different tails and different body structures but not much of a big difference. Many people that were evacuated that caught radiation created mutated babies which came in many horrifying forms which should not be shown.

In conclusion I can say that the Chernobyl disaster affected half of europe by giving cancer in most cases thyroid. It also damaged the reputation of the Soviet Union as citizens trusted it to be the leading superpower and for it to be always a good competitor against America. In America however it was seen that a Chernobyl type disaster would have never have happened because of more safety features and had better reaction time for evacuation. Today Chernobyl is starting to get better, with forests growing around it , leaves are red but there are less of them which is a good sign. It is predicted that the radiation will stay around the 30 km radius dead zone for another 100,000 years.