The Chernobyl Disaster 30 Years Later
April 26 is the day the world commemorates the worst-ever nuclear disaster. Thirty years after the Chernobyl power plant exploaded, we post 40 photos and facts you might not know about the disaster. Learn more about the Chernobyl disaster on Wikipedia.
Also check: Drone Flight Over The City Of Pripyat
1. Chernobyl was the first nuclear power plant in Soviet Ukraine, a flagship of the peaceful atomic energy program of the USSR.
2. The construction began in 1970 in a remote region near Ukraine’s swamp-filled northern border, 15 kilometers northwest of the small town of Chernobyl.
The desolate location was chosen because of its relative proximity to yet safe distance from Ukraine’s capital, a ready water supply – the River Pripyat – and the existing railway line running from Ovruc in the west to Chernigov in the east.
3. It was the first nuclear power station ever to be built in the country, and was considered to be the best and most reliable of the Soviet Union’s nuclear facilities.
4. Convincing experienced workers from more populous parts of the Soviet Union to move to such a remote location proved challenging, so many of Chernobyl’s workers came straight from college/university. As a result, Pripyat was one of the ‘youngest’ cities in the Soviet Union, with an average age of only 26.
5. Because Pripyat was new it had many modern luxuries other Soviet cities didn’t have.
6. In addition to a hospital and its nearby clinics, there were 15 kindergartens, 5 schools, a vocational school/college and a school of music and the arts for the children, with 1 expansive park and 35 smaller playgrounds for them to play in.
7. There were also 10 gyms, 3 swimming pools, 10 shooting ranges, 2 stadiums, 4 libraries and a cinema, or Pripyat’s own newspaper.
8. Retail came in the form of 25 shops including a bookshop, a supermarket and various smaller food stores, a sports shop, a shop selling TVs, radios and other electronics, and a large shopping centre on the city’s central square.
9. This is the famous swimming pool.
10. Although complications put the plant 2 years behind schedule, the first reactor – Unit 1 – was commissioned on the 26th of November 1977, following months of tests. Three more reactors followed: Unit 2 in 1978, Unit 3 in 1981, and Unit 4 in 1983.
11. Here you can see engineers working on the water pipes below where the reactor will be. The pumps push pressurised water through these pipes and up into the bottom of the core at a temperature of 270°C. There, it boils and comes out of the top at 284°C.
12. Lowering fuel into the completed reactor.
13. Brand new fuel rods are fairly harmless.
14. Once the power station was up and running, all staff entering and exiting the complex had to go through these radiation detectors. They’re still used at the site today.
15. The group of engineers working on 26 April 1986 at the power plant.
Tall man in the middle is Anatoly Dyatlov, the deputy chief engineer. He supervised the test. At the moment reactor power slipped to 30MW, he insisted the operators continue the test which led to the disaster. In 1987, he was found guilty “for criminal mismanagement of potentially explosive enterprises” and was sentenced to ten years in prison.
16. The control room of reactor four before the disaster.
17. The control room of reactor four in 1998.
18. This is believed to be the first photograph ever taken of the accident, and the only photo that survives from that morning.
19. The power plant before the disaster from the similiar angle.
20. This is 26-year-old Senior Reactor-Control Engineer Leonid Toptunov, one of the control room operators.
He made a mistake when switching from manual to automatic control of the control rods, causing them to descend much farther into the core than intended. This resulted in an almost total shutdown of the reactor. Safety procedures required that the operators fully shutdown the reactor, as the RBMK became unstable at very low power. Unfortunately for the whole world, the Deputy Chief Engineer in charge that night – Anatoly Dyatlov – insisted that they continue. Over the next hour, the men struggled to bring the reactor up to power, disabling various safety systems in the process, and then began the test.