The disaster sent a plume of radioactive contamination over much of Europe and Eastern Russia, crippled the economy of the former superpower USSR, and remains the single worst nuclear disaster the world has had to face.
While the current Fukushima disaster resulting from last month’s 9.0 earthquake and Tsunami in Japan ranks a similarly classified Level Seven on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES), it is considered much less serious than the event in Chernobyl due to factors including containment, deaths and contamination.
In the early days of the 1986 accident, the seriousness of the unfolding disaster wasn’t fully understood even by officials within the USSR who were alerted to high radiation levels by neighboring countries. And it wasn’t until recent years that the full extent of the danger has been fully revealed.
The following two documentaries full of historical video and interviews are are both fascinating and terrifying in the information they share. According to the second of the two video series, it is only through sheer plain luck that “critical-mass” has not occurred, setting off a massive nuclear blast 10x bigger than Hiroshima and rendering most of Europe uninhabitable. And to this day there is danger of the white-hot fuel hitting water and creating smaller yet still deadly radioactive explosions.
But no less fascinating is how, in spite of the deserted ghost town images reported by the media, life went on at the power-plant. The facility continued to operate for decades and was only decommissioned in late 2000. Thousands of workers went to work every day with a sleeping monster next door. A few people returned to the forbidden countryside to live, and nature flourished in his overall absence. It’s a peek into both the resilience of nature, and man’s simultaneous ability to destroy it.
We may never fully account for all the injuries and damage that resulted from this disaster, but we should never forget just how close we came to loosing it all in a hell on Earth. These videos show the aftermath with actual video from inside the disaster, and described in the words of the scientists and military personnel who were there. It’s worth the watch.
Far from being a position on the future of nuclear power, the author hopes this article serves as a lesson in due-diligence and a reminder of the importance of “doing things right”. And most importantly, the value of asking the those two words that can save the world;
Be sure to click through all parts for the full stories.
Nova – Inside Chernobyl’s Sarcophagus Part 1 /5
The Battle of Chernobyl, Part 1/11