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The Chernobyl nuclear disaster is one of the most known catastrophic nuclear disasters in history. This event occurred on April 26 in the year 1986 at 1:23 am at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant which was located in Ukraine, USSR. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant was located 80 miles north of Kiev (Fernando 360). The power plant was built in 1970 and was officially opened in 1977. The power plant consisted of four reactors whose role was to generate electricity; however the first reactor (reactor number four) began power generation in 1983. The Chernobyl nuclear plant was known as the V.I Lenin power station named after the first leader of the Soviet Union (Ingram 2). The power plant was located between Chernobyl and the city of Pripyat on a flat 8.5 square miles piece of land. The plant hosted for enormous nuclear plants which supplied electricity to Kiev, Pripyat and most of the Western Soviet Union (Ingram, 2). This was a step forward towards the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The plant was expected to power a large portion of the USSR upon completion. Today the Chernobyl nuclear plant is shut down, the building that housed the reactor is buried in a structure built in 1986 to cover the radioactive debris which remained after the disaster. The city of Pripyat is now a ghost town while the agricultural land that surrounds it is deserted and remains unused. Water in the region was rendered unsafe while food grown in the region within a 30 miles radius is not fit for human consumption (Clements 211). These are the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster which occurred back in 1986.
On 26th April 1986, a routine test was underway with an aim of determining whether nuclear reactor number 4 could keep the cooling pumps operating during a power outage until the backup generators could trigger. There was a power surge during the test which resulted in chain reactions at the reactor which went out of control causing an explosion (Fernando 360). The fuel rods and the graphite reactor steel melted while the concrete lid was brown off and a huge cloud of radiation was released in form of a fireball. The effects of the explosion were catastrophic. Two personnel at the plant died instantly, 19 more died in three weeks after the incident and a total of 30 workers and responders died within a one month period (World Nuclear Association). First responders and plant personnel received a full blast of whole body gamma radiation. It is estimated that about 100 workers and firemen suffered from acute radiation syndrome (ARS) (Clements 311). Fire fighters at the scene thought that it was a normal fire however within the first hour of response most suffered from fatigue exhaustion and bleeding gums making the effort to put down the fire impossible. Even after the explosion settled the radiation had grave effects on the surrounding population. In fact 13500 people were evacuated from the region within three days in order to avoid further exposure (Clements 211). Radiation also spread to other countries in Eastern Europe such as Poland and Germany. Eastern Europe agriculture was affected adversely while produce from Russia was temporarily banned due to fear of contamination.
An analysis of the disaster by experts showed that there was grave violation of safety procedures amongst workers and management at the plant. In addition there was lack of proper communication between workers operating the plant and a faulty design of the plant worsened the situation. All these factors played a vital role in causation of the disaster. As a result the government was required to compensate individuals who were exposed to radiation. However the compensation funds were inadequate and was not extended to all the affected people. The effect of this disaster was felt in most regions of the northern hemisphere.
Research indicated that the birth rate in the region surrounding Chernobyl experienced a sharp decrease of birth rate. For example the birthrate of the Gomel region in Belarus fell by 44%. There was an increase in the mortality rate of the affected regions. For example surrounding areas reported an increase in mortality rate by 60% whereas the population growth rate went down for 8% to -5% (Clements 212). In addition there was increase in health disabilities for instance in 2003 the number of disabilities related to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster had risen to 100,000 (Fernando 360). Children were also reported to develop depression and suicidal tendencies. Exposure to cumulative chronic doses of radiation also led to development of thyroid cancer, Leukemia, cataracts, other cancers as well as birth defects. Most of these health effects of radiation are cumulative and are known to develop at any stage in each person's lifetime. Therefore the difference between those exposed and those not exposed may not be apparent in the first few years.
The Chernobyl nuclear disaster demonstrated the adverse effects that can result from violation of safety provisions. The application of an experiment whereby safety procedures had been violated caused an international catastrophe that ended with loss of lives and deterioration of health in several countries. The impact of the disaster is still felt today and countries in Europe have ensured that new nuclear plants follow the necessary safety procedures. The international atomic energy agency (IAEA) has carried out an international expert assessment of the accidents radiological, environmental and health consequences in selected town and the most heavily contaminated areas in Belarus Russia and Ukraine (World Nuclear association). This was done because public health data in 1986 in the region was found to be unreliable. As a result resettlement of people in areas found which were previously deemed contaminated has now begun.