Where is Chernobyl? Guide me UA answers all your questions about Ukraine
For many, Chernobyl is associated with catastrophe on infamous nuclear power plant, which was the largest man-made disaster. But things were not always like this. In this article, we have collected a set of interesting facts about the city of Chernobyl. Along the way, in this article we will tell about the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, the city of Pripyat, which was five times larger than Chernobyl, and of course ChNPP itself and the accident at this power station. Answering the main question of the article Where is Chernobyl?, – Chernobyl is located 110 km from a trip in the city of Kiev. Therefore, for tourists who are going to visit this area, shall be ready to spend at least a day there and book the trip in advance – to go to the exclusion zone, one needs a special government permit.
Chernobyl is named after the grass?!
The article begins with a brief history note. You may laugh, but the name of the city of Chernobyl comes from the name of the grass better known as wormwood. Earlier, wormwood was called a “chernobylnik”. The stalk of the plant, or byl, is black. Hence the name – Chernobyl. In some villages on the territory of Ukraine and Russia, the wormwood is still called a chernobylnik.
These places have first been inhabited in the 12th century. The first information about the city of Chernobyl dates back to 1197, so one can safely say this is one of the oldest cities in Ukraine. Few people know that even during the times of tsar reign, about 10,000 people lived here. There was a fortress, surrounded by a moat, and further were the vast expanses of Ukraine. In the 70s it was it remoteness from the other cities and administrative centers, as well as vast territories that make the country’s leaders take decision to build the first nuclear power plant here. Nothing seemed to cause any danger to the population. By the way, in 1970 there was a flood in Chernobyl.
After the accident in Chernobyl, only the most necessary employees of the Chernobyl NPP stayed there; the Soviet government did not send them away, as they did with the residents of Pripyat, although the town itself suffered. However, today the radiation background in the city is only slightly higher than the norm for humans. Chernobyl finally died after the town of Slavutich was built and the service personnel moved to live there. Today Slavutich is just a huge settlement, where only Chernobyl employees can live. The city is a restricted access facility. There are no functioning schools, kindergartens and other organizations, and the population itself is temporary – once a month people change shifts and go home, to their families.
The Chernobyl nuclear power plant is located near the city of Pripyat, 16 km from the border with the Republic of Belarus and 110 km from Kiev. Nevertheless, for overwhelming majority of people, the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is associated with the city of Chernobyl, which is to some extent incorrect. The name of the NPP used the name of the city, but the city itself is located 15 kilometers from the infamous place.
Until now, 150 thousand square kilometers around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant are unfit for living or use for agricultural purposes. According to rough estimates, during 1986about 250 thousand people were evacuated from the exclusion zone. Many of the irradiated patients were treated in Moscow, in a special hospital for the treatment of radiation sickness. Afterwards, the victims stayed in the same city together with their families.
Starting from January 1, 2011, the Ministry of Emergencies of Ukraine has made it possible for tourists to travel to the cities of Chernobyl and Pripyat. Previously, access to these cities was limited. Most of people got here illegally – through holes in the fences that encircle the exclusion zone. According to Forbes magazine, the territory of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the exclusion zone is named the most exotic place for tourism on our planet.
In the last few years, the reactor and the city of Pripyat have attracted tourists. In the ghost town, you can go into abandoned houses, schools, hotels. The abandoned vehicles are in the same places where they were left during the evacuation. It is dangerous to get to close to armored abandoned vehicles and helicopters, because their radiation background is very high.
Later it became known that about 8.4 million inhabitants of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia were exposed to radioactive irradiation.
Pripyat – young and dead atomic city
The city of Pripyat was built exclusively as a settlement for the employees of the Chernobyl nuclear power station. This does not mean that it was not possible for other people who had nothing to do with the power station to get there. This city existed only 16 years. Among other things, it had its own yacht club, the one and only in the whole of the then USSR.
The accident at the 4th power unit of the ChNPP was not visually conspicuous. Residents of Pripyat learned about the incident only at lunch on April 26. That Saturday no one in the city suspects what is happening at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. There were 16 weddings that day; a young and flourishing city of power engineers was enjoying a full life.
However, while residents of the city were engaged in their daily activities, the radiation was spreading along with the wind, with incredible speed. One young man from Chernobyl planned to visit his relatives in Pripyat. His uncle went out to see if the nephew was coming. Soon he died from a lethal dose of radiation. On the territory of Ukraine, the territory of about 50 thousand square kilometers was considered contaminated, this is approximately 12 regions.
On the day of the accident more than 100 firemen left Pripyat for the power plant. These people were the first and got the largest and most lethal dose of radiation. During the liquidation of the fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, 31 people died. This is official information. Another man died under the rubble of the reactor, which fell in the pump control room, located under the reactor compartment. The duty fire brigade of the Chornobyl NPP also immediately went out to extinguish the fire that had arisen; they did not know what fire extinguishing without special protective equipment may result. The heroes gave their lives for this heroic, but stupid act.
The next day after a terrible catastrophe, 47 500 inhabitants of the city of Pripyat, closely watched by the military, were obliged to leave their homes. In a month, approximately 300 people began to make attempts to return home. Later, the territory where they settled was called the Zone of Alienation. For 20 years, neither relatives not friends were allowed to visit those who returned to their city or adjacent villages; the territory outside the Zone was called the Big Earth.
Initially, the residents were asked to leave their homes for a short period of time – about 3 days, until the consequences of the fire were eliminated. People believed, although they had to take with them only the most necessary. As a result, it turned out that the residents left their native and settled places forever.
Damage control and recovery
Let us list the facts that are directly related to the liquidation and liquidators of the Chernobyl disaster.
On April 27, one and a half days after the accident, the Soviet army deployed a gigantic operation to eliminate the consequences of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. It turned out that not only the 4th power unit itself was affected. The engine room of the 3rd reactor was also damaged – as a result of the accident, it caught fire.
To eliminate the consequences of the accident, around 600 thousand people from all over the USSR were mobilized. All of them volunteered for this dangerous and courageous step. The consent to participate was akin to agreeing to go to war in Afghanistan. Each liquidator had no more than five minutes to climb the surviving part of the reactor building, pick up a fragment and drop it into the abyss over the reactor. Also, the soldiers were bringing materials to extinguish a fire. In this case, the participant of this mission received high radiation dose, despite the bulky and heavy lead suit, made specifically for work on the reactor.
To date, there is no true, confirmed and carefully considered version of the causes of the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant!
To extinguish the fire over the reactor, the Soviet army was allowed to use Mi-8 helicopters. Later, the crews of these helicopters were entrusted with a very dangerous job: they lifted and dropped special chemical mixtures to extinguish the fire and prevent further chain reaction. They also dropped clay and sand, which reduced the spread of fire, as well as boric acid in order to absorb radiation. The height to drop materials did not exceed 150-200 meters. One of the helicopters touched the support pipe on the crane with its blade and fell down.
Later, scientists suggested that dropping building materials could further increase the temperature of the reactor, which was so high that it attracted the attention of American intelligence: their satellites detected a temperature rise above the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which revealed the fact of a nuclear catastrophe. Only by the Victory Day on May 9, the liquidators managed to completely extinguish the fire over the destroyed reactor.
Another pitfall that arose during the liquidation of the accident – the reaction in the destroyed reactor continued, but it was impossible to control it. The heat could literally burn the bottom of the mine. Penetration of nuclear fuel into the soil is fraught with terrible consequences. In order to prevent this, a big and wide tunnel was made under the reactor shaft. For this work, miners from Moscow were summoned. Later, miners from other regions of the USSR also joined them.
The liquidators of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the people affected by it are currently living literally in all parts of the world. Many of them are no longer alive, and the survivors receive special benefits and are assigned to a certain preferential category of citizens. According to various estimates, in the countries of the former USSR, compensation is still paid to more than 7 million people. They are mainly residents of Ukraine, Belarus and the Russian Federation.
In Ukraine, for example, the costs for payments to Chernobyl victims are from 5 to 7 percent of all social payments, in Belarus – 6.1 percent. However, the size of these benefits still has little to do with the real help that is required by the victims and liquidators of the Chernobyl catastrophe.
In total, the Soviet Union allocated about 18 billion Soviet rubles for the liquidation of the consequences of the disaster and for the measures taken, including the erection of the sarcophagus. At that time, one ruble was equal to one US dollar. Consequently, in dollars, the costs were almost identical. It is believed that the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station crushed the economy of the USSR and led to its collapse. This is partly true. The fall in oil prices following the liquidation of the accident led to increase in protests among citizens, which resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union.
How radiation works
The main ailments of the liquidators and most of the victims: vascular disease, cancer and radiation sickness or the so-called radiation syndrome. As a result of irradiation, young people began to suffer from leukemia and thyroid cancer.
The first victims died in terrible agony. The first signs of human irradiation: vomiting, loss of consciousness, cardiac arrest, hair loss, blindness, skin blackening in places of direct contact with radioactive particles and contaminated objects. Further resuscitative actions that helped save hundreds of thousands of others from radiation: blood transfusion, chemical treatment of wounds and burns.
As for the mutation of the body – it’s a myth, embellished with cinematographers. A person who received a dose of radiation is able to produce normal offspring, which is fixed by numerous facts and histories. As for the fact of mutation of cells in the body – it’s also not all that simple. For the mutation to be noticeable a person should receive a large amount of radiation; in that case he most likely will not survive.
The dead and missing
Over the past 20 years, statists and counting centers around the world have attempted to calculate a more accurate number of deaths from the consequences of the accident. Different sources give different information about these figures: some data say about 4 thousand dead, others – about more than 100 thousand.
Of all those people who, by the will of fate, were in the emergency block during the first days after the catastrophe, 134 later discovered radiation sickness. During the first month after the accident, 28 of them died.
It was Belarus that got most of all radiation pollution – about 70%. Economic calculation states that losses of this country are about $ 235 billion US dollars. Although it may seem surprising, it is not Ukraine, but Belarus that suffered the most. Approximately one-fifth of the agricultural land in this country is still considered to be slightly contaminated, and hundreds of thousands of people have been directly affected by radiation contamination.
Radioactive contaminated precipitation even in Ireland!
As you can see, it is not in vain that this accident was appointed the seventh danger level – indeed, the explosion of the nuclear reactor of the Chernobyl NPP with the subsequent release of radioactive material into the atmosphere has far-reaching global consequences. After a certain time, contaminated radioactive rain fell throughout Europe and even in Ireland.
According to the estimates of the British Department of Health, about 369 farms and almost 200 thousand sheep still bear traces of this terrible and deadly pollution. However, it should be noted that in 1986 the number of such sheep reached 4 million.
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