The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Jordan Gass-Poore

Chernobyl Anniversary Image 95ygu3xoy2ou9ehve2dk952The Chornobyl Nuclear Plant in Ukraine is seen in 1986 after a fire devastated the plant and led to radiation emissions that spread across the European continent. United Nations

36 years after the Chornobyl crisis, Ukraine presents a test for nuclear reactor survivability

This story was originally published in The Revelator.

CHORNOBYL, UKRAINE — It took less than a minute after an unexpected power surge for one of the nuclear reactors at Chornobyl (Chernobyl in the Russian spelling) to explode on April 26, 1986, ripping the roof off and spewing dangerous toxins into the air.

The event, and emergency cleanup that followed, left 30 workers dead, thousands exposed to cancer-causing nuclear material and later death, and a legacy of radiation. Now, 36 years later and with war raging, Ukraine is desperate to prevent another nuclear disaster.

Nuclear reactors generate more than half of the country’s power. Ukraine is the first country with such a large and established nuclear energy program to experience war, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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