Chernobyl Light Leaks

‘To this day, I can see the bright, raspberry red glow. The reactor seemed lit up from inside. It was an incredible colour. Not an ordinary fire, but a kind of shining. Very pretty. If you forget all the rest, it was very pretty.’

‘But when you live here, it’s not a fantasy or art, it’s real life, my life.’ Chernobyl Prayer (1997) by Svetlana Alexievich

On April 26,1986 an explosion at reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant in the former Soviet Union caused the largest, uncontrolled radioactive release in history.

Chernobyl released 400 times more radiation than the bomb on Hiroshima in Japan in 1945. Large quantities of radioactive iodine and caesium were released into the air. Much of this material fell near the reactor itself, but lighter material was blown by the wind over Belarus and parts of Europe, including some uplands in North West England. More than 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes in and around Chernobyl, most never to return. The disaster is believed to have caused the deaths of at least 4,000 people, with a further untold number of children born with abnormalities. Contamination is still a problem, and no one is sure how many people will eventually die as a result of the world’s worst nuclear accident.


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