Chernobyl – Thirty Years Ago Today

2015-6-4 Chornobyl (59)On April 26, 1986, a sudden surge of power during a reactor systems test destroyed Unit 4 of the nuclear power station at Chernobyl, Ukraine, in the former Soviet Union. The accident and the fire that followed released massive amounts of radioactive material into the environment.

So starts the NRC backgrounder on accident. Today, exactly three decades later, it’s still an event worth recalling.

Last year, NRC Commissioner William Ostendorff and several NRC staffers, (photo above right) visited the site and saw the progress for containment and decommissioning first hand.

Said Commissioner Ostendorff of his visit: “I was struck by the impact of this tragic accident in 1986, especially by the visit to the abandoned city of Pripyat. I saw first-hand the detailed work underway to more 2015-6-4 Chornobyl (35)permanently contain the damaged reactor for coming generations. I am grateful for the international support to fund the construction of the New Safe Confinement structure.”

The New Safe Confinement construction site can be seen in the photo to the left. The Commissioner’s visit included the construction site for the Dry Type Storage facility. The final completion date for this project is 2064.

As part of their tour, the Commissioner and NRC staff visited the abandoned city of Pripyat, home to an amusement park originally scheduled to open one week after the accident. (see photo below right)

After the accident, 2015-6-4 Prypiat (39)ferriswheelofficials closed off the area within 18 miles of the plant, except for those with official business at the plant and those people dealing with the consequences of the accident and operating the undamaged reactors. The Soviet (and later on, Russian) government evacuated about 115,000 people from the most heavily contaminated areas in 1986, and another 220,000 people in subsequent years.

For more information on the accident, check out this blog post or take a look at this video.


Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

8 thoughts on “Chernobyl – Thirty Years Ago Today”

  1. This can be possible if this was a private contract with private construction companies otherwise most part of funds will be lost in ukrainian law holes and government corruption…

  2. Sorry Iazarus, I was not “implying” the NRC did nothing, no, I simply stated that they have done nothing at all!
    Some reactors in Japan have been allowed to restart but only after installing a hardened & filtered vent to minimize a radioactive release in the case of an accident. On over 30 identical BWR plants in the US, the US nuke industry successfully lobbied their lapdog regulator here to not install a filtered vent on our plants.
    Damaged spent fuel pools at Fukushima released significant amounts of radioactivity into the environment. US spent fuel pools are loaded with far more spent fuel than allowed in spent fuel pools in Japan. Our NRC (I should say our nuclear industry’s NRC) has done nothing to relocate this excess fuel to a safe remote storage location. Furthermore, the NRC does not even consider that to be part of their job!
    The only stated mission the NRC has is to protect the public health & safety. But their actual mission is to protect the health & viability of the nuclear industry.

  3. If the NRC really takes action;
    – more strict oversight, so no radiation leakages by untested steam generators as at SONGS, etc
    – more strict regulations, hence less chance that an attack results in a radiation disaster
    then the already high cost price of nuclear electricity is increased further.
    Which implies that more and more reactors will close prematurely until none is left.

    But then the staff of NRC is without a job…
    So NRC want safe nuclear without much costs for safety.
    Safe is also in the interest of NRC, as a nuclear disaster may end the NRC as shown in Japan.

  4. You mark my words; all resource limitations, a limitation of any kind, all priories and budgets or budget reductions of any kind always…always, always, always…always vastly disproportionally fall on the sick, weak, disenfranchised and poor. The people with the least capabilities to take care of themselves. Our follies always hurts the sick, the weak, disenfranchised and poor the most. Most of the rich and powerful always completely escape accountability.

  5. “Chernobyl carries unlimited heartbreak” & “Chernobyl Disaster Could Trigger More Cancer, Deaths”.
    That only means that FUD sells papers, and is good click bait, face it the phrase “Could trigger” ….
    is about as certain as the sky “Could” fall on your head.
    Of course it was a tragedy for the people who died and their families and for those who had to leave their homes.
    But where are all the millions or even thousands of cancer victims that are touted by the coal,oil and gas industries and the antinuclear lobby they support? Statistics can not find them.
    Read the James Conca article “will the truth about Chernobyl ever come out”
    What lessons were there to be learned from Chernobyl? Don’t fool around with a reactor especially not one that has a highly positive void coefficient. As for Fukushima, yes the NRC has implemented billions worth of security upgrades. To imply that it has done nothing is just a malicious lie.

  6. He is a case where a nuclear plant meltdown was unbelievably positive for the world at large. It got rid of a despotic regime that somehow got disconnected from the truth. It vastly liberated more citizens of the planet than got harmed or hurt in the accident. Did you ever fight in the cold war?

    ***Beyond the human and environmental tragedy, Chernobyl proved a catalyst in a chain reaction that would sweep away Soviet communism five years later. Writing in 2006, Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, wrote that Chernobyl — not his attempts at perestroika, or restructuring — was “perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union”.***

    Most people don’t remember the testing at Chernobyl that created the meltdown. The accident emerged from a feeling by the professions the plant wasn’t properly designed. They felt the plant didn’t have sufficient diesel generator capacity in a LOOP.

    How is our catastrophe with NASA Challenger and Chernobyl similar? They were under the gun of resources limitations or unjustified budget cuts. They were basically a paramilitary operation without independent oversight and full public transparency. It is secrecy that drives all bad outcomes. Budget cuts are the best secrecy generator in hierarchical organizations.

    The take home for me; you never know the end point when a political system isn’t properly hard keyed into telling the absolute truth and full honesty to its citizens. When does everyone in the system have to lie, cheat and deceive just to survive? It is where at a nuclear power plant when there is so much painful cognitive dissonance for the employees to in a crooked system. They mal-adapt to the situation by rationalizing it is all a “game”… the term we use is “playing the game”. The rules and all the fundamental human relationships going on in the plant or organization has turned into mechanized games of no meaning other than making slave wages for survival or sport. You can make really big bucks in slave wages too. Working at a plant or organization has no higher meaning or in serving any higher ends…or supporting the vital needs of a nation and its citizens. It just turns into a selfish game or way of individual survival.

    It is how organizations steals our humanity and the souls from us all?

    Mike Mulligan
    Hinsdale, NH

  7. The USA Today headlines read “Chernobyl carries unlimited heartbreak” & “Chernobyl Disaster Could Trigger More Cancer, Deaths”. This is the real legacy of nuclear power that will be with us forever. The havoc meted out to people and the lasting scars to our planet. NRC Commissioners & NRC staff have visited Fukushima & Chernobyl personally only then to come home & do absolutely nothing to prevent a similar accident here. If a nuclear disaster doesn’t happen right here in our country, in our own backyard, like TMI, the NRC bows to pressure from the US nuke industry to do nothing that would cost money & perhaps impact the profitability or the viability of nuclear power here in this country. Figures though, as the NRC is not an industry watchdog, it is an industry lapdog!

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