Main News International

26 April 2021 ă.

Three and a half decades after the Chernobyl accident

Three and a half decades

35 years ago, on April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl disaster brought an abrupt end to the myth of "safe nuclear power". Millions of people have become victims of radioactive contamination. The radioactive cloud has spread throughout the world. Awareness of the dangers inherent in nuclear energy grew in countless minds. The first consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster could be observed already in 1991, when the incidence of thyroid cancer increased.

The Chernobyl Nuclear power plant is located about 100 kilometers north of the capital of Ukraine, Kiev, and not far from the border with Belarus. On the night of Saturday, April 26, 1986, engineers were conducting an operational test at the 4th reactor, when it suddenly went out of control: power continued to grow, emergency shutdown failed, nuclear chain reactions occurred at breathtaking speed. Just 44 seconds after the start of the tests, two explosions tore off the roof of the reactor and destroyed its core. The cooling water began to drain, which led to the ignition of the graphite rods in the reactor core, and this, in turn, to the melting of the fuel rods. The fire, which was fueled by graphite rods and difficult to extinguish, continued to burn until May 10, 1986. At that time, the reactor contained 190,000 kg of highly radioactive material. The explosions and subsequent fires caused the release of 12 trillion Becquerels (12x1018, or 12,000,000,000,000,000,000 Bq, or 12,000 Peta-Bq) of radioactive particles into the atmosphere in just a few days. It included 85 PBq of cesium 137 and 1760 PBq of iodine 131.1 Frequent wind changes over the following days caused several radioactive clouds from Chernobyl to rush inland. About 36% of the total radioactive fallout from cesium-137 was distributed across Belarus, Ukraine and Russia - mainly to the north of the power plant in the Belarusian regions of Gomel and Mogilev.

It affected 56 regions of Belarus, 3600 towns with a population of about 2.5 million people, including 1.5 million children.

In 1986, 24.7 thousand inhabitants were evacuated from 107 towns, 137.7 thousand people were resettled from 471 towns.

...In radiation medicine classes, students of Belarusian State Medical University study the medical and biological consequences of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, gain knowledge about the radiation situation in the Republic of Belarus after the Chernobyl disaster. In addition, they study the experience of overcoming the consequences of such emergencies and the application of measures aimed at protecting people after radiation accidents.

Practical lesson on the assessment of the annual effective dose of external exposure from Chernobyl radionuclides.


Author: BSMU Department of Radiation Medicine and Ecology;
Photo is presented by the Department and from the archive of the Department for Elimination of the Consequences of the Chernobyl Disaster of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Belarus;
Translation: Anastasiya Karnacheva