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Chernobyl, Pripyat

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You may of heard of this small city called Pripyat that was in Ukraine. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I will show you the devastating disaster of this small city.

Pripyat was founded in 1970 to house workers for the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. It was officially proclaimed a city in 1979 but was abandoned in 1986. Why was it abandoned? We will get to it.

It was the ninth nuclear city ("атомоград" (atomograd) in Russian, literally "atom city") in the Soviet Union at the time and its population was around 50,000 before the accident. The annual rate of natural increase for the city's population was estimated at around 800 persons, plus over 500 newcomers from all corners of the Soviet Union each year. and Pripyat's population had been expected to rise to 78,000. The Yanov railroad station (part of Chernigov-Ovruch railroad link) was less than 1 km away from the city, and the navigable Pripyat River flowed nearby.

Access to Pripyat, unlike cities of military importance, was not restricted before the disaster as Nuclear Power Stations were seen by the Soviet Union as safer than other types of power plants. Nuclear power stations were presented as being an achievement of Soviet engineering, where nuclear power was harnessed for peaceful projects. The slogan "peaceful atom" was popular during those times. The original plan had been to build the plant only 25 km (16 mi) from Kiev, but the Ukrainian Academy of Science, among other bodies, expressed concern about it being too close to the city. As a result, the power station and Pripyat were built at their current locations, about 100 km (62 mi) from Kiev. After the disaster the city of Pripyat was evacuated in two days.

The Disaster

"For the attention of the residents of Pripyat! The City Council informs you that due to the accident at Chernobyl Power Station in the city of Pripyat the radioactive conditions in the vicinity are deteriorating. The Communist Party, its officials and the armed forces are taking necessary steps to combat this. Nevertheless, with the view to keep people as safe and healthy as possible, the children being top priority, we need to temporarily evacuate the citizens in the nearest towns of Kiev Oblast. For these reasons, starting from April 27, 1986 2 p.m. each apartment block will be able to have a bus at its disposal, supervised by the police and the city officials. It is highly advisable to take your documents, some vital personal belongings and a certain amount of food, just in case, with you. The senior executives of public and industrial facilities of the city has decided on the list of employees needed to stay in Pripyat to maintain these facilities in a good working order. All the houses will be guarded by the police during the evacuation period. Tovarishch, (Comrade) leaving your residences temporarily please make sure you have turned off the lights, electrical equipment and water off and shut the windows. Please keep calm and orderly in the process of this short-term evacuation."

That was what they said after the disaster.

On 26 April 1986, at 01:23, reactor four suffered a catastrophic power increase, leading to explosions in its core. This dispersed large quantities of radioactive fuel and core materials into the atmosphere and ignited the combustible Graphite Moderator. The burning graphite moderator increased the emission of Radioactive particles, carried by the smoke, as the reactor had not been encased by any kind of hard containment vessel. The accident occurred during an experiment scheduled to test a potential safety emergency core cooling feature, which took place during the normal shutdown procedure.

Some children in the contaminated areas were exposed to high radiation doses of up to 50 grays (Gy) because of an intake of radioactive iodine - 131, a relatively short-lived isotope with a half-life of 8 days, from contaminated milk produced locally. Several studies have found that the incidence of thyroid cancer among children in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia has risen sharply. The IAEA notes "1800 documented cases of thyroid cancer in children who were between 0 and 14 years of age when the disaster occurred, which is as far higher than normal", but fails to note the expected rate. The childhood thyroid cancers that have appeared are of a large and aggressive type but, if detected early, can be treated. Treatment entails surgery followed by iodine-131 therapy for any metastatates. To date, such treatment appears to have been successful in the vast majority of cases.

Late in 1995, the World Health Organization (WHO) linked nearly 700 cases of thyroid cancer among children and adolescents to the Chernobyl disaster, and among these some 10 deaths are attributed to radiation. However, the rapid increase in thyroid cancers detected suggests some of this increase may be an artifact of the screening process. Typical latency time of radiation-induced thyroid cancer is about 10 years, but the increase in childhood thyroid cancers in some regions was observed as early as 1987. Presumably either the increase is unrelated to the disaster or the mechanisms behind it are not well understood.

Soviet authorities started evacuating people from the area around Chernobyl only on the second day after the disaster (after 36 hours). By May 1986, about a month later, all those living within a 30 km (19 mi) radius of the plant — about 116,000 people — had been relocated. This area is often referred to as the zone of alienation However, radiation affected the area in a much wider scale than this 30 km radius.

According to reports from Soviet scientists, 28,000 km² (10,800 mi²) were contaminated by cesium-131 to levels greater than 185 kBq/m². Roughly 830,000 people lived in this area. About 10,500 km ² (4,000 mi²) were contaminated by caesium-137 to levels greater than 555 kBq/m². Of this total, roughly 7,000 km² (2,700 mi²) lie in Belarus, 2,000 km² (800 mi²) in the Russian Federation and 1,500 km² (580 mi²) in Ukraine. About 250,000 people lived in this area. These reported data were corroborated by the International Chernobyl Project.

This story is actually true. Based on a tragic event that happened April 28, 1986. If you want to see more look up "Chernobyl accident" the effects are a lot more tragic than you think. This story isn't really meant to be so scary as it meant to be unbelievable on the affects of radiation.

Thanks for reading.

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