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Chernobyl disaster

Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


Nuclear explosion that occurred in the ukraine , near Kiev, on April 26, 1986, causing 31 immediate deaths. The resulting fire at the Chernobyl power-station continued for weeks. Although the particular reactor at fault was eventually buried under concrete, other parts of the complex were allowed to continue operating until 2000. At the outset of the crisis the soviet union endeavored to conceal the nature and scale of the disaster. Such conduct reflected the regime's customary cult of secrecy as well as its longstanding negligence concerning environmental issues (see environmentalism ). However, as radioactive dust spread – towards not only Byelorussia (see belarus ) but also Romania, Poland, Finland, and Scandinavia – the international pressure for greater candor became irresistible. Some 135,000 inhabitants of the area within a 20-mile radius of Chernobyl were then evacuated. It is estimated that, in addition to the widespread pollution of livestock and arable land, more than half a million people in and far beyond the Ukraine suffered some measure of contamination. This nuclear meltdown highlighted the globalized threats to health associated with the harnessing of atomic power, even for peaceful purposes. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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