History In The Headlines

Slideshow: Remembering Chernobyl

By History.com Staff
Built in the late 1970s about 65 miles north of Kiev, Ukraine, the Chernobyl plant was one of the largest nuclear power plants in the world. Twenty-five years ago today, a bungled experiment on the site created a sudden power surge, leading to a series of blasts that blew the 1,000-ton steel top off one of the facility’s four reactors. A lethal cloud of radioactive material gathered over the region before wafting over large parts of Europe. Soviet officials tried to keep the disaster under wraps, but on April 28 Swedish radiation monitoring stations reported radiation levels 40 percent higher than normal. The radiation that escaped into the atmosphere–equivalent to several times that produced by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki–contaminated millions of acres of forest and farmland. Considered the worst nuclear disaster in history, the incident has been blamed for thousands of deaths and a surge in radiation-related illnesses.

Categories: Disasters