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article imageThe Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster isn't over yet

By Karen Graham     Nov 10, 2013 in Environment
The Chernobyl nuclear power plant sits in a 1,000-square-mile fenced-off no-mans land near the city of Pripyat, Ukraine. It's a graveyard of unmarked burial sites for machinery used in the cleanup and spent fuel from other nuclear power plants in Russia.
On April 26, 1986, reactor four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, resulting in the worst nuclear disaster the world has ever seen. The radiation released into the atmosphere was 100 times more than the radiation contained in the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The world did not know about the disaster until two days later, when Swedish workers at a Forsmark nuclear power plant in Stockholm noticed high radiation readings near their plant. As other plants around Europe started getting high radiation readings, they contacted the Soviet Union to find out what had happened.
The Soviet Union, in attempting to minimize the scope of the disaster, finally admitted one of their reactors had been damaged. It soon became apparent to the rest of the world that this incident wasn't a matter of a damaged reactor, but a full-scale level 7 event, the highest classification. Today, the world has been witness to two of these level 7 events, the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that took place in Japan in 2011.
The world is confounded by the possibility of an even greater nuclear disaster awaiting us as the Japanese work to contain the constantly leaking radiation-contaminated groundwater runoff while working to remove the still hot cooling rods from their disabled reactor, but we must not forget the Chernobyl site.
It has been almost 28 years since the Chernobyl disaster, and today the remains of the reactor sits under a huge concrete "sarcophagus." The structure was hastily built to cover the still seeping reactor core, and was supposed to be safe for many years. In February of last year, part of the roof collapsed, causing fear worldwide. Now, with the cover leaking and cracking, radiation from the 200 tons of radiation-like mass still in the reactor lead many to believe we are still in grave danger.
The city of Pripyat  a  Ghost Town  now  with a view of Chernobyl in the background. Jan. 20  2007.
The city of Pripyat, a "Ghost Town" now, with a view of Chernobyl in the background. Jan. 20, 2007.
Jason Minshull
A new containment project was started years ago, expected to be finished in 2015, but that date is really 15 years overdue from when it was supposed to be done. Six days ago, workers at the power plant dismantled a ventilation shaft in preparation for the construction of the new concrete sarcophagus. Authorities say once the new cover is complete, the old one can be dismantled and the radioactive fuel inside can be disposed of. Right now, there is still a long way to go.
More about Power plant, Nuclear disaster, Chernobyl, Radiation, Leaks
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