The Chernobyl disaster was a catastrophic nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near the town of Pripyat, in Ukraine, which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities of the Soviet Union. An explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, which spread over much of the western USSR and Europe.

The Chernobyl disaster was the worst nuclear power plant accident in history in terms of cost and casualties. It is one of only two classified as a level 7 event (the maximum classification) on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011. The battle to contain the contamination and avert a greater catastrophe ultimately involved over 500,000 workers and cost an estimated 18 billion rubles. During the accident itself, 31 people died, and long-term effects such as cancers are still being investigated.

The Zone
The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Zone of Alienation is an officially designated exclusion area around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster. It is also commonly known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the 30 Kilometre Zone, or simply The Zone.

Established by the USSR military soon after the 1986 disaster, it initially existed as an area of 30 km radius from the Power Plant designated for evacuation and placed under military control. Its borders have since been altered to cover a larger area of Ukraine. The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone borders a separately administered area, the Polesie State Radioecological Reserve, to the north, in Belarus. The Exclusion Zone covers an area of approximately 2,600 km2 (1,000 sq mi) where radioactive contamination from fallout is highest and public access and inhabitation are restricted.

People in The Zone
iconparyshivThe Zone is estimated to be home to 197 samosely living in 11 villages as well as the town of Chernobyl.This number is in decline, down from previous estimates of 314 in 2007 and 1,200 in 1986. These residents are elderly, with an average age of 63. After recurrent attempts at expulsion, the authorities became reconciled to their presence and have allowed them limited supporting services. Residents are now informally permitted to stay by the Ukrainian government.

Approximately 3,000 people work in the Zone of Alienation on various tasks, such as the construction of the New Safe Confinement, the ongoing decommissioning of the reactors, and assessment and monitoring of the conditions in the Zone. Employees do not live inside the Zone, but work shifts there. Some of the workers work “4-3” shifts (four days on, three off), whilst others work 15 days on, 15 off. Other workers commute into the Zone daily fromSlavutych. The duration of shifts is counted strictly for reasons involving pension and healthcare. Everyone employed in the Zone is monitored for internal bio-accumulation of radioactive elements.

Check this movietrailer about the The Babushkas of Chernobyl. A story of three unlikely heroines who live in Chernobyl’s Zone of Alienation. For more than 29 years they have survived – even thrived – on some of the most contaminated land on Earth.

In 15 December 2000 all nuclear power production at the power plant was ceased after an official ceremony with then-President Leonid Kuchma when the last remaining operational reactor, number 3, was shut down. Power for the ongoing decommissioning work and the Zone is now provided by a newly built oil-fueled power station.

Chernobyl power plant