At 1.23 hr on April 26, 1986, the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded.
The disaster was a unique industrial accident due to the scale of its social, economic and environmental impacts and longevity. It is estimated that, in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia alone, around 9 million people were directly affected resulting from the fact that the long lived radioactivity released was more than 200 times that of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Across the former Soviet Union the contamination resulted in evacuation of some 400,000 people. About 200,000 km2 of land was, and is, contaminated by radioactive Caesium-137 above 37 kBq/m2 (intervention level). In addition, about 3,900,000 km2, about 40% of the surface of Europe, was contaminated above the level of 4 kBq/m2. This contamination will persist for centuries, and many countries as well as Belarus, Ukraine and Russia will need to continue with food restriction orders for many decades to come. The economic consequences of the accident remain a massive burden on the countries most affected; Ukraine and Belarus continue to spend around 6% of their Gross National Product on trying to deal with the consequences of the accident.
About the consequences of the Chernobyl accident, much research has been conducted, many reports have been written and still many uncertainties exist. Although official accounts points to 4,000 expected cancer deaths from Chernobyl in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, the real prediction in IAEA/WHO reports is more than 9,000. However this excludes the more than 30,000 anticipated cancer deaths from the collective dose in all other countries in the Northern Hemisphere.
The full impact of the Chernobyl disaster may never be known.
(click here or on image to go to the chronology)
The chronology was compiled by research at Laka's extensive files on Chernobyl, and some sources available on the internet.
The chronology will be updated regurlarly
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The Laka Foundation, based in Amsterdam, is a documentation and research centre on nuclear energy, established in the early 1980's and one of the largests independent archives on (the history of) nuclear power and the resistance against it.