AMMANNEWSPAPER -On April 26 is the day the world commemorates the worst-ever nuclear disaster.In the early morning hours of April 26, 1986, the Chornobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine (formerly part of the Soviet Union) exploded, creating what has been described as the worst nuclear disaster the world has ever seen.
The disaster began during a systems test at reactor number four of the Chornobyl plant. There was a sudden surge of power output, and when an emergency shutdown was attempted a more extreme spike in power output occurred, which led a reactor vessel to rupture and a series of explosions. These events exposed the graphite moderator of the reactor to air, causing it to ignite. The resulting fire sent a plume of highly radioactive smoke into the atmosphere and over an extensive geographical area. The plume went on to drift over large parts of the western Soviet Union and Europe.The region today is widely known as one of the world's most unique wildlife sanctuaries (Chornobyl Biosphere Reserve). Thriving populations of wolves, deer, lynx, beaver, eagles, boar, elk, bears and other animals have been documented in the dense woodlands that now surround the silent plant. Only a handful of radiation effects, such as stunted trees growing in the zone of highest radiation and animals with high levels of cesium-137 in their bodies, are known to occur.
Pripyat now lies within the Exclusion zone and remains uninhabited due to the high levels of radiation. Once a year, close to the disasters anniversary, former residents are allowed to return to Pripyat.
The last functioning reactor at Chornobyl was shut down in 2000. Later in 1986, a large concrete shelter was quickly erected over the fourth reactor to allow the other three to continue functioning, but the hazardous conditions made it difficult for workers to thoroughly seal the seams of the structure to ensure no radiation leaked out.
A new confinement structure to be completed in 2017. It is being built near the plant and will be moved to cover the reactor and the old sarcophagus using rails.