On this day in 1986, the worst nuclear accident in history occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern Ukraine. The disaster took place during a routine safety test, when a combination of human error and design flaws led to a massive explosion and fire in Reactor No. 4.
The accident released a huge amount of radioactive material into the atmosphere, contaminating an area of more than 1,000 square miles. The immediate death toll was two, but the long-term effects of the radiation exposure are still being studied. Estimates vary, but it’s believed that thousands of people may have died as a result of the disaster, either directly or indirectly.
The disaster had far-reaching effects on the environment, economy, and political system of the Soviet Union. The disaster exposed the dangers of nuclear power and prompted significant changes in safety regulations and nuclear policy worldwide. The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone remains a restricted area to this day.
Today, on the 37th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, people around the world remember the victims of this tragedy and continue to work towards safer and more sustainable forms of energy.