What was once a busy Soviet city now lies in ruins from what turned out to be one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. On April 26, 1986, there was an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Pripyat, Ukraine that caused radiation to leak from the nuclear reactor.
Even 31 years later, the results have been devastating....
Engineers began the test early in the morning on April 26. Nearly one minute after it started, enough pressure built up in the fourth reactor that there was an explosion that released radiation into the air.
Emergency response teams came pouring into the vicinity and eventually anyone within a six-mile radius of the nuclear plant was evacuated. Authorities declared that 19 miles around the area was to be an exclusion zone.
Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the Soviet Union at the time, mobilized hundreds of thousands of people to aid in the cleanup of Chernobyl. Many fell ill and eventually died from radiation exposure. Gorbachev even stated in 2006 that the Chernobyl disaster “was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union.”
This image shows the before-and-after of a main square in Pripyat.
The disaster may be long over, but the effects of it are still in full-swing. This photo shows Vyacheslav Konovalov, a researcher of post-Chernobyl mutations, holding up a preserved mutated colt in 1996.
Although she looks like a haunting ghost-like figure, the woman in this photo, Alina Rudya, is actually one of the survivors of the Chernobyl disaster. Rudya’s father was an engineer at the nuclear plant and was even working there on the night of the disaster.
Fortunately, not everything turned out for the worst after the Chernobyl disaster. This photo shows a lynx exploring near the site of the explosion. Many animal populations have even thrived since having little contact with humans in the last three decades.
Cleanup efforts have been ongoing since the Chernobyl disaster occurred more than 30 years ago. Recently, an enclosure called the New Safe Confinement has been completed. It will be pulled over the site of the explosion to contain any excess radiation and so that the remains of the reactor can safely be dismantled.