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Chernobyl, 30 Years On

Photographers: Sergey Dolzhenko, Tatyana Zenkovich


On 26 April 1986, an explosion occurred at Unit 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukrainian SSR, now Ukraine, causing a fire to rage through the building. Large quantities of radioactive contamination went into the atmosphere and spread over much of Western Russia and Europe. Nearby villages, as well as a 30 kms zone around the damaged plant, had to be evacuated as radiation levels reached lethal levels. Two workers died as a result of the initial explosion, and 28 firemen and emergency clean-up workers lost their lives as a result of acute radiation syndrome (ARS) and a cardiac arrest in the three months that followed the disaster.


Thirty years have passed since the accident and life has not returned to normal in the disaster-affected area. The levels of radiation remain high in the surroundings of the nuclear plant, though life does seem to be slowly recovering. There are very few people still living in the villages near the Chernobyl nuclear site. Much of the land is gradually being turned into farmers fields. The flora and fauna is present and alive and a farm is operating 37 kms away from the reactor site. The farm is located near a radiation ecology reserve and has more than 260 horses and 55 cows being raised for sale there. Workers of the reserve claim that during all activities, the content of radionuclides is monitored.