Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe by Serhii Plokhii
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Chernobyl 01: 23:40: The Incredible True Story of the World's Worst Nuclear by Andrew Leatherbarrow
A Chronicle of the Future / Voices from Chernobyl
By Svetlana Alexievich
- The Chernobyl Disaster: The History and Legacy of the World’s Worst Nuclear Meltdown
*Includes accounts from workers and residents
*Includes a bibliography for further reading
“The risk projections suggest that by now Chernobyl may have caused about 1000 cases of thyroid cancer and 4000 cases of other cancers in Europe, representing about 0.01% of all incident cancers since the accident. Models predict that by 2065 about 16,000 cases of thyroid cancer and 25,000 cases of other cancers may be expected due to radiation from the accident, whereas several hundred million cancer cases are expected from other causes.” – Findings in an article published in the International Journal of Cancer in 2006
Uranium is best known for the destructive power of the atom bombs, which ushered in the nuclear era at the end of World War II, but given the effectiveness of nuclear power, nuclear power plants were constructed around the developed world during the second half of the 20th century. While nuclear power plants were previously not an option and thus opened the door to new, more efficient, and more affordable forms of energy for domestic consumption, the use of nuclear energy understandably unnerved people living during the Cold War and amidst ongoing nuclear detonations. After all, the damage wrought on Hiroshima and Nagasaki made clear to everyone what nuclear energy was capable of inflicting, and the health problems encountered by people exposed to the radiation also demonstrated the horrific side effects that could come with the use of nuclear weapons or the inability to harness the technology properly.
The first major accident at a nuclear power plant took place at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979, which took nearly 15 years and $1 billion to fully clean up after that disaster, but Three Mile Island paled in comparison to Chernobyl, which to this day remains the most notorious nuclear accident in history. Located in the Ukraine, the Chernobyl power plant was undergoing experiments in the early morning hours of April 26, 1986 when it suffered a series of explosions in one of its nuclear reactors, killing over 30 people at the plant and spread radioactive fallout across a wide swath of the Soviet Union. Although the Soviets would try to cover up just how disastrous the accident at Chernobyl was, it was impossible to hide the full extent of the damage given that radioactive material was affecting Western Europe as well. All told, the accident caused an estimated $18 billion in damages, forced the evacuation of everybody nearby, and continues to produce adverse health effects that are still being felt in the region.
Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy