25 years later, the Chernobyl disaster is being revisited. The worst nuclear disaster in history seriously affected parts of the Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. During the time it occurred on April 26, 1986, the country was known as the USSR or Soviet Union.
This nuclear power plant experienced a meltdown of its reactor core No.4. Later, the meltdown produced a radioactive plume. Evacuations took place in a 18.5 mile radius of the power plant, with Belarus being the closest to Chernobyl. Now that area is called a “zone of alienation.”
All you can see nowadays are abandoned cars, tractors, buildings and homes. Trees and other shrubs are slowly taking over by covering up vehicles and dwellings. Workers in hazmat suits are still working everyday on building a concrete shield to replace the enormous sarcophagus from 1986. The sarcophagus contains the molten core. Now it is crumbling and could collapse at any time. There is a strong possibility of releasing another radioactive cloud.
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
After seven weeks, workers are still fighting to cool off a number of partially melted reactor cores. TEPCO, Tokyo Electric Power Company, released a finding on Sunday that high levels of radiation have been detected on the grounds at the Fukushima No. 1. The radiation levels in the air are extremely high around the No.1 and No.3 reactor buildings. This was due to the initial explosion that has spread the radioactive materials.
Currently, the air northwest of the No.3 reactor has radiation levels of 70 millisieverts per hour. It reached higher levels in the hundreds of millisieverts back in March after the Great East earthquake and tsunami. With all this accumulated radioactive iodine, Fukushima has reached level 7 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. This was the same assessment given in 1986 to Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster.
Comparing the Two Events
With Chernobyl and Fukushima experiencing a similar kind of nuclear disaster, it has affected local environments dramatically. Residents who still live around the fallout areas near Chernobyl have to get their food checked for radiation, in addition to medical check-ups two to three times a year. Farms from the Fukushima region, where radiation is still leaking from the power plant, are seeing their crops affected. As many as 350 people came to Tokyo recently to protest at TEPCO headquarters.
The farmers brought contaminated vegetables, milk and cows while yelling in unison at the heavily guarded building. Not only farmers, but other residents were asking for TEPCO to stop the contamination and radiation leakage. All these protesters want is compensation for their damaged crops and lives. The cows are getting thinner; some have already died. It may be just a matter of time before residents have to evacuate. In Chernobyl, it was one disaster, while Japan had an earthquake, tsunami and a nuclear fallout to deal with all at the same time.
Eben Harrell and James Marson, “Apocalpse Today: Visiting Chernobyl, 25 Years Later”, Time.com
“High radiation levels detected at Fukushima grounds a month after explosions”, Asahi.com
Andrew Littlejohn, “Chernobyl – 25 years on”, Swissinfo.ch
“Japan farmers rally against nuclear plant company”, My Sinchew.com