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On April 26, 1986, the largest nuclear accident in the history of mankind took place at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukrainian SSR. More than 115 thousand people had to be evicted from the 30-kilometer zone.
The cloud from the burning reactor spread radioactive substances across Europe, with Russia, Belarus and Ukraine hitting the hardest. From the very beginning, the Soviet authorities concealed the truth about the accident, which only exacerbated the consequences. People did not realize all the consequences of the disaster, putting their lives at risk.
Even today, the problem of Chernobyl has not been completely solved - although the station was completely closed, a concrete sarcophagus is being erected around it. And the area around the nuclear power plant remains deserted. The disaster itself and its consequences were initially hushed up, which served as the basis for the emergence of numerous myths. Even today, there are many misconceptions about the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and what is happening around the facility.
The accident was arranged by external forces on purpose, with the aim of destroying the Soviet Union. The version that the accident was a diversion appeared rather quickly. Even today, this theory has its admirers. Soon the Soviet Union collapsed, there are those who compare these two facts and even directly call the customer of the disaster - the United States. But both representatives of the special services and simply experts reject this version. The KGB and SBU carefully studied all sources of information and unequivocally rejected the idea of sabotage.
The accident happened due to the human factor. It is easy to blame the station management and staff. The director of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Viktor Bryukhanov, was even sentenced to 10 years in prison for his mistakes in work that led to the accident. But after years of investigations, experts, including foreign ones, came to the conclusion that the reason was the very design of the reactor. Problem areas were not properly reflected in the design and operational documentation. The staff were not able to take these factors into account. In one of its reports, the IAEA named the general low level of safety in the country's nuclear power industry as the cause of the disaster. Similar problems with the reactor happened in 1975 at the Leningrad nuclear power plant, but then a large-scale release of radioactive substances was avoided.
The Chernobyl accident is the largest man-made disaster in the history of mankind. This statement can be considered partially true. In terms of other accidents at nuclear power plants, the events at Fukushima in 2011 can only be compared with Chernobyl. They were also assigned the highest seventh level on the INES nuclear event scale. But then the emissions were incomparably less than in Chernobyl. If in Japan the maximum radiation was 100 mSv / h, then the Chernobyl reactor gave 120 million mSv / h. But 320 thousand people were evacuated from the areas closest to Fukushima, while in Chernobyl there were 2-3 times less displaced persons. If we talk about the number of victims, then the Bhopal tragedy in India in 1984 is considered the largest. Then, due to an accident at a pesticide plant, 42 tons of toxic fumes were released into the air. Immediately 3 thousand people died, another 15 thousand died over the next year due to the effects of chemistry on the body. In total, from 150 to 600 thousand people suffered from that disaster. But at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the accident took the life of one person, the second died on the same day from wounds. But over the following years, from 50 to 80 people died from the effects of radiation.
In the Red Forest near Chernobyl, gray-haired mutant pines have appeared. The red forest is the forest area that is directly adjacent to the station. It was here that the largest share of radioactive substances fell out. The radiation killed the trees and turned them brownish red. Modern photographs of the forest show that the pines are not high there, and the needles grow in different directions and are generally white. But the shortness of trees is understandable. The top of the pine tree, where cells divide, is an excellent target for radiation. The crown quickly dies. Nature realized this and began to activate the branches, turning the tree into a bush. This is the reason for the short stature. The radiation destroyed the chlorophyll, making the needles yellow. And the continuation of this process turned them generally white. The chaotic growth of needles is also understandable and caused by external factors. The seeds of such pines are quite capable of producing ordinary trees, without any mutations. Similar "brooms" on the pines can be seen along the tracks, where the location is dictated not by radiation, but by exhaust gases.
Two-headed monster animals appeared near Chernobyl. And although scientists are constantly debunking this myth, popular rumor does not stop. Biologists have been carefully studying the animals living in the Zone for three decades. Experts even held in their hands mice from the contaminated soil of the Red Forest. All creatures were quite ordinary, freaks and mutants were not seen. In animals, diseases of the blood and tissues are natural for such a situation, but outwardly they do not differ from their fellows. It is likely that mutants are indeed born, but health problems prevent them from living long. Human fear of the Chernobyl mutants is understandable. However, the term itself sounds scarier than it actually is. Almost all of our fruits and vegetables are mutants, like domestic dogs. After all, selection is the purposeful use of mutations. Changes are natural for nature, radiation simply accelerates them.
The Wildlife Exclusion Zone is a true paradise. It is believed that in uninhabited places, animals began to multiply rapidly; here wolves, wild boars, and bears presented in the Red Book appeared. And they even began to organize raids on neighboring areas, "spreading" radiation. This myth is popular, but it is not true. In the southern part of the Zone, the presence of a person is very noticeable. There are industrial facilities in addition to nuclear power plants. There is constant traffic on the roads, deforestation is taking place. For the lynx and the black stork, this "neighborhood" is bad. The northern lands of Ukraine bordering on Belarus can be called wild places. But it is too early for them to talk about the mass breeding of animals. They lived here before, and without people, their population just grew. The exception can be considered bears, which appeared in the local forests after a hundred years of absence. It is impossible to talk about a huge number of wild predators. There are about the same number of wolves in the Zone as they were 30 years ago. This is about 60 individuals, there is no need to talk about hundreds and thousands. And the region itself is not considered a "wolf", there are more massive populations in Ukraine. There are no particular reasons for the raids either, there is enough food for them. But the animals from the Zone come out really "dirty". The meat of migrated animals can have many times overshadowed radiation indicators. It even got to the point that infected birds were found in Africa, where they flew for the winter.
It is better not to pick mushrooms near the Zone. There is an opinion that mushrooms accumulate radiation, so picking them near Chernobyl is unsafe. It really is. Radiation is best absorbed by boletus, mushrooms, Polish mushroom. It is better not to pick these mushrooms in Polesie, as well as "safe" mushrooms. On the outskirts of the northern roads are vendors with buckets of mushrooms. They do not allow specialists with dosimeters to approach them, because the devices record the excess of the permissible radiation level several times. Earlier, a conditional line was drawn at the level of Kiev to which it was not recommended to pick mushrooms. Now it has shifted, but it is not clear how much. However, it is much more dangerous to consume contaminated milk. There are many villages in the Rivne region that are located in the contaminated area. There, the cesium content in milk is clearly above the norm. In general, there are few products left in the country that would contain traces of radioactive substances. Time helps nature to cleanse itself.
A forest is set on fire in the Zone. Fires destroy dozens of hectares of forest per year. But there is no evidence of arson. The myth appeared thanks to self-settlers, who see this as an attempt to smoke them from their inhabited places. It seems that someone wants to narrow the Zone and build up empty lands. Environmentalists believe that the forest may be deliberately set on fire to hide the traces of felling. Local residents confirm the fact of illegal timber extraction. The commission, on the other hand, draws up an act on the trees destroyed by the fire, doing postscripts. The case has already reached the court. But the police never identified arson as the cause of the forest fire.
The Chernobyl forest is taken out to furniture factories. The forest here is really cut down, however, the foresters - on completely legal grounds. But ecologists are sounding the alarm, claiming that uncontrolled destruction of forests is being carried out under the sanitary felling. It is unclear how "dirty" the trees remain. The control authorities assure that the material fully complies with all standards, but stalkers claim that the round timber is fonite, exceeding the norm by 2-3 times. Timber sellers admit that there is a "dirty" tree on the market, but where it comes from is not clear. And although environmentalists argue that the Chernobyl tree can go into industrial production, contaminated furniture has not been found anywhere.
A secret object has been created near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant that allows you to control thoughts. The object called "Chernobyl-2" attracts attention with huge antennas and a military town next to it. They are not marked on any maps. The inhabitants drew attention to this top-secret construction after the accident at the station. So a rumor appeared that a psychotronic weapon was being tested here. According to another version, the United States struck at Chernobyl, but not at the nuclear power plant, but at a secret facility. Recently, there was a new rumor that Chernobyl-2 is now under the jurisdiction of the CIA, and with the activation of the station in Ukraine, there are mass riots. In fact, this object is the over-the-horizon Duga-1 radar. This advanced development of the domestic defense complex was intended for the early detection of the launch of ballistic missiles. The station covered the entire planet with its signal, and its presence near the nuclear power plant was simply explained by the increased consumption of electricity.
A repository for storing radioactive waste will be built in Chernobyl. There are fears that waste will be brought here from all over the world. This myth appeared as a result of the construction of a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel ISF-2 at Chernobyl. However, the facility is primarily intended for waste from Ukrainian nuclear power plants, which are now being exported to Russia. The country's laws explicitly prohibit the import of nuclear waste from abroad. And there are enough such burial grounds in the world. In theory, the services of a storage facility in France and America could be needed, but their waste volumes are small. And the very fact of transporting radioactive substances across Europe will immediately cause massive protests. It is much easier to store waste in your country. And international conventions on the safety of handling nuclear fuel and radioactive waste provide for the storage of spent fuel on the territory of the state itself.
The Shelter-2 facility will help protect Ukraine and the whole world from the radiation of the fourth power unit. Chernobyl workers say that the new concrete sarcophagus will allow not so much to hide from 216 tons of radioactive waste, but to protect them from the effects of the environment: wind, rain, frost. They can violate the previous protection, which will lead to dire consequences. Shelter-2 is planned to be launched in November 2017. A constant level of humidity will be maintained inside the facility. Under the dome, robots will begin to dismantle the old sarcophagus and the ruins of the power unit for subsequent removal for storage to another location, also sufficiently protected. Shelter-2 has a design life of 100 years.
The Chernobyl disaster will affect the generation of Ukrainians who will now be born with genetic mutations. This myth became popular in the first years after the explosion at the station. Then even thousands of women had abortions, fearing the birth of freaks. It turned out that such statements even help collect donor money for various events. But scientists argue that they have not been able to find any real genetic changes in humans. In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, people received a much larger dose of radiation in a split second, but their descendants did not develop any deviations.
You can save yourself from radiation with red wine and bacon. In this case, lard has absolutely nothing to do with it, but alcohol really helps. In the moments of the most intense radioactive fallout, according to doctors, there was nothing better than a glass of vodka. Alcohol is known to reduce oxygen tension in tissues and muscles. Under conditions of external irradiation, this prevents the formation of toxic radicals. It was originally recommended to take red wine. But it's already been 30 years! Today it is worth talking not about radiation, but about the treatment of the consequences of probable radiation. And here neither vodka nor wine will help. The thyroid gland is the first to be hit. The children who received the radiation passed on the insufficiency of the functions of this organ to their children. You can compensate for the functionality with normal nutrition. Food should contain enough protein, dairy products will be healthy. We must not forget about the use of seafood, the more they are more accessible to us today than 30 years ago. We are talking about squid, shrimp, red fish or just seaweed, sprat, sprat. Such food will help a person who has received a dose of radiation. But it is undesirable to be treated with chemical synthesized drugs.
Radiation has affected millions of people who are now forced to take iodine. More than 200 isotopes were released from the reactor. The most toxic of them are cesium (half-life of 30 years), strontium (it fell ten times less), iodine. But the latter broke up by August 1986. The iodine deficiency caused by radiation is not required to be replenished by anyone. The fight against iodine deficiency can take on distorted features. So, in Belarus, for 10 years after the disaster, they took only iodized salt. A massive increase in the thyroid gland in the population was avoided. But at the same time, the number of patients with hyperthyroidism has quadrupled. This hormonal disorder occurs when the thyroid gland begins to produce more hormones than is required. Most of the territory of western and northern Ukraine initially has little iodine in water and land. There, the use of iodized salt is justified. But it is better to reduce the deficit with the help of all the same seafood. It should also be understood that organisms have already adapted to the lack of iodine, it is not worth equal to the average norms. In other regions of Ukraine, in the same south, there was always enough iodine. And its abuse is treated even worse than a deficiency. So the use of iodized salt in food should be approached wisely.
There are only a few dozen self-settlers in the Chernobyl zone. The myth about the desertion of the Exclusion Zone is quite popular. But this is not true. In the city of Chernobyl alone, about three thousand people live. These are rescuers, foresters, builders, station employees. Of course, it is wrong to call them permanent residents. They work here on a rotational basis, constantly leaving for rest home. And the self-settlers in the Zone, according to official data, are 167 people. This figure is not constant; it can increase by 2-3 times depending on the season.Someone comes on weekends, on memorial days to their homeland. Then even queues can line up at checkpoints. Chernobyl is also quite popular with extreme tourists. Tours are sold here that even involve an overnight stay. On weekends, several buses pass through the checkpoint to the Zone. And there are also stalkers who illegally visit the Zone. The number of such trips can reach thousands per year.
The 30-kilometer zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant will soon be reduced to a 10 kilometer radius. There are no such plans yet. The authorities believe that it is no longer possible to return the territory for human habitation. But there is talk of changing the concept of the Zone. They want to allocate a 10-kilometer part for industrial use. There will be underground storage facilities for radioactive waste, alternative energy facilities. And the 30-kilometer zone will turn into a biosphere reserve. And scientists see no reason to reduce the 30-kilometer radius of the Zone. There are places where radiation levels change from safe to alarming at a distance of meters. It is impossible to live there. People will have to constantly face numerous prohibitions and restrictions.
It will take a thousand years for the Zone to self-purify from radiation. It will take 24 thousand years for nature in the 10-kilometer Zone to be completely cleared of radiation. But the 30-kilometer Zone is already safe. Most of the emitted radionuclides decayed in a matter of months and are no longer dangerous. But plutonium will remain active for a long time. It is the isotope of plutonium-239 that contaminated a 10-kilometer territory. Its half-life is exactly 24 thousand years. Plutonium-240 has a slightly shorter period - 6500 years. That is, people will not be able to live there for a very long time. But the 30-kilometer one is of little use for life for other reasons - the entire infrastructure has been destroyed there.
Chernobyl radiation kills all life around. It is believed that only cockroaches can survive radiation. They are truly tenacious creatures. The Chernobyl NPP employees tell how cockroaches even crawled on nuclear fuel. But in conditions of high radiation, not only these insects are able to survive. There is life even in the most dangerous and polluted places of the Zone. Birds nest right near the reactor, bats are found in the industrial premises of the dead station. Both predators and rodents live in the Red Forest. But the situation is not unique to Chernobyl. On the same Novaya Zemlya, where nuclear bombs are being tested, after a while lichens appeared, partridges began to hatch their eggs. The radiation factor is destructive for living beings. They age prematurely, get sick and die. But both animals and humans have a margin of safety to survive even in such conditions.
Almost all the metal from the Zone has been stolen by looters. Today, tractors, tanks, helicopters and all the special equipment that participated in the liquidation of the accident cannot be found in the burial grounds of special equipment. They say that soon the antennas of "Chernobyl-2" will be disposed of. But part of the scrap was taken out and officially cut. The metal was decontaminated and sold at an auction for smelting under the government program. But looters are also active here. It even comes to the point that tractors uproot the gas pipeline from the ground.
Huge mutant catfish appeared in Chernobyl. On the Internet, you can find videos of huge fish living in the station's cooling pond. The videos are accompanied by comments on the effect of radiation on the size of catfish. However, the legendary catfish Borya has long been caught and eaten. And its weight is not at all unique - only 50 kilograms. In other reservoirs of Ukraine, monsters live under a hundredweight. More terrible than mutants are poachers who uncontrollably catch fish here. 6-7 years ago, heavy metals were found in predators, but now the situation has changed. Local rivers are self-cleaning, radiation gradually migrates downward. A thick one and a half meter layer of silt serves as a protective screen. Biologists still say that about 20% of the fish in Pripyat have an increased level of pollution. In the lakes of the Zone itself, the level of radiation exceeds the norm by thousands of times. But still, there is no need to talk about monsters.
A nuclear explosion took place at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which claimed the lives of thousands of people. The explosion at the station did happen, but not a nuclear one. There was no trace of the characteristic mushroom cloud. The structures of the reactor burst under steam pressure, and then a mixture of air and hydrogen exploded. Immediately at the time of the explosion, only the pump operator Valery Khodemchuk was killed. His body was never found. On the same day, commissioning engineer Vladimir Shashenok died from wounds and burns in the hospital. Another 29 station employees, military and firefighters can be considered as direct victims. They died from radiation sickness within a few months. As for the rest of the deaths of liquidators over the next 30 years, there is no evidence that they happened precisely because of the radiation. But there is information from scientists that liquidators die from cancer four times more often than the ordinary population of the affected countries.
Due to the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, an increase in cancer was noted in the surrounding areas. The statistics that experts use to create such a myth is very conditional and depends on what point of view will be proven. The discrepancy in numbers can be startling. According to some reports, the radiation caused directly 200 cases of thyroid cancer with a single fatal outcome, and according to others - at least a million victims. It is impossible to reveal the dynamics for other types of oncology, proving the impact of the accident. The Chernobyl problem attracted so much money and grants that research was often tailored to meet the expectations of the sponsors. You can take a certain form of cancer as a basis and see that in 1988 the number of diseases doubled in relation to 1986. But in 1984 the number was three times more than in that same 1986. This is already impossible to explain by the accident. Scientists, including WHO representatives, believe that stress and the very fear of radiation itself have a much greater impact on people's health. The main effects, apart from thyroid cancer, are psychogenic. People changed their home, place of work, social circle. During this period, the country began to collapse, a lot of new things appeared, to which they had to adapt.
The closer to the station, the more polluted the area. This statement seems logical. But today, cesium spots can be found on the very border of the Zone. And its limits are rather arbitrary. The wind carried radioactive substances non-uniformly. Dosimetrists talk about the concept of radioactive traces. There are three of them: South, West and North. But after the accident there were up to 10 such plumes. The background between them can be much less than inside the strip.
Ukraine suffered the most from the Chernobyl accident. In all fairness, it should be noted that Belarus has suffered the most. According to UN data, 70% of radioactive fallout fell on the territory of this republic. 20% of the country's territory is still polluted. It was necessary to withdraw 6 thousand square kilometers from agricultural use. lands, resettled more than one hundred thousand people. In Ukraine, 5% of the territory was infected, and 160 thousand people were resettled. The accident also seriously affected Russia. Precipitation fell on an area of 57 thousand square kilometers (0.6% of the entire territory of the country), where 2.7 million people lived. 200 thousand Russians took part in eliminating the consequences of accidents. The radiation spread throughout Europe. Finland, Sweden, Norway and Austria were hit hardest.
The fallout of radioactive rain over Moscow was avoided by deliberately causing it over Belarus. The Belarusian media published eyewitness accounts of the strange rain in the days immediately after the disaster. At first, the water fell black, and then yellow. Someone even saw planes in the sky, spraying multi-colored substances. They began to say that Moscow had decided to expose the Belarusians under attack by not letting in the "dirty" rain. Russian journalists found similar information. A military bomber as part of the "Cyclone" unit did indeed cause precipitation within a 30-kilometer zone for several weeks. However, scholars consider these stories distorted. There were indeed man-made rains, but for the sake of the showers not falling on the station itself and not washing out radioactive substances into the Pripyat, a tributary of the Dnieper.
The Chernobyl disaster will not happen again. In 2000, the station completely stopped its work, but four more similar facilities continue to operate in Ukraine. Any incident on them is viewed through the prism of the "second Chernobyl". The reports of scientists who consider major accidents at nuclear power plants inevitable are alarming. With a probability of 50%, in the coming decades, humanity should expect a new similar catastrophe. Swedish and Danish scientists even calculated that the second Chernobyl would happen in 27 years, and the second Fukushima in half a century. An accident can happen at any nuclear power plant. The same Fukushima is considered a natural disaster, but the superhigh tsunamis were not foreseen by the designers. Who will guarantee that abnormal cataclysms do not happen near another station? The experience of the Japanese accident shows that the lessons of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant did not go for the future.
The main heroes of the liquidation of the accident were firefighters. The merits of these brave people cannot be belittled, but at the same time one should not forget about the station employees themselves. They had to put out the fire not even on the roof, but inside the station. People deliberately took mortal risks by manually opening the valves of emergency cooling systems. It is no coincidence that 22 employees died due to the ultra-high doses received. In a similar situation in Fukushima, employees also tried to manually open the valves. But experts immediately refused to work when the dosimeters showed that the radiation standards were exceeded. It may well be that heroism would have helped to avoid a series of reactor explosions in Japan.
Stalkers are not afraid of radiation. There are legends that stalkers even glow at night. But this is not true, as well as the fact that for some reason these daredevils are not taken by radiation. The hobby has become fashionable relatively recently, about 10 years ago. None of the stalkers have any particular health problems yet. The hypothesis that immunity could develop to radiation did not work.
The zone does not accept all people. People who often come here regard the Zone as a living being. This is how the myth appeared that she might not accept someone. Stalkers no doubt believe it. They say that some people, even on the distant approaches, suddenly begin to feel bad, deciding to turn back. The zone can interfere with or help travelers. Some things suddenly get lost somewhere, but you can, on the contrary, inexplicably find a valuable object in the more often. Scientifically this belief, of course, cannot be confirmed or refuted.
The Chernobyl accident was predicted by the Strugatskys in the novel "Roadside Picnic" and in the script for the film "Stalker". The famous novel was written in 1972, and the film was released 6 years before the disaster. The coincidences with reality are truly amazing. For example, in the film, the Zone appeared due to an accident in the Fourth Bunker. Strugatsky himself said that all coincidences with Chernobyl are not accidental. A zone can be any area where terrible events took place, where people left. The human consciousness endows such places with fantastic miracles and unusual phenomena.