top of page

1986 - Chernobyl Nuclear Explosion


Title: 1986 - Chernobyl Nuclear Explosion


About: A reactor explosion at the nuclear power plant in Pripyat, Ukraine, caused the release of dangerous radiation and prompted a desperate scramble to contain the fallout.

The disaster was caused by a poorly designed experiment. Workers shut down the reactor’s power-regulating system and its emergency safety systems, and they withdrew most of the control rods from its core while allowing the reactor to continue running at 7 percent power. These mistakes were compounded by others, and in the middle of the night on April 26 the chain reaction in the core went out of control.


Several explosions triggered a large fireball and blew off the heavy steel and concrete lid of the reactor. This and the ensuing fire in the graphite reactor core released large amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere, where it was carried great distances by air currents. A partial meltdown of the core also occurred.


Firefighters arrived at the scene within minutes and began to fight the blaze without gear to protect them from radiation. Many of them would soon number among the 28 killed by acute radiation exposure. By the afternoon of April 26, the Soviet government had mobilized troops to help fight the blaze. Some were dropped at the rooftop of the reactor to furiously shovel debris off the facility and spray water on the exposed reactor to keep it cool. It would take nearly two weeks to extinguish all the fires.

It took days for Soviet leadership to inform the international community that a nuclear disaster had occurred. The damaged plant released a radioactive cloud that was deposited nearby as dust and debris, but also carried by wind over the Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and other parts of Europe.


Residents of Pripyat were evacuated a day after the disaster, and in an attempt to contain the fallout, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev dispatched hundreds of thousands of people, including firefighters, military reservists and miners, to the site to aid in clean-up. The corps worked steadily, often with inadequate protective gear, through 1989 to clear debris and contain the disaster.

Decade: 1980s

Year: 1986

Region: Europe

Country: Ukraine + USSR

Disaster: Man-made

Type: Historical Event

Impact: 7

Artist: Ianika Morana


Group: Genesis

Number: 86/100

Price: 0.7 ETH


bottom of page