The greatest nuclear disaster so far occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl power plant eighty miles north of Kiev in the Ukraine. Whilst carrying out tests on a reactor, it was allowed to fall beneath safety levels, creating a power surge that disintegrated its fuel rods.
An explosion occurred, causing some thirty fires and releasing a huge radioactive cloud that swept over the area, passed across Scandinavia and even reached Britain. Firefighters sacrificed their lives trying to contain the disaster and helicopters dropped thousands of tons of sand and chemicals to block the leak. Failure to evacuate the immediate area led to forty thousand people being exposed for six days. Today, the reactor is encased in concrete and 600,000 acres of topsoil has been buried. Eventual casualties from cancers and genetic defects could reach 250,000, spreading its effects through many generations.
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