Chernobyl: A Decade Later

  • Share
  • Read Later
CHERNOBYL, Ukraine: People flocked to Chernobyl Friday to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the deadliest accident in the history of commercial atomic power. Ten years ago, an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine spewed lethal radiation killing at least 30 people and affecting thousands more across the then-Soviet Union and Europe. On April 26, 1986 the blast at unit no. 4 caused a nuclear meltdown, with blazes burning at temperatures of up to 5000 Fahrenheit, or twice that of molten steel. The reactor burned for two weeks slowly releasing dangerous radioactivity into the air. The radiation, carried by the wind, wound its lethal path across the Soviet Union's best farmland north toward Scandinavia. By week's end, an ominous pall of radiation had spread across Eastern Europe and toward the shores of the Mediterranean. The fallout caused an international uproar against the Soviet Union for its lax safety measures and its concealment of the fact that the dangerous radiation was floating toward neighboring countries. Ten years later, the site remains a contaminated mess. President Clinton and the other leaders of the G-7 last week renewed a pledge of $3.1 billion to help shut down the two nuclear reactors still functioning at the Chernobyl plant. But because the money is not immediately forthcoming, President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine told the group his country could not uphold its commitment.