Chernobyl Disaster 1986

The Chernobyl Disaster 1986 happened on the 26th of April that year. It is considered the worst nuclear reactor accident in history

Map showing the location of the site.

The site is located near the city of Pripyat in the North of the then Ukrainian SSR of the Soviet Union.


On the morning of 26 April, engineers started a safety test. Due to poor design and poor operating instructions, engineers set off a nuclear chain reaction without knowing it.

Number 4 reactor from the air

Reactor number 4 started a core meltdown and shutting off the process was now impossible. The reactor exploded and killed two technicians and wounded two more.

An open-air fire broke out afterward releasing large amounts of the radioactive contaminating material. The nuclear fallout reached parts of Western Europe and the USSR. More than 70% of the fallout landed in nearby Belarus. The fire at the plant continued to burn until 4 May 1986 when operations successfully put out the fire.

During the emergency response immediately afterward, 134 station staff and firemen got exposed to radiation and were hospitalized.

A 10-kilometer exclusion zone was established, and the nearby city of Pripyat with its 49,000 inhabitants had to be evacuated. Later the exclusion area was increased to a 30-kilometer radius, and an additional 68,000 people had to be evacuated.

Securing The Site

By December 1986 the USSR built a protective sarcophagus over the reactor. This enclosure also deteriorated and in 2017 additional enclosures were built over the reactor, allowing cleanup operations to continue. It is estimated that the cleanup of the site would be finished by 2065.

The death toll varies and includes direct and related deaths.

Pripyat Today

Criminal Trial

A trial took place from 7 to 30 July 1987. Five plant employees were sentenced to prison in labor camps.

How The News Broke

Television Series

In 2019 a television series was released by HBO called “Chernobyl”


Chernobyl disaster – Wikipedia