“It’s certainly true that Chernobyl, while an accident in the sense that no one intentionally set it off, was also the deliberate product of a culture of cronyism, laziness, and a deep-seated indifference toward the general population.” – Svetlana Alexievich

A reactor at a nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, in what was the Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union, exploded on 26 April, 1986. It occurred during a late night safety test simulation in which a station blackout power-failure had happened, so safety systems were deliberately switched off. However, some steps didn’t go as expected and because of certain mistakes the explosion happened. According to a report carried out by the BBC, the explosion released at least 100 times more radiation’ than the atomic bombs detonated in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. It is one of only two nuclear energy accidents classified as a level 7 event (the maximum classification) on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011.

The seriousness of the event was not immediately recognised. Two individuals died on the day of the explosion, followed by an additional 29 deaths due to radiation in the weeks following the accident. The remains of the No.4 reactor building were enclosed in a large sarcophagus (radiation shield) by December 1986. However, to this day the long-term effects of the explosion in the form of cancers and physical and mental deformities resulting from radiation exposure are still being accounted for.