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30th Anniversary of Chernobyl Nuclear Accident Marked in Ukraine
   2016-04-26 15:31:48    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Li Bin

(Source: CCTVNEWS)

Ukraine's Pripyat city remains an isolated zone 30 years on from the world's worst nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

An explosion at the power plant on April 26, 1986, released more than eight tons of radioactive material which contaminated an area of over 60,000 square kilometers. The initial accident caused 31 deaths, while some 3.2 million people were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation.

A 30-kilometer radius was set up around the plant and was designated as an exclusion zone with ordinary citizens completely prohibited from entering after the disaster occurred.

The once lively Pripyat city is situated nearby the plant and used to house many of the nuclear workers and their families, but after its hasty evacuation following the catastrophe the city has remained eerily deserted ever since.

However, in 2011, the Ukrainian government opened a tourist route inside the forbidden zone. With parts of the region still containing dangerously high levels of toxic radiation, every tour group is led and supervised by a guide. Tourists are not allowed to deviate from the route and are warned not to touch anything and must tread carefully so as not to unsettle the dusty earth which contains high radiation on the ground.

Though the radiation levels have receded over the years, one guide named Alexander revealed that his Geiger counter still displays readings of around 1,000 roentgens in some areas, with a prolonged exposure to around 500 roentgen being potentially lethal to humans.

At present, some of the reactors in Chernobyl are still working under the maintenance of over 1,000 scientists and workers. Though due to the extreme radiation, strict measures are in place and staff cannot surpass more than five minutes exertion when out on site.

Chernobyl¡¯s No. 4 reactor which exploded 30 years ago was encased in a thick concrete¡®tomb¡¯ following the disaster, but now cracks appearing on this structure have again raised concerns. The Ukrainian government has pledged to build a new, stronger shield to prevent any nuclear fuel from escaping.

The President of the Ukrainian State Building Corporation, Mykytas Maksym Viktorovych, said they are already conducting preparatory work for the upgrade.

"The first step will be to make preparations. The second is to cover the reactor with the shield, and the third step is to take the nuclear fuel out and make sure the region becomes a safe area," said Viktorovych.

Candles and flowers left by people commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster lie at a memorial to 27 men and three women who died during or in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident on April 26, 2016 in Slavutych, Ukraine. On April 26, 1986 workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant inadvertantly caused a meltdown in reactor number four, causing it to explode and send a toxic cocktail of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere in the wrold's worst civilian nuclear incident. [Photo: CFP]

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