25 years ago on April 26, 1986, the lives of millions of people were forever changed by the explosion that took place in reactor #4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The radiation from this explosion carried across Europe. Over 400,000 people were evacuated from their homes, many of them never able to return. A new article in the March 2011 edition of Outside, entitled Chernobyl, My Primeval, Teeming, Irradiated Eden described the events thusly:
IT WAS SOON AFTER 1 A.M. on the night of April 26, 1986, that one of the world’s nightmare scenarios unfolded. Reactor 4 in the huge Chernobyl power station blew up. The causes are still the subject of debate, but it was some combination of a design flaw involving the control rods that regulate reactor power levels, a poorly trained engineering crew, a test that required a power-down of the reactor, and a dogged old-style Soviet boss who refused to believe anything major could be wrong. At any rate, it was spectacular. Eight-hundred-pound cubes of lead were tossed around like popcorn. The 1,000-ton sealing cap was blown clear off the reactor. A stream of raspberry-colored light shone up into the night sky—ionized air, so beautiful that inhabitants of the nearby city of Pripyat came out to stare. When it was all over, estimates former deputy chief engineer Grigori Medvedev, the radioactive release was ten times that of Hiroshima.
The exhibit at the Ukrainian National Museum will open this Friday, April 8th at 7 pm and will continue through May 15, 2011. The exhibit will highlight the issues that still face those who live and work in the contaminated areas, as well as the millions outside the exclusion zone (now some 1,660 square miles) who have been affected by the disaster, and serve as a reminder of the terrible events that occurred at Chernobyl.
The Ukrainian National Museum
2249 West Superior Street
Chicago IL 60622
Hours: Thursday through Sunday, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
Admission: Adults $5.00, Children under 12 – Free.