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15 Interesting Facts about Chernobyl

15 Interesting Facts about Chernobyl

What do you know about Chernobyl? Here are 15 interesting facts about Chernobyl that you probably didn’t know before reading this!

It was Sweden who notified the world of the nuclear disaster

On the morning of 28 April 1986, the alarm started at Forsmark in Sweden due to abnormal levels of radiation. At first, the staff worried that some accident had happened at Forsmark, but after performing a scan, they realized that something had happened in Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union.

This forced the Soviet Union to open up about the accident. It was seen as a huge failure and they tried to cover up as much as possible. It took 2 days before the world received the news of the Chernobyl accident. 

Evacuations were postponed as well, and several errors and miscalculations worsened the situation. 

The wildlife is thriving and outnumbers humans in the area

The area surrounding the reactor in Chernobyl is not habitable for humans, and won’t be for thousands of years. However, despite being uninhabitable for humans, animals are thriving. 

Due to the lack of humans, wildlife has taken over the area. The primary threat to animals is human settlement. Bears and Wolves outnumber people in the area, and the rare Przewalski’s horses are roaming freely in the forests. 

Wildlife in Chernobyl

Photo: Kate Siomkina/Shutterstock

Plants and animals in Chernobyl have mutated

Some might imagine animals with three heads or all kinds of abnormalities due to mutation from the radiation, but most animals actually look very similar to non-Chernobyl animals, although their DNA has been altered. 

Genetic mutations increased by a factor of 20, but there have only been a few oddities recorded when it comes to physical mutations.

There is a rare type of fungus that feeds on the radiation

The radiotrophic fungus is growing inside and around Chernobyl. There are three known types of melanin-containing fungi that use radiation to grow. It was first discovered in 1991, and further research was made at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

abandoned buildings in Chernobyl

Photo: Yulia Kravets/Shutterstock

Three men prevented a disastrous steam explosion

Three men, also known as “the suicide squad” did a heroic act that saved Europe from an explosion that could’ve made Europe uninhabitable for thousands of years.

There was a risk for a second explosion several days after the first explosion in reactor 4. These three men volunteered to dive into the contaminated pool of water to find the valves to drain out the water.

It was considered a suicide mission and almost impossible because they were forced to find the valves in complete darkness. But somehow they managed to complete the mission and even better, they survived as well. 

These three heroes are named Alexei Ananenko, Valeri Bespalov, and Boris Baranov. Two of them are still alive. 

5 x Shocking facts about Chernobyl and the nuclear disaster

  • Over 30.000 deaths have been attributed to the Chernobyl disaster by the WHO.
  • As many as 7 million people have been exposed to abnormal levels of radiation
  • The reactor still holds approximately 200 tons of radioactive materials
  • The Soviet tried to cover up the disaster and it took several days before nearby areas were evacuated
  • The Geiger counters at Chernobyl had a max reading level of 3.6, and the actual reading was 15.000 after the initial blast
shocking facts about Chernobyl

Photo: Roberts Vicups/Shutterstock

5 x Chernobyl Facts for Kids

  • The buildings in Pripyat have been left untouched since the evacuation
  • It will take thousands of years before the area of Chernobyl is inhabitable again
  • The Chernobyl explosion is believed to have been 400 times stronger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima
  • 335,000 people were evacuated and a zone around the reactor known as the “exclusion zone” was established
  • The accident happened on April 26 in 1986
Chernobyl facts for kids

Photo: ByBatman/Shutterstock

General facts about Chernobyl

Here’s some general information about the Chernobyl disaster as well as the nuclear power plant. 

  • Official name: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Nuclear Power Plant
  • Location: Ukraine, near Pripyat
  • Coordinates: 51°23′21″N 30°05′58″E
  • Number of reactors: 4
  • Reactor type: RBMK-1000
  • Thermal capacity: 12,800 MW
  • Date of accident: 26 April 1986
  • Type of accident: Nuclear and radiation accident
  • Deaths: 42 acute and delayed (several months)
  • Additional deaths: 30.000
General information about Chernobyl

Photo: Dimasid/Shutterstock

How many of these Chernobyl facts did you already know? Leave a comment below!