What went wrong
During a routine test on April 26, 1986, reactor number 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant experienced a power surge that triggered an emergency shutdown. The attempt to manage the surge in power and the alarming increase in the core’s temperature caused an even larger power surge. Heat and power output continued to rise until the water used to cool the reactor vaporized, generating massive amounts of pressure. The first explosion caused by the steam inside the reactor was enough to send the 4-million-pound lid of the reactor assembly through the roof of the building. A second, even more massive explosion followed shortly after, belching broken core material into the air, spreading radioactive detritus and blanketing the nearby towns with a lethal dose of radiation. With a glowing heart no longer protected by tons of steel and concrete, the core could no longer be cooled and began to melt. When we say that a nuclear reactor “melts down” it’s no exaggeration . The radioactive materials get hotter and hotter, until they literally melt, turning into something a lot like lava. Oozing through pipes and eating through concrete, the radioactive lava flow eventually cooled enough to solidify. The result was a large black mass that would later be dubbed the Elephant’s Foot. according to readings taken at the time, the still hot portion of molten core put out enough radiation to give a lethal dose in 300 seconds. Rendering the Elephant’s Foot as the most dangerous piece of waste in the world.
Quickly after the meltdown nearly 600,000 workers descended on the site to help contain the escaping radiation. Knowingly or not, many of these workers were making the greatest sacrifice. More than 30 of t...
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...itude higher than the normal background radioactivity. It was clear that these fungi were not only spared damage from the radiation, but were somehow using it to their advantage.
No one has returned to Pripyat, except for scientists and journalists and maybe the occasional photographer. Nearly everything in the town was simply left and remained untouched ever since. The Elephant’s Foot continues to melt into the base of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. It’s sarcophagus has since deteriorated and crumbled threatening to re-expose the surrounding areas. Life prevails. The dead, contaminated Red Forest created by the radiation flourishes. Rare and endangered animals have taken refuge in abandoned ruins shrouded in thick green growth. Mushrooms are happily feasting on radiation. A decayed time capsule, perfectly preserved in natural disintegration.
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