There is no doubt that nuclear energy has transformed the way our civilizations operate in modern times, and like all other modes of technology, nuclear power also comes with enormous consequences when operational or design errors turn into a massive disaster. I normally write about ghostly phenomenon on the TCF blog, but today is for exploring the eerie and ghostly images of historical nuclear disaster sites. Some cities are still being used and some areas are completely and utterly abandoned.

 

Kyshtym Disaster, September 29th, 1957:

Post World War 2 the Soviet Union was in the race to catch up to America concerning technology and one of those areas was in nuclear power.  Hence the nuclear power plant Mayak was built in near the village of Ozyorsk with haste and this push would have dire consequences on September 29th, 1957 when the cooling system in one of the tanks failed and was not repaired.  As a result of this nuclear meltdown, it is “estimated 20 MCi (800 PBq) of radioactivity” (wikipedia.org) spread to the surrounding areas as far as hundreds of kilometers and contaminated the Techa River and Lake Karachay, plus dozens of villages in those areas.  This catastrophe was kept secret until 1989, with the CIA even aiding in keeping it under the lid.

The evacuation of over 10,000 people took up to 2 years to happen because of the need to cover up such a detrimental disaster.  There are no formal statistics on cancers that were caused by this nuclear explosion, but as the truth about Kyshtym came out over time, so did the stories of extreme effects. Skin falling off of certain victims bodies and diseases of unknown origins circulated and caused a hysteria amongst locals.  The town of Osyorsk is now currently considered safe to occupy, although other areas are strictly off limits.

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Chernobyl, April 26th, 1986:

With Chernobyl, probably one of the most infamous nuclear disasters, we have again a serious design flaw at the core of the disaster (no pun intended).  During a late night testing procedure, that’s intention was to simulate a power failure, a real failure did occur. The reactor had significant design flaws and the operators did not arrange the core according to proper procedures and the outcome was an escalation of conditions that went out of control.  The disaster was rated a 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale and the resulting damage had everlasting effects.

The initial incident had two deaths within the plant right away, 134 were hospitalized and within days and months, 28 firemen would die from acute radiation syndrome. Within 10 years 14 cancer-related deaths happened within this group that was immediately affected.  The spread of nuclear waste from Chernobyl was mostly due to a fire that burned in the reactor for over 9 days. The fallout from the plume of this fire spread to most of Western Russia and Europe causing health disaster for the populations.

The city of Pripyat, Ukraine, close to Chernobyl went about its business that day, unaware and not immediately evacuated from the explosion.  Within hours, however, the citizens became inexplicably sick and they were eventually evacuated.  The city is still abandoned to this day as levels of radiation in the area will not be inhabitable by humans for hundreds of years.  The results are a myriad of ghostly images that echo back to us the warnings of faulty nuclear operations.

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Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster, March 11th, 2011:

March 11th, 2011 an earthquake measuring 9.1 on the Richter scale hit the Tohoku coast of Japan that caused a massive tsunami, which in turn caused havoc at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Even though the reactors had auto shut down following the earthquake, it was the tsunami that disabled the emergency generators that provided power to the pumps that were supposed cool the reactors. A total meltdown would ensue.

Again this disaster had the same rating, a seven, as Chernobyl but the long-term effects on human health and the environment are still unknown and the fault was pointed towards Tokyo Electric Power Company not meeting basic safety requirements  for “risk assessment, preparing for containing collateral damage, and developing evacuation plans” (wikipedia.org).

Although there were no short-term fatalities directly linked to the disaster, it is estimated that about 36% of children in the Fukushima Prefecture have suffered from abnormal growths in their thyroid glands (wikipedia.org).  Most of the deaths are linked to the evacuation conditions, of the 300,000 people evacuated from the area, over 16,000 died due to temporary housing conditions and hospital closures. The attempt to construct a frozen barrier to stop the contamination from entering the soil has ultimately failed and melted and mixed with the radioactive material. In the 12-mile radius “no go” zone it is still unknown when people can ever go back and the town of Futaba is officially a nuclear ghost town.

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There have been various nuclear tests and disasters around the world since the inception of nuclear power, however, these three stand out amongst them all.  Even the United States had its own disaster with the Three Mile Island Accident in 1979, which, fortunately, they were able to contain, repair and clean up effectively.  These images are a reminder of the true horror when nuclear goes wrong due to human error, and it’s a story that is much more terrifying than any Spector I have read about!

 

Resources & Further Reading:

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_plant

http://nerdist.com/mammals-bounced-back-immediately-after-chernobyl-disaster/

http://www.longshadowofchernobyl.com/photos/the-abandoned-city-of-pripyat/

http://www.environmentandsociety.org/arcadia/nuclear-disaster-kyshtym-1957-and-politics-cold-war

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyshtym_disaster

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daiichi_nuclear_disaster

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daiichi_nuclear_disaster#T.C5.8Dhoku_earthquake

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_T%C5%8Dhoku_earthquake_and_tsunami

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futaba,_Fukushima

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