The Chernobyl disaster, also referred to as the Chernobyl accident or simply Chernobyl, was a catastrophic nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the city of Pripyat, then located in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union (USSR). An explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, which spread over much of the western USSR and Europe. The Chernobyl disaster was the worst nuclear power plant accident in history in terms of cost and casualties.
It is one of only two classified as a level 7 event, the maximum classification, on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011. The struggle to contain the contamination and avert a greater catastrophe ultimately involved over 500,000 workers and cost an estimated 18 billion rubles. During the accident itself, 31 people died, and long-term effects such as cancers are still being investigated, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Health Organization. The Ukraine government evacuated some 135,000 people from the area and the 19-mile exclusion zone around the plant will remain uninhabitable for decades.
In the months after the Chernobyl disaster, a sarcophagus was built to cover Reactor 4 and contain the radioactive material. Construction of the NSC, in the shadow of Reactor 4, started in late 2010 and is expected to be finished in late 2017. The NSC will rise 360 feet into the air and will be tall enough to house the Statue of Liberty. It will be over 540 feet long, have a span of 850 feet and a lifetime of at least 100 years. The entire structure will weigh more than 30,000 tons, according to the EBRD. Thirty years later, the town it devastated remains largely abandoned.
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