International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day is observed annually on April 26. It is a day that forever remembers the tragic day that The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, officially named the Vladimir Lenin Nuclear Power Plant, experienced a malfunction during a systems test. The malfunction led to the release of massive amounts of radioactive material into the surrounding environment. As a result, parts of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus were left unsafe, and a 30-kilometer radius around the plant — the exclusion zone — uninhabitable. April 26 is a day that forces us to remember what happened and consider the implications of nuclear energy and the risks involved.
History of International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day
Nuclear energy is a fairly recent achievement for the human race, it boasts a powerful array of unique benefits that make it an extremely desirable material from which we can draw power. However, with great power to transform the energy situation in the world, there are major risks that need to be considered too. Much of what we know about nuclear energy is related squarely to its destructive power and nuclear bombs. However, once the development and perfection of nuclear weaponry were well on their way, from about 1945 attention began to shift towards its uses in the energy field.
In 1951, on December 20, E.B.R.-I became the first nuclear power plant that could produce usable electricity through atomic fission. A minute power generator in comparison to the nuclear power plants we experience today, but the first of its kind. Nuclear energy, in the beginning, was not widely criticized, and awareness was limited, however in the 1970s and 1980s staunch opposition rose against the construction and spread of nuclear power plants.
Construction on the Vladimir Lenin Nuclear Power Plant ended in 1977. However, the entire build project was riddled with failures, defective building materials, and inadequate machinery to get the job done, correctly and on par with international safety standards. According to Prime Minister of the U.S.S.R. Nikolai Ryzhkov, the disaster was inevitable.
Although the immediate destructive force of a nuclear bomb far outweighs that of a nuclear plant meltdown, this is simply due to the controls in place that attempt to negate that power, however, the environmental impact that a compromised nuclear powerplant can have on its surroundings is destructive and almost irreversible.
Today is a day that we spread awareness about the potentially catastrophic danger that goes with Nuclear Power.
International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day timeline
The University of Chicago, under Nobel Prize winner Enrico Fermi, conducts the first recorded successful and controlled nuclear reaction.
German scientists discover the powerful release of energy through nuclear fission.
The Russian government cleans up the disaster and sets up an exclusion zone.
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima, Japan is hit by both an earthquake and tsunami, destabilizing the power supply and causing an environmental disaster as the reactors fail.
International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day FAQs
Is Chernobyl safe to visit?
Yes, probably, there are guided tours of Chernobyl. The Government of Ukraine opened the site to visitors, under specific controls, in 2011.
Are nuclear power plants safe?
Yes, just as a car is safe, many factors are considered and strict protocols are in place to manage the day-to-day running of a nuclear power plant, however, if things do go wrong, it is extremely unsafe.
Are there alternatives?
Definitely, and this is one of the main contributors to the debate, there are so many clean alternatives, solar, wind, and hydro just to name a few.
How to Observe International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day
As a global citizen, take some initiative and learn about the risks and benefits surrounding nuclear energy. It may benefit you.
Nuclear disasters leave behind long-lasting environmental damage. Help the process and donate to a worthy cause.
Locally, you can get involved in what your government is doing about sustainable, clean energy. Every voice matters.
5 Interesting Facts About Nuclear Energy
Chernobyl was only shut down in 2000
The last reactor was only shut down in 2000, for good.
We rely on it
More than 50% of America’s clean energy is produced by nuclear power.
It can be good for the environment
Nuclear energy is one of the cleanest sources of power, with a minimal carbon footprint.
It produces a lot of electricity
In the U.S., nuclear power plants produced 790 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2020, and for the first time, more electricity than coal fire power plants.
It doesn’t produce much waste
All the used nuclear fuel produced in the history of the U.S.A’s nuclear power system would only make it to the 10-yard line on a football field.
Why International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day is Important
It's an international concern and priority
Nuclear power is a part of society, and everyone living in a country with an established nuclear power system should be aware of the risks. Knowing the risks may save your life.
It stimulates a society that asks questions and demands accountability
When society simply accepts that governments are doing things, rather than interrogate the validity of their actions, we are all in trouble. This day is about asking why and demanding real answers.
Lest we forget
What happened in Chernobyl is not an isolated incident, there have been several high-profile nuclear powerplant failures. This day reminds us of how bad those failures can be.
International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day dates