SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Chernobyl. Aerial view of the remains of the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the Ukraine (formerly part of the USSR) after the accident which occurred on 25th April 1986. It happened during a low-power experiment with the No.4 RBMK- type reactor. The core overheated and caused a steam explosion which breached its containment building. The RBMK design did not include a secondary containment structure which would have prevented release of the core's contents. Over a billion billion becquerels of radioactive nuclides were released into the atmosphere, contaminating much of northern Europe. The 3 other RBMK units at Chernobyl were returned to power within the year.
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