Chernobyl is a town in Ukraine which is widely known for the infamous Chernobyl Disaster. The Chernobyl disaster was a massive nuclear accident that occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine on 26th April 1986. The Chernobyl Disaster was characterized by a massive explosion of fire which released large quantities of radioactive substances into the atmosphere which spread over large areas of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and parts of Europe. In the disaster, 31 people died immediately and after a short while but thousands of other people have been affected by cancers, deformities and other long-term effects of the exposure to nuclear radiation. This disaster has political, social, cultural and economic significance in history because it is the worst of its kind and has set trends for safety in nuclear science and technology.
The City of Chernobyl is quite significant to the Chernobyl Disaster and issues about. Prior to the disaster Chernobyl and the town of Pripyat had a population of 14,000 but after the disaster all the people were evacuated. Today, the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant, the city and a big portion of the area sits inside a fenced zone called the Exclusion Zone.
The events surrounding the Chernobyl Disaster would not have been different if the accident occurred elsewhere. Numerous investigations into the disaster have proved that the incident was a pure accident which would occur in any nuclear plant in the world. The accident started during a systems test when there was a sudden power surge. When emergency shutdown was sought, a large power surge and a series of actions led to the ignition of the graphite reaction. The actions taken after the disaster have also gained massive support from different organizations and countries.
The culture of Chernobyl was severely affected by the Chernobyl Disaster. Prior to the disaster, the area was a cultural center. The city of Pripyat which was built in 1970 to house worker at the Nuclear Plant in Chernobyl was evacuated causing disruption of the way of life of its former inhabitants. The declaration of the area as an Exclusion Zone for 300 years caused more than 14,000 people to change their associations, ways of life and social activities that they had been used to while residing in Chernobyl area.
Influence on politics, beliefs, and economics
The USSR and Europe had political tensions because of ideological differences. The USSR was of the view that it could win a war against Europe. However, after the disaster the USSR realized that ground wars could lead to nuclear disasters if nuclear power plants were targeted. The Chernobyl Disaster also propelled the Soviet political leader, Mikhail Gorbachev to bargain for conventional treaties and negotiate for medium-range nuclear safety interventions in Europe. Politically the USSR and Europe were alarmed that their long-standing political tensions could escalate to nuclear attacks.
The Chernobyl Disaster changed people’s perceptions and beliefs towards nuclear power plants. Nuclear power was believed to be a safe, secure and cheap source of energy but the magnitude of the Chernobyl Disaster caused great panic among many people. The fact that the atmosphere of more than 27 countries caused many people to belief that they were in extreme danger of acquiring cancers and deformities. There are also estimates that more than 20,000 people have acquired cancers due to radiation from the disaster. This has caused untold fears in the lives of many people living in areas affected by the radiation. There are numerous radiation and medical tests to ascertain contamination status. Many people are also of the belief that they can never visit the site which is not true. People tour the site but view the ruins from strategic positions. Many people across the world also fear to work in Nuclear Power plants and the recent Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster have caused further belief that working in a nuclear power plant is dangerous.
Socially there have been numerous adverse effects miles away from Chernobyl. The Sami people living in Sweden and Norway were used to a comfortable hunting culture. However after the disaster their social life was disrupted. Families were broken as they moved to new places in search of food and water since their source of supply for these two vital commodities were contaminated. There were massive economic and social losses on the 14,000 community that previously lived in Pripyat and Chernobyl. The people had to move to start new lifestyles with new schools, religious gatherings, economic activities, social outings among other issues.
The Chernobyl Disaster had effects on the politics, beliefs and economics of Ukraine, the USSR, Europe and other parts of the world. Economically the area has suffered massive losses due to the loss of revenue that was being relied upon by the country and the local people working at the plant. The Ukrainian government with support from the international community has used more than $10billion in handling the disaster. Today the Exclusion Zone has become attracts people who want to view of study the area and this has uplifted the economic lives of some people. SoloEast Tours Travel is a private form that charges $140-$160 to take people to sites such as the Red Forest and Pripyat.
The Chernobyl Disaster has affected and has also been affected by globalization. When it occurred, the Disaster was the worst of its kind. It caused massive tensions between the communist USSR and the Capitalistic Western countries in Europe. Countries in Europe came together and signed treaties to improve the safety of nuclear technology. The collaborations increased interactions between countries an opened up Europe for globalization through increased trade in the region. The USSR collapsed some few years later and this widened globalization. Countries as far as US and Japan also came up with structures such as the International Nuclear Event Scale which is used to establish levels of nuclear radiation in the atmosphere. The fact that countries with nuclear power plants came together expanded globalization after the initial blame games.
A lot has changed since the Chernobyl Disaster. The area is currently an Exclusion Zone. The radio-active remnants of the failed reactor can still be found in a 24-storey concrete and steel structure which was erected after the accident to prevent further radioactivity. There have been claims that the structure is now weak and can collapse causing a second disaster and as a result, renovations amounting to $2 billion dollars have been started. The town of Pripyat is currently in ruins and dozens of houses in the area are now suffocating in thick overgrowth. Ukraine and other countries that have nuclear power plants have come up with several measures to prevent further disasters. In spite of massive efforts to prevent similar incidents, there was nuclear incident in Japan at the Fukushima Daaichi Nuclear Plant in 2011 which was caused by the Tohoku earthquake. In order to prevent adverse effects of nuclear damage, soil, milk, grass and other things near nuclear have to be tested for contamination. The Chernobyl Disaster taught the world on how to handle both the long and long-term effects of nuclear accidents.
The Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster of 1986 has had profound effects politically, socially, culturally and economically. Politically, the ideological and political differences between USSR and Europe (which was also affected by the disaster) caused some blame games but eventually Mikhail Gorbachev and other leaders initiated treaties to prevent future accidents. Socially and culturally, more than 14,000 people who inhabited the town of Pripyat were moved and this disrupted them. Economically, more than $10 billion people have been used in rehabilitation of the losses and preventing future disasters. This disaster has set new trends in the reaction to nuclear disaster and improving safety in nuclear technology.
Dowswell, Paul. The Chernobyl disaster, April 26, 1986. Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 2004.
Fabrikant, J. I. "The Chernobyl Disaster: An International Perspective."Organization & Environment 1, no. 4 (1987): 2-12.
Haynes, Viktor, and Marko Bojcun. The Chernobyl disaster. London: Hogarth Press, 1988.