The world’s worst ever nuclear disaster took place at Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Pripyat, Ukraine back in 1986, and its effects are still being felt today. A 30-km (19-mile) exclusion zone is in place around the disaster site, which is still highly contaminated with the radiation released following the accident.
While not fit for human habitation, wildlife has made a remarkable comeback in the exclusion zone; there are said to be more than 60 different types of mammals living there including wild boar and elk. Wolves are doing especially well, with a population that is seven times the size of wolf populations in neighboring reserves.
Far from becoming the barren wasteland that many predicted after the catastrophic event the area has, in the absence of humans, become host to a great biodiversity. It really shows the power of nature to recover when left alone without us around to get in the way of things!
Proof of this can be seen in this fascinating list compiled by ThinkFree. Marvel at the way that grey concrete blocks are gradually giving way to greenery, as plants and trees slowly engulf the ruins of the former Soviet town. You can also meet some of the local wildlife celebrities, who are looking remarkably healthy considering the highly contaminated land around them.
So scroll down below to see Mother Nature majestically reclaiming her territory, and let us know what you think in the comments!
The accident at Chernobyl was caused by human error. According to Reuters, facility operators, in violation of safety regulations, had switched off important control systems at the plant’s reactor number four and allowed it to reach unstable, low-power conditions.
A power surge led to a series of blasts, at 1.24 a.m., which blew off the reactor’s heavy steel and concrete lid and sent a cloud of radioactive dust billowing across northern and western Europe, reaching as far as the eastern United States. The cloud of radioactive strontium, caesium and plutonium affected mainly Ukraine and neighboring Belarus, as well as parts of Russia and Europe.
The Chernobyl Forum, a group of eight U.N. agencies, and the governments of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, have estimated the death toll at only a few thousand as a result of the explosion.
U.N. agencies have said some 4,000 people will die in total because of radiation exposure.
However, the environmental group Greenpeace puts the eventual death toll far higher than official estimates, with up to 93,000 extra cancer deaths worldwide, while the Chernobyl Union of Ukraine, a non-government body, estimates the present death toll from the disaster at almost 734,000.