Published on Jun 25, 2012
National Geographic photographer Gerd Ludwig's presentation at the SHOTS & WORKS projection at the 2012 LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Learn more about the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster on the iPad App, The Long Shadow of Chernobyl, now available on the iTunes App Store: http://itunes.apple.com/app/the-long-...
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About the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster:
The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant sits inside a fenced area known as the Exclusion Zone. Radioactive remnants of the failed reactor continue to smolder inside the so-called sarcophagus, a concrete and steel encasement hastily erected after the accident. Leaky and structurally unsound, it now threatens to collapse, shaking loose enough radiation to cause a second disaster of similar magnitude. Work has already started on a new encasement, which will slide over the existing sarcophagus to seal in the remaining nuclear fuel. In the mean time desperate efforts are underway to shore up the sarcophagus to protect it from collapsing.
In the 1970's the town of Pripyat, only 2 miles away from the reactor, was constructed for the plant's personnel. Its 50,000 inhabitants were evacuated 36 hours after the accident. Today a chilling ghost town, its buildings still bear witness to that hasty departure. While nature is rebounding, the town is unfit for human habitation for hundreds of years to come.
Ignoring radiation levels, hundreds of elderly people have returned to their village homes inside the Exclusion Zone, preferring to die on their own contaminated soil instead of from a broken heart in anonymous city suburbs. 70% of the fallout drifted into Belarus contaminating nearly a quarter of that country. Here mobile medical units are still reporting severe thyroid anomalies.
An earlier report by the United Nations estimated that 4,000 people will eventually succumb to cancer-related illnesses as the result of the accident. However, major environmental organizations state that more than 100,000 people have already died as a consequence of the disaster. No matter the official toll, and in light of a worldwide effort to paint nuclear energy as green energy, it is important that we remember the Chernobyl accident as a possible outcome of nuclear power.