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A nearby woodland became known as the “Red Forest”, from the rust coloured needles dropping from the dead pine trees.It is still one of the most radioactive places on earth.Dozens of towns and villages were left crumbling and abandoned.The effect on the local environment was catastrophic.Thirty-one people died as an immediate result of the explosion or acute radiation sickness.Hundreds of thousands of people worked to decontaminate the area over the following months and years.A safety test went wrong, leading to an explosion that blew up part of reactor number 4, and a fire that burned for more than a week.
And second, the effects of the world’s worst nuclear disaster may be less damaging to the natural world than the continuing presence of people.
The total death toll is difficult to calculate, but the World Health Organisation estimates 4000 people will eventually die as a result of the accident, from cancers and radiation poisoning.
A 30 kilometre exclusion zone was put in place, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom have never been able to return.
In 2016 the New Safe Containment shield was put in place - the largest moveable steel structure ever built, acting as a giant hangar over the entire nuclear power plant.
Within it, workers are still busy keeping the site safe.
Solar panels produce enough electricity to power 2,000 apartments.