The Chernobyl Power Plant located outside the town of Pripyat, Ukraine (11 miles from the city of Chernobyl) began construction in the 1970s with the first reactor. Over the next few years three more reactors were added and two more were in the middle of construction at the time of the disaster. On April 26, 1986 at 1:23 a.m., the no. 4 reactor was shut down for maintenance. An experiment was being performed to test a safety emergency core cooling feature during the shut down procedure. It's uncertain as to what exact processes led to the explosions but a disruption in regulation seem to be a part of it.
The first explosion was that of steam. Steam from the wrecked channels entered the reactor inner space that caused the destruction of the reactor casing, tearing off and lifting by the force of 2,000 tons the upper plate. This ruptured further fuel channels, the reactor core suffered total water loss and a high positive void coefficient could entirely appear.The second explosions occurred seconds after the first. Some theorized the second explosion was caused by the hydrogen which had been produced either by the overheated steam-zirconium reaction or by the reaction of red-hot graphite with steam that produce hydrogen and oxygen. Others believed it was more nuclear or a thermal explosion of the reactor as a result of the uncontrollable escape of fast neutrons, caused by the complete water loss in the reactor core. Either way it was considered the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history. The fallout released was four times more than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
The explosions caused a chain reaction. The fire in Reactor 4 burned until May 10th, 1986 before it was finally extinguished thanks to Helicopters dropping sand and lead as well as injecting liquid nitrogen in to it. Radioactive particles were released in to the air. Smoke and wind carried it in to the nearby town as well as across international borders. Most of the radioactive fallout landed in Belarus. Light nuclear rain fell as far as Ireland. Over 336,000 people were evacuated. 600,000 people were exposed to radiation. Two people died in the initial steam explosion, but fifty-six people (47 accident workers and 9 children with thyroid cancer) directly died due to the disaster. There were as many as 4,000 cancer related deaths from those exposed to radiation. The nearby pine forest turned ginger brown and died earning the name "Red Forest". Horses left behind during the evacuation died due to destroyed thyroid glands. Some cattle also died but of those that survived, suffered stunted growth due to thyroid damage. Wild animals in the worst-hit areas either died or stopped reproducing.
After the disaster, all work on reactors 5 and 6 halted. Reactor 4 was sealed off with 660ft of concrete placed between the disaster site and operational buildings. A fire broke out in the turbine building of reactor 2 in 1991. It was declared beyond repair and shut down. Reactor 1 was decommissioned in November 1996 as part of a deal between the Ukrainian government and international organizations such as the IAEA. Then-President Leonid Kuchma personally turned off Reactor 3 in an official ceremony on December 15, 2000, shutting down the plant entirely.
The accident led to alleged governmental cover-ups and ghost towns. Pripyat has become somewhat a wildlife reserve. Most of those who were evacuated never came back. About 400 people were allowed to resettle in the Excursion Zone as along as they never request money or aid if they become ill. Since 2002, tours are provided for all those who want to see the infamous site.
Some believe aliens were involved with the disaster. Witnesses claimed to have seen a UFO hovering above the plant for six hours during the accident. Three years later, a Doctor Gospina stated he saw an "amber-like" object above the plant. A year after that, a reporter photographed an object similar to the one Gospina described hovering above the disaster site.
A creature known as the Black Bird of Chernobyl was also sighted days leading up to the disaster. It is described as a large black, bird like creature or a headless man with a 20 foot wingspan, and red eyes. It has been compared to that of the Mothman in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. This creature has not been seen since the disaster. People experienced horrific nightmares, threatening phone calls and first-hand encounters with the winged-beast. Did they really see an unknown creature or was it something out of nature such as the black stork? We may never know.
The Pripyat, the Chernobyl worker town, is believed to be haunted. People have had the feeling of being watched when walking past the city hospital. Considering it looks like the aftermath of an apocalypse, that feeling may be anything but supernatural. Apparitions and shadows are often seen. Some have even reported being touched. But could the spirits of its victims be roaming the affected areas? We'll find out on Wednesday during the first paranormal investigation of Chernobyl.