Today in eco-history: Chernobyl disaster announced to public

On this day in 1986, continuing high levels of radiation emerging from the Chernobyl disaster led Soviet authorities to publically announce the accident. The nuclear catastrophe had occurred two days prior at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. The resulting explosion caused nuclear particles to spread over much of the western USSR and Europe. It is considered the worst nuclear accident in history.

The effort to contain the contamination and prevent even larger-scale havoc was largely due to the brave efforts of over 500,000 workers. 31 people died immediately from the accident, and cancers and deformities from the radiation are still being accounted for. The people of the nearby city of Pripyat, which was not immediately evacuated following the explosion, perhaps suffered the most harshly. Today, Pripyat is abandoned, part of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Photo: The Chernobyl plant’s nuclear reactor, destroyed after a series of explosions which occurred on Apr. 26. The disaster was officially announced publically on Apr. 28. AP


Blake Skylar
Blake Skylar

Blake writes on environment and culture. He has covered issues including the BP oil spill and the UN Climate Conference in Paris. In 2015, he received an award from the Illinois Woman's Press Association for his coverage of the People's Climate March in New York. As production manager, he is also responsible for the daily assembly of the PW home page.

He grew up in Garfield, New Jersey. He likes cats, wine, good books, music, and nature - especially long hikes in the woods. He currently lives in Chicago. He writes a blog that can be found at