Chernobyl nuclear accident, Soviet Union

What does Chernobyl look like now?

What does Chernobyl look like now?

Chernobyl today is an abandoned place since the worst nuclear disaster happened, more than 30 years ago. Now it's known only as of the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

The Chernobyl nuclear accident took place in the Soviet Union, currently in northern Ukraine.

It is the worst accident in the history of nuclear energy. Millions of people were affected by the high levels of radiation emitted by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Evacuations of Pripyat commenced about 36 hours after the accident had occurred.

The Chernobyl accident took place on April 26, 1986. To this day, after more than 30 years, the current situation in Chernobyl remains delicate.

The sarcophagus and the proliferation of waste storage sites have been assessed as a dangerous source of radioactivity in nearby areas. Some NEA experts feared that the collapse of the crashed reactor could seriously damage the only reactor in operation (num. 3).

A decade after the nuclear catastrophe, the case was studied at the Vienna International Conference. The conclusion was that in Chernobyl human errors were concatenated with the technical and material fragility of the reactor. Finally, they agreed that the total rehabilitation of the area was not possible. 

It was pointed out that it was necessary to establish a secure confinement system from an ecological point of view. The new confinement of the plant should prevent the infiltration of rainwater into its interior. Plus, it should prevent the collapse of the existing sarcophagus.

Chernobyl today pictures and video

The following images correspond to the appearance of abandonment that the city of Pripyat, Ukraine. Many people died and others were forced to evacuate their homes in the nuclear exclusion zone.


These images correspond to the abandoned buildings in Pripyat. Because of the height radiation levels, the town remains empty.

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What is the current radiation from Chernobyl?

Currently, the generated nuclear waste is stored in about 800 different sites inside and outside the 30-kilometer exclusion zone around.

These nuclear wastes are partially stored in containers or buried in trenches and may cause a risk of contamination of groundwater.

Greenpeace technicians reported that radioactivity readings in towns 225 kilometers away exceed between 5 and 12 times the official limit.

According to this study, the forecast was that this excess radiation would remain above this level beyond 2040.

Much of the radioactive material released in the Chernobyl disaster disintegrated and no longer poses a threat. The main danger now comes from an isotope, cesium-137, which persists longer. This isotope accumulates in vegetation and can enter the food chain.

Reconstruction of the Chernobyl sarcophagus

At first, Chernobyl reactor 4 was covered with a huge sarcophagus. This first sarcophagus was to last 30 years. With the passage of time, this sarcophagus deteriorated very quickly due to the strong radiation to which it was subjected.

What does Chernobyl look like now?In 2016, a second gigantic sarcophagus was completed. It prevents more than 200 tons of radioactive material from escaping to the outside in the long term. It is expected it can work for a century.

The construction cost 1,426 million euros, too much for Ukraine. However, the risk of Chernobyl was real for everyone. As consequence, the funding came mainly from the European Investment Bank and European governments.

The European Commission paid for almost a third of the construction.

The sacrum was mounted next to the damaged reactor. Once finished, it moved along some rails until it reached its final location.

What is the new Chernobyl sarcophagus like today?

The sarcophagus is shaped like an arch. Its dimensions are 108 meters high, 162 meters long, 275 meters of arc and weighs 36,000 tons.

The current Chernobyl sarcophagus was built by the Novarka consortium, under whose umbrella the French companies BTP Vinci and Bouygues appear. The metal plates that make up the arch were built in Italy.

The sarcophagus will house the nuclear reactor units 3 and 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. It will have an internally pressurized double-walled waterproof wall and with a 27-meter-deep foundation.

The arches are constructed of tubular steel members and are clad externally with three-layer panels. A vacuum was created between the roof sections kept warmer than the outside air to prevent corrosion. Condensation is prevented by maintaining a temperature difference.

Publication Date: May 25, 2017
Last Revision: September 25, 2020