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Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Prypiat, Ukraine

July 17th, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The V.I. Lenin Memorial Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station (Чернобыльская АЭС им. В.И.Ленина) (51°23′14″N, 30°06′41″E) is in the town of Prypiat, Ukraine, 18 km northwest of the city of Chernobyl, 16 km from the border of Ukraine and Belarus, and about 110 km north of Kiev. It was the site on 26 April 1986 of the Chernobyl disaster, regarded as the worst accident in the history of nuclear power. It continued to operate until November 2000.

The station consisted of four reactors of type RBMK-1000, each capable of producing 1 GW of electric power (3.2 GW of thermal power), and the four together produced about 10% of Ukraine's electricity at the time of the accident. Construction of the plant began in the 1970s, with reactor no. 1 commissioned in 1977, followed by no. 2 (1978), no. 3 (1981), and no. 4 (1983). Two more reactors, nos. 5 and 6, capable of producing 1 GW each, were under construction at the time of the accident.

Following the 1986 accident, the power plant has been shut down. This was done because the plant was highly contaminated with radiation and it was very unsafe for employees to continue working there. However, after a massive cleanup inside the plant, reactor units 1 and 2 were restarted by the fall of 1986 due to the huge demand for electricity. After a more thorough cleanup process, reactor unit 3, which was contained in the same building as destroyed unit 4, was restarted in the fall of 1987.

Unit 3 was the last reactor to be operated at the Chernobyl plant. It was functioning normally but was shut down in December of 2000. The reason was that the politicians wanted the Chernobyl plant closed by the year 2000 for no obvious reasons except the accident which happened in 1986.

Since shutdown, a coal power plant was constructed next to the Chernobyl site in order to provide electricity for the plant. People will continue to work at the Chernobyl plant until the reactor units 1, 2, and 3 will be totally decommissioned, which is expected to take years. The remains of the reactor unit 4 will remain radioactive for centuries to come. A half-life of Plutonium 239, which is one of the radioactive elemenents within the reactor ruins is over 24,000 years.

(Source: Wikipedia)

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