What happened in Chernobyl and is it safe? Can I still watch the HBO drama?

Ben Fogle visits the website of one of the most terrifying man-made disasters in recent history in Inside Chernobyl – but what happened in Chernobyl and is the area safe?

And is it still possible to watch the HBO dramatization of the events?

Everything you need to know is here.

Ben Fogle in the ruins of a school in Pripyat, but what happened in Chernobyl? (Credit: Channel 5)

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What happened in Chernobyl?

The Chernobyl disaster refers to the catastrophic events that took place at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Pripyat in 1986.

It was a nuclear accident that occurred on Saturday, April 26, 1986 in reactor No. 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant near the city of Pripyat in the north of the Ukrainian SSR.

Historians and scientists consider it to be the worst nuclear disaster in history, both in terms of cost and losses.

Inadequately trained personnel operated a flawed reactor design that caused the completely avoidable Chernobyl accident in 1986.

The accident began during a safety test on a nuclear reactor of the type RBMK, which was used widely throughout the Soviet Union.

After a planned decrease in reactor power in preparation for the electrical test, the power unexpectedly dropped to near zero levels.

The operators were only able to partially restore the stated test performance, which left the reactor in a potentially unstable state.

Operators continued the electrical test without knowing that there was a risk.

Upon completion of the test, operators triggered a reactor shutdown, but a combination of unstable conditions and errors in the reactor design caused an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction instead.

The result was radioactive contamination that ended up in parts of the USSR and Western Europe, particularly Belarus, 16 kilometers away, where around 70 percent landed.

It was finally included on May 4, 1986.

What happened in Chernobyl? How many people died?

The nuclear disaster killed 31 people and left thousands of people and animals exposed to potentially fatal radiation.

The exact death toll is unknown and the long-term effects could last for decades.

First of all, two employees of the reactor operations were killed in the reactor explosion.

In the emergency response that followed, 134 ward workers and firefighters with acute radiation syndrome were hospitalized because they absorbed high doses of ionizing radiation.

28 died in the days to months that followed.

Approximately 14 suspected radiation-induced cancer deaths followed over the next 10 years.

Finally, the Chernobyl disaster caused at least 15 childhood thyroid cancer deaths.

In 2005 the World Health Organization announced that a total of 4,000 people could die from radiation exposure.

About 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer have been observed since the disaster – mostly in people who were children or adolescents at the time.

Unit 4's control room where the explosion took place (Image credit: Channel 5)
Unit 4’s control room where everything went wrong (credit: Channel 5)

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What happened in Chernobyl? Is it safe now?

After the disaster, an 18 mile radius known as the “exclusion zone” was established around the reactor.

There are around 160 villages in the exclusion zone.

Despite all the efforts invested in the region to make Chernobyl safe, the remediation continues to this day.

Scientists at the State Radiation Ecological Reserve frequently test radiation levels to see if people and wildlife can safely return to the area.

The site and Pripyat were rated safe for tourists in 2010.

Can you visit Chernobyl?

Yes you can visit Chernobyl and people do.

If you come to Kiev, Ukraine, you can purchase a tour to get access to Chernobyl city, the front of the power station, and the abandoned city of Pripyat.

Ben Fogle in the ruins of the Azure swimming pool in Pripyat (Image credit: Channel 5)
Ben Fogle in the ruins of the Azure swimming pool in Pripyat (Image credit: Channel 5)

Is anyone still alive from Chernobyl?

Contrary to reports that three divers died of radiation sickness immediately after the disaster, all three survived.

Shift supervisor Borys Baranov died in 2005, while Valery Bespalov and Oleksiy Ananenko, both chief engineers of one of the reactor sections, are still alive and living in the capital, Kiev.

Can I still watch Chernobyl from HBO?

HBO’s Chernobyl dramatizes the story of the 1986 nuclear accident – one of the worst man-made disasters in history.

Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson star in the award-winning five-part miniseries.

Chernobyl can currently be seen on Now TV / Sky Atlantic.

It’s also available on Amazon Prime from £ 2.49 per episode or the entire series for £ 5.99.

In Chernobyl with Ben Fogle

Ben Fogle visits Chernobyl and the “socialist dream city” Pripyat.

He finds a city that is ruined and consumed by nature.

Accompanied by a government expert, Ben enters the control room where the fatal mistake was made.

During his week in the exclusion zone, Ben also explores the ruins of a local school and ventures into the ruins of a nearby hospital.

In Chernobyl with Ben Fogle it will be broadcast on channel 5 on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021 at 9 p.m.

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