Still Cleaning Up: 30 Years After the Chernobyl Disaster

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. On April 26, 1986, technicians conducting a test inadvertently caused reactor number four to explode. Several hundred staff and firefighters then tackled a blaze that burned for 10 days and sent a plume of radiation around the world in the worst-ever civil nuclear disaster. More than 50 reactor and emergency workers were killed at the time. Authorities evacuated 120,000 people from the area, including 43,000 from the city of Pripyat. Reuters reports that a huge recently-completed enclosure called the New Safe Confinement—the world's largest land-based moving structure—will be “pulled slowly over the site later this year to create a steel-clad casement to block radiation and allow the remains of the reactor to be dismantled safely.” Gathered below are recent images of the ongoing cleanup work and the ghost towns being reclaimed by nature within the 1,000-square-mile (2,600-square-kilometers) exclusion zone in Ukraine.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Peter Shen / 2022 Audubon Photography Awards

    The 2022 Audubon Photography Awards

    Some of the best bird photography of the year—a collection of this year’s winners

  • Joan Mateu Parra / AP

    Photos of the Week: Lightning Rod, Crown Fountain, Lunar Transit

    Surfing at a water park in Italy, Ivan Kupala day in Russia, a robotic rover on Mount Etna, a Pride parade in Mexico City, National Paddy Day in Nepal, and much more

  • NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona

    The Dust Devils of Mars

    Beautiful images from another world, of a delicate, ephemeral phenomenon

  • Leon Neal / Getty

    Scenes From Glastonbury 2022

    Images from this year’s Glastonbury Festival—back after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus