The world's worst ever nuclear disaster took place at Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Pripyat, Ukraine back in 1986, and its effects are still being felt today. A 30-km (19-mile) exclusion zone is in place around the disaster site, which is still highly contaminated with the radiation released following the accident.
While not fit for human habitation, wildlife has made a remarkable comeback in the exclusion zone; there are said to be more than 60 different types of mammals living there including wild boar and elk. Wolves are doing especially well, with a population that is seven times the size of wolf populations in neighboring reserves.
Far from becoming the barren wasteland that many predicted after the catastrophic event the area has, in the absence of humans, become host to a great biodiversity. It really shows the power of nature to recover when left alone without us around to get in the way of things!
Proof of this can be seen in this fascinating list compiled by Bored Panda. Marvel at the way that grey concrete blocks are gradually giving way to greenery, as plants and trees slowly engulf the ruins of the former Soviet town. You can also meet some of the local wildlife celebrities, who are looking remarkably healthy considering the highly contaminated land around them.
So scroll down below to see Mother Nature majestically reclaiming her territory, and let us know what you think in the comments!
I Finally Met The Famous Pripyat Fox Simon
The accident at Chernobyl was caused by human error. According to Reuters, facility operators, in violation of safety regulations, had switched off important control systems at the plant’s reactor number four and allowed it to reach unstable, low-power conditions.
A power surge led to a series of blasts, at 1.24 a.m., which blew off the reactor’s heavy steel and concrete lid and sent a cloud of radioactive dust billowing across northern and western Europe, reaching as far as the eastern United States. The cloud of radioactive strontium, caesium and plutonium affected mainly Ukraine and neighboring Belarus, as well as parts of Russia and Europe.
Tree Growing On The 8th Floor
The Chernobyl Forum, a group of eight U.N. agencies, and the governments of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, have estimated the death toll at only a few thousand as a result of the explosion.
U.N. agencies have said some 4,000 people will die in total because of radiation exposure.
However, the environmental group Greenpeace puts the eventual death toll far higher than official estimates, with up to 93,000 extra cancer deaths worldwide, while the Chernobyl Union of Ukraine, a non-government body, estimates the present death toll from the disaster at almost 734,000.
Today Our Team Came Across The Burial Site Of A Beloved Pet In Chernobyl
The disaster was the object of a cover-up by secretive Soviet authorities who did not immediately admit to the explosion.
Eventually, a make-shift cover — the ‘Sarcophagus’ — was built, in the six months after the explosion. It covers the stricken reactor to protect the environment from radiation for at least 30 years. This has now developed cracks, triggering an international effort to fund a new encasement. Radioactive nuclear fuel is still being removed from the plant today.
A group of Przewalski's horses grazing in the Chernobyl Exclusion zone. In the background the New Safe Confinement ("Sarcophagus 2") can be seen.
An Old Phone Box Hidden Away In The Undergrowth In Pripyat. Unused Since 1986
But how have plants and animals survived and flourished despite the high levels of radiation? It is true, radiation does have real, harmful effects on flora and fauna, and may shorten the lives of individual plants and animals. But if life-sustaining resources are in abundant enough supply and burdens are not fatal, then life will flourish.
According to Science Alert, the burden brought by radiation at Chernobyl is less severe than the benefits reaped from humans leaving the area. The Chernobyl exclusion zone is now "essentially one of Europe's largest nature preserves, the ecosystem supports more life than before, even if each individual cycle of that life lasts a little less."
"In a way, the Chernobyl disaster reveals the true extent of our environmental impact on the planet. Harmful as it was, the nuclear accident was far less destructive to the local ecosystem than we were. In driving ourselves away from the area, we have created space for nature to return."
Nature Wins The Battle Against Civilization
30 Years Later, Pripyat Has Turned Into A Sort Of Nature Reserve
Overgrown House In Zalissya (Village Inside Chernobyl Exclusion Zone)
The Buildings In Pripyat Have Not Received Maintenance For More Than 30 Years, Here In The Hospital The Dereliction Is Obvious
A very huge building in Pripyat. In the basement lies the clothes of firemen who where first to the accident site after the meltdown. The room with the clothes is one of the most radioactive spots in the whole exclusion zone
Chernobyl - Children's Camp "Emerald"
Chernobyl Bus Station
Pripyat Is No Longer The Ghost Town What It Was. Now It Is Consumed By The Forest And Plants. Nature Persistently Takes It Back
Pripyat - The Ghost City Crowned By Sweet Silence And Beautiful Wild Nature
Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
Pripyat - Palace Of Culture "Energetik"
Visited Chernobyl. The Overgrown Amusement Park Of Pripyat!
Residence Hall For The Plant Workers
Overgrown Rails. Nature Takes Everything Back
Looking At The Chernobyl Power Plant From Pripyat
Note: this post originally had 69 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.