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Chernobyl Disaster: 32 Years On
30 April, 2018

A mere 10 years ago, life in Chernobyl seemed unrealistic. After Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant’s reactor number four exploded on April 26, 1986, many of cities and villages surrounding the site became ghost towns.

Now, 32 years on from the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe, the greenery is blooming, the wildlife is thriving and people are returning. Today numerous families are living just outside the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

According the World Health Organization, some five million people lived in parts of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, between 1986 to 2005, with elevated radiation levels as a consequence of Chernobyl. 

READ MORE: "It looks like war, but there’s no shooting" – Liquidators of the Chernobyl Catastrophe

Oleh Bondarenko, a member of National Commission for Radiation Protection of Ukraine, says discussions on whether to implement an insurance system for such people, who may suffer from diseases, are still ongoing.

“Fair estimates were done by many researchers and... It is not a popular thought, but still we don’t have proof (about) very certain effects from Chernobyl radiation. Except particular (groups) of people. For example, liquidators,” he said.

READ MORE: Chernobyl Through Decades: Life and Work

According to the World Health Organization, 240,000 liquidators were exposed to very high levels of radiation during the clean up operation in 1986 and 1987 alone. Some 600,000 people in total however have been recognized as liquidators.

Hromadske traveled to a town just outside the exclusion zone to see what makes the region attractive to these settlers and spoke with Oleh Bondarenko, a member of National Commission for Radiation Protection of Ukraine, about how safe it is to live in the area today.

READ MORE: New Life near the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone