1986 saw the Chernoybl disaster that is, for all the wrong reasons, one of the iconic events of the latter twentieth century. At the time the Soviets tried to cover up the accident. I include the below Wikipedia extract for more details:
"The Chernobyl disaster, also referred to as the Chernobyl accident, was a catastrophic nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 in the No.4 light water graphite moderated reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near Pripyat, in what was then part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union (USSR).
During a hurried late night power-failure stress test, in which safety systems were deliberately turned off, a combination of inherent reactor design flaws, together with the reactor operators arranging the core in a manner contrary to the checklist for the stress test, eventually resulted in uncontrolled reaction conditions that flashed water into steam generating a destructive steam explosion and a subsequent open-air graphite "fire".[note 1] This produced updrafts for 9 days lofting plumes of radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere, in total approximately equaling the quantity of airborne material initially released in the explosion, with practically all of this material then going on to fall-out onto much of the surface of the western USSR and Europe.
The Chernobyl disaster was the worst nuclear power plant accident in history in terms of cost and casualties. It is one of only two classified as a level 7 event (the maximum classification) on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011. The struggle to safeguard against scenarios which were, at many times falsely, perceived as having the potential for greater catastrophe and the later decontamination efforts of the surroundings, ultimately involved over 500,000 workers and cost an estimated 18 billion rubles. During the accident, blast effects caused 2 deaths within the facility and later 29 firemen and employees died in the days-to-months afterward from acute radiation syndrome, with the potential for long-term cancers still being investigated.
The remains of the No.4 reactor building were enclosed in a large sarcophagus (radiation shield) by December 1986, at a time when what was left of the reactor was entering the cold shut-down phase; the enclosure was built quickly as occupational safety for the crews of the other undamaged reactors at the power station, with No.3 continuing to produce electricity into 2000.
The accident motivated safety upgrades on all remaining Soviet-designed reactors in the RBMK (Chernobyl No.4) family, of which eleven continued to power electric grids as of 2013". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster
The heroic work of the 'liquidators' saved the day, and 29 subsequently died from radiation poisoning, however the shield that they built with literally their blood, wasn't going to last and there has been for some time concerns about radiation leaking from the sealed reactor. "Ukraine unveiled the worlds largest moveable metal structure over the Chernobyl nuclear power plants doomed fourth reactor. The gigantic arch soars 108 metres (355 feet) into the sky making it taller than New Yorks Statue of Liberty while its weight of 36,000 tons is three times heavier than the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The 2.1 billion structure sponsored by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has been edged into place over an existing crumbling dome that the Soviets built in haste when disaster struck three decades ago. It will later be fitted with radiation control equipment as well as air vents and fire fighting measures. The equipment inside the arch is expected to be operative by the end of 2017, but no timeframe had yet been set for the particularly hazardous work of removing all the remaining nuclear fuel from inside the plant or dismantling the old dome." Giant
I think it is most appropriate that we salute those brave men, the liquidators, who built the original dome in the most trying of circumstances, whilst the city was being evacuated. The 30 mile exclusion zone remains in force, within a handful of old people the exception. It was a disaster of mind boggling proportions, yet could have been so much worse. Chernoybl and Fukishima are the two stand outs for nuclear disasters, cover ups and herculean human efforts to fix the mess are both associated with the two incidents. Yet can we turn our back on nuclear technology, can we reasonably anticipate and design out human flaws/errors and natural disasters, should we even do such, or do we accept that nuclear like oil, gas, coal, has its down side and we just have to live with it? Thoughts?