Internationally recognized as the worst nuclear disaster in history, the Chernobyl meltdown released more than 100 times the radioactivity of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The 19-mile exclusion area around the plant remains largely uninhabited nearly 20 years after the catastrophe, and officials believe the accident might have lead to some 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer. Today over a dozen artificial radionuclides can be detected in the surface soil around the plant. While the damage from Chernobyl didn’t turn out to be as serious as many researchers feared when the meltdown occurred, the accident is still a reminder of the long-term dangers of poorly-run nuclear plants.
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