In April 1989, Chernobyl’s nuclear plant Reactor 4 exploded and caused what was going to be the most important civil nuclear catastrophe in history.
About 350 000 people were evacuated and were never allowed back in their homes. To this day, although the Exclusion Zone is, theoretically, still forbidden to human beings, it is the habitat of a great biodiversity. Indeed, Chernobyl is the home of many animals including bears, buffalo, wolves, lynxes, Przewalski horses, and over 200 bird species.
MMEDIATELY SURROUNDING THE PLANT COVERS AN AREA OF APPROXIMATELY 2,600 SQUARE KILOMETRES, A RESTRICTED REGION THAT IS ONE OF THE MOST RADIOACTIVE PLACES ON THE PLANET. SCIENTISTS ESTIMATE IT COULD BE MORE THAN 20,000 YEARS BEFORE HUMANS CAN SAFELY LIVE THERE AGAIN. NOW, OFFICIALS ARE ATTEMPTING TO HAVE PARTS OF THAT ZONE DESIGNATED A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE, A CERTIFICATION GIVEN TO LOCALES THAT, ACCORDING TO UNESCO, ARE OF OUTSTANDING UNIVERSAL VALUE TO HUMANITY. OTHER UNESCO SITES INCLUDE THE PYRAMIDS OF EGYPT, AUSTRALIA’S GREAT BARRIER REEF, THE GALÁPAGOS ISLANDS IN ECUADOR, AND THE TAJ MAHAL IN INDIA. UKRAINE OFFICIALS ARE SEEKING THE DESIGNATION BECAUSE THEY WANT TO PRESERVE THE SITE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS AND HOPE IT WILL HELP ENCOURAGE AND REGULATE TOURISM, WHICH HAS BEEN ON THE RISE SINCE HBO RELEASED A 2019 MINISERIES ABOUT THE NUCLEAR DISASTER. AN INFLUX OF TOURISM DOLLARS WOULD BE USED TO REPAIR ABANDONED BUILDINGS. »The Weather Network, April 20, 2021
If you want to learn more about the biggest nuclear catastrophe of all times, this 14-minute documentary shows not only the power plant but portrays how people are still affected to this day by the explosion that occurred over 35 years ago.
People were forced to leave the area, but it is much more difficult to control animals’ whereabouts. This three-minute video shows how, 30 years after the catastrophe, animals seem to strive in this area where forest is taking over. You will find four questions to answer as you watch. These questions are embedded in the video.
For teachers who would like to keep track of students’ answers, you may use this link to assign the task through Edpuzzle.
The next activities will allow students to become familiar with the worst civil nuclear tragedy in history along with its impact on the population and on the environment.
Adapted in English by Valérie Harnois, revised by Karine Turcotte