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25 Years After: Scenes from Chernobyl--The Worst Nuclear Accident in History [Slide Show]

On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine, Scientific American frequent contributor Charles Q. Choi traveled to the site and snapped these haunting images

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FAREWELL:

Charles Q. Choi, pictured here at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, is a frequent contributor to Scientific American .....[ More ]

DIRTY JOB:

A box holding stool samples from workers at Chernobyl, which scientists will test for accidental exposure to plutonium.....[ More ]

SPRINGTIME AT CHERNOBYL:

Health physicist Vadim Chumak is pictured here gathering pussy willows by a dock in the abandoned city of Pripyat in Ukraine, where workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant once lived. He and his colleagues were gathering them for International Women's Day (March 8) later that month.....[ More ]

THE AMERICAN THREAT:

This giant radar grid relatively close to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was once meant to track any nuclear missiles launched from the U.S. It is roughly 50 meters high, taller than the Great Pyramid of Giza.....[ More ]

GROUND ZERO:

Gutted electronics in the control room for destroyed reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.....[ More ]

THE CONTROL ROOM:

Instruments in the former control room for destroyed reactor no. 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.....[ More ]

EVACUATION SIGN:

A sign showing where workers now working at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant should evacuate to in case of an emergency, such as a fire, which could disperse radioactive contaminants.....[ More ]

SLIDING INTO PLACE:

A computer simulation of the completed New Safe Confinement as workers prepare to slide it in place.....[ More ]

NEW SAFE CONFINEMENT:

A computer-simulated image of the construction of the New Safe Confinement.....[ More ]

FOUNDATIONS FOR THE FUTURE:

Steel piles for the foundation of the New Safe Confinement.....[ More ]

TRENCH FOR THE FUTURE:

A trench dug for the foundation of the New Safe Confinement, which will safely enclose and robotically dismantle the 25-year-old makeshift confinement sarcophagus at Chernobyl.....[ More ]

WESTERN WALL:

The western wall of the sarcophagus enclosing the remains of reactor No. 4. The metal frame helps stabilize the weakened structure.....[ More ]

SUITED UP:

Health physicist Vadim Chumak is wearing a respirator mask with the highest-grade filter available against aerosols, to protect against airborne contamination.....[ More ]

HOT ROOM:

The entrance to a "hot room" at the facility where workers at Chernobyl change their clothing. In the adjacent "clean room" I took off all my clothing except my underwear; in the hot room I was given clothing to wear in the sarcophagus.....[ More ]

EUROPEAN CONTAMINATION:

Surface ground deposition of cesium 137 in Europe.....[ More ]

MEDICAL EXAM:

Physician Tatiana Malinkina at the Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine's Research Center for Radiation Medicine in Kiev looks over medical charts of a Chernobyl victim.....[ More ]

CONTAMINATED AREAS:

Surface ground deposition of cesium 137 within the borders of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine--a result of the Chernobyl explosion.....[ More ]

RADIATION MODEL:

Health physicist Vadim Chumak at the Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine's Research Center for Radiation Medicine in Kiev with a model of the human body that researchers use to study how radiation affects people.....[ More ]

SARCOPHAGUS MODEL:

A model of the "sarcophagus" enclosing the remains of the reactor No. 4 at Chernobyl.....[ More ]

BATHROOM HUMOR:

A little humor in a bathroom at the offices of the Chernobyl facility.....[ More ]

VISITOR'S BADGE:

A visitor's badge and a radiation badge. Badges issued to visitors have a microchip scannable at electronic checkpoints. The radiation badge is a dosimeter that measures exposure to radiation--the silver disk on the badge measures radiation dosage the wearer's skin receives, whereas the black bump measures levels deeper tissues absorb.....[ More ]

UNFINISHED REACTORS:

Reactor Nos. 5 and 6 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. They were never completed because of the disaster.....[ More ]

THE LOCAL STORE:

A store in the town of Chernobyl that sells juice, vodka and other items brought in from Kiev. One cannot eat items grown in the exclusion zone out of fear of contamination.....[ More ]

DANGER AHEAD:

A warning sign at a checkpoint at the 30-kilometer exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant near Pripyat, Ukraine.....[ More ]

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