Something weird seems to be happening to our weather - it appears to be getting more extreme. In the past few years we have shivered through two record-breaking cold winters and parts of the country have experienced intense droughts and torrential floods. It is a pattern that appears to be playing out across the globe. Hurricane chasers are recording bigger storms and in Texas, record-breaking rain has been followed by record-breaking drought. Horizon follows the scientists who are trying to understand what's been happening to our weather and investigates if these extremes are a taste of what is to come.
The disaster began during a routine systems test at reactor number four of the Chernobyl plant located near the town of Pripyat, on April 26, 1986. After a power surge, an emergency shutdown was attempted and after a subsequent power spike, there was a reactor vessel rupture and a series of steam explosions. The cascading course of events led to exposing the graphite moderator of the reactor to the air, causing it to catch fire. This sent a plume of highly radioactive fallout into the atmosphere. The fallout from Chernobyl prompted mass evacuations as it drifted over an extensive geographical area, including the western Soviet Union and Europe. Over 350,000 people were resettled from contaminated areas of Belarus, Russia, and the Ukraine. Thirty-one deaths are directly attributed to the accident, and all the deaths were among reactor staff and emergency workers. This is the kind of atmosphere Nelson and Ochota are investigating on Life After: Chernobyl as they attempt to determine how the radiation continues to impact the affected areas. They are allowed to stay for as long as they need to in order to conduct their ground-breaking research, but the duo must also be sure to take the necessary safety precautions. Broadway World noted in their Life After: Chernobyl article that by staying in the area for too long, the radiation exposure could reach dangerously high levels in their bodies, and they must always monitor the radiation levels.
2014 • Environment
Six months after the explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant and the release of radiation there, Professor Jim Al-Khalili sets out to discover whether nuclear power is safe. He begins in Japan, where he meets some of the tens of thousands of people who have been evacuated from the exclusion zone. He travels to an abandoned village just outside the zone to witness a nuclear clean-up operation.