Name: Pat L Kaple
My class is interested in how many people have died from the accident and what
is the current condition of the sarcophagus.
The ultimate authority on the subject is the International Atomic Energy
Agency. The most current report I could find by them is "The Chernobyl
Accident: INSAG-7 an Update" IAEA, 1992
You and your students might be interested in these books:
Michelle Carter, 1993 "Children of Chernobyl"
Piers Paul Read, 1993 "Ablaze: The Story of the Heroes and Victims
Howdy! This is my specialty -- I teach a course in nuclear chemistry, with
specific emphasis on what can go wrong in a nuclear fission reaction if not
To be perfectly frank, I do not have a current list of statistics on how many
people have died. One must remember that a good number of people were exposed
AFTER the accident, when the plume of smoke and radioactive particles passed
over major cities.
The town or Pripyat (about 30 km east of the Chernobyl plant) was irradiated
first before it could be evacuated, thereby exposing upwards of 45,000 people
to dangerous levels of ionizing radiation. In the coming years, Russian
doctors predict a 2% increase in cancer deaths related to radiation exposure,
but their American critics claim this is grossly underestimating
the situation, and that the number of cancer related deaths will be much
As for the sarcophagus, it continues to crumble. Though no one wants to admit
it, there are holes in the walls large enough for birds to build nests in,
which they have. Rain water is entering through cracks in the roof, starting
a chain reaction which releases a puff of steam and radionuclides every few
months. The current plan (since they cannot very well just tear it down) is
to build a new sarcophagus OVER the old one -- the design that won is a dome
of some sort.
What is a sarcophagus?
*giggle* sorry... could not resist.
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Update: June 2012