On April 26, 1986, reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power facility in what is now Ukraine exploded. The largest civil nuclear disaster in history led to mass evacuations, and long-term health, agricultural, and economic distress. The nearby city of Pripyat has been abandoned, and a 19-mile radius "exclusion zone" established where radiation contamination makes continued habitation dangerous.
Chernobyl Then and Now. A combination of images, taken in 1982 and on March 31, 2011, shows before and after view of the abandoned city of Prypiat near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. REUTERS/Vladimir Repik and Gleb Garanich
At first glance, it’s hard to know what’s happening in this picture. A giant mushroom seems to have sprouted in a factory floor, where ghostly men in hardhats seem to be working. But there’s something undeniably eerie about the scene, for good reason. You’re looking at the largest agglomeration of one of the most toxic substances ever created: corium.