Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

PHOTO: Chernobyl viewed from space, 25 years after the meltdown

Earth and climate picture of the week

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, 25 years after the meltdown

The April, 1986 nuclear disaster that consumed the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine was determined to be the result of a flawed reactor operated by poorly-trained personnel. But what about the land around it? The area is described as a Belarussian-type woodland with a low population density. Around 40 percent was used for agriculture. Today, a 30 km exclusion zone still exists around the Chernobyl site.

More than 25 years later, here’s what the site looks like from satellite imaging. As USGS writes:

Left: April 29, 1986. Right: April 27, 2011. The 1986 image shows cultivated fields prepared for planting (bright, light tones), dense forest cover (dark green), and small communities (blue, purple). In the 2011 image, limited resettlement has begun. Most of the fields are now grasslands (light green), the dense forests have been destroyed and replanted (lighter, more uniform green), and the communities have been abandoned.

Image courtesy USGS Landsat Missions Gallery, U.S. Department of the Interior / U.S. Geological Survey

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