Three decades have passed since the Chernobyl accident. As its reality recedes, the memory of suffering is replaced by iconic post-apocalyptic imagery from tourists and documentary crews. Yet the story of the plant’s demise remains harrowing.
There had been potentially grave nuclear plant accidents before, at Sellafield and Three Mile Island. But it was Chernobyl that shaped humanity’s understanding of what a nuclear disaster looks and feels like. The Fukushima meltdowns five years ago have done little to replace the archetype.