Sergey Ponomarev/AP Images
- Chernobyl is considered the world’s worst nuclear power plant accident due to its widespread release of radioactive contaminants.
- More than three decades later, the disaster continues to have both a human and environmental impact.
- It has also incited some strange events, from the spread of radioactive cow’s milk to the salvation of an endangered species.
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The HBO miniseries "Chernobyl" has cast renewed attention on the world’s worst nuclear power plant accident, which took place on April 26, 1986, when the core of a reactor opened at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.
Many of the effects of that fateful day are well-documented in the series: The entire city of Pripyat was abandoned, leaving behind a 1,000-square-mile exclusion zone that restricts access to visitors. Within three months of the disaster, more than 30 people died of acute radiation sickness.
The disaster also led to some strange events in the days, and years, to come. Here are some of the unexpected byproducts of the nuclear accident.
Some reports say a brand-new Ferris wheel opened early to entertain residents after the accident.
Timm Suess via Flickr
The Pripyat Amusement Park was scheduled to debut for the first time on May 1, 1986 — five days after Chernobyl.
Though the park never officially opened or welcomed visitors, its Ferris wheel reportedly operated on April 27 to entertain residents still reeling from the trauma.
Doctors inaccurately advised women in Western Europe to get abortions, fearing their children would have health problems.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Even medical professionals were plagued with "radiophobia," or fear of radiation, in the disaster’s immediate wake. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported that between 100,000 to 200,000 pregnancies were terminated by mothers in Western Europe who had been advised that Chernobyl could provoke health issues in their unborn children.
Twenty years after the accident, the World Health Organization (WHO) determined that radiation doses weren’t high enough to cause "adverse pregnancy outcomes." While the nation of Belarus did see a rise in children with birth defects, WHO attributed the spike to more accurate reporting of these cases.
Graffiti artists drew strange, shadowy figures on the walls of buildings.
Alexey Furman/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
In the years following the disaster, graffiti artists have traveled to the exclusion zone to paint commemorative murals and portraits. One motif seen throughout the area is a series of shadowy, child-like figures that are said to represent the ghosts of former residents.
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