Chernobyl or Chornobyl (pron.: /tʃərˈnoʊbɪl/; Ukrainian: Чорнобиль, pronounced [tʃɔrˈnɔbɪlʲ]; Russian: Чернобыль, pronounced [tɕɪrˈnobɨlʲ]) is an abandoned city in the restricted Chernobyl Exclusion Zone situated in northern Kiev Oblast, Ukraine near the border with Belarus. The city had been the administrative centre of the Chernobyl Raion since 1932.
The Chernobyl disaster (Ukrainian: Чорнобильська катастрофа, Chornobylska Katastrofa – Chornobyl Catastrophe) was a catastrophic nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine (then officially Ukrainian SSR), which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities of the Soviet Union. An explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, which spread over much of Western USSR and Europe.
The Chernobyl disaster is widely considered to have been the worst nuclear power plant accident in history, and is one of only two classified as a level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale (the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011). The battle to contain the contamination and avert a greater catastrophe ultimately involved over 500,000 workers and cost an estimated 18 billion rubles. The official Soviet casualty count of 31 deaths has been disputed, and long-term effects such as cancers and deformities are still being accounted for.
The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Zone of Alienation (Ukrainian: Зона відчуження Чорнобильської АЕС, zona vidchuzhennya Chornobyl's'koyi AES) is the officially designated exclusion area around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster. It is commonly known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and also as the 30 Kilometer Zone or simply The Zone (Ukrainian: Чорнобильська зона, Chornobyl's'ka zona).
Established soon after the disaster in 1986 by the USSR military it initially existed as an area of 30 kilometer radius from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant designated for evacuation and placed under military control. Its borders have since been altered, covering a larger area of the territory of Ukraine. The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone refers to the area within Ukraine which borders a separately administered area, the Polesie state radiation and ecological reserve, to the north in Belarus. The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is managed by an agency of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine whilst the power plant itself and its sarcophagus (and replacement) are administered separately.
The Exclusion Zone covers an area of approximately 2,600 km2 in Ukraine immediately surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant where radioactive contamination from fallout is highest and public access and inhabitation are restricted. Other areas of compulsory resettlement and voluntary relocation which are not part of the restricted exclusion zone exist in the surrounding areas and throughout Ukraine.