Why Did They Taste Metal at Chernobyl?

February 15, 2024

On April 26, 1986, a safety test at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine went wrong and triggered a series of explosions and fires that released massive amounts of radiation into the air. Those closest to the accident, including firefighters and workers on the clean-up team, were exposed to toxic levels of radiation that led to many deaths and long-lasting health impacts.

Almost thirty years later, the area surrounding the plant is still contaminated with dangerous radioactive isotopes and a nuclear catastrophe that has rippled outwards into Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Many of the affected people suffer from thyroid problems due to high levels of radioactive iodine, affecting their mental and physical wellbeing.

Many of them also suffer from chronic fatigue and anxiety. Some are unable to conceive due to the exposure of their reproductive organs, while others have been left with psychological effects that are still being investigated.

Amid all the fear and chaos, it is easy to forget that there were heroes amongst the rescuers who risked their lives and stepped up to save as much of the contaminated site as possible. It is for this reason that Sky Atlantic/HBO’s five-part drama Chernobyl is such an essential TV event.

The series is a powerful reminder of how close we came to nuclear war and a reminder that even regimes that deal in deception and lies are eventually caught out by their own hubris. It is a lesson that should be remembered in this age of fake news and distortion of facts.


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