The Chernobyl disaster occurred on April 26 of 1986, when “a sudden surge of power during a reactor systems test destroyed Unit 4 of the nuclear power station at Chernobyl, Ukraine” (“Backgrounder on Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident”). The accident led to a fire; huge amounts of radioactive material were released, causing significant damage to the environment and people who lived in nearby areas. In response to the emergency, sand and boron were discharged on the reactor. Afterwards (in a period of several weeks following the event), the reactor was covered by a concrete structure.

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It should be noted that the emergency workers who helped deal with the situation developed health issues (radiation sickness) shortly after (Hatch et al., 2015). Several years after the accident, some striking epidemiological observations were made (Cardis & Hatch, 2011). In his article, Jaworowski (2010) writes that early exposure to radiation leads to thyroid cancer; when the study was carried out (25 years following the accident), thyroid cancer risks were much higher in the younger population. In addition, an increase in the levels of breast cancer was also reported.

Basically, the events that occurred during and after the Chernobyl disaster pointed to the importance of keeping careful watch of all nuclear processes. From a sociological viewpoint, social change came about as the result of a highly threatening situation. The catastrophe occurred unexpectedly; it demonstrated how the release of radioactive material can lead to detrimental effects for society and the environment.

Also, this situation helped to review the idea of nuclear weaponry as a rather cruel and highly dangerous means of warfare. Hatch et al. (2011) explain that the accident led to extensive research in different scientific fields; today, researchers aim to find the links between various diseases and the exposure to radiation. Hence, the Chernobyl disaster, while being a tragedy, allowed society to dig deeper into the topic of radiation. This, in turn, has impacted various areas: from military to medicine.