On April 26, 1986 the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded. The day before the accident, the operators of the plant were preparing for a one-time shutdown in order to perform a routine maintenance on reactor 4. The operators violated safety regulations by disabling plant equipment, like the automatic shutdown machine. An immense amount of steam was created when the extremely hot nuclear rods were lowered into the cooling water, this created more reactivity in the nuclear core of reactor 4. This caused an immense explosion that detached the 1,000ton plate that covered the reactor core, releasing radiation into the atmosphere.
A second explosion occurred, with greater power, it blew the reactor building apart and spewed burning graphite, this caused intense fires around reactor 4 and reactor 3, which was still operating around the time of the explosions. Most of the radiation released from the failed nuclear reactor was from iodine-131, cesium-134 and cesium-137. On April 27 residents nearby were evacuated. By that time many were complaining about signs of radiation sickness.
The environment was deeply affected. The trees, in the woodland areas around the plant, died due to the high levels of radiation. The dead trees turned a bright red-color, the region was than known as the Red Forest. The trees were than bulldozed and buried. Today, many different species are known to be living in this region. The animals are known to have high levels of cesium-137 in their bodies. The area however won’t be safe for human habitation for at least 20,000 years.