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Nuclear power stations use a radioactive material called uranium as an energy source to make electricity.
Radioactive materials give out energy called radiation. It is a very powerful form of energy that is absorbed by everything around it.
Plants, animals, and people are affected by radiation. It attacks the cells which make up our bodies. Radiation energy remains active for a long time.


Early in the morning of April 26,1986, alarm bells began to ring at a poorly constructed power station at Chernobyl in the Soviet Union. Soon after, there was an explosion at the power station, which sent a dangerous cloud of radioactive material into the air. The cloud contained radiation that is harmful to all living things.
Radioactive clouds swept across many parts of Europe during the days following the explosion at Chernobyl.

Chernobyl nuclear power plant

For a few days after the explosion, wind spread the radioactive cloud over central and northwestern Europe. Some people died as a result of the accident, and many people were seriously injured. Others are still suffering from the effects of radiation sickness. Radioactive rain fell on land on which animals were grazing.
 Chernobyl radiation map

 After the accident, animals that had eaten radioactive grass could not be used for milk or meat. Many more people will probably die or become ill from the radioactivity, which will remain active for many years.
 Chernobyl effects on people

The world needs electricity.
Nuclear power is one way of producing it.
But what if there is another, even more serious accident?
Such accidents are possible, even at power plants better constructed than the one at Chernobyl.


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