In April of 1986, the worst nuclear accident in the world occurred at Chernobyl nuclear station. Nuclear radiation and debris spread around the area, rendering it unlivable. This disaster was destructive not only to the environment, but also to the economy and international relations.
In the aftermath of this incident, Russian leaders were faced with a massive bill. The cleanup effort was the most obvious cost. Thought Russian leaders have never published the cost that they initially faced, Ukranian authorities in 1996, ten years after the disaster, stated that cleanup costs have surpassed 1 billion dollars a year. Not only did Russian authorities need to clean up the area, but they needed to find housing for those displaced, over 40,000 citizens. Also, in true Russian form, the government spent a good amount of money trying to do damage control in the media as well, further driving up their costs.
Another unforeseen effect of the disaster was a negative impact on international relations. Since Chernobyl was located in the northern part of current-day Ukraine, there was a large amount of resentment towards Soviet leaders. Ukrainian leaders felt that they had repeatedly been victimized by central Russian leaders, and this disaster was the tipping point. Add this to rising tensions from other Russian controlled territories, such as the Armenians as we discussed in class on Thursday, and Soviet leaders were dealing with multiple complaints from their territories.
Chernobyl had long reaching impacts to Russia, and many of those still affect the present day Chernobyl area. The area around the plant still cannot be inhabited, and there children from the area still experience radiation caused diseases and abnormalities. In the immediate years following the incident though, there were extreme environmental, economic, and foreign implications.
Chernobyl information: http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1985chernobyl&Year=1985
Armenian article: http://dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/13551589
Ukranian article: http://dlib.eastview.com.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu :8080/searchresults/article.jsp?art=0&id=13615305