The Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Pripyat, Ukraine was known to have many design flaws and this left the reactors susceptible to turning out of control, with many warnings being given about it. This was widely known, and also ignored. The power plant was a disaster waiting to happen, and on April 26th 1986 it did. Being the first level 7 classified event on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the highest classification there is, it created a huge impact on the whole population.
Eventually, the Chernobyl disaster triggered Media coverage around the globe and dominated the news for days. However, this did not happen until more than two days after the disaster occurred, and only because other nuclear power stations in surrounding countries were detecting high levels of radioactivity. The Soviet Union showed complete disregard for human lives whilst handling the situation, for days attempting to assure the Media and neighbouring countries that everything was fine, downplaying both the seriousness of the event and the rising number of casualties as a result of it and this led to delayed Media coverage around the globe. Their silence on the situation meant that civilians living in the surrounding areas of Chernobyl were unaware of the harmful effects the radiation around them was causing, and even to this day the consequences of this are reported in the Media.
As a result of the delayed reports of the disaster through the Media due to the Soviet Union’s silence on the situation, when announcements were finally made through radio and television it led to widespread panic, with thousands flooding train stations and other routes out of Kiev and other surrounding areas in an attempt to escape. News channels and papers alike were racing against each other to report new information on the happenings surrounding the event, resulting in it being constantly featured in news reports for days on end. Also, because of the distrust many people already had in the Soviet authorities, a great deal of debate about the situation at the site occurred in the Media during the early days of the event, which only fuelled the distrust people held for them. Since these events, the Chernobyl disaster has made many appearances in the Media as a result of various countries debating upon whether to build more nuclear power plants or not, and the consequences doing so could result in having.
The Chernobyl disaster has become an event of huge interest since it took place, even attracting tourists to visit the power plant despite the area to this day being uninhabitable, and a tribute to it in the form of a museum in Kiev. The event had a huge cultural impact, influencing many products to be made using the disaster as inspiration. For example, the 1988 Marvel Comic miniseries “Meltdown”, featuring Wolverine and Havok, used the disaster as a large plot point, David Bowie’s 1987 song “Time Will Crawl” was inspired by it, as well as the music video for Example’s 2007 song “What We Made” being shot on location in Pripyat and focusing on parts of the city that were greatly affected by the disaster. Even the popular video game Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare features a mission taking place in Pripyat. Many references to the disaster can be found in much loved TV series such as the Simpsons and Only Fools and Horses, with the final 20 minutes of the well-known movie “A Good Day to Die Hard”, the fifth film of the Die Hard series, being set in Chernobyl. To this day documentaries are being made and aired detailing the serious events that make up the terrible disaster and the effects they had at the time, and still do to this day.