On April 26th 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the city of Pripyat in northern Ukraine suffered a catastrophic failure, resulting in a nuclear meltdown and a series of explosions which scattered radioactive material across large areas of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. More than 50,000 people were evacuated the following day, and over the next 14 years another 300,000 people were moved, leading to an exclusion zone today measuring 2,600 square kilometers that will likely remain in place for hundreds of years. To this day, the human cost of the disaster is still unknown, with estimates that in their lifetimes, anywhere between 4,000 and 200,000 people will be affected by cancers attributable to the incident. Along with the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster of 2011, the Chernobyl Disaster is one of only two level 7 nuclear events in history.
Today, exactly 30 years later, the incident at Chernobyl remains one of the most poignant demonstrations of humanity’s mastery over its environment, and also one of the most powerful demonstrations of how easily, and how catastrophically, that mastery can go awry. But humans are if nothing else resilient, and throughout history have used every means at their disposal to put right the problems they have caused for themselves - including a number of structures constructed to mitigate the effects of man-made disasters, both from humanity’s past and its possible future.