Pre-Reading Questions

  1. What do you know about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster?
  2. Do you know when and where this terrible accident took place?
  3. How many people do you think have died as a result of this accident?
  4. Do you think that any people are still in danger as a result of this accident?
  5. Do you think anything positive may have happened as a result of this disaster?

Vocabulary Preview

  • disaster: a terrible event of accident
  • poisonous: causing sickness or death
  • release: let go
  • explode: blow up
  • resident: a person who lives in a particular place
  • relocate: move
  • due to: because of
  • estimate: give an approximate number
  • at risk: in danger
  • contribute: help to make something happen
  • anniversary: yearly return of the date of an event
  • victim: a person who is hurt of killed in an accident, war, etc.
  • survivor: a person who continues to live
  • improve: get better
  • vastly: greatly

Practice these new vocabulary words here: Chernobyl


  1. On April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear accident in history took place at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant near Pripyat, Ukraine.
  2. A large cloud of poisonous radioactive elements was released into the air when one of the plant's nuclear reactors exploded and started a huge fire. The plant was only 2 miles away from Pripyat and it's 45,000 residents were evacuated within 24 hours, never to return. Today, it is a ghost town that is being taken over by surrounding forests. Another 85,000 people living within 18 miles of Chernobyl we relocated in the next month. Over the years, as many as 350,000 people have left their homes due to high radiation levels.
  3. The wind carried the radioactive cloud to large parts of Europe, as far away as Scandinavia and England. Over 55,000 square miles were contaminated, but 70% of the radiation settled on nearby Belarus, which has since suffered hundreds of billions of dollars in damage.
  4. Some scientists estimate that more than 200,000 people have died since 1986 as a result of the accident, and another 100,000 deaths from cancer may occur in the coming years. Others think that these numbers are much smaller.
  5. Over 5 million people still live in contaminated areas, and their health may be at risk from eating contaminated food, such as fish from the rivers, mushrooms and berries from the forests, and meat or milk from cattle and sheep that graze on the land. Several European countries will not accept food products grown in these areas. Many workers have moved away, and life is difficult for those left behind. Some even believe that the accident contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  6. April 26, 2006, marked the 20th anniversary of the disaster. Ceremonies were held in Ukraine to remember its victims and to bring attention to survivors who continued to be affected by it. One positive outcome is that the safety of nuclear power plants has vastly improved since the accident. However, the safety of nuclear plants around the world still varies, depending on what safeguards and codes countries have implemented. Will Japan's recent nuclear disaster bring about even more safety regulations?


True or False. Read the statements below.

  1. The Chernobyl nuclear accident occurred in Russia.
  2. Over 100,000 people in the area were relocated after the accident.
  3. The Chernobyl disaster was the worst nuclear accident in history.
  4. Over 70% of the radiation fell on Scandinavia and England.
  5. No one knows for sure how many people died as a result of the accident.

Post Reading Questions

  1. What happened at the Chernobyl plant on April 26, 1986?
  2. What has happened to the town of Pripyat since the accident?
  3. How large an area was affected by the accident?
  4. Why has Belarus suffered so much since the accident?
  5. Why are people who live in contaminated areas still suffering today?
  6. Why were ceremonies help in Ukraine to mark the 20th anniversary of the disaster?
  7. What is one positive outcome of this terrible disaster?
  8. Do you think that the Chernobyl accident may have contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union?
  9. Do you think that nuclear power is safe? Would you feel comfortable living near a nuclear power plant?
  10. What are the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power?

Additional Resources