Chernobyl was the greatest nuclear disaster of the 20th century. On April 26th, 1986, one of four nuclear reactors located in the Soviet Union melted down and contaminated a vast area of Eastern Europe. The meltdown, a result of human error, lapsed safety precautions, and lack of a containment vessel, was barely contained by dropping sand and releasing huge amounts of deadly radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere. The resulting contamination killed or injured hundreds of thousands of people and devastated the environment. The affects of this accident are still being felt today and will be felt for generations to come.
Nuclear power has always been a controversial issue because of its inherent danger and the amount of waste that the plants produce. Once considered a relatively safe form for generating energy, nuclear power has caused more problems than it has solved. While it has reduced the amount of traditional natural resources (fossil fuels), used to generate power like coal, wood, and oil, nuclear generating plants have become anachronisms. Maintaining them and keeping them safe has become a problem of immense proportion. As the plants age and other technology becomes available, what to do with these "eyesores” is a consuming issue for many government agencies and environmental groups. No one knows what to do about the problem and in many areas of the world, another nuclear meltdown is an accident waiting to happen. Despite a vast array of safety measures, a break in reactor pipe or a leak in a containment vessel, could spell another environmental disaster for the world.
In addition to the potential dangers of accidents in generating stations, nuclear waste is a continuing problem that is growing exponentially. Nuclear waste can remain radioactive for about 600 years and disposing these wastes or storing them is an immense problem. Everyone wants the energy generated by power plants, but no one wants to take re