Return to Chernobyl
Return to Chernobyl synopsis
52 min documentary
On April 26th 1986 an explosion at Reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station in northern Ukraine triggered what the United Nations has described as the greatest environmental catastrophe in the history of humanity.
190 tons of highly radioactive uranium and graphite were expelled spewing radioactive substances to the height of more than 1km into the earth’s atmosphere. The radioactive plume from the burning reactor moved north and then west and on into Poland and Sweden, where it was first detected, taking with it radioactive Iodine 131, over millions of unsuspecting people.
Between the stricken regions of Belarus, Western Russia and Northern Ukraine, the United Nations estimates that up to 9 million people have been affected directly or indirectly by the fallout. The people of the affected areas have received the highest known exposure to radiation in the history of the atomic age, the full consequences of which will not be fully understood for at least another 50 years.
In 2003, Duncan Stewart was in Chernobyl overlooking a charity building project and filming a documentary. When his cameraman was in an accident he was forced to take over the filming of the documentary. While trying to get footage of the old Nuclear reactor, Duncan had a near-fatal accident himself.
Doctors from the region performed life-saving emergency surgery on him with limited equipment in the highly contaminated radioactive zone. Now two years on and coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl Nuclear accident, Duncan returns to finish the work he began in 2003.
The impact of the Chernobyl disaster is told through the stories of the people Duncan meets on his journey back to Chernobyl. This story provides a vivid testament to the endurance of the human spirit and the desire to overcome adversity. Top scientists reveal the reasons for the ongoing problems of the region and the solutions based on the latest research. The findings reveal huge implications for the future of nuclear power and the forgotten people of Belarus.
Photos are by Julian Behal. Click on an image to view and navigate.