It’s hard to think all the way back to the events of April 26, 1986. Nonetheless, it has become a standout moment in a world of nuclear accidents: Chernobyl.
In the early days of what would become the world’s worst nuclear accident, 32 people died and dozens of others suffered painful radiation burns.
It took Swedish authorities reporting the fallout to prompt the Soviets to admit an accident had occurred.
For years, it seemed that all the people who chose to stay in Chernobyl mourned, and tried to manage.
The area was ignored for decades, first by the Soviet government and later by the Ukrainian government.
In Photos: 31 Years Later, Chernobyl Disaster Remembered
Then, suddenly, there were signs of activity, perhaps even renewal.
“Today, almost a year after we have started the work, I can announce the first private investment project working in the Chernobyl zone to build a small solar energy plant,” Ostap Semerak, Ukraine’s minister of ecology, said in an exclusive interview with VOA.
It’s projected to be completed in May.
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More than 50 companies — energy giants and small companies alike — have submitted their applications, expressing interest in the solar farm in the Exclusion Zone. When this park becomes a reality, all the fields combined will be able to produce half of the power that had been produced by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the early days.
“Cumulatively, those would be enough to produce 2.5 gigawatts of power, which would be 2,500 megawatts,” said Semerak. “This is comparable to the output by two units of a nuclear power plant. This is about half the capacity which the Chernobyl power plant had before the disaster.”