WHY CAN PEO­PLE LIVE IN HIROSHIMA AND NA­GASAKI BUT NOT THE CH­ER­NOBYL EX­CLU­SION ZONE?

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Science -

To­day, Hiroshima and Na­gasaki are thriv­ing cities in­hab­ited by a to­tal of 1.6 mil­lion peo­ple, and the back­ground lev­els of ra­di­a­tion there are no dif­fer­ent from else­where in the world. Mean­while, sci­en­tists es­ti­mate that many ar­eas within the im­me­di­ate vicin­ity of the Ch­er­nobyl nu­clear power plant, most within a 10km area, may be un­in­hab­it­able for hun­dreds to thou­sands of years. The main rea­son for the dif­fer­ence in out­comes is that Lit­tle Boy and Fat Man, the bombs that hit Hiroshima and Na­gasaki, ex­ploded at heights of around 450 to 600 me­tres, al­low­ing the ra­dioac­tiv­ity to dis­perse soon after. Mean­while, the bulk of the mas­sive re­lease of ra­dioac­tive ma­te­rial in Ch­er­nobyl oc­curred at ground level. Another dif­fer­ence was the ef­fi­ciency of fis­sion re­ac­tion in the two bombs. Re­searchers es­ti­mate that just 1 per cent of the ura­nium car­ried by Lit­tle Boy and plu­to­nium car­ried by

Fat Man ac­tu­ally det­o­nated — only about 0.9kg. On the other hand, some 190 tonnes of fuel are thought to have been va­por­ised in the Ch­er­nobyl ac­ci­dent.

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