35 Years After Chernobyl Disaster

35 years ago, the worst nuclear disaster in history happened at the power plant at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union. A failed safety test caused the nuclear reactor in Block 4 to become unstable. As a result a chain reaction caused the core to explode. Fire spread out over the entire compound. Two people were killed in the explosion, over 30 workers officially died of radiation sickness. It is not known how many people died in the months and years that followed.

The Soviet authorities hid the truth about the explosion and did not warn other countries. A nuclear cloud spread across Europe for more than a week. Almost half a million people had to leave their homes.

The accident led to a worldwide debate on the safety of nuclear energy. It may have also been one of the causes of the collapse of the Soviet Union a few years later.

After the clean-up the remaining reactors at Chernobyl continued to produce electricity for some years before the whole power station was shut down by Ukrainian authorities in 2000. A sarcophagus was built around Block 4 to prevent radioactivity from escaping. In 2017 a new steel structure was built to ensure more safety. The whole site is expected to be completely decommissioned by 2065.

Today, the area is still affected by radiation. Even though there is a 30 km exclusion zone a special kind of tourism has emerged. People from all over the world are coming to see the remains of the catastrophe and observe the wildlife in the region. The Ukrainian government is planning to use the area as a site for nuclear waste.

Reactor 4 months after the disaster
IAEA Imagebank, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • affected = here: there is still dangerous radiation
  • authorities = the people who are in control of a certain part of a region
  • caused = led to
  • causes = reasons
  • chain reaction = event that produces more and more energy in an uncontrolled way
  • collapse = breakdown; if something does not exist anymore
  • compound = a set of buildings
  • core = the central part of a nuclear reactor
  • decommission = to stop using the power plant and tear it down
  • disaster = a sudden event that causes a lot of damage and kills people
  • emerge = come up, appear
  • entire = whole
  • exclusion zone = area that people are not allowed to enter because it is dangerous
  • failed = something that did not work
  • former = earlier, once
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • nuclear energy = the energy you create when you split atoms
  • nuclear waste = leftover material from nuclear reactors
  • officially = as said by the government
  • power plant = one or more buildings that produce electricity
  • prevent = stop
  • radiation sickness = illness that is caused when your body gets too much radiation
  • radioactivity = the sending out of radiation when an atom is split
  • remains = what is left
  • sarcophagus = here: a structure that is put over the reactor so that dangerous radiation cannot escape
  • shut down = to close something
  • Soviet Union = the largest communist country that existed between 1917 and 1991
  • spread = travel, move across
  • unstable = something that may suddenly change and become worse
  • wildlife = the animals that live naturally there

Honda To Produce Only Electric Cars By 2040

Japanese carmaker Honda has announced plans to stop the production of petrol- and diesel-powered cars by 2040. In addition, 40% of all cars produced by the company will be emissions-free, either electric or fuel-cell driven, by 2030. The company also plans to introduce electric motorcycles and scooters to the market. At the moment, Honda does not have very many electric vehicles in its production.

Honda has become a partner of American carmaker General Motors and has agreed to use GM batteries in its new electric cars. It also wants to develop driver-assisted software in order to make cars safer and prevent accidents.

Honda is one of many car producers that have promised to make cars emissions-free. Such cars will become more affordable because of cheaper batteries. They will also provide more range. Currently, only a very small part of cars sold worldwide are electric.

Carmakers are reacting to government plans which are to ban all diesel and petrol cars by a certain date in the future.

Honda electric sports car
Mj-bird, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • affordable = cheap enough for most people to be able to buy it
  • ban = forbid, not allow
  • currently = at the moment, now
  • develop = design or create something new
  • driver-assisted = here: program that helps a driver drive a car
  • emissions-free = when no gases get into the atmosphere
  • fuel-cell = machine in which oxygen and hydrogen are used to produce electricity
  • in addition = also
  • range = here: how far you can drive
  • vehicle = machine with an engine that is used to take people or products from one place to another

US Promises To Cut Emissions By Half in Next Decade

The United States has promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% within the next ten years. In an online meeting of heads of state from the main industrial countries US President Joe Biden said that the United States would aim at achieving zero emissions by the middle of the century.

Biden said that fighting global warming and turning to clean energy would create millions of new jobs. In addition, the United States would produce all of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.

The new US president has made climate change an important issue , in contrast to Donald Trump, who pulled out of the Paris climate agreement.

Other countries, including Japan and Canada also promised to reduce emissions.

Words

  • achieve = reach, get to
  • aim = hope to do something
  • emission = gas that is sent out into the air
  • heads of state = the presidents of prime ministers of countries
  • in addition = also
  • in contrast to = as opposed to ; there’s a difference between
  • issue = topic
  • pull out= get out of; not be a member anymore
  • reduce = lower
  • zero emissions = no more gases that are sent out into the atmosphere