Thirty-three years ago, on April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern Ukraine experienced two explosions and a fire that released deadly levels of radioactive gas and ash. This event is widely considered the most disastrous nuclear power plant accident in history.
Historian Kate Brown says that “much of what we’re told about the Chernobyl disaster and its after-effects is incomplete or incorrect.” Today, she joins us on the show to share her research of Chernobyl and nuclear history and to discuss her latest book, Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future. Along the way, she and Patty consider what happens when atomic energy is released; the impact of radiation on the landscape, on animal bodies, and on human bodies; and the environmental and public health consequences of large-scale technological disasters.
Kate Brown is a professor of environmental and nuclear history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is the author of A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland (Harvard, 2004), Plutopia: Nuclear Families in Atomic Cities and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford, 2013), and the recently-published Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future (W.W. Norton, 2019). She serves as a senior editor of International Labor and Working Class History (ILWCH).