Fukushima vs Chernobyl © Getty Images

Head to head: Fukushima vs Chernobyl

Two of the worst nuclear disasters ever to have happened had devastating effects on the world around them, but which was worse?

FUKUSHIMA V CHERNOBYL
800 RADIATION RELEASED (petabecquerels*) 5,200
3,200 SPREAD OF RADIATION (km2) 200,000
300,000 POPULATION EVACUATED 335,000
0 PREDICTED CANCER DEATHS up to 57,000
£70bn COST £185m

Only two events have ever reached the maximum level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale: the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986 and the Fukushima disaster of 2011. But the causes and effects of the two were quite different. Chernobyl released more radioactive material but cost much less to clean up, principally because almost no compensation was paid to the people affected by the fallout. LV

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*One becquerel is a unit of radiation equivalent to one nucleus decay per second. One petabecquerel is 1015 becquerels.


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