Good question: why can’t we live in Chernobyl, but we can live in Hiroshima?

And the answer is on Physics Stack Exchange. Basically, the short answer is that the bomb that blew up Hiroshima had only a tiny fraction of the fuel that is still in Chernobyl and the type of reactions that existed during the explosion above Hiroshima generated radioactive isotopes that are absorbed by nature more quickly.

Th bomb that blew Hiroshima had 141 pounds of U-235 material, but a nuclear reactor like Chernobyl can have up to 50 000 lbs of fissionable material. Also, the material in a nuclear plant is made so that it can last longer and thus the isotopes generated can last up to 20 000 years in the core and up to 20 – 50 years in the areas surrounding the plant.

By comparison, after a nuclear blast it is safe to come back home in 4 decades.

Now you know why Chernobyl and Fukushima are dreaded disasters that can affect us for decades to come.

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