More than 100,000 people had to evacuate the area around the nuclear plant and an exclusion zone was set up, where people may not enter to this day. However, the impact of this nuclear accident had even further-reaching consequences than many are aware of, with radioactive material affecting farms in Wales, over 2500km away. Even before the world found out the extent of the disaster – after an attempted cover-up by the Soviet Union – rain fell in Wales with alarming quantities of radioactive caesium and iodine, according to a 2016 BBC report.
In the immediate aftermath of this, the authorities imposed a ban on the sale of all animals.
Glyn Roberts, now president of the Farmers’ Union of Wales, said: “At the time we were worried what effect the fallout would have on our health.
“My wife was expecting and we were worried what effect it would have on our children, that was the prime issue.
“I remember I was in Ruthin market when we were told that we could not sell any of our lamb or beef.
“That was when it hit home, and there was quite a bit of cumulative cash flow problems.”
A total of 344 Welsh farms were put under restrictions, with animals’ radiation levels monitored before they were allowed to be sold at market.
The number of animals that failed this test peaked in 1992, but some recorded higher than normal levels of caesium as recently as 2011.
The following year, the authorities decided to discontinue monitoring, saving costs of £300,000 per year.
Mr Roberts believes more lambs were born with abnormalities in the years after Chernobyl, although no official statistics back this up.
He said: “Every farm has some abnormal lambs born, but I believe that for the first years after Chernobyl there were more abnormalities in the lambs.
“I have no evidence, but that is what I feel.”
A higher rate of congenital birth defects in human children were reported in Ukraine and Belarus in the years after the Chernobyl accident.
A 2010 study by the American Academy of Paediatrics found a correlation between the presence of hazardous levels of strontium-90 and dramatically high rates of certain congenital birth defects.
Belarus, whose border with Ukraine is just four miles from the Chernobyl power plant absorbed around 70 percent of the nuclear fallout and its people have suffered the most.
A 2012 UNICEF study suggested that more than 20 percent of adolescent children in Belarus suffer from disabilities caused by birth defects.
The next episode of a historical drama mini series entitled ‘Chernobyl’ will air tonight on Sky Atlantic in the UK, available on HBO in the US.
The series is following the story of Valery Legasov, who was employed by the Soviets to investigate the disaster.
The show depicts the initial Soviet cover-up and denial of the scale of the explosion, as well as looking at some of the long-term impacts for those affected by the accident.