How bad was Chernobyl?

It depends upon who does the calculations. It is widely accepted that Chernobyl was a 7 on the INES scale, the maximum level.

The Chernobyl Forum (WHO, 2006) calculated a total number of 9,000 cancer deaths in Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia from the Chernobyl catastrophe over a period of 90 years after the meltdown.

Other estimates, by highly qualified independent researchers reach as high as 1.79 million deaths worldwide over all time as a result of this single accident. An ambitious metastudy published by the New York Academy of Sciences estimated “the overall mortality for the period from April 1986 to the end of 2004 from the Chernobyl catastrophe” at “985,000 additional deaths”. See Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment

Long-lived contamination from Chernobyl:

Chernobyl's Control Zones - note that the exclusion zones are scattered over 200 miles.

Chernobyl’s Control Zones – note that the exclusion zones are scattered over 200 miles.

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