Nuclear meltdown: A refresher on Chernobyl

Ten years of "60 Minutes" reporting on the Chernobyl disaster, long-term health effects, and the "sarcophagus" solution

As Japan scrambles to contain what appears to be the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, "60 Minutes Overtime" brings you ten years' worth of reporting on Chernobyl by correspondent Steve Kroft and producer Michael Gavshon.

"60 Minutes" first visited Chernobyl's crippled nuclear reactor in 1989, three years after the accident. We were the first American television crew to be allowed almost total access. In the deserted nuclear ghost town of Pripayat, Kroft's footsteps crunching in the snow were one of the few sounds to be heard. It was once home to 45,000 people. They weren't told that anything was wrong at the nuclear plant until 36 hours after the disaster. The populace has never returned.

Special report: Disaster in Japan

In 1994, Kroft and his producers made it inside the Chernobyl plant. They donned protective masks and were given a very speedy tour of the "sarcophagus:" a 24-story concrete cover, built after the accident with remote-controlled bulldozers to contain 180 tons of nuclear fuel.

If you're looking for context on the developing story in Japan, this video is a refresher on the mother of all nuclear accidents, how scientists attempted to minimize damage, and the aftereffects of radiation exposure on local children.

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