Transcript for ARCHIVAL VIDEO: Inside Chernobyl 5 Years Later
So most of the public activity took place over the weekend this is the 21 earth today. President Bush issued a proclamation which he said that every American can make a difference at the grass roots level. With so much emphasis on Americans in the environment over the weekend the scene to us a good day to concentrate on the potential for environmental disaster elsewhere. It was five years ago this week that a nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power plant in the Soviet Union went out of control. And its uranium core melted down there was some follow up in some cases tiny nearly everywhere in the world. And there were a lot of lies from the Soviet government about how the cleanup was going to now the Soviets admit not nearly enough was done. Moreover it turns out that the way they chose to stop a further radiation leaks is not working ABC's John Lawrence is there. The giant steel and concrete coffin containing the remains of nuclear power station number four at Chernobyl. What Soviets called the sarcophagus. Is slowly crumbling. Emitting much higher levels of radiation than the Soviets have admitted. Readings we took five days ago show radiation levels up to 375. Times higher than before the accident. It means that a human being would receive a dose of radiation. Greater than the safety limit for an entire year in less than fourteen hours. The fact that the reactor is giving off significant amounts of radiation and that the area is contaminated from miles around. Means that Chernobyl is still unsafe. Five years ago the sarcophagus was built so quickly and so poorly that it is crumbling under its own weight. Soviet scientists here say a second containment structure must be built before the first one cracks open and collapses completely. You can see how serious it is from inside the sarcophagus. Sunlight from the outside filters through the cracks in the roof. Soviet scientists are not sure how to dispose of the 135. Tons of nuclear fuel. That will remain dangerous for centuries. And reactor number four is not the only danger. It could all happen again here. Just a few hundred feet from the ruined reactor where workers still operate nuclear power station number three. They get a radiation check as they arrive. Reactor number three uses the same technology and power system as the reactor that exploded. Nuclear physicists say it is unstable. And dangerously designed. It is also obsolete. The control room has no computers. All the switching and signals are sent by hand. The supervisor of this shift is a hero of Chernobyl. Alexander parades and risked his life to shut down station number three while number four was disintegrating next door. The radiation appears to be taking its troll on parade since help. He worries about the safety of number three. He needs modern computers. As this Wimbledon is the thing. We have to have new electronics to make this reactor. As safe as a Weston's ivory Arlington and there's no way of us being able to do us. The consequences of the accident are much more devastating than was originally believed. The cleanup campaign has made only a small impact on the massive amounts of radioactivity. Thousands of square miles of land are contaminated. More than 150000. People have been evacuated. While another 200000. Are still waiting for relocation. Some like these halo Russians who live more than 100 miles from Chernobyl feel betrayed by the government. Richard Dunn for a former Puerto still moral. They consider that they will die very soon. Not nondescript arrived at their stock not what you're good. They consider themselves to be a red beets under ex Adam and that's put an end to die from them. Nearly five million people live in areas of the Soviet Union where the land food and walker are contaminated. Thousands are sick. No one knows or will say how many have died. Tomorrow. The health consequences of Chernobyl in our next report. John Laurence ABC news Bartolo Mali Africa.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.