Thirty-two years ago, on this day April 26th a most famous and probably biggest nuclear accident in modern history of man has happened. A Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant got shocked by an explosion which caused hundreds of casualties a whole city to be abandoned and a lot of nuclear fallout fears and actual pollution happened. Today we will see how the place looks today and we going to start with those tour buses that leave from Kiev railroad station to bring tourists to Chernobyl. Yes, it’s that easy now – you just get to the capital Ukraine and from there you take a tour bus to Chernobyl. This is how it goes:
Abandoned houses around Chernobyl.
Trees grow thru the abandoned metal fences. They already much larger trees than they were before so they grow thru the man made obstacles.
The tours from Kiev to Chernobyl are happening on almost daily basis. You can get a guide speaking Russian or English. It takes around one hour trip or 110km to get from Ukrainian capital to the stalking area – place forbidden to live at because of Nuclear poisoning with Pripyat at its epicenter.
To get into this area you need to pass thru the control points like this one. They check your id and check if you are in the list of tourists that were admitted to come here. Obviously you have to reserve your tour beforehand and tour operator gives them the list with names who are going to visit.
Even not at Chernobyl itself you start noticing you are in protected area. No more villages around. Just wilderness. Some villages stay abandoned with no signs of modern capitalism – just old Soviet signs, old houses. However the old Soviet monument on the village entrance is freshly painted.
This is an alley marking the names of the towns and villages that “disappeared” or became unihabited after the Chernobyl accident. You can see that there are tens or maybe hundreds of the little towns and villages – not just Chernobyl or Pripyat (the most famous ones though).
It’s better to take the tour in spring or autumn. Every visitor should be in the cloths covering his body fully (you can have a face uncovered though). So because of this it can be sort of very hot in summer to wear something like this. Also in summer there are a lot of greenery around and its simply blocking your view.
When the tourist is leaving the “zone” he is checked for nuclear pollution on his cloths. If it’s higher than some norm he is ordered to leave his cloths behind. Once a girl left without pants after she was ordered to leave the cloths.
Many tourists bring radiation dosimeters with them. Those are devices to measure your exposure to radiation. You can rent them right there for $10.
When you get closer to the explosion epicenter you pass thru one more control point. After it you reach Chernobyl town. In Soviet times it had a secret object – a huge radar “Duga” – on photo above. It’s 140 meter tall and it was built to track launches of nuclear missiles even if it happens far far away. Ironically enough the nuclear disaster happened just a few kilometers away from this huge mechanical eye who was looking for the nuclear threat overseas.
Here you can already see a high radiation readings on your dosimeters. However it’s still lower than the exposure than you get flying on an airplane at high altitudes which can get you exposures of ten times higher the norm (yes airplane travels exposure you to radiation levels of ten and higher levels more than the normal level on the Earth).
This is an abandoned kindergarten and preschool care. It’s a kind of creepy place. Lot’s of children toys and items laying around.
Everyone here was evacuated in one day. They had to leave at once in just a matter of a few hours.
And this is the exploded reactor itself. Now its covered by a huge hangar. This hangar is so huge that you can hide a whole Liberty statue in there. It was built and assembled away from the reactor and then rolled to its place above the decaying reactor on special railway because you can assemble above the reactor – the radiation is still deadly there.
There is an observation deck a few hundred yards away from the hangar and reactor and here the radiation level is same as on the airplane – just ten times higher the norm.
You can even have a lunch break here but you have to leave the place no later than 8pm as there is a martial law order in power over there.
And here is a famous Pripyat town – the place that was evacuated in a matter of 36 hours after the explosion at the nuclear reactor. In Soviet times it was a pretty rich place – atomic engineers were having above average salaries. Many wanted to work here. The average age of the population was just 26 years old. And it was founded just in 1970, to exist for just 16 years and then be abandoned again.
And this place is called “red haired forest”. It’s a place in a forest with a still high radiation levels even so many years after the explosion. The reason for this is because first nuclear fallout cloud after explosion went here. And it’s called “red haired” because all trees and plants here turned rusty-red in a few hours after the accident. Red branches, red pine trees.
There is also a “bridge of death”. It’s called like this because in first hours after the explosion locals went to the bridge to see what’s going on at the nuclear power plant. And right on that bridge they received very high dosage of radiation, some were lethal.
This is a hospital where first victims were brought in. Some items dropped here, like firefighter helmets laying on the ground or on the floor in the hospital still have the radiation levels 500 times higher than the norm.
This ferry wheel is probably one of the most famous Pripyat objects. It was set to be opened to public on May 1st, 1986. And the nuclear accident happened April 26st, 1986, just four days before the launch so it never actually gave rides to the kids.
Also they have a monument to the “heroes who saved the world” – first fighters who tried to cope with the accident outcomes.
A glass is still standing inside the drinking water machine. Probably every tourist is to scary to take it with him or even to touch it.
In general such trip costs just around $100 in 2018 so if you are interested in the topic and traveling to Russia or Ukraine you might consider doing that.
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