At one time one of the youngest cities in the Soviet Union, Chernobyl is now a prohibited zone.
The city, which is set upon with forest, seems to be a calm and solitude place. But it will be always remembered as a place of one of the world’s most horrible nuclear tragedies.
In 1986, there was an accident on the Nuclear Power Plant. For more than 20 years this place has been prohibited for living and today it stands as evidence of the awful consequences of a nuclear burst.
The Ukrainian city of Pripyat is now a real ghost town. It is situated on the border of Belorussia, 2 kilometers from The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant with the population of 49,000 people before the catastrophe. For quite a long time, the city was a prohibited area for all the humanity as exactly this city has direct connection to the Nuclear Power Plant.
The Ukrainian city of Chernobyl is situated 12 kilometers from the Nuclear Plant with the population of 14,000 people before the disaster. This city has nothing had to do with the Nuclear Plant.
Both of these cities are on the territory of Chernobyl district of Kyiv region. The station was given its name because of the district.
The tragic event took place on April 26, 1986 in the forth power block. This was the biggest release of radiation into the environment so far. A gigantic cloud of 140 tons of radioactive fuel flew over Ukraine, Belorussia and Russia. More hazardous particles continued to leave the nuclear reactor due to the fire that lasted for 2 weeks. The catastrophe is believed to have happened due to poor work of those who were in the station on that unfortunate night. For the moment, the forth power reactor is hidden under a concrete shelter, the so-called, sarcophagus.
In 2012, an international state coalition took final decisions to fund and build an additional sarcophagus around the one that exists now. The project is aimed to be finished in 2015 and costs over 550 million Euro.
On the night of April 26, 12 workers on duty on the 4th block of the Nuclear Plant, were getting ready to start an important experiment. To test new equipment of control facilities, they had to imitate an emergency stop of the turbine. Twenty eight minutes after midnight, the workers tried to decrease reactor thermal output. But something went wrong and instead of 700 MWt (megawatt thermal power) it dropped to 30. Usually, if this happens the experiment must be stopped, but for fear of administrative and material sanctions, the employees diced to heat it up artificially. Only a miracle could save the situation, unfortunately a disaster happened instead.
A massive explosion shook the whole building and broke the roof of the station. A second explosion lifted a two tons plate and threw it several hundred meters. An unbelievable amount of radiation was emitted, with the wind bringing it to the north-west. The most radiation dropped on the territories that were the closest to the disaster: Belorussia, Poland, the Baltic Sea and as far away as St. Petersburg and Moscow.
The most awful thing about this catastrophe is that the Soviet government in order to avoid panic decided to keep this situation secret. Children went to school as usual, mothers walked with their kids, everybody worked and lived their ordinary lives while there was a deathly dose of radiation hanging above Pripyat. At any time it could reach Kyiv, at that time a city of three million inhabitants.
Dozens of firefighters were thrown to stop the fire in the reactor. Unexplainable governmental behavior led to dozens of deaths and countless health injures that still have their consequences nowadays.
The annual parade for the Labor Day was held as it should have been on the 1st of May and millions of people were walking and smiling - not knowing that they were under serious danger.
After all bad news flew fast, the Soviet government eventually revealed more of the mysterious secret and evacuated the whole city Pripyat and Chernobyl. Citizens were given just a few minutes to pack the most necessary stuff such as documents and articles of daily necessity. As a result, children were forced to leave their schools, mothers could hardly find their children and most of the pets were left alone.
There are countless heart breaking stories about those horrible days and there is still evidence of the tragedy that will leave its trace forever in the history of all post soviet countries.
The statistics say:
- The total area that was exposed is estimated 200 square killometers and occupies such countries as Ukraine, Belorussia and Russia
- People died in the first month after the ecological disasterof radiation sickness.
- Further consequences show that more than 60 people died in the next 15 years.
- 134 were suffering of radiation sickness.
- 115 000 of people were evacuated from 30 km zone.
- It took many years to liquidate after-effects of atomic explosion.
- The Chernobyl disaster exceeds Atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in its range.
- Disaster caused dozens of thousands deaths and 10 000 baby teratosis (malformations), 10 000 thyroid cancers with 50 000 more expected in the near 10 years
Today, the victims of the Chernobyl disaster suffer from brain attacks, thyroid gland cancer and numerous heart diseases. Once a year, all involved in this catastrophe take recovering programs in several hospitals throughout the country, in addition they are given benefits in form of money that are paid annually.
In addition to this, there are some more benefit, such as a free medicines; servicing in priority at drug stores and medical and preventive institutions; a free medical service; free trips to therapeutic resorts or treatment centers. The kinds of benefits depend on the disability category of the sufferer.
Pripyat city is now a "ghost city" or "dead city" that has thousands of abandoned apartments with all the belongings. The school is probably the saddest part of the city: opened exercise books, shoes in the changing room, covered with thick layers of dust that one is still prohibited to touch due to the radiation exposure. If one looks around, he or she still can see the Soviet Union emblems, flags and other signs of soviet time. This is the city where the time stood still in the very late 1986.
The explosion led to several animal and bird mutations that have been numerously photographed. Touching any of the flora and fauna in the territory of Pripyat is still prohibited. Walking through the bushes that overgrew their size 5 times due to radiation or looking at indescribable huge fish that river Pripyat is alive with, make you shudder and feel in a horror movie that is, in fact, a very sad reality.
Today, Chernobyl and Pripyat are attractions for extreme tourists. Because of constant breaking of safety instructions by tourists, the trips to Chernobyl and Pripyat were frozen by the government, but now they are possible again, though only on specific days and with 11 days advance reservation.
Now, people have a unique possibility to walk through empty streets and to enter abandoned houses but no touching.
Though it might seem exciting, visiting Prypyat alone is dangerous. The only way to travel there is by ordering a tour with a professional guide who knows which place is safe.
Before entering the disastrous zone, you’ll be instructed what to do and how to behave. It is very important to follow all the regulations of the guide for the sake of your health. The excursions are done in two languages: Russian and English but it’s necessary to order everything in advance as the trips to Pripyat are not done on everyday procedure but on specific days when it is allowed. The price varies, but usually for English speaking extreme travellers it is around 130-150$. It starts in the morning; the point of departure is Kyiv. On the way to Chernobyl zone, you’ll be shown unique stock shots and short movies about modern Pripyat. You come back to Kyiv in the very evening. The impressions that you will bring are not to be compared with anything.
While these cities are counted among the most dangerous places to be, there are still some elderlies who came back to their houses after the massive evacuation. We call them “self settlers”. They refused to leave their houses because they feel that there is no other place like home.