You can visit Chernobyl safely
On a recent trip to Ukraine we decided to visit Chernobyl. Visiting the Chernobyl exclusion zone was one of the most unique and amazing experiences for me. Seeing what a post-apocalyptic world could look like for us really shed light on what the people living in the effected towns of the exclusion zone went through.
Many families were separated because of the urgency to during the nuclear disaster. There were so many personal and sentimental belonging that were left behind, and it became clear that the severity of the matter was not disclosed at many residents of these towns.
First stop – Zalissa
As I enter the first building I will visit in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, I notice how frozen in time things are. Although a lot of looting had happened over the last few decades, you can still see original Soviet propaganda.
Second stop – Kopachi
We visited the village of Kopachi, which is 7km from the Chernobyl reactor. This is one of the most popular stops when you visit Chernobyl. As we arrive, we see there are no buildings as this town was buried. The government conducted an experiment to contain the radioactive particles and dug large ditches in front of the buildings to bulldoze them in. By burying these houses, the government wasn’t aware at the time they were driving radioactive isotopes deeper into the soil and water, causing further contamination shortly after this experiment was abandoned.
We visited one of the two remaining structures in the town, a brick kindergarten.
On arrival all the Geiger meters warning alarms were activated. The town showed high levels of contamination. Our Geiger counter warning bell was activated during our entire and short stay in this location.
As we enter the school, you start to feel the eeriness. It’s sad that a place that was once filled with laughter is now abandoned and left like this.
As you enter their sleeping area and see all their toys and bunk beds, you can help wonder where they are now.
Third stop – Reactor 4
After this, we headed to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to see the site of the Chernobyl disaster, reactor 4.
Beneath the new confinement structure is the original sarcophagus that covers the reactor.
This incredible piece of engineering currently limits the radiation released. Although we were so close to the reactor, this area had one of the lowest readings due to it being heavily cleaned of radiation particles.
Although this disaster happened, the other reactors at the nuclear power plant were not shut down straight away.
Reactor 1 was only shut down in 1996, reactor 2 caught fire in 1992 and was shut down shortly after, and in December 2000, reactor 3 was finally shut down.
Fourth Stop – Pripyat
Next while we visit Chernobyl exclusion zone we visited Pripyat, just 2km from the Chernobyl power plant. Pripyat was only proclaimed a city in 1979 and had grown to a population of 49,360 by the time it was evacuated on the afternoon of April 27, 1986, the day after the reactor 4 exploded.
This extremely young and modern city of its time never had a chance to develop. It had overgrown and was completely frozen in time.
You can see the grandness and modern characteristics the Soviet Union was implementing at the time with its large buildings and beautiful art created throughout the town. They had a dream to make this town as car less as possible. They tried to implement green initiatives such as the vending machines, no cup waste.
One of the locations we stopped in Pripyat was the Cultural House that is located in the town’s original main square. This housed an activity centre where residents could go bowling, attend dance classes, or visit the gym. Rumour is they created this space to make it easier to spy on local residences.
Next, we visited the amusement park that was never used. It was scheduled to be opened five days after the explosion. Parts of this amusement park, such as the bumpercars, are still highly radioactive, so we weren’t able to get close.
My Chernobyl experience was one of my more unique experiences to date and would highly recommend if you are visiting Kiev. I have never seen abandoned ghost towns left in this state. Although there was a lot of looting, there is still so many sentimental and personal belongings that residents had to leave behind as these items are still radioactive and cannot ever leave the exclusion zone.