So as mentioned recently, a few pics of my trip to Chernobyl in 2004. I did the tour of Prypyat, the ghost city that supported the nuclear power station, went to the station itself (an information centre) and the surrounding countryside.
Prypyat had a population of 50,000 at the time of the reactor #4 meltdown. Some residents got out immediately, some stayed for days. The buildings are mostly how they were abandoned in 1986, some including possessions etc. Many have been raided over the years from across the Belarus border. Most buildings don't have windows etc anymore, with the steel being stolen etc. It's eerie seeing the kindergarten etc, all the childrens toys etc abandoned, covered with 18 years of dust. It's also bizarre being warned not to step off the concrete paths, as the radiation levels spiked up nearly 1000x off the concrete in the dirt/plant life (rain helped wash some standing radioactive material away onto the dirt). The entire area was blanketed with cesium-137, strontium-90 and plutonium isotopes.
The whole town is still, to this day, under military guard and you need special permission from the Ukraine government to get access to the exclusion zone, which is a 30km radius around the site. I had my driver and my guide, a woman named Rimma Kiselitsa who sadly passed away a couple of years later. The 3 of us, plus a handful of workers working at the power station (which at the time was still partially operational, now turned off) were the only people in/near the city (the power station being just outside the city of Prypyat).
I was there on the 28th of April 2004 - 2 days after the 18th anniversary of the disaster.
Of all my global travels, this was my favourite destination, and one I'll simply never forget. I'll dig up a couple of extra pics and post them, some good ones, but I thought the panoramic I took from the top of the 2nd tallest building in the city was a good place to start. I just wish technology had moved on quicker, and I had better than a 2.1 megapixel Canon IXUS II camera with me, with whopping 64MB+8MB flash cards and a battery that died before the end of the day, making me lose the chance to take pictures of the mechanical graveyard.
I also uploaded a picture of the old sarcophagus, which vaguely contained the exposed reactor core from the elements (but was seriously leaking). That sarcophagus is finally being covered by a new one called the Chernobyl New Safe Confinement (CNSC). The NSC is designed to contain the radioactive remains of Chernobyl Unit 4 for the next 100 years. It is intended to replace the present sarcophagus, that was hastily constructed by Chernobyl liquidators after a "beyond design-basis accident" destroyed reactor 4.
Oh well. I doubt I'll ever get back there to do them again.
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