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Pripyat -Ghost Town

Pripyat is only three kilometers away from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and was evacuated the day following the blast. A fleet of 1300 buses shipped out the residents, who only had a few hours’ notice. Behind they left all their furniture and possessions that still can be seen in some buildings. Thirty years later, nature has taken over. Walking through this ghost town gives can be a bit creepy, but above all it feels like walking about into a freeze-frame of 1986 Soviet Union.

 

Downtown Pripyat, a city of 49,000 in 1986

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Chernobyl – Exclusion Zone

“Isn’t is dangerous?” is the first question when I mention my trip to Chernobyl und Pripyat. No, it is not. During a cross-Atlantic flight a person is exposed to a 10 times higher dose. When reactor 4  exploded on April 26th 1986,  the 160-ton concrete lid was blown off, releasing a radioactive cloud of plutonium and other deadly nuclear isotopes into the atmosphere. The wind carried the radioactive cloud northwest, away from the town of Chernobyl. So it was spared the fate of Pripyat, now a ghost-town.

Trips to the exclusion zone are organized by various operators in Kiev. On the Ukrainian side trips to the 2600km2 exclusion zone started in 1999 . This is an area that was fenced off after the tragic accident.  In 2017 approximately 20.000 visited the zone. The exclusion zone in Belarus, north of the reactor, is much worse off.  About 70% of the radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl disaster landed in Belarus, heavily contaminating one-fourth of the country. More than 2,000 towns and villages were evacuated, and about a half-million people have been relocated since 1986.

 

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