Chernobyl does not need too much introduction, but it was here in 1986 that the biggest nuclear accident in history occurred, forcing the people of Pripyat to flee and causing death and destruction in its wake. Modern Chernobyl and Pripyat is now the poster child for what is often termed “dark tourism”, and it truly represents one of the most interesting, and eerie places on the planet. 30 years on, here’s some lesser-known facts about Chernobyl.
1. Chernobyl has a long way to go
April 26th 2017 marks 31 years since the disaster in Chernobyl. It will take 3,000 years for Pripyat and the surrounding area to be considered fit for human habitation, so only 1% of the total time has elapsed.
2 …but people still live there anyway
Refusing to leave, some residents illegally returned to the area after the evacuation. Of the roughly 120,000 people living in the Zone of Exclusion before the accident, it’s estimated 200 are still there, the majority are them women. Many live without running water or electricity in the same houses they were born. Visit, and it’s possible to meet them.
3. Danger lurks below
Around 97% of the radioactive material from the Chernobyl plant is still there. Under the reactor is the Elephants Foot, a solid mass of nuclear fuel, sand and concrete that melted it’s way through to the basement where it remains. At the time of the disaster, the molten core put out enough radiation to give a lethal dose in 300 seconds. It has deteriorated since then, but is still too dangerous to approach.
4. Radioactive nature preserve
While countless animals were initially killed by the radiation, and many birds suffered severe deformities, other species are actually thriving. With very few humans around, the area is a haven for wildlife. Horses, wolves and bears are among those who call Chernobyl home.
5. It could have been 10x worse
A large pool of water under the reactor became flooded with radioactive liquid. As the material heated up, it was feared that it would hit the water and trigger a nuclear explosion, rendering northern Ukraine uninhabitable for more than a century. Three men, equipped with wetsuits and a faulty lamp, dove in to allow the water to drain. Their actions saved hundreds of thousands of lives. There is a memorial at the plant to those who died during the disaster.
If you are interested in experiencing first hand the site of the tragedy, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and surrounding areas are safe to visit. The levels of radiation on guided tours are relatively small; radiation levels in most places are less than those of being in an aircraft flying at 30,000 ft. Young Pioneer Tours have now been taking groups into the Zone for 5 years. We work with with the same expert partners, and tailor make all of our trips.
Vist Chernobyl with a safe and trusted travel company！.