Pripyat: The Radioactive City (Part 2 of 2)
On April 29th, 1986, three days after the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the government decided to evacuate the nearby city of Pripyat. At the time, Pripyat, which had only been founded 16 years earlier for workers at the plant, was home to nearly 50,000 people. The residents were told they would only be evacuated for a short time, however, despite efforts to clean up the radiation, it has remained unsuitable for human life.
Today, Pripyat stands as a modern day Pompeii, frozen in time by a catastrophic disaster. It is a city of radioactive ruins, slowly being reclaimed by the forest it had displaced. Cold war era posters still adorn the walls of public buildings while children’s’ notebooks remain on their school desks. The Ukrainian government has forbade visitors from entering any of the buildings due to their structural instability, but as my friend and I booked a private tour, our guide was willing to take us into several structures, including two schools, a kindergarten, the palace of culture, the gymnasium, a 16 story apartment building, and the city hospital.
Because the buildings were sealed following the disaster, radiation levels inside the buildings are negligible. Outside, however, countless hotspots remain. At one point, armed with a Geiger counter, I came across beta radiation 220X the level considered suitable for human life. It was exciting…until I considered the implications. Shortly thereafter, we left the ruins and returned to the modern world.