Rumors and conversations about the Chernobyl nuclear power plant have not ceased for more than 30 years. This catastrophe will forever remain one of the most discussed events in the world and one of the largest tragedies of mankind.
Today, a large number of people dream of going to Pripyat, but even thirty-three years after the tragedy, fear of the unknown repels people. And yet there are daredevils … Some say this is a trip to the Chernobyl zone for them a spontaneous decision, others claim that they are preparing for it for several months.
Alesia Lukonina has a dream to get to Chernobyl from childhood. While she was still at school, she was very interested in the topic of the Chernobyl disaster, looked for a lot of information about it – found archival photographs, articles, even talked to people who lived in Pripyat at the time of the disaster and who were evacuated from the city after the explosion. She wanted to see the ghost town with her own eyes and feel its whole atmosphere.
You can get to Chernobyl by different back doors and illegal routes, but she chose a group tour. Having finally seen everything with her own eyes, she shares her impressions with our readers.
“…. The first stop along the way is the “Dityatki” checkpoint. They checked the documents, the number of people, and then the tourists drove into a 20-kilometer zone – to the city of Chernobyl itself.
The first thing a group of tourists was showed upon arrival was a kindergarten. It was very interesting to follow the guide, who was telling and presenting everything, and he also had a dosimeter. One interesting thing happened on the way – when the guide took his hand a little to the left, the dosimeter just went through the roof.
With an acceptable rate of 0.010 x-ray, the device showed about 20-25. That is, tourists should follow the guide exactly, not go away, and in no case they should turn anywhere. The adventure with the dosimeter cheered up a bit, everyone seemed to wake up and come to their senses, realizing that they had arrived not just to climb abandoned places, but still were in the area where the largest technological disaster of the twentieth century took place.
The atmosphere in the kindergarten was creepy. Thanks to looters, real chaos formed there – everything is scattered and plundered. Nature also took its toll – there were thickets of grass, bushes and trees inside the premises.
Baby cots were empty – they were scary, Soviet, iron, bunk. There were a lot of children’s toys around. Tourists turned to the Chernobyl monument on the way to Pripyat. It`s a memorial that was erected during the time of President Leonid Kuchma.
Pripyat itself was further along the route. Along the way, there was another checkpoint of a 10-kilometer zone. The tourists were examined again, the bus checked, and the group drove into the ghost town. The bus stopped in the central square. It seemed that we walked along the streets, for example, January 1 at 8 a.m., when all people still sleep after nightly festivities.
So empty, empty… You look, and you don’t even realize that no one has been living in this city for 33 years… Not all the houses in Pripyat were allowed to enter. It’s not about radiation – the buildings themselves are already old, and they could just fall apart, there have been cases when walls, ceilings, windows fell. The first place that was allowed to go was school.
A lot of textbooks were scattered in school classes and corridors – there was a feeling of escape, chaos, as if people fled from there in a panic. Dried experimental bean sprouts remained in the biology class, and in the anatomy class – test tubes with frogs, spiders, snakes. School desks in classrooms were sprouted with moss, a large number of small children’s gas masks lay around. There were tons of trash left in the school pool. Not construction debris, but packs of cigarettes, chips, alcohol bottles – not a pretty sight.
The hospital is taboo, but there is a sideboard and a stool in the apartments
Tourists were strictly forbidden to enter the hospital. The hospital is still under radiation. To this day, there is the clothing of firefighters in the cellars of the medical institution – those same liquidators who were approaching the maximum possible distance to the exploding reactor in order to extinguish the fire.
Upon arrival at the hospital, having left the shift in the fire, the firemen immediately took off their clothes and dumped them in the basement. Basement is a taboo area for everyone. Of course, extreme lovers and fans of abandoned places, stalkers, penetrated there. Everything is turned upside down there, but the basements are still closed, because if you open them, a rather large radiation leak will occur.
Later, it was allowed to go to one of the residential buildings of the city of Pripyat. It was an old Soviet 14-story building. We found a one-room apartment on the fourth floor, opened it, came in… In one of the rooms there was a large bed and a wardrobe, a typical “USSR” sideboard.
The kitchen was tattered with plaster, but, nevertheless, there was still a stove, a washbasin and one stool. Everything else was robbed by looters. If you walk with the dosimeter along the old Soviet clocks in apartments, then the radiation level will go off scale on many of them – about 20-25 x-rays.
Then the tourists climbed to the roof of the house. There was an incredible view of the city of Pripyat, luxurious and at the same time creepy… No soul, no scream, no laughter – just an abandoned city. You stand, look and understand that you are alone at this point of the earth, there is no one else here. Before lunch, the group was once again checked so that there were no alpha or beta particles. They ate on the territory of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in an ordinary “soldier`s canteen.” After that, the tourists were given time to walk by the ferris wheel – there was no radiation at the bottom of the carousel, but there were still a lot of it at the top.
In the afternoon, the group visited a city called Chernobyl-2. On the map, this place is designated as a children’s pioneer camp, but in reality it was a Soviet secret military facility – the OUES Chernobyl-2 radar arc.
It is a grandiose construction the size of a 24-story building and about 300-400 meters in length. This is a classified strategic object, the purpose of which is to warn of an attack from the air by enemy missiles, aircraft, and the like. At the time of the Chernobyl disaster, about a thousand people lived and worked there – the military and their families, staff. Unauthorized entry to the Chernobyl-2 facility was prohibited, it was impossible to get there because the city was carefully guarded around the entire perimeter.
Finally, tourists arrived at the most anticipated and most terrible place on the route, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Today, the infamous fourth power unit is covered by a new safe confinement, under it is an old sarcophagus of a destroyed reactor. A picture that is always shown in TV programs, films and TV series. A terrible picture – it’s not allowed to stay there for a long time.
… There are a lot of emotions of tourists from a trip to Chernobyl and Pripyat. The main conclusion that everyone made was the fatalism of the human factor, an irresponsible mistake that could destroy the entire civilization. Everyone on the bus was silent on the way home – there was some kind of unpleasant aftertaste.
You realize that people died there and that Pripyat is unlikely to ever again be alive, full of young families, children’s laughter, as before. You must go prepared there… Prepared for the fact that you have to think a lot on serious topics. Forgetting this sight will be difficult. But it’s worth the ride …