Reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded during a test in the early hours of April 26th, 1986. In the aftermath of the accident an area of approximately 2600 square kilometres was officially designated as an
This monument stands at the entrance to the exclusion zone.
Information about the zone.
More information about the zone.
The road into the zone is marked by a billboard reminding visitors to obey the rules for safety.
Our first stop was at what remains of Zalissya village.
At the time of the accident it was home to approximately 3200 people.
It was the first village in the zone to be totally abandoned.
This building was once the local hospital.
It is no longer safe to walk inside.
The brightly coloured sign of the general store is still visible through the trees.
The buildings have seen no maintenance for thirty years, and have begun to collapse.
This doll would once have been a child's toy. Now it is dangerously radioactive.
Nature is gradually reclaiming the area.
Collapsed building in Zalyssa village.
This colourful sign marks the entrance to Chernobyl city. While much of the town is uninhabited today there remains a small resident population.
These signposts mark the various villages that were abandoned in the aftermath of the accident. This photo was taken through the window of our tour bus; we did not have the opportunity to see them up close.
The statue of Lenin is one of two in the exclusion zone. They are the last of their type in Ukraine, down from a peak of more than five thousand in 1991.
Chernobyl was home to a small port. Most of the boats present at the time of the accident have been cut up for scrap; these are the few that remain.
Monument to firefighters.
Memorial to firefighters gone.
These machines were used to remove contaminated material from the area of the reactor with varying degrees of success.
The radiation detectors went slightly crazy when held close.
Here's some information on the different machines.
This memorial can be found at the entrance to Kopachi village.
The remains of a child's toy.
This was once a kindergarten.
More of the kindergarten.
A Russian friend tells me this book talks about physical exercise for children.
More of the kindergarten.
Crossing the road safely.
No caption needed.
We saw a brief spike of radiation as we drove past the
Pripyat, a city of almost fifty thousand located right next to the power plant. It was evacuated on the afternoon of April 27th 1986.
One of many apartment blocks.
A phone box. People under the age of twenty-five may never have seen one of these.
This building was devoted to nuclear research. The radiation symbol was added in the aftermath of the accident.
Polissya Hotel was one of the tallest buildings in the city.
This building is topped by the
State Emblem of the Soviet Union.
Palace of Culture Energetik.
Pripyat had one of the first supermarkets in the Soviet Union.
The trolleys are quite a bit smaller than those typically seen in the western world.
Graffiti on one of the walls bears more than a passing resemblance to Donald Trump.
Posters showing high-ranking Soviet leaders. The picture on the right is
Konstantin Chernenko, a former General Secretary who died a little over a year prior to the accident.
Inspirational Lenin quote: "Learn, Learn, Learn!"
Remains of the city theatre.
There are four amusement rides in Pripyat. They were due to open to the public a few days after the accident.
All were manufactured by the Yeysk Attraction Plant in Russia.
Paratrooper, known locally as Chamomile.
Another angle of the Paratrooper.
The highlight was a 26-metre high Ferris wheel.
Amazingly, this exact design of wheel is
still being manufactured today.
Avanhard Stadium was the home ground of FC Stroitel Pripyat.
It opened in 1979.
Another look at the stadium.
Nature is beginning to reclaim the concrete.
Stadium entrance gates.
If you smoke, you will fall into a big hole in the ground.
Deep in the jungle...
Cash register and gas masks.
The various flags of the Soviet Union.
Posters on the wall.
More abandoned buildings.
Azure Swimming Pool was in use until 1998, some twelve years after the accident.
Lunch in the Workers Canteen at the power plant.
Radiation detector at the canteen entrance.
Railway bridge next to the plant.
This monument commemorates the people who tackled the immediate aftermath of the accident at enormous personal cost.
Close-up of the inscription.
Reactor No. 4 buried under the New Safe Confinement. (Other photos of the reactor were not allowed in compliance with IAEA regulations).
Unfinished cooling tower for units five and six.
Chernobyl-2 was a secret town operated by the Soviet military.
It too was abandoned.
Part of the
Duga radar, a ridiculously large Soviet installation close to the Chernobyl reactor that was designed to track American missiles.
This picture gives some idea of just how large the thing is. The lowest antennae are around three metres above ground level.
This looks serious.
Your country needs you, Soviet style.
Leaving the zone