During a late night in April 1986 something happen that is not supposed to happen, should not be able to happen, must not happen occurred. A combination of bad decisions, jerry-building and unknown science (which we now thankfully know) an explosion in reactor four triggered a full blown meltdown in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. While the soviet regime were trying to figure out what to do radioactive particles where spread by the wind and one of the worst nuclear catastrophe in human history was a fact.
Now, 30 years later the soviet is all gone and the world has moved on. The area around the power plant is still off-limits for humans but now its safe to visit for shorter periods so I took my backpack to fulfill my post-apocalyptic dreams and see how nature has taken back what once what the frontline of human civilization.
To be able to get inside the restricted zone (which is 30km in diameter) you must have an authorized guide, there is plenty of police officers and I understood pretty quick that my guides talk about always have your passport ready wasn’t just empty talk but that were more or less the only safety rules which was correct. You are not allowed to walk into any house, your not allowed to eat, drink, smoke, wear t-shirts/shorts and much more. The list was long over things the guide told us we were not allowed to do and once he were finished he drank some water, lighted up a cigarette and asked if we wanted to go inside the old theater
The city Pripyat may be a ghost town, deserted since the disaster but at the power plant there is full action. Whats interesting here is that even if the whole area is radioactive and one of the reactor had a meltdown they continued to use the other reactors. After intensive negotiation between EU and Ukraine (and a shitload of money), Ukraine finally agreed to shut down the other reactors 2000, that is almost 15 years after the disaster! The old sarcophagus were built in a haste and has been leaking radiation the whole time but now French workers are building an new one and cleaning up the closest area, hopefully it will stay intact for another 100 years.
A few miles away from the power plant we meet Sergej and his wife, both are two of all people who were forced to evacuate but they are also two of them who chosed to move back. They are living a tough life, almost subsidence by their little farm in an constant fight against the nature. The radiation is always there but you cant neither see or feel it but at the same time its the smallest issue. Today predators like wolfs, lynx and bears are their biggest threat and if the wild boars destroys their harvest there is no way they would survive.
During the weeks after the disaster soldiers and police officers had strict orders to kill every animal they saw because they were afraid that the animals would spread the radiation, today with almost no humans the place it has become one of Europes biggest safe zones for animals and even if the radiation is way above normal levels I get the feeling that humans are the biggest threat.
Chernobyl was an enormous disaster for the humanity but somehow nature has made something good of it.