Chernobyl Exclusion Zone: Adrenaline & Radiation Urbex, A Good Day to Die Hard?

March 15th, 2013 Permalink

The Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster happened 27 years ago on April 26, 1986. After the explosion, a radius of 18.6 miles (30 km) was setup as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. That “zone of alienation” is becoming more frequently seen in popular culture; it was seen in the 2013 film A Good Day to Die Hard, in the 2012 Chernobyl Diaries and also in the 2011 movie Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The area is featured in hundreds of documentaries and even early on in the 1998 film Godzilla as a researcher studies the mutational effects of radiation on native earthworms. It’s the nightmare setting for several video games. Although urban explorers have been coming to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone for years, Ukrainian officials opened the zone for tourists with “special permission” in 2011. Whether you call it reverse eco-tourism, terror tourism, or an adrenaline rush urban exploration, it would undoubtedly be surreal to experience. Some claim it’s haunted, while others think it’s a dream setting for playing a zombie apocalypse-like paintball gun war. Thanks to those that were brave enough to take up their cameras and Geiger counters, we can take a virtual tour of the Exclusion Zone. It includes Prypiat, Prypiat amusement park, Polissya hotel, the Red Forest and more places stuck in time as everyone was evacuated with no time to pack. This is what visiting the Chernobyl disaster after almost 27 years looks like, since criteria for this photo essay included being creative commons photos taken as recently as possible with as many different radioactive areas as possible. Enjoy!
[69 Photos, 8 Videos]

Pripyat - Lenin Square during fall season in 2012

Pripyat – Lenin Square during fall season in 2012. In April, it will be 27 years after the Chernobyl disaster and the emergency abandonment of Pipyat and other areas also known as the 30 Kilometer Zone, extending in a radius of 18.6 miles (30 km) from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Photo #1 by Michael Kötter

Autumn in Pripyat, October 2012

In 1988, the world met John McClane in Die Hard. 25 years later, McClane and his son are shooting up Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in A Good Day to Die Hard. The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone was setup soon after the 1986 disaster by the former USSR military. The Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, so Chernobyl is now under the control of and located in Ukraine. Although urban explorers went years ago, in 2011, Ukraine opened this ‘zone of alienation’ for tourists. Does this adrenaline rush and radiation urbex adventure equal A Good Day to Die Hard? Low doses of radiation are deemed “safe,” so you’d doubtfully die from day-tripping the Exclusion Zone. Criteria for this photo essay included creative commons photography that was taken as recently as possible. This is Autumn in Pripyat, October 2012. Photo #2 by Michael Kötter


Prypjat environmental radiation levels

August 26, 2012 Prypjat. The photographer explained, “The normal environmental radiation in a non-contaminated area is 0.05 to 0.1 microsievert/h depending how high up you are. The Geiger counter will give alarm at 0.3 microsievert/h as an unhealthy level, so 9 is pretty high. However, you would have to spend weeks in such a high level to acquire a dangerous dose for your body. There are also a lot of «hotspots» in the exclusion zone where you measure levels from 150 up to 800 microsievert/h. We measured 190 at some points, and mostly the levels changed rapidly in only a few steps… that’s why we had a guide.” Photo #3 by Alex Kühni

The Kindergarten inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

2012: The Kindergarten. A type of radiophobia, the fear of ionizing radiation, has been associated with the Chernobyl disaster. Wikipedia relates, “In the former Soviet Union many patients with negligible radioactive exposure after the Chernobyl disaster displayed extreme anxiety about low level radiation exposure, and therefore developed many psychosomatic problems, and with an increase in fatalistic alcoholism being observed. As Japanese health and radiation specialist Shunichi Yamashita noted: We know from Chernobyl that the psychological consequences are enormous. Life expectancy of the evacuees dropped from 65 to 58 years — not [predominately] because of cancer, but because of depression, alcoholism and suicide. Relocation is not easy, the stress is very big. We must not only track those problems, but also treat them. Otherwise people will feel they are just guinea pigs in our research.” Yet some people clearly have overcome that fear of radiation exposure, since tours to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone have been going on for years. Photo #4 by Michael Kötter

Chernobyl The Ghost Behind Door #2

According to the photographer, “This photo was taken in an unknown town within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, but well south of Chernobyl. This town, while not all that big from what I could see, did have this rather important looking building smack in the middle of it. It appeared to be some type of Performing Arts Center, but a town this small would not normally have something like this. Maybe it was a combination school / community center / performing arts center? I can’t tell you.” Photo #5 by Matt Shalvatis

Inside the hospital located in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Inside the hospital located in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone during 2012. Chernobyl day trips are a type of reverse ecotourism meets the ultimate urban exploration of a ghost town. In 2011, the Ukrainian government officially announced that the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone was open to tourists. Bus loads of tourists, however, were allowed beyond the checkpoints for tours at least as far back as 2006. Wikipedia shows an urban explorer holding a Geiger counter back in 2003. The Ukrainian government says those tours were “illegal” and a “threat” to the tourists’ safety. Now, however the areas around Pripyat and Chernobyl are the least irradiated; the tour guides use Geiger counters and give each tour group a set time limit in the exclusion zone. When the time runs out, the tourists are escorted out. Photo #6 by Michael Kötter

May 2012 School Gas Masks Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

May 2012 School cafeteria gas masks. Wikipedia states, “In the night from 25 to 26 April, in the two power plant complexes, there were 160 people on duty, including technicians and maintenance personnel of the various departments. Three hundred more workers were present at the building site of the third complex of the blocks 5 and 6.” Photo #7 by Michael Kötter

Chernobyl Monument and Reactor April 2012

Chernobyl Monument and Reactor April 2012. Photo #8 by Matt Shalvatis

Spoiler? A Good Day to Die Hard Movie CLIP. Video #1 by MovieclipsCOMINGSOON

View from the Hotel Polissya in April 2012

View from the Hotel Polissya in April 2012. The Polissya Hotel “was built in mid-1970s to house delegations and guests visiting the Chernobyl Power Plant. These days, the hotel is half-ruined. The hotel is featured in the video game Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.” Photo #9 by Matt Shalvatis

Derelict Pripyat Ferris Wheel, abandoned Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

The Chernobyl reactor blew up 5 days before the Pripyat Amusement Park was meant to open. Left: The Ferris wheel at Pripyat April 2012, 26 years after abandonment. The photographer wrote, “Recently, some photos have surfaced that seem to undermine the truth of what everybody has taken for granted for so long. It seems that at some point, the rides had actually been used, most likely in the 36 hour period between the Chernobyl incident and the evacuation. Town authorities may have opened the Ferris wheel to local residents to keep their minds occupied and to take the focus off the incident at the reactor while they assessed the situation and attempted to develop a plan about what to do next.” Right: Up close to the derelict Pripyat Ferris Wheel as seen in 2008, making this photo nearly five years old. Photo #10 by Matt Shalvatis & #11 by Pedro Moura Pinheiro

“On April 26 1986 at 01:23 a.m. reactor number four at the Chernobyl plant, near Pripyat in the Ukraine, exploded. Further explosions and the resulting fire sent a plume of highly radioactive fallout into the atmosphere. Four hundred times more fallout was released than had been by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The radiation levels in the worst-hit areas have been estimated to be 20,000 röntgen per hour . A lethal dose is around 500 röntgen over 5 hours. Unprotected workers received fatal doses within several minutes. To evacuate the city of Pripyat, the following warning message was reported on local radio: “An accident has occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. One of the atomic reactors has been damaged. Aid will be given to those affected and a committee of government inquiry has been set up.” This message gave the false impression that any damage and radiation was localized.” Video #2 by GamerTruth

Pripyat - Palace of Culture 'Energetik'

Pripyat – Palace of Culture ‘Energetik’. The Pripyat amusement park in the background appears in the movie Chernobyl Diaries, and in the video games S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and is reportedly the inspiration for Atlantic Island Park in The Secret World. Photo #12 by Michael Kötter

The Chair & Graffiti, Pripyat, Chernobyl

Left: The Chair, Pripyat, C H E R N O B Y L – 2 0 1 2. The Photographer wrote, “Some have wondered how this chair came to find a home on the street instead of in the hospital. My theory? Photographers!” Right: “Suzy doesn’t play here anymore. Wall Graffiti.” Photo #13 by Matt Shalvatis & #14 by Matt Shalvatis

The sign at the edge of the exclusion zone, Chernobyl, October 2012

The sign at the edge of the exclusion zone, Chernobyl, October 2012. “The Exclusion Zone covers an area of approximately 2,600 km2 (≈ 1004 sq miles) in Ukraine immediately surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant where radioactive contamination from fallout is highest and public access and inhabitation are restricted. Other areas of compulsory resettlement and voluntary relocation which are not part of the restricted exclusion zone exist in the surrounding areas and throughout Ukraine. The purpose of the Exclusion Zone is to restrict access to hazardous areas, reduce the spread of radiological contamination and conduct radiological and ecological monitoring activities. Today, the Exclusion Zone is one of the most radioactively contaminated areas in the world and draws significant scientific interest due to the high levels of radiation exposure in the environment, as well as increasing interest from tourists.” Photo #15 by Joshua Smith

Forrest in ghost city

Taken in April 2012: “The photographer wrote, “Pripyat, ghost city abandoned after Chernobyl catastrophe, has grown to a forest. Nature takes over and invades and collapses human creations. The views remind some of apocalyptic films like I am a Legend; View from highest building in town, 16 stories high.” Photo #16 by Ruben_Solaz

Chernobyl Reactor #4 in April 2012

The photographer wrote, “Chernobyl Reactor #4, seen to the left of the red and white tower, famously blew it’s top in 1986. This photo, taken on April 27, 2012, occurred one day after a new milestone for this disaster. Because, one day earlier, the construction phase of the “New Safe Confinement” unit began. (The planning and creating new project infrastructure phase had been ongoing for five years now). The “New Safe Confinement” is being built a few hundred meters (yards, for the metrically challenged) from Chernobyl #4′s current sarcophagus, and when it is completed in 2015, will be moved into place on specially laid tracks and will cover the existing sarcophagus. Once in place, the existing sarcophagus will be dismantled.” Photo #17 by Matt Shalvatis

Chernobyl aerial nuclear reactor

The Chernobyl disaster “is one of only two classified as a level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale (the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011). The battle to contain the contamination and avert a greater catastrophe ultimately involved over 500,000 workers and cost an estimated 18 billion rubles.” Left: Chernobyl aerial view into the core, smoke from the graphite fire and core melt down. The photo was taken from a helicopter on May 3, 1986, of the destroyed Unit 4. The image was taken from the North. Right: The nuclear reactor after the disaster. Reactor 4 (center). Turbine building (lower left). Reactor 3 (center right). Taken 26 April 1986, Chernobyl disaster. Photo #18 by Soviet Authorities & #19 by Soviet Authorities

Chernobyl Reactors 5 & 6 on June 3, 2012

Chernobyl Reactors 5 & 6 on June 3, 2012. The photographer wrote, “These two units, 5 and 6, were under construction at the time of the accident. Construction was finally halted in 1988, leaving most of the equipment behind.” The “official Soviet casualty count of 31 deaths due to the Chernobyl disasterhas been disputed, and long-term effects such as cancers and deformities are still being accounted for. Another study critical of the Chernobyl Forum report was commissioned by Greenpeace, which asserts that “the most recently published figures indicate that in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine alone the accident could have resulted in an estimated 200,000 additional deaths in the period between 1990 and 2004.” Photo #20 by Michael Kötter

View Inside – Chernobyl’s – Nuclear reactor 25 years after. Video #3 by BBC via karaizz930528

A radioactive sign hangs on barbed wire outside a café in Pripyat, March 2011

A radioactive sign hangs on barbed wire outside a café in Pripyat, March 2011. Wikipedia added, “The German affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) argued that more than 10,000 people are today affected by thyroid cancer and 50,000 cases are expected in the future. Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment is an English translation of the 2007 Russian publication Chernobyl. It was published in 2009 by the New York Academy of Sciences in their Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. It presents an analysis of scientific literature and concludes that medical records between 1986, the year of the accident, and 2004 reflect 985,000 premature deaths as a result of the radioactivity released. The authors suggest that most of the deaths were in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, though others occurred worldwide throughout the many countries that were struck by radioactive fallout from Chernobyl. This estimate has however been criticized as exaggerated, lacking a proper scientific base.” VOA Photo #21 by D. Markosian

October 2012 Photojournalism - abandoned gas masks litter the floor of a building in Pripyat - Chernobyl, Urkaine

October 2012 Photojournalism – abandoned gas masks litter the floor of a building in Pripyat – Chernobyl, Urkaine. Pripyat was founded on 4 February 1970 to house workers for the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. It was officially proclaimed a city in 1979 but was abandoned in 1986 following the Chernobyl disaster. It was the ninth nuclear city in the Soviet Union at the time and its population was around 49,000 before the accident.” Photo #22 by Zoriah

Gas Mask Floor 2009 Chernobyl zone of exclusion

Iconic Gas Mask Floor in the Chernobyl zone of exclusion. Pripyat had “13,414 apartments in 160 apartment blocks, 18 halls of residence accommodating up to 7,621 single males or females, and 8 halls of residence for married or de facto couples. Education: 15 primary schools for about 5,000 children, 5 secondary schools, 1 professional school. Healthcare: 1 hospital that could accommodate up to 410 patients, and 3 clinics. Trade: 25 stores and malls; 27 cafes, cafeterias and restaurants could serve up to 5,535 customers simultaneously. 10 warehouses could hold 4,430 tons of goods. Culture: 3 facilities: a culture palace, a cinema and a school of arts, with 8 different societies. Sports: 10 gyms, 3 indoor swimming-pools, 10 shooting galleries, 2 stadia. Recreation: 1 park, 35 playgrounds, 18,136 trees, 249,247 shrubs, 33,000 rose plants. Industry: 4 factories with total annual turnover of 477,000,000 rubles. 1 nuclear power plant. Transportation: Yanov railway station, 167 urban buses, plus the nuclear power plant car park of about 400 units. Telecommunication: 2,926 local phones managed by the Pripyat Phone Company, plus 1,950 phones owned by Chernobyl power station’s administration, Jupiter plant and Department of Architecture and Urban Development.” Photo #23 by Timm Suess

October 2011 An abandoned nursery inside the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

October 2011: An abandoned nursery. A tour guide wrote, “3 truthful facts about tour to Chernobyl zone and Pripyat ghost town, you did not know: Fact 1. Chernobyl tour is 1 of 7 startling sights of Eastern Europe (ranked by Lonely Planet). Fact 2. Reactor #4 is 1 of 7 spookiest buildings around the world. Fact 3. Pripyat ghost town is 1 of 7 scariest places around the world.” Photo #24 by rickyshitpants

Long abandoned in the zone of alienation, Pripyat, Chernobyl

Left: Long Abandoned, seen near the southern end of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in April 2012. Right: Roter Sessel Music school in the zone of alienation, Pripyat, Chernobyl in 2009. Chernobyl was “named one of the most unique places to visit and more and more people then find their way into the hastily abandoned houses and weathered buildings. As a tourist you pay around 115 Euros for a visit to the site. Visitors are driven by bus to the ‘forbidden zone’ to where only people with special permission are allowed. Most of the surface covered by the zone is relatively safe but there are also places like the red forest and the vehicle scrap yard were radiation levels are still very high. Be sure to follow the guide’s advice at all time and do not leave the roads.” Photo #25 by Matt Shalvatis & #26 by verdienter Künstler

Destination Truth: Ghosts Of Chernobyl. Critics claim the thermal hit is a mirror reflection, capturing a cameraman. Video #4 by SyfyShows

Abandoned Doll, Chernobyl Zone, outside Pripyat kindergarten in 2009

Abandoned Doll, Chernobyl Zone, outside Pripyat kindergarten in 2009. Photo #27 by Audun K

Ferris wheel control or ticket booth in the amusement park in central Pripyat that was to be opened on the May 1st celebrations of 1986, five days after the accident

The photographer noted, “Ferris wheel control or ticket booth in the amusement park in central Pripyat that was to be opened on the May 1st celebrations of 1986, five days after the accident, taken in 2008. I’m sure the plush teddy bear was placed there later by someone looking for an emotional photo, but it’s interesting to also document the later attempts of using the accident to achieve certain media goals.” Photo #28 by Pedro Moura Pinheiro

Waiting for Cuddles 2011 An abandoned nursery inside the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

“Waiting for Cuddles” in 2011. An abandoned nursery inside the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Photo #29 by rickyshitpants

In 2008 Stenciled figure and Child's pedal toy car in Kindergarten

Left: Chernobyl visit – February 2008; “Stenciled figure by the elevators made by a German/Belarusian group illegally in 2005 with the alleged help of one of the official guides, in the 16 story residential apartment building facing the central square of Pripyat.” Right: “Child’s pedal toy car in one of the rooms of the creche/kindergarten in the center of Pripyat.” Photo #30 by Pedro Moura Pinheiro & #31 by Pedro Moura Pinheiro

School in the Chernobyl Zone, May 2012

School in the Chernobyl Zone, May 2012. Photo #32 by Michael Kötter

Chernobyl in September 2012 Abandoned apartment block and forgotten radioactive teddy bear as seen  inside an abandoned school

September 2012: Abandoned apartment block with phone booth in front; forgotten radioactive teddy bear as seen inside an abandoned school where gas masks cover the school cafeteria floor because it was “too late,” noted the photographer. Photo #33 by Jonathan Khoo & #34 by Jonathan Khoo

Inside the Pripyat Palace of Culture Energetik as seen on October 2, 2012

Inside the Pripyat Palace of Culture Energetik as seen on October 2, 2012. Photo #35 by Michael Kötter

Swimming pool in the abandoned city of Pripyat, near the Chernobyl plant. Taken on September 8, 2012

Swimming pool taken on September 8, 2012. Photo #36 by Jonathan Khoo

Ghosts and mother nature taking over abandoned disaster site of Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, 2012

27 years later, ghosts or only Mother Nature creeping into the abandoned disaster site? Photo #37 by Rich (rich_b1982)

Abandoned buildings in Ukraine, Chernobyl Pripyat on October 3, 2012

Abandoned buildings in Ukraine, Chernobyl Pripyat on October 3, 2012. Wikitravel advises, “Stay on roads, the radiation levels on areas covered by vegetation are significantly higher. Even more important, the risk for contamination when walking amongst vegetation is higher because it is more difficult to avoid touching or inhaling anything. Radiation ends when you leave the place, but you don’t want radioactive elements inside your body. Follow common sense if you are on your own; if you see an area marked with a radiation sign, the meaning is clear: DON’T GO THERE.” Photo #38 by Rich (rich_b1982)

Ghost city of Pripyat, touring Chernobyl

Left: April 2012, Stairway to Nowhere, Pripyat. The photographer noted, “Stairway to the second floor, seen on the outside of a former restaurant in Pripyat. Having done a lot of reading about this place before visiting, one of the things almost everybody seemed to agree on is that you do not want to step on moss, because for one reason or another, radioactive fallout seems to have an affinity for moss. However, of all the things our official government guide told us, I don’t remember her ever mentioning ‘don’t walk on the moss’.” Right: 2010 Pripyat Hospital Hallway. Photo #39 by Matt Shalvatis & #40 by Bo Nielsen

Pripyat - Post Office in 2012.2012 Chernobyl a good day to die hard

Pripyat – Post Office in 2012. Photo #41 by Rich (rich_b1982)

‘Chernobyl Diaries’ Trailer HD Horror Thriller. Chernobyl Diaries “is an original story from Oren Peli, who first terrified audiences with his groundbreaking thriller, ‘Paranormal Activity’.” Video #5 by hollywoodstreams

Shadow Graffiti and shadow at abandoned ghost city Chernobyl Exclusion Zone October 2012

Shadow Graffiti and shadow during October 2012. Photo #42 by Rich (rich_b1982)

Rusty crusty radioactive Bumper Cars in Pripyat, abandoned due to disaster amusement park

Rusty crusty radioactive bumper cars, May 2012. The park “contained the symbolic ferris wheel, bumper cars, swing boats, and a paratrooper ride. Photographers are known to place stuffed toys in the ferris wheel to reflect its sadness.” Photo #43 by Michael Kötter

Urbex Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in autumn 2012

Urbex in autumn 2012. The Pripyat amusement park “was to be opened on May 1, 1986 in time for the May Day celebrations (decorations for this event are still in place in Pripyat today) but it was opened for a couple of hours on 27 April to keep the city people entertained before the announcement to evacuate the city was made. Today, the park, and in particular the Ferris wheel are a symbol of the Chernobyl disaster. The amusement park itself is located behind the Palace of Culture in the center of the city.” Photo #44 by Rich (rich_b1982)

Tandem at Pripyat's amusement park never officially opened. It's now the most highly radioactive place in the city October 2011

“Tandem. It’s now the most highly radioactive place in the city October 2011.” Wikipedia added, “Radiation levels around the park vary; the liquidators washed radiation into the soil after the helicopters carrying radioactive materials used the grounds as a landing strip, so concreted areas are relatively safe. However, areas where moss has built up are dangerously high; some areas can emit 25 µSv/h, among the highest levels of radiation in the whole of Pripyat.” Photo #45 by rickyshitpants

Day trip to Chernobyl, June 2012, derelict swings in Pripyat amusement park 26 years after abandonment due to disaster

Day trip to Chernobyl, June 2012, derelict swings 26 years after abandonment. Photo #46 by Brittany (skittlbrau)

Pripyat public art, little girl making bubbles, as seen on October 12, 2012

Pripyat public art, little girl making bubbles, as seen on October 12, 2012. Photo #47 by Joshua Smith

Abandoned city building in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, October 2012

Abandoned city building in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, October 2012. Photo #48 by Rich (rich_b1982)

Decaying Pripyat Gym in May 2012

Decaying Pripyat Gym in May 2012. Photo #49 by Michael Kötter

April 2012 Poster in Pripyat

April 2012 (propaganda?) poster in Pripyat. From the first day of the disaster, officials downplayed the damages. If you feel inclined to visit Chernobyl, you will need “special permission,” should go with a tour guide, or at least fire up your Geiger counter to steer clear of hot spots as in radiation, not Wi-Fi. Photo #50 by Matt Shalvatis

Graffiti and view from the Pripyat hotel roof, March 2011

Graffiti and view from the Pripyat hotel roof, March 2011. Photo #51 by Malcs P

Creepy doll in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone May 2011

Creepy doll in the Zone, May 2011. Photo #52 by Jay Springett

Abandoned baby ward in Chernobyl zone Pripyat hospital

Abandoned baby ward in hospital as seen in 2012. Photo #53 by Michael Kötter

May 2012, decaying hospital at Pripyat

May 2012, decaying hospital. Photo #54 by Michael Kötter

Discarded and useless medicine bottles in abandoned hospital as seen in October 2011

Discarded and useless medicine bottles as seen in October 2011. Photo #55 by rickyshitpants

Mutant rat found in the exclusion zone, 2011

Mutant rat found in the exclusion zone, 2011. Photo #56 by Jay Springett

May 27, 2012 Chernobyl hospital

May 27, 2012 Chernobyl hospital. Photo #57 by Michael Kötter

May 2012 School library, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

May 2012 school library. Photo #58 by Michael Kötter

Pripyat - Kindergarten 'Ivushka' (Ивушка)

Pripyat – Kindergarten. Wikipedia states, “Many of the building interiors in Pripyat have been vandalized and ransacked over the years. Because the buildings have not been maintained since 1986, the roofs leak, and in the springtime the rooms are flooded with water. Trees can be seen growing on roofs and even inside the buildings. All this adds to the deterioration process; a section of a four-story school collapsed in July 2005.” Photo #59 by Michael Kötter

October 2011 Radiance - An elaborate glass artwork that adorns a waterfront cafe in Pripyat. Each panel is made from hundreds of separate pieces of colored glass

October 2011 Radiance – An elaborate glass artwork that adorns a waterfront cafe in Pripyat. Each panel is made from hundreds of separate pieces of colored glass. Photo #60 by rickyshitpants

October 2012, busted stained glass window at Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

October 2012, busted stained glass window at Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Photo #61 by Rich (rich_b1982)

View from the Bridge of Death in April 2012

View from the “Bridge of Death” in April 2012. Photo #62 by Matt Shalvatis

Radioactive warning sign for the Red Forest within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone 2009

Radioactive warning sign for the Red Forest within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. It was named ‘Red Forest‘ due to “the ginger-brown color of the pine trees after they died following the absorption of high levels of radiation from the Chernobyl accident on April 26, 1986. In the post-disaster cleanup operations, the Red Forest was bulldozed and buried in ‘waste graveyards’. The site of the Red Forest remains one of the most contaminated areas in the world today.” Wikipedia explained that Kopachi was also within the Zone. “After the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 the village was contaminated by fallout and subsequently evacuated and is now within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone; and thus has been abandoned since 1986. After Kopachi village was evacuated by the authorities, as an experiment, had all the houses torn down and buried. This village was the only village suffering this fate as a result of the Chernobyl disaster. The only traces left of the village today is a series of mounds and a small number of surviving trees which are not part of the local native flora. Each mound contains the remains of one house and is topped by a sign with the international radiation symbol.” Photo #63 by Timm Suess

Chernobyl vehicle graveyard October 2012

The vehicle graveyard in October 2012; it and the train yard are supposedly some of the most radioactive areas. Photo #64 by Rich (rich_b1982)

Abandoned train, Urbex Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in autumn 2012

Urbex abandoned train yard in autumn 2012. Photo #65 by Rich (rich_b1982)

26 years after Chernobyl disaster abandonment - Sunken Boats

As seen 26 years after Chernobyl disaster abandonment – Sunken Boats. Photo #66 by Michael Kötter

Chernobyl Mural and decay in autumn 2012

Chernobyl Mural and decay in autumn 2012. Population, according to Wikipedia: “As of 2012, the Zone is estimated to be home to 197 samosely (illegal residents) living in 11 villages as well as the town of Chernobyl. This number is in decline, down from 314 in 2007 and 1,200 in 1986. These residents are elderly, with an average age of 63. After recurrent attempts at expulsion, the authorities became reconciled to their presence and even allowed limited supporting services for them. Residents are now informally permitted to stay by the Ukrainian government. Approximately 3,000 workers are employed within the Zone of Alienation. Employees in the Zone undertake various tasks, such as the construction of the New Safe Confinement, the ongoing decommissioning of the reactors, assessment and monitoring of the conditions in the Zone, and so forth. Employees technically do not live inside the zone, but work shifts. Some of the workers work ’4-3′ shifts (four days on, three off), whilst others work 15 days on, 15 off. Other workers commute into the Zone daily from Slavutych. The duration of shifts is strictly counted regarding the person’s pension and healthcare issues. Everyone employed within the zone is monitored for internal bio-accumulation of radioactive elements.” Photo #67 by Rich (rich_b1982)

Monument to the Firefighters, memorial to people who attended to the disaster at Chernobyl. The inscription roughly

September 2012: Monument to the heroic firefighters, memorial to people who attended to the disaster at Chernobyl. The inscription roughly translates ‘To the people that saved the world’. For decades, Chernobyl has been the poster child for critics of nuclear power plants. Photo #68 by Jonathan Khoo

Abandoned Chernobyl Reactor 4 control room

Chernobyl control issues. “In an unlit room sits the control panels for Chernobyl’s Reactor Four” as seen on January 26, 2011. Safe, or not so much, could you visit Chernobyl armed with a camera and Geiger counter? Photo #69 by BBC World Service

Chernobyl Tour 2012. Video #6 by UrbanXploration

Inside Chernobyl (2012). Video #7 by Arkitekture

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD TRAILER (NEW HD) Starring Bruce Willis. Regardless if you liked the movie or not, there’s a lot more to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone that the film does not do justice. We hope you enjoyed the virtual tour and we thank the creative commons photographers for the look of what the Zone is now, 27 years after abandonment and the nuclear disaster that occurred on 26 April 1986. Video #8 by MichaelWarbuxFour

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