Chernobyl, Ukraine was the site of a terrible nuclear accident on April 26, 1986 when a reactor meltdown spewed radioactive material all over Europe.
A large area around Chernobyl nuclear power plant was evacuated and is uninhabitable for thousands of years. This series of Chernobyl pictures show the nuclear disaster site 30 years later.
Chernobyl Pictures – 30 Years Later
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They say the radiation levels are low enough now and it is safe to visit for a short time, but if you are too scared to go yourself, here are 22 chernobyl pictures that will give you a glimpse into what it looks like today.
Pictures of Pripyat – An Abandoned and Radioactive Town
About 36 hours after the accident at Chernobyl, the Soviets evacuated the nearby town of Pripyat, which at the time had a population of nearly 50,000. The evacuees thought they would only be gone for a few days, and so they left almost everything behind. The residents were workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and had no time to react to the nuclear disaster. Watch the HBO Series
A large area around the nuclear reactor was evacuated and will remain uninhabitable for thousands of years. 30 years after the infamous accident it is possible to visit Chernobyl on a guided tour.
Remnants of everyday life in the city of Pripyat are frozen in time after fleeing the nuclear disaster — newspapers, records, dolls, appliances (some of them still highly radioactive) — lie strewn about the Chernobyl exclusion zone.
Pripyat’s grocery store has been mostly destroyed, but shopping carts still sit near the entrance.
- Watch the TV Series Chernobyl and see what happened according to this mesmerizing telling on HBO
Today the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone extends for a 30 kilometer radius around the reactor. I visited as part of one of the heavily-controlled and sanctioned tours from Kiev, Ukraine. But the area is so large that it is possible to sneak by the authorities (not advisable!).
In fact, an entire subculture of mostly young people in Kiev — called “stalkers” — are known to sneak into Chernobyl to explore the many abandoned buildings. This, of course, is very dangerous. Just touching the various items in Chernobyl is a bad idea, as some are still highly radioactive.
Yet these stalkers are known to enter the abandoned buildings and move objects, like these dolls, to make Chernobyl pictures or videos that they hope will go viral on social media.
Wildlife at Around the Chernobyl exclusion zone
The stalkers aren’t the only ones in Chernobyl today. Although the Soviets hunted down all animals in the area after the accident (to prevent the spread of radiation), wildlife has returned to the exclusion zone in force. Many dogs, foxes, and even wolves freely roam the grounds of Chernobyl.
Nuclear Reactor Today
After a cleanup effort that was enormously expensive both in cost and its human toll, the Soviets covered the failed reactor in a sarcophagus to contain the radioactive material inside.
It was only designed to last 30 years, however, so a new sarcophagus is currently being installed. Surprisingly, it is possible to get very close to the Chernobyl reactor (pictured above).
The radiation levels near the reactor are actually less than in other areas of the exclusion zone. This is because they had to carefully clean up the area, since other reactors at the Chernobyl power plant continued in operation for almost fifteen years after the disaster.
In Pripyat’s secondary school, science sets and gas masks are found in old chemistry classrooms.
Visiting the Town of Pripyat Today
30 years after the accident, day tours are now being offered from Kiev to the Chernobyl exclusion zone. And, yes, it is safe. They say that the amount of radiation you’ll receive on a typical tour of Chernobyl is less than the average dose to a passenger on a flight from Kiev to Toronto.
The exclusion zone tours take visitors through many abandoned buildings, like the above gym or the below-swimming pool.
Chilling Chernobyl Images of Abandoned Schools
Perhaps the most haunting Chernobyl pictures of the tragedy can be found in the abandoned schools.
Here, a child’s shoes lie abandoned in a kindergarten while in the next room rusted-out bed frames are still filled with lonely toys and pillows.
Everyone was evacuated in the middle of their every day lives.
More Eerie Chernobyl Pictures
Nearby, an old football stadium is being reclaimed by the elements.
Perhaps the most iconic reminder of Pripyat town is its old amusement park, including a large Ferris wheel that stands frozen in time.
Abandoned Soviet Apartments
Numerous Soviet-style apartment buildings compose the core of the town Pripyat.
Though it is technically prohibited to enter them, many tour groups still allow you a peek inside. There you’ll find dusty time capsules of life in the Soviet Union.
Pianos, dishes, sewing manuals, books — household objects of every kind lay dormant in these buildings, eerie ghosts of a population whose lives were upended by the Chernobyl tragedy.
Want to visit yourself (and perhaps take your own Chernobyl pictures)? If you are in Kiev, it is fairly easy to book a tour through one of the government-sponsored agencies. Be sure to book ahead of time, though, as the authorities require advance notice of guests to Chernobyl.
- The trip takes a full day and costs $100-$300 USD, depending on the company and demand.
- Chernobyl Disaster Facts:
- The date of the nuclear disaster occurred on April 26 1986
- The Nuclear plant is located 81 miles (130 kilometers) north of Kiev in the Ukraine
- The city of Pripyat had a population of 50,000 people and was located just 2 miles from the plant.
- Within the first few months of the explosion 31 people died as a direct result of Chernobyl, but it is believe that thousands died from radiation exposure over the years.