In April 1986, Reactor 4 of The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was the location of the largest man-made disaster in world history. 28 people died as a direct result of the incident, and countless others have had sickness that led to death or serious health problems in the years since the incident.
Now, HBO has made a five-part limited series focusing on the true story of the event, in a series that’s been said to be as “close to reality” as possible. Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, and Emily Watson lead the cast.
Following the incident, Pripyat—the Ukraine town closest to the nuclear power point—was totally evacuated, all 50,000 residents forced to leave their homes with little notice.
With the incident’s 33rd anniversary at the end of April, it’s fair to wonder what has become of Chernobyl and Pripyat, the abandoned surrounding city, in the years since.
What happened to the people who lived in Pripyat?
Following the disaster, The Soviet Union placed a circle-shaped, 18-mile exclusion zone around the power plant. All 50,000 residents of Pripyat were evacuated, and have never been able to return to their homes.
Does anyone live there now? Are you allowed to go?
No one lives in that zone, but scientists and other researchers are able to file for permits allowing them to enter for limited amounts of time.
Can you visit the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and other surrounding areas today?
People are able to visit the site of the disaster today, but only with specific direction of a guided tour. The website makes it clear that the tour is safe, health-wise: “The level of radiation is high only in some places of Chernobyl zone,” it says. “Those places are avoided during the Chernobyl tour, or the group stays near these places only for a brief amount of time.”
Tour participants are offered a complimentary respirator at the start of the excursion, and offered use of a Geiger-Muller counter at any time to check their radiation levels.
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What is Chernobyl like today?
While it’s still not a residential area, Chernobyl is open in present day to the guided tours mentioned above—for adventurers and those vacationing in the area in Europe, it could ceratinly be an interesting destination.
A new sarcophagus, called the “New Safe Confinement,” was built by the EU and placed on site in October 2017 with the intent and purpose of continuing to contain the radiation. This piece of infrastructure was designed with the specific intent of confining what remains of the radiation from the reactor explosion for the next 100 years.
If you’re feeling adventurous, the possibility is there—Chernobyl could be the trip for you.
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