Welcome to Chernobyl
The deserted streets of the city are lined with buildings in disrepair. Empty playgrounds are a mere memory of the laughter that used to fill the air, as plants overgrow the sidewalks and a tattered doll rests motionless amongst the rubble. Nearby, a vehicle graveyard is home to helicopters, tanks and jeeps that were used to evacuate this once vibrant city and cannot be touched due to irradiation. The silence is broken by the whistling of the wind through the broken windows and the lonely creaking of the trees as they dance forlornly in the breeze. This is Chernobyl, and it is now welcoming all visitors.
After reactor number four at the successful nuclear plant in Chernobyl exploded, the city has become a ghost town, too dangerous for visitors and uninhabitable for residents. On 26 April 1986, the lives of more than three hundred and fifty people changed dramatically, as they were forced to leave the city and relocated with only the clothing on their bodies and little else. Over the last few years, visits to Chernobyl have been permitted to measure the radiation levels of the city, with specialized suits being standard practice. It is still not suitable for residents, but certain areas have been deemed safe, and tours to Chernobyl within these safety zones are now available. More than two thousand people live nearby the plant, working only minimal hours to decrease the danger of radiation exposure whilst maintaining the plant. A visit to the plant is included into the guided tour, offering historical information and giving visitors the opportunity to learn more about nuclear power and its dangers, as well as trying their hand at measuring for radiation.
In recent years, the interest and fascination with Chernobyl has increased and private companies have now been given permission to conduct tours within the zones that have been cleared. Walking through this city is a stark reminder of how dangerous modernization can be if mistakes are made and the smallest details are overlooked. Educating the public in regard to nuclear safety is vital, and nowhere in the world can it be carried over more seriously than in Chernobyl.