In the 1970s, the town of Pripyat, less than 3 kilometers away from the Chernobyl reactor. The city was constructed for the plant’s personnel. Once a beautiful town by Soviet standards, its 50,000 inhabitants were evacuated 36 hours after the accident.
Today a chilling ghost town, its buildings bear witness to the hasty departure. Dolls are scattered on the floors of abandoned kindergartens; children’s cots are littered with shreds of mattresses and pillows; and in a gymnasium, where teens once trained, floors rot and paint peels.
Amidst the surrounding decay, decades after the catastrophe, nature reclaims the town: trees grow through broken windows, and grass pushes up through the cracks in dormant roads that once were glorious promenades – but the town remains unfit for human habitation for hundreds of years to come.
A natural concern is whether it is safe to visit Pripyat and the surroundings.
The Zone of Alienation is considered relatively safe to visit, and several Ukrainian companies offer guided tours around the area. At present, radiation levels have dropped considerably, compared to the fatal levels of April 1986, due to the decay of the short-lived isotopes released during the accident.
In most places within the city, the level of radiation does not exceed an equivalent dose of 1 microsievert per hour.