Do You Think Chernobyl is Safe?

by - June 25, 2019

In the aftermath of the amazing HBO mini series Chernobyl, it re-awakened my crazy desire to want to visit. I know....why in the heck would I ever want to go there? Well, despite the tragedies that occurred there, it is kind of on my top 5 list of abandoned places to explore. 

I'm not a disrespectful person: I recognize that what happened there affected thousands of people's lives in the worst ways possible. I know how many people died, and I know people are still suffering from this, even 33 years later.

I also know that there are tours that take you through Pripyat, to gaze upon the abandoned buildings and see how nature is once again reclaiming man-made structures, taking back what it once owned. 

So let's look at the 'facts', shall we? Please keep in mind that I am not a nuclear scientist, nor am I a reporter. This is just little old me entrusting my writings to Google (which you should never really trust, just use as a guideline haha). 

Ukrainian Government

The Ukrainian government has granted access for a small number of tour companies to bring people around Pripyat and Chernobyl. Folks are allowed to pay money (hmmm) to walk around inside the 2600km exclusion zone (there are talks to bring that in a little in the near future) 

Chernobyl Tours

These tours claim to be held in the strictest of safety standards, and as long as people follow the rules the threat of high radiation exposure is pretty much nil. For example, the time you would spend on a tour would expose you to less radiation levels than a long haul flight, or even an x-ray would. (This coming from a Chernobyl tourism website!).

So What Are The Rules?

1. You must sign a waiver stating that you realize you are being exposed to internal and external radioactive contamination.
2. There is a dress code. Long sleeves, long pants, and closed shoes must be worn at all times. No skirts, dresses, or short sleeves. In fact, you are forbidden to roll your sleeves up, even if it is very hot.
3. No smoking, eating, or drinking in the open air. Only in designated areas deemed safe by your tour guide.
5. You may take photos and videos, but do not place any camera equipment or belongings on the ground.
6. The forest is absolutely forbidden to venture into, due to the extremely high levels of radiation on the trees. 

These among many more.

Why Would You Even Consider It?

-Well, without thinking too deeply about it, they DO have tours, where it is people's jobs to go often into Pripyat and Chernobyl. You would think that these people know the risks and wouldn't do it if it was that harmful right?

-There are people who work there everyday. The Liquidators, they are called. Granted, they work 2-3 weeks on/off, but again, why would they do it knowing the risks? No job is worth a potential horrible death, even if you are getting paid more than you normally would for the work.

-There has been a huge 'sarcophagus' built around the ruined reactor, effectively keeping dangerous radiation inside. It does nothing to help the radiation that is already floating around and saturated into everything, but it's not getting any worse. I guess.

-If you trust in little old Babushkas and what they think about radiation and the land, watch 'The Babushkas of Chernobyl'. These old women went back to their homes after the areas had been completely evacuated. They have been living off the land and the food they plant in it, for the past 30 years. They claim to be stronger than everyone who left the area, and they are, seemingly.

So, if on one hand, you want to believe the people who go there often, the geiger counters used, some nuclear scientists, etc, then I would say visit! You would only be there for a day or so, how much damage could be done as long as you followed the rules and wore the proper tire? You are constantly monitored at radiation check points throughout the tour, although I have seen YouTube videos of those detectors not working and being kicked to try and get it up and running again. And then just laughed off when it doesn't. Darn machine!

On the other hand, if you believe in potential government cover-ups and lying that the area is 'safe' in order to attract tourists, then maybe don't go. The Ukrainian government had originally lied to it's people when the disaster first happened. Well, they at least did not tell the entire truth. Back in April 1986, they led people into believing that it was no big deal at first, so why wouldn't they do it now to bring money into the region? I don't know, that seems a little 'conspiracy theory' to me, but who knows?

So tell me, would you visit? 

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