June 15, 2005

"It's amazing ... so dreamlike and silent."

Chernobyl tourism. Wouldn't you love to take a photography tour through a city that 45,000 persons suddenly abandoned twenty years ago?
A lethal exposure of radiation ranges from 300 to 500 roentgens an hour; levels in the tour areas vary from 15 to several hundred microroentgens an hour. A microroentgen is one-millionth of a roentgen. Dangers at these levels, the agency says, lie in long-term exposure.
So why not? Let's go!


Art said...

Back in the innocent days before 9-11 the Nuclear Enterprise Institute (the nuclear power lobby) circulated a video news release entitled, "Let's visit a nuclear power plant" to promote the plants as tourist attractions.
I don't think this is what they had in mind.

Frank from Delavan said...

I worked with high level readiation sources for 30 years, including pencil beams that generated 1000 rads per pulse at 60 pulses per second.

Levels at the micro-rad are probably beneficial rather than harmful. Life grew up in a sea of radiation, and our bodies generally take advantage of all of our enviroment.

Look up "radiation hormesis" for some interesting ideas.

Gerry said...

I can relate to it on a smaller scale.

In South Carolina, there is a nuclear facility-- the Savannah River Site. When it was built, they displaced an entire town. The residents of Ellenton were forced to vacate everything, and the government built New Ellenton miles away.

In essence, they moved the town.

It was a small town, probably of about 1,000 folks at the time of the relocation.

I worked at the Savannah River Site-- which is incredibly huge and in many ways resembles a nature preserve with some reactors and processing buildings dotting the inner regions of the boundary. If you have the clearance and badge to get inside the boundary, you can drive to Ellenton, and see the town, abandoned in place. It was not abandoned as quickly as Chernobyl, but it was abandoned pretty quickly nonetheless.

It is really eerie to see nature reclaiming a town. Buildings with brush and trees growing from within collapsed roofs. Roads that are still there, but not really. And it's an old town, so you also get the look at what a small, South Carolina town looked like in the early 1950s.

It's really a shame that more people can't actually take a visit as I was privileged to do.

Contributors said...

"and exposing the Communist Party as an institution wormy with hypocrisy and lies."

When did the NY Times change their opinion of Communism? Shouldn't they have released a notice or something? Or, did it slip by?

LizrdGizrd said...

There's a great site I saw a few yearss ago where a woman rides through the Chernobyl "dead zone" on her motorcycle. She basically has a tour of the ruins on her site complete with some haunting pictures. I highly recommend it.

NotClauswitz said...

Hey, I was going to post about the Russian (Ukrainian I guess) motorcycle girl's site!! I think her dad was a scientist there? At least that's the impression I got, she says he's a nuclear physicist who's worked there researching it. I remember reading her site, several years ago, back when I worked at another company. The Ghost Town section was the creepiest, especially the Kindergarten page.

Kathleen B. said...

"It is really eerie to see nature reclaiming a town."

That does sound very cool. I have seen swatches of land burned out by a forest fire being reclaimed, but that is still all nature. The abandoned town would be totally different. I wonder if someone has a photo journal of Ellenton somewhere.

Gerry said...


"I Don't Live There Anymore" -- a play about it. Photos at the site.


Although, the photos at the link for Ellenton today don't seem to have the building on the main road any more. It has been about 10 years since I left-- did the DoE tear them down?


The homes, they moved them.


Gerry said...

Here is what Ellenton looked like before being relocated:


Kathleen B. said...


amy said...

There was a great documentary about Chernobyl (mostly focusing on the children born from women who were exposed to the radiation, if I recal right) on HBO. If I can find the name, I'll let ya know.

amy said...

Hah! Found it. Yay for the internet.

It was called Chernobyl Heart