Someone Turned the Lights On in Pripyat, 31 Years After Chernobyl

Pripyat is a radioactive ghost town just outside Chernobyl, the site of the infamous nuclear disaster in 1986. Deep within the Exclusion Zone, the city has been permanently evacuated. Because of the contamination, officially you can’t live there, although 200 or so defiant oldster locals still do. They just kept on going back to their houses until the officials gave up.

Chernobyl seems like exactly the kind of place to not go. But there’s a booming local tourism industry that has — dare I say it? — mushroomed in the Exclusion Zone. Disaster junkies and radioactivity enthusiasts flock from all over the world to make their nuclear pilgrimage to Chernobyl. There’s a shuttle from Kiev, frequent official tours, even a hotel you can stay overnight in. There’s even a report of a couple who got engaged in the Zone — apparently he asked the tour guide to guide them to the most contaminated spot possible, so he could make his proposal.

Just before the anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which occurred exactly 31 years ago today, a group of enthusiasts from Poland took their own unguided tour through the streets of Pripyat, with a singular purpose in mind. Lugging a gas generator with them, the adventurers wanted to see if they could get the electrical tech in Pripyat to work, after all these years.

“We wanted to prove that if Soviet technology doesn’t fail instantly, it’ll last forever.”

The group tags itself “naprowmieniowani.pl,” and they have a Twitter account where they post similar photos to the ones they took while on their Pripyat expedition. The expedition, and its associated photoset, have been making their way rapidly through Russian-language social media.

These are some amazing highlights of their tour through the radioactive ghost town.

Pripyat By Night

(all photos credit: naprowmieniowani.pl)

Frankly, the place looks like a vignette from Fallout 4.

“The Russians do know how to get things working, like they did in the space field,” said Henry Sokolski, dryly, of the Chernobyl disaster and ensuing cleanup. “But sociologically and historically they have a lot working against them when it comes to quality assurance.”

The proof of that, of course, is the massive sarcophagus that slid into place over what remains of Chernobyl #4 late last year after decades of construction. The French-built New Safe Confinement is a 354-foot tall, 843-foot wide tomb, made of concrete and steel, designed to hold the radioactive remains of the old reactor for centuries to come. While Chernobyl is far from the radioactive hellstew it was in the hours following the catastrophic loss of containment on April 26, 1986, the level of exposure is still high enough that individuals and workers must carefully monitor their own exposure.

Top image credit: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

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