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Ukrane Pripyat, Oct 2013

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For those who don't know - and to be honest, I didn't until my planned trip, Pripyat is the name of the town that was built to house the workers of the Chernobyl Power plant. It is located about 2km from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (ChNPP)

When the town was founded in 1970 it was a very modern and the facilities were incredible. I am sure that at the time, people would have been very jealous of living in such a great new town.

At the outskirts, the town sign is now more of a memorial than merely marking the town limits

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At the time of the accident it had a population of around 49,000 people. This figure included people from over 134 different nationalities from within the USSR. The average age in Pripyat was just 26 and each year saw more than 1000 children born.

I got the impression that the main government buildings were decorated in a way that promoted how proud the USSR was of achievements across multiple areas. This is the mural in what was the Post Office

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Within the town a newly constructed amusement park was built. Before it would ever see a single child, the explosion at the power plant turned the area in to a barren wasteland.

This is the now infamous ferris wheel as viewed from the boxing ring located in the Cultural Centre

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Another well documented view is the bumper cars

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One of the things that struck me when I got off the bus on arrival at Pripyat was the sound, or rather lack of sound. Just the wind through the trees. No laughter, no town murmur, no traffic, no birds, no dogs, nothing. Just the rustling of the leaves in the light wind.

I made it to one of the rooftops, and the scary thing is, on the night of the explosion, residents also did the same. Whilst watching the fire, they would have had no idea that they were receiving a massive dose of radiation too.

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There are many stories of heroism during that night and the days and nights that followed. From the firefighters who were sent to battle the raging ferno with no clue as to what they were really dealing with to, what is in my opinion, the most heroic action - if there could be such a classification....

The reactor core was melting through the concrete structure of the build. As it bore through, it was heading towards a large pool of water - massive pool of water. According to some accounts, this pool was a back up to the cooling systems of the power plant. The main thing to understand though is that this pool, were the reactor core and surrounding radioactive mush, to come in contact with each other, the water would turn to super heated steam and cause a massive explosion. This explosion would have turned the most of Europe in to a wasteland. Frankly, neither you nor I would be sat here today had that happened.

In order for this to be avoided, the pool had to be drained. Valeri Bezpalov and Alexie Ananenko and Boris Baranov volunteered. Wearing only basic suba gear, they dove in to the highly toxic radioactive water to drain the pool. They knew they were diving to their deaths, but they did it.

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There are so many images from the very short visit to this place, please feel free to check out my flickr album

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      Post Office:


       
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