Every now and again an incident occurs that has the power to change all that we believe in to be safe and secure. We go through our everyday lives assuming and taking for granted that everything will go on as it did in previous days, altogether ignoring the possibility of a disruption in the status quo. It’s those disruptions though, that have the ultimate effect on us and the events that caused it linger on our minds and in our historical records like reminders that taking the status quo for granted can be and is an error.
It was a quiet day as any other in the town of Pripyat, Ukraine in 1986. All who lived there woke up that morning expecting it to be just like days passed, and not at all expecting what would come to pass.
By now, the incident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant is historically one of the biggest Nuclear events in recorded history and it caused the biggest evacuation known to humanity. Still today, the plant and the surrounding town is void of human life, except for courageous adventurers and travelers that is.
We’ve got some amazing photographs that will stun you and at the same time pull at your heart-strings. After all, this was a functional town until that day in 1986.
Join us dear readers as we look back and learn a little bit about what happened and look at some stunning photos that should inspire all to stay away.
25 WILL THE REAL TRUTH EVER COME OUT?
Many have spoken about the fallout over the years, as is understandable, but fewer speak and ask questions about what really happened all those years ago to call such an event to occur. Many conspiracy theorists (and there are many these days) like to weave yarns and yarns of tales about what may have happened that night, and if you clicked on this story out of interest, then you're all probably already privy to a few. We're not saying these theories aren't true or are true, but some can be a tad preposterous when heard, as some theories are known to be. We'd rather stick to the cold hard facts, thank you very much. Can you blame us? After all, we are journalists.
24 WHAT Actually HAPPENED THAT NIGHT?
Can you believe that it all happened because of a standard safety test that they had run a bunch of times before? Many had a hard time grasping this notion as reports started flooding the newsrooms all over the globe. But it is often in situations in which people have been a million times before that the biggest of accidents take place. Many have speculated that perhaps something was taken for granted in the wee hours of that now infamous spring night. It has been noted that Reactor Number 4--a light water graphite moderated reactor--exploded while being shut off and re-started during a routine re-set of sorts. And like any disaster, it was nothing but a ripple effect after that initial blow.
The routine test caused a blackout at the plant, thus resulting in the shutting down of all safety systems. This is where things went really bad. After all, the safety precautions wouldn't work, and it kind of became a snowball effect, one thing happening, then leading to another and another. Contrary to popular belief, the explosion that ensued was in fact a steam explosion, and although it was water based, that didn't make it any safer, as the steam explosion then went on to cause many other related reactor failures and explosions and of course a granite fire which ignited when the steam eventually hit the night air.
22 9 DAYS
Well, the aftermath was what was to be expected for such a devastating incident, especially by those who had been present for the explosion. The sheer power of it was enough to rattle the homes of many in the surrounding areas. But perhaps it was not what most who had simply heard of the disaster would have expected. The fires burned for a record nine days, unleashing terrible nuclear poisons into the air and the surrounding areas. It was during this time that city officials and the government started issuing evacuation warnings and in all ways imaginable. The sight must have been like something out of some post-apocalyptic film, but it was very real and tangible, we're afraid much too real.
21 THE HAUNTING AMUSEMENT PARK IN PRIPYAT
But perhaps the most haunting of images of Chernobyl and Pripyat are of the abandoned amusement park. These images offer the perfect contrast of the good times experienced before the event and after. The amusement park in and of itself is the symbol of fun, hence the name, and to see it forlorn, forgotten and left in such abandonment definitely calls forth emotion and pathos of course. We can never forget what these people suffered through and we should never forget how it all happened. Never take for granted what is in the here and now, for tomorrow, it may be gone.
20 AN EXAMPLE WAS SET
They obviously didn't set out to be the mold for what not to do when resetting your security protocols, but indirectly, that's what they became. Forever, the Chernobyl incident will go on to be remembered at just what can go wrong when things are overlooked at the Nuclear Power Plants of the world. We're more than sure that many have used this event as an example of what not to do and the data recovered from the site has no doubt been studied and studied by nuclear scientists the world over. In a way, the devastation that remains of what befell the people and town will forever remind us all of what can go wrong when least expected.
19 ALL BECAUSE OF BAD DESIGNS AND SAFETY PRECAUTIONS?
Of course whenever a disaster of this magnitude occurs, answers are the first thing people want. The first things we're taught to look for after something so terrible and unexpected. Well, it wouldn't be long for people to start pointing the finger away from themselves and onto another person that may or may not have been responsible. The first few comments were made against the initial safety designs and precautions taken. Many said that the reactors were badly designed and an incident was imminent. But others felt that this was too easy an explanation. These days, others have learned to accept the fact that this was probably nothing but a terrible oversight and simple error. Hard to believe, but many believe it to be the truth.
18 WILL WE EVER HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS?
Like any other disaster that has occurred over the years, we that are left behind to watch the stories unfold and see the aftermaths unleashed onto the areas and people affected, we will sadly never get all the answers, no matter how much we want to hear them. Many believe that getting all the answers can at times be much worse, and at times even we, would have to agree. Others say that the truth will help those affected to achieve closure and put the ordeal behind them and yes, dear readers, we would have to agree there as well. But as for Chernobyl, the mysteries and true reasons behind the terrible ordeal will perhaps remain a mystery, even to those that survived it.
17 SMOKE PLUMES
The smoke plumes have become almost a cartoonish symbol for nuclear disasters. Over the years an explosion such as this is often depicted with a smoke plume of sorts, some seemingly extremely large. And while the men and women in Hollywood are doing their best to convey how a nuclear disaster should look, the events that befell Pripyat and the Chernobyl power plant there caused quite a bit of smoke plumes, and they were terribly real and realistic, and at the same time very different from what we've seen in film. But alas, it's what is contained in that smoke that can cause even more damage than the initial blow.
16 WITHIN THE PLUMES WAS FOUND THE MOST FIENDISH OF ELEMENTS
There are in fact a lot of ways to explain Nuclear Fission and a lot of data has been recorded over the years, so perhaps we'll go ahead and give you the simplest of definitions. According to wikipedia.org, Nuclear Fission is simply explained as being the action of Nuclear atoms splitting into smaller atoms. In the case of what happened at Chernobyl, the fact that these atoms were made smaller by process of Fission, they were dangerously more able to enter the air stream and spread, and spread they did, at a terribly fast pace, all over Pripyat and even to surrounding areas of the USSR and Europe.
15 THE AFTERMATH
Contrary to popular belief, the explosion itself only caused two to perish at the time of the blast, which is indeed quite terrible enough. But the ensuing count would stagger many in the days and weeks that followed. A whopping 134 servicemen were hospitalized during the ensuing time that elapsed after the blast, which was weeks and even months; 28 firemen would sadly pass on as well. And the devastation would follow the ones who survived all of their lives, the ingested nuclear particles would make them ill later in life, causing them too to perish. Many of the population would experience similar fates as well.
14 OTHER COMPLICATIONS FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
Those closely related to the Chernobyl plant knew exactly what was coming for those in the immediate area, thus the reasons for evacuation. But for many, it was much too late. Apart from all the health complications we previously mentioned, the particles breathed in by the ones closest to the incident and even farther away would suffer imminent effects throughout their own lives, but also for future children they might have. The chromosomes in their bodies forever changed and their children's lives too would be fated to be ruined, the damage to the chromosomes causing defects and other issues.
13 THE AIR IS STILL UNTRUSTWORTHY
And to this day, many are still quite weary of the air quality in Pripyat, as they should be. According to weforum.org, the area is still sanctioned off and the ruins still leak some amounts of radiation into the air. Albeit not as much, but still, people should definitely stay away, authorities warn. Wildlife apparently are slowly returning to the area, which scientists believe is a good sign, but yet still, many are not trusting of even signs like those. Those who are worried are actually on the right track, as there is an overlooked piece of information that many who travel to the area seem to not have figured out.
12 THE REACTOR IS STILL FULL OF RADIOACTIVE ELEMENTS!
Also according to weforum.org, when the event occurred, the authorities had a protective barrier set in place in order to keep any radioactive material or gasses trapped inside Reactor 4. That staggering information leads us to understand however, that the radioactive materials are still trapped inside and any disturbance to that barrier can cause yet another incident. What's even more concerning, is that that barrier was only expected to last 30 years! Now, we've already mentioned that it's been 32 years since the accident. This leads us to wonder: is it just a matter of time before another accident?
11 UNLIKELY VISITORS
But many still believe that the poisonous fumes can be contained and there is nothing to worry about. After all, the presence of animals and wildlife slowly returning to forage for food is a great and highly optimistic chain of events, proving that the vegetation in the area has started to return to some safe form and condition. But as is the case with many situations such as these, there are indeed still a lot of skeptics. But skepticism aside, many feel that the future of the area is indeed bright and they feel that one day they will be able to claim back the land they once lost.
10 STILL, MANY FOREIGNERS VISIT THE RUINS
Pictured here are tourists who have visited the town of Kopachi, which was near Pripyat and the Chernobyl plant. Essentially even this was an affected area, but yet, thrill-seeking tourists still flood the surrounding areas. They're either there to record some of the aftermath for their own reasons and of course journalists and scientists have also flooded the area in search of data, but any and all visitors, no matter what their inspiration, should be warned of the possible dangers to their health and futures, should they step in the affected areas. But again, these warnings have gone ignored.
9 ABANDONED HOMES
Imagine having to leave all that you love behind. Leaving all of your worldly possessions because of an event so catastrophic, that you can take almost nothing with you. It was a horrible and terrible thing to bear for the inhabitants of Pripyat and the surrounding areas, but no matter how harsh it seems to us now, this was their reality. Abandon your home at all cost and maybe, maybe, you'll survive. Rather bleak and ominous, yes, but this is what these people faced, and some of them did survive, which we must say is rather extraordinary. Many homes like the one pictured here are left unkempt and forlorn to this day. They sit as examples of what befell these people.
8 THE MIGHTY PEOPLE OF PRIPYAT
Like many Soviet and even European people of the era, the gallant people of Pripyat, Ukraine were hard-working people. And in many ways they represented the "everyman" and "everywoman" of that time and place. Like any of the great world disasters, the event was an example of what and just how much the human race can take, and thus move forward. And for these people, their futures were indeed bleak and murky. They didn't know what the futures held, and at the time, they probably hoped to be able to return to their homes, only they didn't know how severe this issue would turn out to be.
7 CHERNOBYL WOLVES
Sounds like the name for a hockey team or even a decent punk band, eh? But no, the term is in reference to the plethora of wolf species that have flooded the area in recent years. The area is definitely void of human life, so these wolves have made their den at the heart of the city and the surrounding areas. Many fear that the wolves however, are carriers of a genetic mutation and they fear their presence in the town. This fear is based on the fact that the wolves live and feed in the affected area and have breathed the bad air over however long they've been there.
6 THE DEFINITIVE GHOST TOWN
And of course, our worldly society being what it is, the disaster and ensuing abandonment of the city has left many to speculate that the area around Chernobyl is now haunted. Pretty common thought process, these days, and hey, who are we to challenge this thought. It's just another example of their resolve no matter what the cards they were dealt were. In all honesty a symbol such as this classroom, where people lived and learned, amidst all that destruction is beautiful to see, the perfect contrast of hope against a backdrop of devastation.
5 THE ULTIMATE SYMBOL OF NUCLEAR FALLOUT
The gas mask is perhaps one of the most important symbols that describes nuclear fallout or disaster. And in film, the gas mask is often used in such situations and of course in situations of other horrors or comedy. But in this case, the gas mask is no laughing matter. If the site is visited, which it often is, many gas masks litter the floor of many of the abandoned buildings and even the streets. They lay there forgotten, like so much in that place, and their symbol goes way beyond their purpose. Those masks symbolize the fallen, the forgotten and the complete abandonment of a city.
4 THE SURROUNDING AREAS - PANIC OF CONTAMINATION
Following the catastrophe, many of the surrounding countries also started to panic. Many thought to evacuate even, but that was put on hold until further notice, although we'd imagine quite a few families fled regardless. The photo here depicts a farmer as far away as Sweden, raking through his crops in fear of contamination. It took a long time for the government to assess the damage and test the air all around Ukraine, and finally people started to calm down, but it was definitely a rough time for many of the countries nearby.
3 ARTWORK DEPICTING THE STIGMA
This artwork by Stefan Koidl shows perfectly what can come of a disaster as time goes on. A certain stigma attaches itself to the disaster no matter what the sensitivities are, and that stigma grows to become almost a parody of the events or at times an homage to the events. This is unavoidable, as it happened with events like the sinking of the Titanic, the disaster that befell the Zeppelin, and so on. But if we can take a close look at Koidl's work, we can see a definitive sense of respect, as the men seem virtually harmless, but there is in fact a pathos that shines through here. The presence of the more common images, such as the bus, shows a vulnerability here that is absent in other fictional and artistic interpretations of the Chernobyl disaster.
2 THE SUBJECT OF MANY FILMS AND VIDEO GAMES
And very much like other worldly disasters, Chernobyl wasn't safe from being told in story form over and over again. A plethora of films, television events and even video games often decided to have the events at Chernobyl be the backdrop of their character's lives. Some of these representations were well done and even critically acclaimed but some fell a little short, becoming almost a parody of the actual events that were recorded. Much like James Cameron's Titanic, some of these depictions were completely fictional, relying on the real life event to carry the story that much further in popularity. Case in point: Chernobyl Diaries.
1 THE DARKEST DAY
The event occurred between the days of April 25th and 26th in the year 1986, over thirty years ago. It was recorded as being one of the greatest events, of its kind, of all time. The Chernobyl Power Plant was and the remains are located in the now abandoned town of Pripyat, Ukraine, which is just North of Kiev. The devastation would be incredible, and the fallout and chain of events that led to the evacuation of the city have been studied over and over again with few answers brought to the surface. Indeed there are reasons, but the precise explanation has been shrouded in myths, and questions for thirty-two years and counting.
Sources: wikipedia, weforum.org, reddit.com