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To this day, Pripyat resembles a ghost town, an eerie landscape that holds a plethora of artefacts from the daily lives of displaced residents. At the time of the disaster, due to the previously discussed poor handling of the situation, citizens were told they would only be displaced from their homes for three days, leaving behind the belongings and signs of their lives there.
The ‘exclusion zone’ is a 30km area around reactor 4 that prohibits long term access, only allowing short term access for tourists. Return to habitation in the area may not take place for some 3000 to 20,000 years. Birth defects and cancers as a result of the radiation still affect people in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Greenpeace conducted a study of the incident in 2016 declaring that; “Never in human history has such a large quantity of long lived radioisotopes been released into the environment by a single event” (Greenpeace, 2016). New Safe Confinement Shelter The ‘New Safe Confinement Shelter’ is a large steel structure designed to enclose the remains of reactor 4 to limit the amount of radiation still being release into the air. This shelter also prohibits particles from travelling and further contamination.
The shelter is currently under construction, spanning 260m x 165m. The shelter is also aimed at eventually disassembling the reactor and the internal “sarcophagus” that was built immediately after the accident for the same purpose, although much smaller and a “quick-fix” project at the time. The shelter is on track to be completed at the end of this year (2018). Wildlife & Ecosystems “When humans are removed, nature flourishes” (Jim Smith, Portsmouth University), this sets the scene for the current ecological climate of the town of Pripyat. Scientists are facilitating new research around the effect of radiation on wildlife and plant systems. Wild boar, deer, elk and wolves have been spotted and filmed roaming the dense vegetation in Pripyat, proposing new findings that the effects of radiation may not be as detrimental for animals as they are for humans.
Although it is still difficult to research this as the levels of radiation in the vegetation areas are extremely high and dangers of radiation are still present to researchers. The ‘Dark Age’ of Tourism A dark fascination with the idea of a modern ghost down propels tourists to visit the historic town of Pripyat all year round for guided tours. The tours cost approximately 115 euros and take tourists along the roads of Pripyat (less radiation here), the danger of short term exposure to radiation for tourists is minimal, although the particles remaining on clothing is a more substantial risk that these “adventurer tourists” are willing to take.
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