Behind the Iron Curtain:Chernobyl

On this day 22 years ago Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded and became the world’s worst nuclear disaster. I don’t have much of a Chernobyl personal story. It happened right before the May Day when we were looking forward to a weekend of camping and drinking. Soviet Government did not even acknowledge the disaster and obviously didn’t know how to deal with it, so all the information was coming in the form of rumors and Voice of America shortwave broadcasts. Some unconfirmed whispers about a fire on a nuclear power plant did not stop us from spending few careless days in tents around the campfire. It was literally the wind direction that decided who will be affected by the fallout. My friends and me were among the lucky ones, wind blew in the opposite direction. There are few people in Kansas City who were drafted to work on the site clean-up and decontamination. There are probably hundreds of thousands of people who were affected in various degrees. Nowadays, there are plenty of pictures of the ghost town which is still stuck in 1986 and tours of the disaster area are freely available. The eerie images from the 30 km zone would make a suitable background for the final scene of the Planet of the Apes. Just like the destroyed Statue of Liberty in the movie it stands as a reminder of a good intentions gone bad, government inefficiency and lack of caring for the people, and heroism of the simple people in the face of unknown and deadly force.
More information is available here.

Reactor is still going,
Still taking lives.

  • Hey man, were you at the press club thing today? I thought it was you but I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself . . . If it was, it was nice to finally speak with you.

  • Also, I’ve always been fascinated with the history of Chernobyl and think it’s a great metaphor for . . . Something.

  • Yep, it was me. It’s not too hard to recognize me when I start speaking. 🙂

  • Doc

    i was still overseas then and there was a lot of concern: heightened tension, militarily. we were told the bare minimum -of course- just that we mights have “to go in”.

    utter rot – no one at Chernobyl needed any american bullets .

    governments the world round cause nearly as much misery as the world’s religions.

  • Mark

    I personally visited the Chernobyl area for two days in June 2006 with a friend and former resident of Pripyat. We toured the Chernobyl Plant (including the Reactor 4 control room), several of the abandoned villages, and Pripyat. I have posted a photo journal of my trip at:

    My Journey to Chernobyl: 20 Years After the Disaster

  • midtown miscreant

    The pictures of the schools disturb me the most, they look like everyone just vanished in the middle of whtever they were doing. Which in a way , I suppose they did.
    Great post!

  • Wow, great trip journal Mark!

    Never visited the site, but am familiar with the event (the incident reports were required reading). But that is NOT the same as your trip report and photos.

    Meesha, thanks for posting this, I would never have realized it was today.