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It's Been 29 Years Since The Disaster In Chernobyl. Today, This Is What The Place Looks Like

30 years after the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl, Ukraine, the city remains abandoned. Since the city was abandoned so quickly, the homes are filled with the belongings of everyday life. This has made Chernobyl endlessly fascinating to urban explorer photographers capturing haunting images of this city's tragic demise.

Documentary filmmaker, Danny Cooke, collected his captured video pieces into a short film, "Postcards from Pripyat, Chernobyl."

Before the disaster, Chernobyl was a working class city incorporated into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.


Toby Batchelor

The Power Plant was commissioned by the Ukrainian government in 1977.


Daniel Berehulak

Life in the latter part of the 20th century was beginning to take a turn to normalcy for the citizens of Chernobyl.


Toby Batchelor

The city, located in the northern Kiev Oblast, had seemed doomed to endure occupation and cruelty.


Toby Batchelor

The Hasidic Jews of Chernobyl had particularly suffered under the pogroms of the ultra-nationalist Russian movement at the turn of the century. By 1920, they had left Chernobyl entirely.


Alexey Yaroshevsky/Russia Today

The 1920s brought Stalin's rule and the harrowing Holodomor, the man-made famine that terrorized Chernobyl.


Toby Batchelor

The city was brutally occupied by Nazis for three years during WWII.


Daniel Berehulak

20 years after gaining freedom from occupation, though still part of the Soviet Union, Chernobyl became the site of the country's first nuclear power station.


Toby Batchelor

It was named the V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station after Russian communist revolutionary and former head of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.


Daily Mail

The plant, built in 1977, had four reactors stretched between the Chernobyl station and the nearby Pripyat, a city on the banks of the Belarus and Dnieper Rivers.


Daniel Berehulak

Nuclear power was being flaunted as the pride of Soviet engineering and a sign of the Soviet Union's commitment to peacetime.


Toby Batchelor

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Nuclear power even had a slogan: "мирный атом", Russian for "peaceful atom."


Daniel Berehulak

Just five years into the use of the power plant, one of the reactors had a partial core meltdown. 


Daniel Berehulak

It was repaired and mostly kept out of the public eye. Within a few months, the reactor was back to work.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

On April 26, 1986, a systems test was ran at Pripyat's Reactor 4.


Daniel Berehulak

All of a sudden, an unexpected power surge rocked the station, instantly killing two workers.


Toby Batchelor

Quickly, the plant went into emergency shutdown.


Toby Batchelor

A second power spike surged through Reactor 4, causing a reactor vessel rupture. 


Toby Batchelor

Steam explosions from the plant caused the graphite moderator to be exposed to air. It burst into flames. 31 workers at the plant lost their lives.


Toby Batchelor

The fire shot radioactive fallout debris over Pripyat, contaminating the entire area.


Daniel Berehulak

The radioactive cloud reached as far as Norway.


Toby Batchelor

The residents of Pripyat were ordered to evacuate 40 hours later, but it was too late.


Daniel Berehulak

Many had developed radiation poisoning.


Daniel Berehulak

Soon after, the Soviet military designated an exclusion area around the Chernobyl reactor, called the Exclusion Zone.


Daniel Berehulak

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This area, covering approximately 1,000 square miles, has the highest radioactive contamination from the 1986 fallout.


Alexey Yaroshevsky/Russia Today

Over 120,000 people who lived in the Exclusion Zone lost their homes. Areas in the Exclusion labeled the "Black Zone" warned evacuees never to return.


Caters News Agency

Reactor 4 was destroyed and enclosed in a sarcophagus of concrete and lead to prevent radioactive leaks.


Michael Day/Barcroft USA

An area of pine trees near Reactor 4 suffered such destruction from radioactivity that it was nicknamed "The Red Forest," from the red color of the dying pine needles. The Red Forest was bulldozed and the trees were buried to prevent the spread of contamination.


Toby Batchelor

The wild animals of the area who survived the incident started showing strange mutations from the fallout.


Michael Day/Barcroft USA

The polluted rivers have been secured by dikes to keep contaminated silt from spreading.


Toby Batchelor

Military and environmental advocates keep an eye on the wildlife and habitat in the zone, particularly since fires can mobilize radioactive elements again.


Michael Day/Barcroft USA

Despite the tragedy, Chernobyl's Reactor 2 continued operating until 1991 when a fire broke out in a turbine, causing the roof to collapse. 


Alexey Yaroshevsky/Russia Times

The reactor hall was, fortunately, unaffected, but the nuclear experiment had come to an end.


Toby Batchelor

It was the same year the Ukraine would see the dissolution of the Soviet Union and gain status as an independent nation.


Toby Batchelor

As late as 2000, the final reactor began decommissioning, removing the spent nuclear fuel and slowly dismantling the plant. The Exclusion Zone now receives human visits on a short-term basis and has been left to be reclaimed by nature.


Michael Day/Barcroft USA

Credit: All That Is Interesting | Wikipedia

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