How about the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster!

Vertex - Nathan - Chernobyl - Nathan at Chernobyl

Warning sign at the first passport check-point located 30 km out from the plant. We went through a second passport check-point at 10 km from the plant.

Nathan Lichti and his wife were visiting family friends in the Ukraine this May. So why not visit the site of a nuclear reactor meltdown? Thirty years ago, one of the largest environmental disasters resulted in the permanent evacuation of over 300,000 people and economic losses estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars.

A 10 Km radius around the nuclear plant will be uninhabitable for hundreds of years. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take a tour of the disaster area! Everyone entering the zone has to wear Geiger counters to record radiation in-take.

One of the more surprising observations was how quickly nature reclaims areas abandoned by humans. “We were driving through what looked like a bush road when they told us we were in the middle of the town of Pripyat…it wasn’t until we got out of the van and walked through some trees that we started finding buildings.”

Vertex - Nathan - Chernobyl - Ferris Wheel

This Ferris wheel was part of the Pripyat Amusement Park to be opened for May Day celebrations on May 1, 1986. Unfortunately, the Chernobyl disaster occurred on April 26, one week before scheduled opening. Our tour guide said the park was briefly opened on April 27 to distract residents before the announcement to evacuate the city was made.

Perhaps this would not be everyone’s idea of a place to visit while on vacation, but there is no doubt that the Chernobyl nuclear disaster holds interest for scientists and engineers, and also serves as an important historical lesson on technological safety that should not be forgotten.

Vertex - Nathan - Chernobyl - Bumper Cars

These rusted bumper cars were located next to the Ferris wheel as part of the Pripyat Amusement Park.

Vertex - Nathan - Chernobyl - Abandoned School

This elementary school classroom was in a local village within the Chernobyl exclusion zone. The initial evacuation announcement was for residents to re-locate for 3 days, and so books and everything was just left as is. Now 30 years later, the schools and villages are still unsafe for human occupation.

Vertex - Nathan - Chernobyl - Gas Mask Doll

This doll was fitted with a child’s gas mask; an eerie symbol of the disaster.

Vertex - Nathan - Chernobyl - Momument and Plant

Monument commemorating those who lost their lives in the Chernobyl disaster. The Nuclear Plant Reactor #4 is in the centre background (in front of the orange and white stack).

Vertex - Nathan - Chernobyl - Early Warning Radar Array

We visited an abandoned Soviet military base near the Chernobyl power plant. This antennae array was used as part of the Soviet early-warning missile detection.

Vertex - Nathan - Chernobyl - Radiation Monitor

My Geiger counter to track radiation in-take.