Pripyat

Founded: 1970

Abandoned: 1986

Visited: 2014 + 2015

Pripyat, Ukraine

Pripyat is an abandoned city in northern Ukraine, near the border with Belarus. The ghost town was named after the nearby Pripyat River, the city was founded on 4 February 1970. It was a nuclear city in the Soviet Union, to serve the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. It was officially proclaimed a city in 1979. The town had a population of 49.360 by the time it was evacuated, a few days after the disaster.

Chernobyl disaster

The 26 April 1986 Chernobyl disaster was the worst nuclear power plant accident in history. It is one of only two classified as a level 7 event. Level 7 is the maximum classification on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The battle to contain the contamination and prevent a bigger catastrophe, involved over 500.000 workers. Costs were estimated 18 billion rubles. During the accident itself 31 people died. The long-term effects such as cancers are still being investigated.

The event occurred during a late-night safety test which simulated a station blackout.  Safety systems were intentionally turned off for this test. A combination of bad reactor design and  operators working contrary to the checklist for the test, eventually resulted in uncontrolled reaction conditions. Water became steam, generating a destructive explosion and fire. 36 hours after the accident, Soviet officials enacted a 10-kilometre exclusion zone. That resulted in the rapid evacuation of 49,000 people primarily from Pripyat. As plumes and subsequent fallout continued to be generated, the evacuation zone was increased from 10 to 30 km about one week after the accident. Approximately 100,000 km² of land was significantly contaminated with fallout, with the worst hit regions being in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. Slighter levels of contamination were detected over all of Europe

Slavutych

From 1986 until 1988 the city of Slavutych was constructed to replace Pripyat. It was purposely built for the evacuated personnel of the Power Plant. Today, this is the second-largest city for accommodating power plant workers and scientists in the Russian Commonwealth.

Other reactors

Following the accident, questions arose about the future of the plant and its eventual fate. All work on the unfinished reactors 5 and 6 was halted three years later. The Ukrainian government continued to let the three remaining reactors operate because of an energy shortage in the country. In October 1991, a fire broke out in the turbine building of reactor 2. The authorities declared the reactor damaged beyond repair, and it was taken offline. Reactor 1 was decommissioned in November 1996 and on 15 December 2000. President Leonid Kuchma personally turned off Reactor 3 in an official ceremony, shutting down the entire site.

Photos Pripyat

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