The following is the fourth installment of a new series of editorials which will communicate portions of my recent trip to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (Read
I flicked on my survey meter and held my sodium iodide scintillation probe up to the window as we travelled down an old road southwest of Unit 4. As we passed the southern side of Sarcophagus, the radiation levels rose and crested.
The road curved to the right as we passed the Red Forest and approached the sign for the City of Pripyat, where newlyweds once stood and posed for pictures in their wedding attire.
The road connecting the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to Pripyat is quiet now, the trees and brush continue to work their way up to the very edge of the road.
We stopped at a security checkpoint before entering the city. Yellow stakes with small triangular signs constantly reminded us of the contamination in the area.
Our driver was from nearby Chernobyl City and remembered Pripyat before the disaster. He had grown up in this area and could never find it in him to leave it. He works for the nuclear power plant now, which helps him to stay close to the places he has known for almost 70 years, by the way he describes the area I got the feeling that he will always remember how it was before the accident – like no matter how old a person may get, they will still be their mother’s child.
A uniformed officer stepped out of a guards building, walked around and inspected the vehicle, opened the doors and eyed the passengers and their bags, turned to the driver and began asking him questions in Ukrainian. Once he reviewed our documentation and was satisfied that we were authorized to enter the city, the guard walked over and lifted the gate as we passed through. As we passed through the gate we passed by a figure of the crucifix, surrounded by little yellow signs.
The administration at the nuclear power plant is not associated with the City of Pripyat, or the management of the exclusion zone, but we were able to arrange for our liaisons from the nuclear power plant, Anton and Stanislav, to accompany us …read more