Visiting Chernobyl: Ground Zero of the Worst Nuclear Disaster in History

With no radiation exposure.
Can Emir

The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (ChNPP), located in Chernobyl near the abandoned city of Pripyat in northern Ukraine, is an unfunctional power plant since the Chernobyl accident on April 26, 1986.

The power plant is open to the public since 2011 after authorities have decided that it is safe to visit, and the TV series Chernobyl have increased the interest by 40 percent since its launch. Even though it is relatively safe to visit the area, where a daily visitor is exposed to the amount of radiation equivalent to an hour of flight in an airplane, you can visit Chernobyl in the comfort and safety of your home by using Google Maps Street View.

The Street View feature of Google Maps allows its users to explore the ghost town. After the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the town was completely devastated and evacuated, following a declaration that the area is hazardous for human habitation for at least 24 thousand years.

Street View provides interactive panoramas from the streets in the world. The Street View was launched in 2007 in a few cities in the U.S. and has expanded since. 

The Chernobyl disaster was caused by a sudden power surge during a system test in Reactor no. four, which was destroyed due to flawed design and inadequate personnel. Upon explosion, the reactor released up to 30 percent of Chernobyl’s 190 metric tons of uranium reserves.

The effects of severe radiation killed 28 plant workers in the first four months after the accident and gave another 106 workers radiation sickness. 115 thousand people were evacuated immediately after the incident from Chernobyl, a Soviet city back then, by the Soviet government.

According to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, more than 6,000 children and adolescents have developed thyroid cancer due to radiation exposure from the disaster.

Even 35 years after the incident, which is accepted as the worst civilian nuclear disaster, the area is still dangerous to inhabit, because of high levels of radiation. The power plant is inside a large restricted area within 18 miles (30 km), known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, as the nuclear waste cleaning process is estimated to be completed in 2065.

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