The catastrophe was caused by an explosive meltdown due to an extreme power spike, and saw over 350,400 people evacuated from severely contaminated areas of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.
Today, Chernobyl and its surrounds are a ghost town, with only a few thousands souls brave enough to continue to live in the affected areas, which still suffer from extensive levels of radiation.
But it's this very spookiness that has drawn some travelers to Ukraine to witness its breathtaking desolation.
Some readers might remember the photo-documentation of the area by Ukrainian photographer Elena Filatova. Her website, Kidd Of Speed showed the eerie, apocalyptic landscape of post fall-out Chernobyl.
It's not surprising that Elena's photographs sparked interest in the region- but now that people want to go back to Chernobyl to see what has been left behind, and considering the dangers posed by the fallout, is it really worth the risk?
The Ukrainian government has permitted entry into the surrounding areas of Chernobyl, but with strict conditions.
To enter the 30km exclusion zone, you will need a day pass to enter- which can be obtained from several established tour operators.
Certain areas, such as the "machine cemetery" of Rossokha village, are forbidden to enter under government restrictions. Obviously, areas marked as radioactive or forbidden entry zones are exactly that. You should stay well away from them- lest you wish to end up another Chernobyl statistic.
Basically, to go into the exclusion zone without either a) a tour operator or b) being a qualified nuclear fallout expert with your own equipment, is attempting suicide. The environment in relation to radiation levels in certain areas is extremely dynamic, and without proper measurement, you could be exposing yourself to deadly material.
Radiation is measured in siverts, and during a Chernobyl tour, the levels of exposure can range from 130 to 2610 microsieverts p/h which is similar to the radiation we would be exposed to on a long haul plane flight.
A lethal dose of radiation is in the vicinity of 3-5 sieverts in an hour period. Outside of a tour, it's impossible to gauge how much radiation you are being exposed to without professional equipment. Also, exposure to higher levels of radiation puts you at higher risk of having particles remain on your clothes. Sustained exposure to radiation is the greatest cause of contamination.
Another point to keep in mind, many of the abandoned buildings are covered in broken glass and debris, and the floor surfaces can be highly unstable. If you choose to travel inside the exclusion zone, make sure you wear rugged, protective clothing, and closed in shoes. Keep your bare skin to a minimum.
Decades on since the disaster, nature has reclaimed the radioactive site. No, you won't see three-headed wolves but due to the absence of humans in the area, many wild animals have returned and vegetation is flourishing.
Pripyat looks like one of those zombie-esque, post-apocalyptic video games or tv shows with trees, vines and other planes growing over the remains of buildings and other infrastructure including the well-known amusement park.
Populations of animals such as deer, moose, wild boar, brown bears, lynx and many bird species have all increased in the past 20 years. The numbers of wolf have increased due to lack of competition from humans who would hunt their prey like deer and moose. The zone has also become a sanctuary for endangered species such as the European Bison and Przewalski's Horse.
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