Looking like the setting of a post-apocalyptic movie, the city of Prypiat lies abandoned sitting just a short distance away from where the greatest nuclear power disaster in history occurred, Chernobyl. While many of Prypiat’s buildings still stand erect and strong since the city’s abandonment nearly 23 years ago, the city has become withered with time from neglect, looters, and the overgrowth of vegetation. Prypiat was once a prospering city during the time of the late Soviet Union. The city housed many of the Chernobyl plant workers who still today have some fond memories of their time spent in the city. The city was once a sprawling and active community with 15 schools, many shops, and recreational areas. When reactor number 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear plant erupted in flames on the 26th of April, 1986 the city’s nearly 50,000 residents were kept initially kept in the dark, not warned about the looming danger caused by the release of lethal amounts of radiation from the explosion.
The city was eventually completely evacuated within 2 days of the disaster as residents boarded buses and left. Although at the time they may not have known it, for many residents, this was the last time they’d see their home. Residents were only allowed to bring a small amount of items with them as the left the city on April 28, 1986. Workers, doing their tasks under high pressure and scathing conditions eventually contained lethal amounts of radiation leaking from the nearby plant at Chernobyl. Although only 56 deaths can be directly attributed to the disaster at Chernobyl, it’s estimated the the disasters total claim will rise to nearly 4,000 due to increased cancer risks caused by radiation exposure.
Today the city lies well within Ukraine’s zone of alienation, the area primarily effected by radiation due to the disaster. While some parts of the city contain areas with high radiation, other areas are deemed safer. The abandoned city has become somewhat of a tourist attraction, as people, with permission of the Ukrainian government have been given permission to visit the city, many of them former residents. Today Prypiat’s emptiness remains not only a testament to the danger of nuclear radiation, but to those who worked so hard to evacuate the city and contain the accident at reactor #4, many of whom sacrificed their own lives so that others could live.