|Crippled nuclear reactor at Chernobyl|
Twenty-six years ago today, reactor number 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukrainian Republic of the Soviet Union experienced a catastrophic explosion. The resulting catastrophe proved to be the worst nuclear disaster in history. It spread radioactive contamination across much of Europe and western Russia and resulted in the resettlement of thousands of people away from the contaminated areas.
The safety of nuclear power was called into question as a result of the accident and development of new nuclear power plants slowed considerably as a result.
Photos of the abandoned city of Pripayat (former top-secret port for Soviet submarines) near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant where everything just stopped that day and everyone evacuated
Anthony Bourdain of the Travel Channel visits Chernobyl
Tony and friend Zamir Gotta team up for a trip to the former Soviet Republic, the Ukraine. They tour Chernobyl and the radiated ghost town of Pripayat, explore a once top-secret port for Soviet submarines, drink vodka and enjoy green borscht. (Season 7, Episode 14)
See the video
(Chernobyl is 2 minutes into the video, please pardon the 30-second commercial)
by Josh Ferrell, Associate Producer -- "No Reservations" Crew Blog
August 15, 2011
Not ten minutes after Sergey repeated these instructions, he led us down a dirt path surrounded by bushes and trees with low hanging branches. We tried our best not to touch the branches, but we all ended up touching leaves and shrubs, and a few of us even got smacked with branches. Our guide told us to be sure to wash our clothes a few times before wearing them again. But for peace of mind, once we returned to our hotel, I, like everyone else on the crew, threw away the clothes I was wearing, as well as my shoes.
Recalling the tragedy that was Chernobyl is spooky enough, but actually visiting ground zero and the surrounding areas of the nuclear disaster will leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits. And apparently, a lot of people visit. When we were leaving Prypiat, we noticed more vans coming into the secured area. Those vans turned out to be tour vans, filled with tourists mostly from Russia and Eastern Europe taking pictures of everything around them. I knew they weren’t journalists because most were dressed in Euro-trash-themed clothing and nearly all had disposable and pocket-sized digital cameras. It seems that one way to make money to help build a new sarcophagus over the old sarcophagus that covers Reactor Number 4 is to charge money to explore the grounds of one of the biggest man-made disasters of all time.
After packing up our equipment, we drove beyond the 30-kilometer security perimeter, back to habitable grounds. We pulled over at the first convenience shop we saw to get water and snacks for everyone. It was a dim lit, mostly empty space, with a few bare shelves, but they did have water. However, instead of necessities that you would normally find in your neighborhood store, this place predominately had merchandise. Chernobyl merchandise. T-shirts, coffee mugs, calendars, the list goes on. All of which read “CHERNOBYL 4-26-86” with the universal sign for radioactivity replacing the “O” in Chernobyl. It almost felt like a scene out of Spaceballs. “Chernobyl the lunchbox, Chernobyl the breakfast cereal, Chernobyl the Flame Thrower- the kids love this one.” So I did what any late-twenties American would do. I bought as much stuff as I could carry.