Friday, April 26, 2013

The Zone of Alienation

This is one zone you probably don't want to be in, this abandoned zone which some call the Zone of Alienation.  Its other name may be more familiar to you.

It's been deserted for almost 27 years now, these cities and villages in a country that existed then but no longer exists.

It's a living laboratory for the study of how nature reclaims an area that was once a city, and a living laboratory to study what happens after a nuclear disaster.  And this city could become Europe's biggest wildlife sanctuary, some 1,600 square miles, because what scientists thought would happen to the life remaining in that city hasn't happened.

We in the west know this city, and a nuclear power plant, as Chernobyl.

A nearby city, Pripyat, founded to house the workers at the Chernobyl plant, also lies abandoned.  It had about 49,000. residents on that day, Saturday April 26, 1986, when disaster struck during a systems test at the power plant that gave Pripyat its reason for existing.

Because the then-Soviet Union tended to keep disasters secret as long as they could, the people of the Soviet Union didn't hear of the disaster from their own government for nearly two days.  Meanwhile, we in the West were both horrified and fascinated as the news trickled out.  We heard about it for months afterwards.

The abandoned cities and villages are being reclaimed by Mother Nature.

It may amaze you to know that you can actually take organized guided tours of a portion of the Zone of Alienation.  And, it may amaze you even more that some scientists are hotly debating what is happening to wildlife, even as the zone remains quite radioactive.

Make no mistake - this was a disaster that affected thousands and thousands of lives - the lives of the families of the dead, the lives of the thousands who were evacuated not knowing they would never return home, the lives of thousands more who feared contamination of their food and contamination of their bodies.   I also know that this disaster, with 31 "official" deaths, has no doubt claimed a lot more people through cancer and other illnesses, and will continue to.

But the pictures fascinate, both the pictures of the deserted cities, site of so much human misery, and - the wildlife.

Is it possible that one day, the Zone of Alienation may be the Zone of Amazement?

Would you want to visit Chernobyl?


  1. Cool post. I actually think I would want to see Chernobyl. It's a bit much to imagine and I suspect actually seeing it in person would make it a bit more real.
    Angela from

  2. Visiting from the UBC. Anything with zone and alienation is probably not for me. haha. Deserted areas freak me out

  3. That's so sad. I wouldn't want to visit the place, even if I could. There are so many nuclear plants now days and any one of them is a potential disaster. Not only to humans, but as you say, to animals and wildlife as well.

  4. I wouldn't want to go unless I was in a high tech haz. mat suit! I wouldn't want to take any chances. I have a feeling it will take MANY years for it to start flurishing again!

  5. The earth has amazing healing properties and seems to bounce back no matter what we do to mess it up. But it can take time. Fascinating read, Alana!

  6. I would like to visit though maybe not while radioactive without a lot of protection!


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