Chernobyl courtesy of Google Maps

I don’t know why, but there’s something about visiting a disused nuclear power-plant that I find intriguing. It must be the engineer combined with the dark tourist in me…

Disused is probably not the right word to use when describing the Chernobyl nuclear power-plant. Although technically true, destroyed is a closer fit. Google Maps states it as closed (see above) which might just be the understatement of the evening, but again, they’re not lying.

When buildings are getting knocked down or ripped apart, I can spend ages looking at all of the wreckage and destruction with the twisted metal and bent steel supports strewn all over the place – I’m fascinated by it. Sometimes I plan climbing routes to get to the top of whatever the bulldozers haven’t attacked yet. I think it’s this fascination that lures me to Chernobyl. I would love to spend hours looking at the wreckage, but alas, there are two reasons why I can’t do this. The first is that they have just completed entombing reactor 4 and the crumbling sarcophagus inside a new curved megastructure. The second is that if I was to spend hours that close to the wreckage, I would probably get enough radiation exposure to knock a few years off my life (and the ones that remained in those twilight years would probably have some complications). Trust me, I’m a radiation protection supervisor (at work, not in my spare time).

Another reason for my longing to visit is to see the ghost town of Pryp’yat just to the north. The town was evacuated not long after the nuclear reactor blew up and everything has been left how it was back in 1986. I want to have a peek back in time. I imagine it would be similar to being in a horror movie, a deserted town with an eerie quietness to it surrounded by buildings that should be full of hustle and bustle, but instead have long been left. The giant, rusty ferris wheel would creak in the background as the wind blows and the howl of a wolf would be heard in the distance.

When I tell some people that I want to visit, they think I’ve gone mad. I suppose they have a point. A colleague asked me what my fascination was with visiting places that could potentially get me killed. “It adds a bit of excitement, doesn’t it?” was my response.