Fans of the Fallout series of video games will be familiar with the premise: The land has been devastated by nuclear Armageddon, leaving an empty wasteland where few human beings may be found. Nature grows up to reclaim what was left behind as the old signs of civilization slowly crumble away. Oh, and radiation… lots of radiation.
This isn’t a video game, though. This is Chernobyl. You see, Russia started screwing with Ukraine a long time ago. That’s because Ukraine used to be part of the Soviet Union, and that’s where the Chernobyl nuclear disaster took place.
The disaster is the worst nuclear disaster in history, pegging as a level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale(fun reading.) On April 26, 1986 the #4 reactor at the nuclear power plant went critical. The resulting steam explosions released at least 5% of the reactor’s radioactive core into the surrounding atmosphere.
The result: Complete melt down of the core. Immediate radiation levels at the core registered at 30,000 RPH. 400 RPH is fatal after one hour of exposure. The heat from the radiation was such that it created a kind of radioactive lava underneath the reactor. The incident resulted in 31 deaths directly attributed to radiation exposure. Evacuation of nearby Pripyat did not begin until more than a day after the event.
It has been long enough since the event for radiation levels in Chernobyl and Pripyat to drop considerably. It will likely be quite a few more years before either area is safely inhabitable. Pripyat is relatively safe to visit now, but precautions have to be taken. Average exposure to radiation is equivalent to receiving a CT scan. That said, you want to keep your visit short and your eyes open. Certain areas and objects have shown radiation levels three times the annual allowed dose for radiation workers every five years.
So what I’m saying is, maybe you should just stick to exploring Fallout’s wasteland. You’ll probably live longer.