For my final stop I decided to go to to a site that shaped the later part of the twentieth century and still has an impact now. I decided to head to Chernobyl, a nuclear reactor site that exploded during the Soviet regime.

Chernobyl disaster

Background: On April 26. 1986, reactor number four at the nuclear site at Chernobyl exploded making it the worst nuclear explosion ever. It was worse than the atomic bombs the US dropped during World War II. Research states that Chernobyl released 300 times the lethal fallout then the Hiroshima bomb. Radiation leaked out the walls of the reactor for ten days and dust and rain spread the radiation across present day Ukraine the former Soviet Union and Europe. Two workers were immediately died in the blast. The surrounding town, Prytyat, was evacuated the next day. People were rushed to the hospital with the fear of having radiation poisoning. Clean up began the next day to keep the other reactors online resulting in many workers getting radiation poisoning. In the years following the other three reactors were shut down. Number two was shut down in 1991 after a fire. Number one and three were online until 1996 and 2001. Now a concrete and steel sarcophagus surrounds the structure to lower the about of radiation into the air from the structurally unsound reactor. For the first time the  Soviet government did something almost unnatural, the media was allowed to cover the story and countries like US were allowed to send aid and the aid the aid was welcomed. The government first responded on television on April 28th with this statement: ” ‘There has been an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.’ … ‘assistance has been provided’… ‘an investigative commission has been set up‘. “

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Trip: I was very excited for this trip partially because this will be my last trip this semester, but mostly because of adrenaline. I did some research and found out the amount of radiation I would get is the same amount as if I spent two days in Kiev or took a long airplane ride. I was surprised that the government allows people to take a trip here. Planning this trip was easy. I drove through the night from Moscow to a hotel recommended on the Chernobyl trip website, Hotel “Desiatka” . Next I ordered my  day pass. Most trips I don’t talk about my outfit but this time it’s pertinent. I covered every inch of skin possible. My favorite black Nike hat for my head, a turtle neck, infinity scarf and hoodie to cover my neck, torso and arms, dark blue jeans and my black Timberland boots to cover my legs and feet. My reason for covering up as much skin is possible partially because I’m paranoid that I’ll get radiation poisoning partially because it’s cold.  When I got to the site we gathered together around our tour guide as she explained the rules. 1. There’s a time limit for how long we can stay on the tour, and if for any reason she said we needed to turn back we were all follow. 2. We are not allowed to touch any infrastructures because it could fall at any moment. 3. We are not to touch the ground because radiation is on everything. 4. We were not to eat on this trip because radiation is in the air. 5. We are not allowed to smoke anything because of radiation in the air. The tour was chilly but informational. When we returned to area we departed from we had time to go to the gift shop. They sold things from shirts, to mugs that glow in the dark, to key chains and magnets to other items.

After reflecting over this trip I realized it was very different from my other trips. This one was dangerous and thrilling at the same time. This trip has one of the biggest impacts on my life. Because of Chernobyl part of the Soviet Union’s image changed. Although there was a cover up the smoke from the exploded reactor spread across Europe until Sweden demanded answers. The government claimed radiation was not as bad as it truly was because they did not want to or have the funds for settlements. However on the other hand, Gorbachev became open. He allowed both international assistance, and mass media coverage under his initiative perestroika. Perestroika would be one of the many reasons the Soviet Union would fall.



The Economist. 2016. “A Nuclear Disaster That Brought down an Empire,” April 26, 2016.
“About Radiation Danger/Safety of Short-Term Trips to the Chernobyl Zone » CHORNOBYL TOUR 2018 – Trips to the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, to the Pripyat Town, ChNPP. (Ex. CHERNOBYL TOUR).” n.d. Accessed April 30, 2018.
“Chernobyl | Chernobyl Accident | Chernobyl Disaster – World Nuclear Association.” n.d. Accessed April 29, 2018.
“Comparison of Damage among Hiroshima/Nagasaki, Chernobyl, and Semipalatinsk |About Radiation|Hiroshima International Council for Health Care of the Radiation-Exposed.” n.d. Accessed April 29, 2018.
“Meltdown in Chernobyl.” 2015. Seventeen Moments in Soviet History (blog). June 22, 2015.
“Overnight Stay in Chernobyl Hotels » CHORNOBYL TOUR 2018 – Trips to the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, to the Pripyat Town, ChNPP. (Ex. CHERNOBYL TOUR).” n.d. Accessed April 29, 2018.