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  • Fred

Goin' to Chernobyl

Ah, the shadow war between Ukraine and Russia. The more you research about Ukraine-Russia relations, the more you realize why Ukraine wants to be independent. One such example as to why there's so much distrust between the two governments is what happened at Chernobyl. The Chernobyl Nuclear Meltdown happened in 1986 under the leadership of Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev. On April 26, 1986, Sweden, 700 miles away, sounded the alarm that something had happened in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, initially said everything was good and refused to tell the West what was going on. Hell, they didn't even tell their own people what was going on. What was going on was one of only two Level 7 nuclear accidents (the other being Fukushima Daiichi) in the history of the world.

Chernobyl today is on the border between Ukraine and Belarus. Still radioactive, still with an uninhabitable zone, Chernobyl is now open for business...on the Ukrainian side.

Not a joke. Not a bit. You can go to Chernobyl for as cheap as $69 a person if you plan ahead.

Or I could go there without all of that nasty radioactivity and stuff, using the magic of Google Maps.

Now the actual city of Chernobyl was abandoned shortly after the accident, but a smattering of people still live there today. The city, a few miles southeast of the plant, had a population of around 14,000 which is down to slightly under 700 today. If you squint your eyes, you can see 2 residents on the left.

It's a short jaunt up to road to the Nuclear Power Plant. Even on Google Maps, I wonder how close I can really get.

Notice all of the water around the plant? That's the Cooling Pond, only YARDS away from the Pripyat River.

A bird's eye view of the Nuclear Power Plant. How close can you go?

To the right is the Mist Cherez Vodoymu-Okholodzhuvach Chaes (?) Bridge and if you turn your head to the left...

The Prometheus Statue is at the front of the plant and the infamous plant itself stretches across the horizon. Sadly Google Maps freezes here. If you put a camera on a drone, you could fly right over the Chernobyl Sarcophagus and land on it.

According to Google Maps, we are 200 feet above the plant with the Red Arrow marking the spot.

Now a lot of the plant itself is off the grid at street level. But you can see the whole plant from 200 feet up. As you move west, you quickly come to the abandoned town of Pripyat just past the Western edges of the plant. Pripyat's population as a closed city of the Soviet Union peaked around 50,000. Today's population is ZERO. Despite that fact you can clearly see some people still mulling around.

As you approach Pripyat, you have to pass a security checkpoint. We are just going to blow right through it.

Well that's creepy. Within 500 yards of the gate is a statue of Christ abandoned in the middle of the sidewalk.

If I was there in real life, this is where I'd turn around.

As we go down the unmarked streets, vegetation has overgrown the view.

It's just like driving through the woods on a 1 lane road. But, again, there's kind of a trail to follow to the abandoned amusement park.

Nice and creepy.

Let's keep going.

Random Ferris Wheel, June 2015.

Again, most of Pripyat is overgrown with 30 years of unchecked vegetation.

Here's a major intersection about a mile away.

I'm telling ya', the Soviets had to have plowed over most of the buildings, because even the apartment complexes are suspiciously bare.

Just for the record, I'm probably stupid enough to go on the Chernobyl Tour....

If I didn't live on the other side of the Northern Hemisphere.

I highly recommend to you, the reader, to explore the Chernobyl Tours link on your own. There are so many quirky items for you to digest on the site. Between Chernobyl Tours and Google Maps, you can really build yourself a nice little adventure.

Before I left Google Maps, this was the best image I came across as an argument to eat at the Chernobyl Cafeteria.

The food looks scrumptious, but see if you can figure out what doesn't belong,


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