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April 26, 1986

Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant

Reactor No. 4 and memorial at Chernobyl

Chernobyl was an environmental disaster of biblical proportions. An atomic accident that turned forests red and water to poison. So why would anyone want to vacation in hell?

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It was nearly 25 years ago that a small town in what was then the Soviet Union was transformed into one of the most notorious places on the planet: Chernobyl.

What began as a systems test ended in the worst atomic accident in history. The statistics paint a terrible picture: hundreds dead, thousands sickened, land ruined, and a massive legacy of cancer.

Oddly, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (CNPP) site in Ukraine (formerly USSR) has become a tourist destination.

The support town of Pripyat was home to 50,000 until April 26, 1986. Within weeks, most residents were gone — evacuated from the disaster area (something many say was done far too slowly).

What was the most modern town in the Soviet Union now stands empty, but for government officials, scientists and tourists.

Touring Chernobyl is easy. You join a tour and just go. But being there is a different story. It brings back memories and encourages one to think long and hard about atomic power and nuclear proliferation.

These pages contain my personal story of visiting Chernobyl plus additional information about the disaster — including how to tour the site.

Lastly: Don’t forget the victims. They aren’t just the people who used to live near the site or were called in to fight the nuclear fire. There are new victims born every day. A number of Chernobyl based charities are listed on the Chernobyl nuclear accident help page.

Read: My personal story of visiting Chernobyl