luni, 25 aprilie 2011
Twenty-five years ago this month, life in Pripyat (Ukrainian: При́п'ять, Prip'yat’; Russian: При́пять, Pripyat’) came to a shuddering end. Before dawn on April 26, 1986, at 1:23 AM, less than two miles south of what was then a city of 50,000, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant's number four reactor exploded. Thirty people died in the blast and ﬁre or were exposed to lethal radiation. The destroyed hulk burned for ten days, contaminating tens of thousands of square miles in northern Ukraine, southern Belarus, and Russia's Bryansk region. It was the worst nuclear accident the world has ever seen.
The fallout, 400 times more radioactivity than was released at Hiroshima, drove a third of a million people from their homes and triggered an epidemic of thyroid cancer in children. Over the years, the economic losses—health and cleanup costs, compensation, lost productivity—have mounted into the hundreds of billions of dollars. As evidence of government bungling and secrecy emerged in its wake, Chernobyl (or Chornobyl, as it is now known in independent Ukraine) even sped the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Now, Pripyat is a ghost town.
To commemorate the tragedy 25 years later, National Geographic photographer Gerd Ludwig plans to return to the reactor and the areas around it to investigate the current state of contamination to the land; to report on the progress of its cleanup; and to examine the health consequences in the fallout regions, so that this important story will not be forgotten.
The Long Shadow of Chernobyl
Project by Gerd Ludwig