Remembering Chernobyl

On April 26, 1986 reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Soviet Union near what is now Pripyat, Ukraine. Nearly twenty one years later this remains the worst nuclear power accidents and a reminder of both the awesome and potential destructive nature of nuclear power. In recent years, as radioactivity levels in the area have decreased and time has marched on, there has been much less discussion about the accident and it often receives only a cursory discussion in schools. To those still living in the area who see constant reminders of the destruction and sacrifice which followed the accident the Internet has provided a medium to ensure the accident is never forgotten.

In many ways the Chernobyl accident remains shrouded in mystery. In part thanks to the suppression of news and reporting during the Soveit era and in part due to the deaths of key figures there remains much we do not know about the accident and the aftermath. In much the same way there is controversy surrounding the discussion of the accident as well as modern exploration of the accident site. The goal of this article is to provide some guidance in the exploration of Chernobyl related resources.

A good place to start for an overview is the Wikipedia article on the Chernobyl disaster but remember that Wikipedia can be edited by anyone and may contain bias or inaccuracies. Another good place for background information and papers is the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Chernobyl page. If you’re specifically interested in the natural implications of the disaster you may want to check out the book Wormwood Forest: A natural history of Chernobyl by Mary Mycio.

Once you have a good understanding of the disaster itself you may want to start looking at some of the modern exploration and notes from the Chernobyl site. One of the most popular sites was created by the so called “Kid of Speed” Filatova Elena Vladimirovna who wrote two photographic stories (Ghost Town and Land of the Wolves) of trips into the exclusion zone and hosts them along with other thoughts on the disaster at her website. It is worth noting that several people have called parts of her stories (particularly early revisions) out as hoaxes but she remains a prominent figure and committed to remembering the disaster and her site contains many interesting photographs from the so-called exclusion area. The Nuclear Flower site, an anti-nuclear power site from Australia, contains some higher resolution photos from the exclusion area. The 26-04-1986 site was setup by seven artists from Moscow, Minsk and Berlin to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster and contains some artistic photos from the area. National Geographic also featured the Chernobyl disaster in their April 2006 issue and this online exhibit. Use the links of the side of that page to see photos, writings, maps, sites and sounds from the area. Looking toward the future you may examine the site, setup by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, which bills itself as an “international communications platform on the longterm consequences of the Chernobyl disaster”.

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