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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 51°16′N 30°13′E / 51.267°N 30.217°E / 51.267; 30.217

Chernobyl area as seen from the Russian space station Mir in 1997 (51°22′50″N 30°06′59″E / 51.380567°N 30.116272°E / 51.380567; 30.116272).
Satellite image of the Chernobyl area.
A statue by the grocery store in Chernobyl.
The grocery store in Chernobyl. The text in the window misleadingly says "Café - Bar"

Chornobyl (as transliterated from Ukrainian: Чорнобиль, IPA: [tʃɔrˈnɔbɪlʲ]), or Chernobyl (as transliterated from the Russian: Чернобыль, Russian pronunciation: [tɕɪˈrnobɨlʲ]), is a city in northern Ukraine, in Kiev Oblast (Province), near the border with Belarus.

The city was evacuated in 1986 due to the Chernobyl disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, located 14.5 kilometers (9 miles) north-northwest. The power plant is within Chernobyl Raion (District), but the city was not the residence of the power plant workers. When the power plant was under construction, Prypiat, a city larger and closer to the power plant, had been built as home for the power plant workers.

Though the city today is mostly uninhabited, a small number of inhabitants reside in houses marked with signs stating that the "Owner of this house lives here". Workers on watch and administrative personnel of the Zone of Alienation are stationed in the city on a long term basis. Prior to its evacuation, the city was inhabited by about 14,000 residents.[1]


Name origin

The city is named after the Ukrainian word for mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), which is "chornobyl". The word is a combination of chornyi (чорний, black) and byllia (билля, grass blades or stalks), hence it literally means black grass or black stalks. That may signify burnt grass, perhaps prior to cultivation.


Chernobyl first appeared in a charter of 1193 described as a hunting-lodge of Knyaz Rostislavich.[2][3] It was a crown village of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 13th century. The village was granted as a fiefdom to Filon Kmita, a captain of the royal cavalry, in 1566. The province containing Chernobyl was transferred to the Kingdom of Poland in 1569, and then annexed by the Russian Empire in 1793.[4] Prior to the 20th century Chornobyl was inhabited by Ukrainian and some Polish peasants, and a relatively large number of Jews.

Chernobyl had a rich religious history. The Jews were brought by Filon Kmita during the Polish campaign of colonization. The traditionally Christian Eastern Orthodox Ukrainian peasantry of the district was largely forced by Poland to convert to the Greek Catholic Uniate religion after 1596, and returned to Eastern Orthodoxy only after Ukraine was annexed by Muscovy.

The Dominican church and monastery were founded in 1626 by Lukasz Sapieha, at the height of the Counter-reformation. There was a group of Old Catholics, which opposed the decrees of the Council of Trent. The Dominican monastery was sequestrated in 1832, and the church of the Old Catholics was disbanded in 1852.[2]

In the second half of 18th century, Chernobyl became one of the major centers of Hasidic Judaism. The Chernobyl Hasidic dynasty had been founded by Rabbi Menachem Nachum Twersky. The Jewish population suffered greatly from pogroms in October 1905 and in March–April 1919, when many Jews were killed and others were robbed, at the instigation of the Russian nationalist Black Hundreds. In 1920, the Twersky dynasty left Chernobyl, and it ceased to exist as a Hasidic center.

Since the 1880s, Chernobyl has seen many changes of fortune. In 1898 Chernobyl had a population of 10,800, including 7,200 Jews. In World War I the village was occupied and in the ensuing Civil War was fought over by Bolsheviks and Ukrainians. In the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-20, it was taken first by the Polish Army and then by cavalry of the Red Army. From 1921, it was incorporated into the Ukrainian SSR.[2]

During the period 1929–33 Chernobyl suffered greatly from mass killings during Stalin's collectivization campaign, and in the Holodomor (famine) that followed. The Polish community of Chernobyl was deported to Kazakhstan in 1936 during the Frontier Clearances. The Jewish community was murdered during the German occupation of 1941–44.[2] Twenty years later, the area was chosen as the site of the first nuclear power station on Ukrainian soil.

The Duga-3 over-the-horizon radar array several miles out of Chernobyl was the origin of the infamous Russian Woodpecker, designed as part of Russia's anti-ballistic missile early warning radar network.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Chernobyl remained part of Ukraine, now an independent nation.

Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster

On April 26, 1986, Reactor #4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near the town of Pripyat, Ukraine, exploded. The explosion took place at around one in the morning while the neighboring town of Pripyat slept. Four workers were killed instantly. Forty hours later, the residents of Pripyat were ordered to evacuate, and most never returned; By that time, many of the residents had suffered varying degrees of radiation poisoning.

In 2003, the United Nations Development Programme launched a project called the Chernobyl Recovery and Development Programme (CRDP) for the recovery of the affected areas.[5] The program launched its activities based on the Human Consequences of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident report recommendations and was initiated in February 2002. The main goal of the CRDP’s activities is supporting the Government of Ukraine to mitigate long-term social, economic and ecological consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe, among others. CRDP works in the four most Chernobyl-affected areas in Ukraine: Kiev Oblast, Zhytomyrska Oblast, partially Kiev, Chernihivska Oblast and Rivne Oblast.


Chernobylite is the name cited by two media sources[6][7] for highly radioactive, unusual and potentially novel crystalline formations found at the Chernobyl power-plant after the explosion. These formations were found in the basement below Reactor #4 during an investigation into missing reactor fuel.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Mould, Richard. "Evacuation zones and populations". Chernobyl Record. Bristol, England: Institute of Physics. p. 105. ISBN 0-7503-0670-X. 
  2. ^ a b c d Norman Davies, Europe: A History, Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0198201710
  3. ^ Chernobyl ancient history and maps.
  4. ^ Davies, Norman (1995) "Chernobyl", The Sarmatian Review, vol. 15, No. 1.
  5. ^ CRDP: Chernobyl Recovery and Development Programme (United Nations Development Program)
  6. ^ BBC Special Report: 1997: Containing Chernobyl?
  7. ^ Suicide Mission to Chernobyl: NOVA, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)1991, 60mins
  8. ^ excerpt

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Chernobyl nuclear power plant's reactor 4 encased in a sarcophagus. Currently, the sarcophagus is leaking radiation and plans to build a replacement are underway.
Chernobyl nuclear power plant's reactor 4 encased in a sarcophagus. Currently, the sarcophagus is leaking radiation and plans to build a replacement are underway.

Chernobyl (Ukranian: Chornobyl) is located in Central Ukraine; the location is infamous because of the nuclear meltdown on April 26, 1986.


On April 26, 1986, the No. 4 nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Station exploded during a test to see how much power was needed to keep the reactor operating during a blackout. Iodine and other dangerous radioactive elements released from the explosion rose into the air and spread across millions of square miles, polluting many European nations. Potassium iodide was distributed in the immediate areas surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Station, including the Pripyat region where most of the workers lived. Controlled by the weather conditions at the time, the radioactive plume touched down again and again in numerous populated areas as far out as 500 km (over 300 miles).

Pripyat, the town closest to the reactor (3 kilometers distance), was home to 49,000 residents before the disaster, mostly the families of the plant workers; now no one lives there. The city of Chernobyl is only 4 kilometers to the south of the reactor. High radiation levels forced the evacuation of more than 100,000 people from the region surrounding Chernobyl, but today about 700 residents have returned to live in the region (although not the town itself).

Pripyat is a freeze-frame of 1980s Soviet life. Propaganda slogans still hang on walls, and children's toys and other items remain as they were. But buildings are rotting, paint is peeling and looters have taken away anything that might have been of value. Trees and grass are eerily reclaiming the land. Today, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is a tourist destination. In 2002, it opened for tourism, and in 2004 there were 870 visitors.

Twenty years after the accident, debate still rages about the number of directly related deaths. Fearing bad PR, the U.S.S.R. for several years forbade medical examiners from listing radiation as a cause of death. Estimates of deaths related to the accident range from 56 to a few thousand.

  • Svetlana Alexievich's Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster offers personal insight into the lives of residents before and after meltdown. ISBN 0312425848.
  • UNSCEAR's assessments of the radiation effects:

Get in

Pripyat is located 110 kilometers from Kiev and about 16 kilometers from the border with Belarus.

To gain access to Pripyat, Chernobyl or any of the surrounding villages, you will need to enter the 30km exclusion zone - and to do that, you will need to arrange a day pass. The easiest way of obtaining one of these is through a tour operator, of which there are many based in Kiev.

Most chartered tours take the form of a bus ride from Kiev. Travel agencies:

  • Kiev Lodging Hostel [1] The only hostel in Kiev that has tours to Chernobyl they also have AK 47 Gun Shooting.
  • The travel agency Hamalia [2] has a good reputation for ecological tours to Chernobyl. When you book a tour, better book in advance because there is an official registration and permission needed.
  • SoloEast Travel [3] - you can check the available dates for group tours to Chernobyl on their web site.
  • SAM travel company [4]
  • Lupine Travel [5] - a UK based firm offering 1-3 day Chernobyl tours including optional airport transfers and apartment stays in Kiev.
  • [6] - a North America based firm offering all-inclusive, English guided tours to the Chernobyl zone. Tours include: Kiev pick-up and drop-off, Zone access pass and transportation, English guide, lunch. Friendly service; fast and convenient booking; various payment options.
  • Internet project [7] organizes tours to Chernobyl exclusion zone and Pripyat City for site readers and forum members.

If you are interested, former Pripyat residents could accompany you in the City and tell you their stories and memories about days of accident. They do very interesting, informative tours, everything is officially legalized.

Now a ghost town, Pripyat, in April of 1986 was home to 49,000. The ferris wheel in the foreground is a grimly ironic reminder of the normality of life before the reactor accident.
Now a ghost town, Pripyat, in April of 1986 was home to 49,000. The ferris wheel in the foreground is a grimly ironic reminder of the normality of life before the reactor accident.
The central square of Pripyat. In 22 years vegetation has seeped through concrete.
The central square of Pripyat. In 22 years vegetation has seeped through concrete.
This amusement park was scheduled to open only four days after the Chernobyl accident, but this never happened. The ferris wheel, swings, bumper cars and the merry-go-round were never used and are now rusting away.
This amusement park was scheduled to open only four days after the Chernobyl accident, but this never happened. The ferris wheel, swings, bumper cars and the merry-go-round were never used and are now rusting away.
The view from Hotel Polissya in Pripyat reveals that Chernobyl reactor number four is chillingly close to the town where its workers lived.
The view from Hotel Polissya in Pripyat reveals that Chernobyl reactor number four is chillingly close to the town where its workers lived.

Visitors to the exclusion zone normally come as part of a tour group. One-day packages which include transportation and food cost around $150-$200, or up to $300 if there's only one of you.

Things to see:

Chernobyl reactor 4: You'll not be able to get too close, but the nearest observation point is 200m from the reactor sarcophagus. The only way to get into the reactor is if you are a scientist or a film maker that has had months of preparation in advance. Although radiation levels here will be much higher than elsewhere in the region, you will not be able to pick up a significant dose during your stay. Typical dose at the site seems to be about 0.5 - 0.9 mR/h (milliroentgens per hour) (winter), slightly higher in the summer. However, measurements done from the observation point in October 2008 only showed a value of 14 microroentgens per hour (0.014 mR/h). There is a visitor's centre with a very interesting model of the damaged reactor, where the plans for improving the sarcophagus over the facility will be explained to you.

Vehicle scrap yard: Important - Passage to "Rossokha" village, cemetery of military machineries - ACCESS FORBIDDEN BY THE GOVERNMENT STARTING APRIL 2008! The scrap yard contains the irradiated emergency vehicles which tended the disaster. There are a number of fire tenders, ambulances, trucks and helicopters in the vehicle graveyard, although some of the vehicles are now being sold as scrap metal. You will no longer be able to gain entry there, but as some of the vehicles are still carrying lethal doses of radiation, this isn't a bad thing. Tours nowadays (April 2008) take you to a collection of abandoned ships on a lake by the city instead.

Pripyat: The famous abandoned city, which once housed 49,000 residents. Sights to see are the schools, kindergarten, public buildings and the amazing culture palace which contains a swimming pool, cinema and gymnasium, and overlooks the famous ferris wheel. Hazards are the crumbling buildings, and decaying wooden floors in places - so be careful. As of July 2008, most tours will not let you enter the buildings due to their current structural stability.

The villages: There is a great number of abandoned villages in the exclusion zone, and all are extremely interesting to view - you'll see farmhouses, small cottages and plenty of vegetation. Be careful entering any of these areas, as vegetation always carries far higher levels of residual radioactivity than concreted areas. Guides will always tell you not to step on the moss, and the dust in dried-out puddles tends to concentrate radioactivity.


Your tour will probably include food, but you're advised to bring your own snacks and drinks. However, some tours let you visit the only shop in Chernobyl where you can buy a beer for your meal. By the end of the tour, you just might need it.

If you get access to the Chernobyl administration centre, you will be able to buy souvenirs, such as books detailing the disaster.


In Chernobyl town there is a canteen for the maintenance crews that work in the exclusion zone. If you are on a guided tour you can eat there. All day visitors to Chernobyl will likely dine at restaurants in the surrounding area.

If you bring meals and drinks with you, make sure to keep them well sealed, and avoid opening/consuming any food or drinks within the 10 km area around the power plant. Clean your hands thoroughly before touching any food.


Tap water in the area remains unsafe for drinking or washing because of the radiation that leaked into surrounding dams, lakes and rivers, so stick to bottled water - which in Ukraine is predominantly sparkling.

Stay Safe

The levels of radiation on guided tours are relatively small; radiation levels in most places are less than that in an aircraft flying at 30,000 feet. The main danger is not in the radiation itself, but in particles of radioactive materials that may remain on your clothes or items.

A lethal dose of radiation is in the range of 300 to 500 roentgens when administered within an hour. Levels on the tour reportedly range from 15 to several hundred microroentgens an hour. A microroentgen is one-millionth of a roentgen.

Example: On a six-hour trip arranged in October 2008 the total dose was 4 microsieverts according to the meter (400 microroentgens). This was less than the total dose of the connecting two-hour flight, which was 6 microsieverts (600 microroentgens). Radiation levels by the power plant were 1.7 microsieverts per hour (170 microroentgens per hour) and they varied between 0.4 and 9.5 microsieverts per hour (40-950 microroentgens per hour) in the Pripyat amusement park. Thus, risks are pretty much non-existent as long as you don't get yourself contaminated.

Stay on roads, the radiation levels on areas covered by vegetation are significantly higher. Even more important, the risk for contamination when walking amongst vegetation is higher because it is more difficult to avoid touching or inhaling anything. Radiation ends when you leave the place, but you don't want radioactive elements inside your body. Follow common sense if you are on your own; if you see an area marked with a radiation sign, the meaning is clear: DON'T GO THERE.

The International Council on Radiation Protection has a recommended annual limit of 5 rem (uniform irradiation of the whole body) for nuclear plant workers.

Clinical effects are seen at 75-200 rem when administered in a short time scale.

Since the levels are microroentgen (10^-6) the exposure level is very low. But it is still possible to be in contact with some very hot surfaces, so caution should be stressed. Note: One rem is equal to 1.07 R (roentgen), or 0.01 sieverts.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:


Proper noun


countable and uncountable; Chernobyls

Chernobyl (countable and uncountable; plural Chernobyls)

  1. An abandoned city in northern Ukraine, known as being the site of a nuclear energy accident.
  2. (by extension) A major nuclear-energy accident.

Alternative spellings

  • Chornobyl (as transliterated from Ukrainian)


Simple English

[[File:|right|300px|thumb|Chernobyl area. Taken from the Russian Mir spacecraft in 1997]] Chernobyl (Ukrainian: Chornobyl [Чорно́биль]; Russian: Chernobyl [Черно́быль]) is a city in northern Ukraine, near the border with Belarus. It was a major communications node and important centre of trade and commerce, especially in the 19th century. The city is located 14.5 kilometers (9 miles) south by south-east of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which became known for the Chernobyl accident. The plant exploded on April 26, 1986; clouds of radioactive particles were released, and the severely damaged containment vessel started leaking radioactive matter. More than 100,000 people were evacuated from the city and other affected areas. Despite the fact that radiation is still being emitted from the nuclear disaster site, the 800-year-old city of Chernobyl survives. As of 2004, government workers still police the zone.They try to clean up radioactive material. Hundreds of people — mostly the elderly — have decided to live with the dangers and have returned to their homes in the zone's towns and villages. Their population was highest in 1987, when there were more than 1200 people. In 2003, there were about 300.

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