UPDATE: Apparently, Miss Elena wasn’t completely honest… however, I still think it’s a fabulous story.
In April of 1986, I was eight years old, and I have no recollection of the Chernobyl disaster. Yet, it’s hard to imagine any single event more devastating than what happened on April 25-26, 1986. Hundreds of thousands died, and many more were forced out of their homes in an instant, never to return. Radiation flooded the air, land, and water around the site, forming a ‘dead zone’.
Albany Dan pointed out a link on Fark to a first-person account of someone who has ventured back into this ‘dead-zone’. Her name is Elena, and her stories of motorcycle rides to Chernobyl are fascinating.
As I pass through the check point, I feel that I have entered an unreal world. In the dead zone, the silence of the villages, roads, and woods seem to tell something at me….something that I strain to hear….something that attracts and repels me both at the same time. It is divinely eerie – like stepping into that Salvador Dali painting with the dripping clocks.
…The readings on the asphalt paving is 500 -3000 microroentgens, depending upon where you stand. That is 50 to 300 times the radiation of a normal environment. If I step 10 meters forward, geiger counter will run off the scale. If I walk a few hundred meters towards the reactor, the radiation is 3 roentgens per hour – which is 300,000 times normal. If I was to keep walking all the way to the reactor, I would glow in the dark tonight.
Her photos are incredible. I can’t imagine having the courage to do what she’s done, but I’m glad to have learned more about what happened in those days back in April, 1986.