The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
Ignoring radiation levels, several hundred elderly people have returned to their village homes inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, preferring to die on their own contaminated soil instead of a broken heart in anonymous city suburbs. At first, Ukrainian officials discouraged them, but soon turned a blind eye and are now even providing them with regular medical check ups. Finding themselves surrounded by devastation and isolation, many of these returnees have taken to heavy drinking.
A radiation sign along the road near Pripyat warns of the menace. The tranquility of the sight on an evening of heavy snowfall belies the lingering danger looming in the peaceful winter landscape. [Near Pripyat, Ukraine 2011]
Today, nature slowly eliminates the remnants of civilization in the abandoned Exclusion Zone. [Korogod, Ukraine 2005]
Kharytina, 92, is one of the few elderly people who have returned to their village homes inside the Exclusion Zone. Although surrounded by devastation and isolation, she prefers to die on her own soil. [Teremtsy, Ukraine 2011]
When Soviet authorities finally ordered the evacuation, the residents’ hasty departure often meant leaving behind their most personal belongings. The Soviet Union only admitted to the world that an accident had occurred two days after the explosion, when the nuclear cloud reached Sweden and scientists there noticed contamination on their shoes before entering their own nuclear power plant. [Opachichi, Ukraine 1993]
Vines encroach on a farmhouse in the Exclusion Zone. [Paryshev, Ukraine 2011]
All Photographs © Gerd Ludwig/INSTITUTE. All Rights Reserved.
For Licensing Information, Please Contact Us