Such silence can only be in the abandoned place. You do not hear the noise of cars and trains. Even birds are not singing. If there are any birds. In contrast to grey sky, the snow looks white and weightless. Black trees reach the sky and clouds. Grey houses here and there are covered with snow. An unknown poet once said: “It is snowing, snowing, snowing. Everything what happened will be covered in a thousand of years…”
This is Prypiat. The ghost town. The town abandoned by people because of someone’s huge mistake that made the planet shudder. Once Prypiat was filled by children’s laughter. People fell in love, gave birth to children, worked, created, dreamed…
Now, here you can meet only patrol, power engineers, tourists, sometimes ethnographers and those who used to call themselves stalkers. What are they looking for? Thrills? Adventures? … It does not seem so. It is so quiet here that you can hear yourself. In big cities under frenetic rhythm of modern life, you have no time to listen to yourself, to listen to your true inner world. People go the Exclusion Zone not to meet the Zone. They are looking for themselves. The real and long forgotten themselves.
The town of which only memories were left on the map. The town which brought so much pain into human hearts.
The snow is crunching under shoes. The roads with no trace on them. The buildings whose empty windows are staring in the sky… Nobody comes through the open doorways anymore.
The plaster is falling from the walls and the facing of buildings in not reliable at all. The town is dying alone. Here and there, one can find painting on the walls praising socialism and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Some murals appeared here recently. Bears, deer… This place is a sort of museum of the era that is long gone. However, the time is passing by: concrete collapses, metal rusts, wood rots. How many more decades do we need to make Prypiat a forest? People try to help nature to recover, try to make everything possible and impossible to make this place safe for every creature. They do everything to remove radiation from this place.
We were guided by the most known stalker Oleksandr Novikov. He knows and loves Prypiat. He fills his stories about this town with true history and love. He has become the part of this nature, streets, and abandoned houses.
Sometimes, unusual guests come to Prypiat, who still feel much pain for everything that happened here…
On 29 November 2016, the historical event happened. The New Safe Confinement was moved over reactor No. 4. The same place where the accident occurred. The guests from the IAEA came here to participate in celebrations. We are taking a walk in the ghost town and Mr. Yang Dazhu, IAEA Deputy Director General for Technical Cooperation, shares his impressions:
Mr. Yang Dazhu, IAEA Deputy Director General for Technical Cooperation
– I have mixed feelings. This is actually my first visit to Ukraine, Chornobyl and Prypiat. Before the trip, I read some history and some documents to find out what really occurred in 1986 at Chornobyl NPP. I think that the accident occurred for various reasons. Some of them are related to nuclear security. Many people worked on the liquidation of the accident consequences. Petro Poroshenko is right to call heroes all of them: firefighters, pilots of helicopters, dosimetrists, builders… Some of them even died there during the liquidation. You worked so hard all this time to build the Shelter and then the Arch to make this place safe. The Arch is a remarkable achievement of the entire international community. The IAEA also supported some technical support projects and helped Ukrainian experts. Since 1990, the IAEA has provided 15.5 million USD to implement 13 technical support projects in Ukraine and in this region. Therefore, we support you. The accident at Chornobyl NPP is one of the worst nuclear disasters. However, there are also lessons learnt by Ukraine and the whole world. This event made us to revise requirements for nuclear and radiation safety and the IAEA also contributed to this. I was really impresses with the work you have done. I know that this is not easy, but I think that together we can learn this lesson and make safer future.
We are now standing in the central square of Prypiat and the snow covers the observation wheel. Maybe the city is not dead? Maybe it fell asleep and waits for the time to wake up?
Maybe the Arch is the first attempt to get awake?
Uatom.org editorial staff