Is It Actually Safe To Live In Chernobyl?

Pripyat was evacuated 30 hours after the accident happened.
  • The range of the radiation is difficult to pinpoint which makes it hard to calculate the number of people who died from it. However, it was estimated that the number is anywhere from 4,000 to 16,000.
  • According to scientists, the area around the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl will take 20,000 years to become safe for people to inhabit.
  • Even though people are living in Chernobyl today, the risks to the health of those residents is still very much present.

Chernobyl is a ghost city situated 9 miles south of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The nuclear accident that happened there in 1986 was one of the biggest disasters in human history. The city of Chernobyl was evacuated nine days after the nuclear accident. However, Chernobyl was not the city that was most affected by the disaster. Pripyat was much closer to the power plant, and it was evacuated 30 hours after the accident happened.

Pripyat was larger than the city of Chernobyl and was built as a home for the workers in the power plant.  Both cities are now ghost towns, although there is a small number of people still living in Chernobyl. There are several stores and a hotel for tourists visiting the site of the accident also there.

The 1986 Power Plant Disaster

The disaster that happened at the Chernobyl power plant on April 26th, 1986, is considered to be one of the worst nuclear disasters ever to occur in human history. The accident happened while a safety test was being performed on one of the reactors. During the test, which was supposed to simulate a power outage to prepare the workers for the procedure during such an event, the power dropped more than expected. This put the reactor in an extremely unstable condition. The combination of those conditions and the flaws in the design of the reactor itself caused a nuclear chain reaction.

Aerial shot of Chernobyl nuclear reactors
Aerial shot of Chernobyl nuclear reactors, 

It released vast amounts of energy, and the reactor core was ruptured in an explosion. This caused a fire, and extremely large amounts of radiation were released continuously for nine days. A large number of people were evacuated from the neighboring cities, most importantly, Pripyat, which was closest to the power plant. The radiation caused various diseases among the people that were exposed to it; a large number of them died of cancer, which was also induced by radiation. The final death toll caused by the contamination is hard to determine because it is hard to know where it exactly spread. But it is determined to be between 4000 to 16,000.

Chernobyl Today 

Today the town of Chernobyl is considered a ghost city, and the site of the accident is a popular spot for tourists who wish to visit the place where one of the most famous nuclear disasters occurred. The city itself is said to be safe to live in. People are living there, mostly older ones, and they all remain healthy but are required to take part in regular health checks. Scientists believe that it will take 20,000 years for the area surrounding the power plant to become entirely safe.

Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Ukraine - June 23, 2019
Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Ukraine - June 23, 2019. Credit: Stanislavskyi /

This only applies to the place where we can find the remains of the reactor. Those remains are highly radioactive, but getting close to them is forbidden anyway. The contamination levels are not consistent, so it is hard to determine precisely when the wider Chernobyl area will be considered completely safe. People are living there; however, that fact does not prove that it is completely safe to lead a healthy everyday life there. You should probably hold off on moving to Chernobyl anytime soon. 


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