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    Posted September 23, 2010 by
    jwindebank
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    CNN30: Chernobyl Disaster

    Chernobyl

     

    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Hear more about jwindebank's 2007 trip to Pripyat and the haunting images he captured, in a CNN Radio interview.
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    Pripyat is the city immediately adjacent to the Chernobyl disaster site where 500,000 workers and family members lived, and it remains today a time capsule from the day of the Chernobyl explosion.  The ghosttown has decayed over the past 25 years, but entry is restricted due to the radioactivity still present in many places, so the city has remained virtually untouched since 1986.

     

    I walked through Pripyat in early 2007, which is both legal and safe under certain conditions, but few people go there because the experience is as frightening and disturbing as it is detailed.   An open newspaper from 1986 still sits on a hospital worker's desk.   Childrens' schoolbooks and homework are strewn across the classroom floors.  A hospital room remains unsafe to enter because a decayed Chernobyl worker's body lies there still emiting dangerous levels of radiation.  Today there are no inhabitants, no tourists, no warning signs, no sounds, no footprints in the snow.

     

    Afraid to report the true nature of the disaster, a full evacuation by the authorities was not ordered until the following day.  It's not known how many people died, nor or what kind of genetic damage resulted, as people sat at home or reported to work on April 27.  As I walked around Pripyat, this was the thought that kept coming back - how deadly the radiation was, how silent it was, how many people sat here helplessly that day unkowingly exposed to lethal doses of radiation but going about their routine tasks.  Thousands of deformed children remain in orphanages and asylyms across the region, and in Belarus to the north, where the wind was blowing that day.

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