Chernobyl is getting more tourists since the HBO miniseries came out

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☢ Many of you asked me about Pripyat and Chernobyl. So I decided to write this short post below. Well guys, it is really easy to visit it as long as you are not too afraid specially after the #HBO series. The procedure is the following: you need to book your tour online in advance, because there is not free access to the exclusive zone. I used @chernobyl_exclusive_tours, which I highly recommend. The locations included are : Chernobyl Town, Secret Duga Radar (one of my favourite), The new safe confinement, Red forest, Pripyat and the amusement Park, #Soviet command centre and of course the #chernobyl #powerplant. It is a one day trip departing from Kiev, which is available only for adults over 18 years old. You have tour guide available in English and Russian. The level of #radiation is higher than normal but not dangerous for couple of hours (after the tour you pass a radiation test). The price is approximately 100 dollars. And surprisingly there is a restaurant in #chernobyl with amazing ice-cream!😁 So according to my experience, this place is a MUST! Don't hesitate to message me for more info and #visitukraine! #radioactive #nuclearpower #nuclearpowerplant #exclusivezone #travelrepost #travelwithmeaning #travelgoal #traveltherenext #backpackerstory #nomadgirls #nomadlifestyle #backpackerstory #girlswanderlust #womanwhoexplore #sheisnotlost #girlsthatwander #darlingescapes #thetravelwoman #femmetravel #gotravelgirls #wearetravelgirls #passionpassport #iamatraveler

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I’m not going to give any spoilers for Chernobyl, but aside from a massive plot misstep in the second to last episode it was masterful. (Those of you who have seen it know exactly what I’m talking about.)The performances were amazing, the script and dialogue were incredible, and it was a riveting look at a horrible disaster that could have been much worse. There’s a lot of analysis about what was factual and what was not. I won’t give too many details except to say that the show itself clears some of that up. I would watch it again it was so good, and I’m not someone who watches shows more than once.

One of the things Chernobyl really nails is the mid-80s Eastern European setting. You feel like you’re in Russia at that time and that gives it more emotional impact. NBC had a recent segment about how tourism to Chernobyl is increasing due to interest after the HBO show came out. The village of Pripyat and the surrounding areas are time capsule ghost towns and while there is still radiation 33 years after the accident it’s considered relatively safe to briefly visit.

The area around the plant retains the feel of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where stray dogs roam and vegetation encroaches into windowless, abandoned buildings strewn with rubble.

In Pripyat, the ghost town once home to 50,000 people who mainly worked at the plant, an amusement park houses a rusting hulk of a merry-go-round and dodgem-car track, and a giant Ferris wheel that never went into operation. The wheel was to open on May 1 — the traditional May Day holiday.

Sergiy Ivanchuk, director of SoloEast tours, told Reuters the company saw a 30% increase in tourists going to the area in May 2019 compared with the same month last year. Bookings for June, July and August have risen by approximately 40% since HBO aired the show, he said.

Yaroslav Yemelianenko, director of Chernobyl Tour, said he expected a similar increase of 30-40% because of the show.

His company offers a special tour of locations depicted in the series, including the bunker where the initial decision by local officials not to evacuate after the explosion was made.

Day-trippers board buses in the center of Kiev and are driven 75 miles to the area, where they can see monuments to the victims and abandoned villages and have lunch in the only restaurant in the town of Chernobyl…

“Many people come here, they ask a lot of questions about the TV show, about all the events. People are getting more and more curious,” said tour guide Viktoria Brozhko, who insists the area is safe for visitors.

“During the entire visit to the Chernobyl exclusion zone, you get around two microsieverts, which is equal to the amount of radiation you’d get staying at home for 24 hours”,” she said.

Thieme Bosman, an 18-year-old student from the Netherlands, worries that the bump in tourist numbers will have a downside.

“There are quite a lot of tourists already here and it does kind of take away the experience of being in a completely abandoned town, so I think if more and more tourists come here that will ruin the experience,” he said.

[From NBC]

The Today Show has more below, including scenes from Chernobyl from inside a school and the hospital. I get the appeal of abandoned places and how slice-of-life yet eerie they can be. We used to sneak into an abandoned train station near where I went to college, which has since been revitalized and turned into a community space. There are some beautiful pictures on reddit from photographers and hobbyists who visit abandoned homes and facilities (including Chernobyl). However this is different because so many people died, got cancer and had their lives uprooted at Chernobyl. This was a horrible disaster. I get that it’s been over 30 years but how does one watch that harrowing show and come away with the idea that they’d like to visit the place? There’s still radiation there and while visiting for brief periods may be safe, it’s not something I’d personally risk.

Here’s that Today Show segment:

Here’s an Instagram post from one of the tourist groups. There’s also a screenshot below of one of their stories from today. They go into the power plant!

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Are you thrilled by the new HBO Chernobyl miniseries ❓ Then why don't you come visit Chernobyl and explore it by your own foot? ⠀ Now you can do it for only 1️⃣1️⃣9️⃣Eur 💶⠀ Wander the streets of evacuated Pripyat, see the power plant with you own eyes 👀 and relive all the heroic stories.⠀ ⠀ CLICK the link ⬇ 6 reasons why you need to visit Chernobyl ☢️ & Ukraine 🇺🇦⠀ READ MORE ➡️⠀ _____________________________⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🌍 Follow us @CHERNOBYLwelcome⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🌍 Tag photos your 📸 #chernobylwelcome #chernobyltour⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We also get in touch through these ⬇️⠀ #abandonedplaces #decay #decay_nation #decay_and_style #abandonedafterdark #abandoned_junkies #abandonedearth #urbexworld #urbexphotography #urbex_supreme #urbandecay #urbanexploration #urbanphotography #urbanromantix #forgottenplaces

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92 Responses to “Chernobyl is getting more tourists since the HBO miniseries came out”

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  1. snazzy says:

    I’ve just stated watching the show and am on episode 2… it’s so good!!

    • Bella Bella says:

      I just want to plug a short film made by the artist Julia Oldham called “Fallout Dogs” about the dogs of Chernobyl — it’s beautiful and heartbreaking and available on Vimeo right now. It’s about what happened to the dogs that were left behind in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone when people were told to evacuate. It’s a haunting film and really stays with you.

    • MoxyLady says:

      The USA accidentally dropped two nuclear bombs on North Carolina. They didn’t detonate due to one faulty wire. We didn’t learn about the incident until it was declassified. Somewhat recently I believe. 2017 maybe? So…..

  2. Kasia says:

    This was the scariest film I watched in my entire life. Scarier than any horror movie. I think I will re-watch it, too. I can’t stop thinking about it, about the characters, and I decided to re-read Alexeevich’s book for that reason. A must see!

    • mycomment says:

      that scene of people out playing with their children and treating the ash like it was snowflakes… that one has just stayed with me..

      • Mia4s says:

        So many scenes like that, so well directed. Without saying it they make simple things like dust and touch absolutely terrifying.

        Props to a series that can make me gasp in horror when a loving couple is reunited and …hug. Incredibly well done.

    • chloe says:

      I actually had weird nightmares after watching every episode,and knowing what we know now I just shook my head during the first show, those poor townspeople not knowing what had hit them.

    • Tilly says:

      They really, really nail the eldritch horror aspect of an invisible danger. Combined with simple human error and the CCCP culture of fear and shifting the blame, it’s utterly terrifying.

      I think the Chernobyl tourism is probably a net positive; the region and oblast was devastated by the incident, environmentally and economically. All the instagrammers are kind of tacky, but if people come away with more information and a greater sense of history whilst boosting the local economy, that’s a win.

      To the commenter below, you’re allowed to bring your own Geiger counter if you’re that worried about radiation. A couple of hours inside the exclusion zone is far less harmful than being a regular smoker. Smokers’ lungs are orders of magnitude more radioactive.

    • Arpeggi says:

      I’m at episode 2 and yes, it scares the hell out of me too!!! Bloody terrifying! I can’t binge-watch the show because it makes me anxious, but it’s a great show. I wouldn’t go visit though: it’s too sad and I have an irrational fear of radiations (which is kind of silly because I have no issues working with infectious samples, but radioactive ones are a big no). Weirdly enough, I think that the fear stems from the stories of the cloud travelling over Europe when I was a kid, so yeah, no, definitely not going. I had enough of Chernobyl radiations while playing in the sandbox as an 18mo old

  3. runcmc says:

    Yeah, that’s gonna be a hard pass for me too. First off, it’s eerie and feels almost arrogant and disrespectful to tour a place where so many people were killed and displaced. And secondly, to put this delicately, are we really going to trust the estimated radiation given by the government after watching the show?

    Too risky!! I would visit Russia in a heartbeat but no thank you for Chernobyl.

    • lana86 says:

      Well Chernobyl is not in Russia but sure

    • Amy says:

      I’ve been and it was amazingly interesting. It’s not the (Ukrainian) government that tells you the amount of radiation – the tour guides (and you can only go with a guide) carry geiger counters and actually show you when walking around where the radiation is higher (e.g. near the ferris wheel in the abandoned fair at Pripyat) and where it’s at a normal level (pretty much everywhere else). In fact, the amount of radiation in the air is less than on a commercial flight. When going in and out, you go through radiation detectors and if you’re too high, a process is followed which includes leaving things behind. No one on our day was too high though and they say it’s very rare.

      I understand the argument about not going places where people were displaced but I don’t necessarily agree. For example, I’ve also visited concentration camps. Not to equate the two exactly, but they both certainly affected people’s lives (to put it mildly…) and visiting both of them offer very valuable lessons of which future generations should take note.

      • Amy says:

        Oh, and I should add that we absolutely definitely didn’t go into the reactor. We stood about 200m away from it on a road outside, but the reactor itself was completely sealed off behind a fence, so I’m surprised to see that screenshot in the article of people going inside because I’m not quite sure how that’s possible, at least based on where our tour group (and a bunch of others that day) could and couldn’t go.

      • NeoCleo says:

        There is something weirdly attractive about places where disaster has befallen, isn’t there? If I were younger I would probably go see for myself. And I agree with you that there are lessons to be learned from these journeys for all humans whether they go personally or learn from someone else’s experiences.

      • Wow says:

        @Amy I went to some concentration camps on a trip I took to explore my Jewish faith in my 20’s. I was there for a very specific reason. I was trying to learn about, from and understand my people in a deeper way because my family experienced the Jewish genocide in Africa, specifically Ethiopia.

        All that considered, the worst part of that trip was watching the tourists take pictures, laugh, kids run around. I even saw two guys going out of sight of the guide and doing Nazi salutes in Auschwitz.

        I understand you might be fine going to these types of places without malicious intent, maybe even to learn. In my opinion places like this shouldn’t be tourist attractions. We can definitely learn about these places without dancing on pain. If I could go back in time I wouldn’t go, not for any reason but to not be hypocritical when I say these places should be closed to tourism because its inappropriate. I’m not saying erasure from history, or stop educating but its pain not entrainment on vacation.

      • AryasMum says:

        I get that it’s relatively safe to visit once for a few hours. The tour guides, on the other hand, have long-term exposure.

      • Jc says:

        There is more than one reactor on site. They are not going into the reactor #4 that had the accident. That was has been encased in the new arch sarcophagus. The other three reactors were still operating for years after the accident so I am assuming they are accessible.

      • Kate says:

        @ WOW I do think there is something different about going and visiting the sites versus just learning about it remotely. Humans often need first hand experience to be truly impacted by something and I think visits really do help that. At least for me personally, visiting a concentration camp was much more impactful than removed learning about the Holocaust had ever been. That said I respect that you have a different opinion and at the very least I do agree that people behaving inappropriately in these areas is completely unacceptable and shouldn’t be tolerated.

      • emmy says:

        @WOW, people need to see these things for themselves. Books and films don’t do them justice. And I do think concentration camps are different because they are museums and memorials. Antisemitism is alive and well here in Germany and in all of Europe so if showing young people especially a cc, I say we should. People need to f*cking STOP with the selfies etc. though. I wonder who raises these little turds. Have some respect. Auschwitz had to tweet about it for the love of God. As far as I know it’s also frowned upon if not forbidden to photograph certain areas in Auschwitz for example.

        So in my personal view, by all means go, educate yourselves. But leave the damn phone in the car. And maybe don’t go to Chernobyl. That just seems like asking for it.

    • Bella Bella says:

      The curious thing about radiation is that every country has a different measure of what is considered “safe.” A friend of mine was in the Soviet Union when Chernobyl happened and had to take a train through the contaminated area to get to an airport where she got on the first plane out. She had to strip off all her clothes, socks and shoes and wear a Hazmat suit on the plane. She arrived in England, lives in France and originally is from the U.S. She told me that every country has a different measure of what is considered “safe” radiation! Interestingly, the U.S. has one of the highest numbers — to cover their butts of course in case of an incident. It’s all very arbitrary.

      I would never go to Chernobyl. We already have hot zones here in the U.S. where cancer rates are high. You can actually look at a map to see where the highest incidences of breast cancer occur — various pockets like on Cape Cod, Long Island… It really makes you wonder what’s in the air, earth and water.

    • Betsy says:

      People visit the holocaust places for tourism where thousands of horrific deaths occured. What makes a visit to Chernobyl any different?

  4. lana86 says:

    I’m from Ukraine and I don’t get the appeal. It happened same year I was born, luckily for me my mother was far away from Kiev at the time. I wouldn’t go if they payed me.

    • lana86 says:

      But I’m glad ppl watch it and learn more about the crimes of communists

      • Lou says:

        If you think a major capitalist corporation or Trump’s America wouldn’t try to cover up something like this, you are kidding yourself.

  5. Nanny to the rescue says:

    I live a couple of countries away and I know a few people that visited Pripyat (not recently, tho). They’re the same people who’d travel to the parts of The Middle East just a bit away from war zones. Thrill seekers, dare takers.

    They said that the outside isn’t particularly dangerous, but the insides of the buildings are covered with dust (normal dust from buildings slowly going down) and that dust in some areas could be extremely radioactive. Also, random objects laying around. So every area not regularly walked on by tourists is potentially very dangerous. And you won’t even know it at the time it happens.

    It’s odd that it’s now becoming popular for regular folks like standard safe film locations are.

  6. ds says:

    Show is great! Brilliant TV work. As for tourism thing…. I know a guy who went there. It’s really well timed – you stay certain amount of time on certain sight. There is no touching, not even sitting on the ground. People are given their own radiation reading gadgets. I have a thing for abandoned places but I have to say I’m not sure I’d be wanting to go there any time soon, especially after seeing the show. But it is done as professionaly and as safe as it is possible. Unless you’re a total idiot and don’t listen to your guide you’ll be ok. Apparently some people have returned to live in the area close to it as well.

    • hindulovegod says:

      Safe is a relative term. If you’ve watched the show or read the book and have an understanding of how much radioactive material was released, why would you want to go there? Not to mention one of the workers is entombed there. It reminds me of be the tourists down at Ground Zero, snapping photos in the middle of a graveyard like it’s Disneyland.

      • ds says:

        I said as safe as it is possible and also that I wouldn’t go there especially after seeing the show.

      • Amy says:

        “If you’ve watched the show or read the book and have an understanding of how much radioactive material was released, why would you want to go there?”

        I’ve visited Chernobyl/Pripyat and the answer to your question is: Because the radiation levels are safe now. DS is completely right; the tours are very well organised and people are at essentially no risk as long as you follow the (very standard) instructions.

        “Not to mention one of the workers is entombed there.”

        If you never want to visit anywhere where people have died for a cause (even when that cause was due to human error), then you’re restricting yourself from visiting a ton of extremely interesting historical sites.

        “It reminds me of be the tourists down at Ground Zero, snapping photos in the middle of a graveyard like it’s Disneyland.”

        They are taking photos of a memorial, not dead bodies. Which, as above, is similar to many tourist attractions which commemorate events.


        I’m not trying to jump all over you, so please don’t see it like that. I’m just trying to explain that while visiting Chernobyl/Pripyat may not be the most standard tourist site you’ll find, it’s absolutely safe, very interesting, while also being extremely sobering – like many, many tourist sites around the world where terrible things have happened.

  7. Peanutbuttr says:

    Theres actually a Netflix series dedicated to Dark Tourism. They visited the area near Fukushima and a nuclear test site in Kazakhstan.

    • Amelie says:

      Yeah and the idiot host went and swam in a radioactive lake. Which I didn’t understand at all! It was a bit much.

  8. mycomment says:

    as if you’re not already exposed to enough toxins in regular life; it’s the height of arrogance and stupidity to tourist travel to such a place.
    one of the best shows I’ve ever seen; everyone associated with it deserves major props… and I still can’t get over that jared harris is the son of Richard… lol

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      I can’t wait to watch it – as soon as I saw the cast list I knew it was going to be great.

      They apparently shot in a real power station that was decommissioned.

      • Ollie says:

        The filming took place in Visaginas (Lithuania), the nuclear power plant there was closed as part of EU regulations when Lithuania joined the EU. They do guided tours there and – voila – same setting, zero radiation!

        The city of Pripyat was partially recreated in my native Vilnius, we still have residential areas with Soviet-built apartment blocks.

        PS Guys, Chernobyl is not Russia, FYI. It’s in Ukraine.

      • Tourmaline says:

        @Ollie thank you that is very interesting! I had wondered when watching if the power plant filmed was a total recreation/set or using an actual power plant.

    • Esmom says:

      I thought that was Jared Harris in the photo, thanks for saving me a google search of the cast. He was brilliant in Mad Men.

      I hope this eventually comes out on Netflix since I don’t have HBO.

      • mycomment says:

        i don’t have hbo either… but with a little googling you can find it onliine for free.. (amazing what you can find for free that way.. lol)

      • Eleonor says:

        Lane Pryce! RIP.
        One of the saddest character of all the show, which being Mad Men says a lot!

    • LindaM says:

      Didn’t know he was the son of Richard!

  9. chloe says:

    Loved the mini series, I’m hoping Jared Harris wins some awards he was wonderful, as for going to the actual spot for vacation, that would be a hard pass, I’m not trusting a tour company in keeping me safe from radiation.

    • phlylfiremama says:

      For real. The uneven distribution of the radiation inherently makes it VERY risky to go there. A stray puff of wind, and voila~instant contamination from the irradiated particles that infuse the place. No thank you, a HARD pass on this “tourist attraction”. I get why the locals would want to profit from the tragedy, and as for the tourists…a fool and his/her money are soon parted!! There are multiple types of radiation~alpha, beta, and gamma particles. The ALPHA radiated particles are what would make this situation so dangerous: the radiation is highly concentrated and doesn’t travel far, but is actually worse than plain ole gamma exposure.

  10. Aenflex says:

    Might be the same as people visiting the Holocaust museums to honor and pay some emotional tribute. But probably not. People love to look at disaster stuff. Even man-made disaster stuff.

  11. AlwaysAnnaRun says:

    I’m curious as to what the plot misstep was in the 2nd to last episode?

    • Mia4s says:

      I wondered that too actually? No spoilers but maybe the scenes involving the civilian draftee and going into the abandoned city to…well you know if you’ve seen it. Apparently there are some pretty good sources saying that didn’t happen (at least not in the way portrayed).

    • HelloSunshine says:

      Was also wondering this. That was the weakest episode of the series for sure in my opinion but I don’t remember any huge missteps?

      Like others said above, this is the scariest thing I’ve ever watched. I actually had to stop watching mid episode two and pick it back up the next day because it was making me feel panicky lol they did an amazing job of building up anxiety and tension. I also really appreciate the focus they placed on the civilians who risked their lives to ensure the safety of the world.

    • Gil says:

      Puppies :’(

    • Biff says:

      Me too. I’ve seen the series, but I don’t know enough about the disaster to know if and when there are missteps

    • Jess says:

      If it’s the one I’m thinking it has to do with animals:( I cried the most during that episode, I wouldn’t say it was a misstep though, it was reality depicted.

    • LindaM says:

      I watched every episode twice, what was the misstep? Was it factual/non-factual based or something that just didn’t make sense? Curious.

    • Alyse says:

      The animals scenes made people very uncomfortable so I think that’s why she calls it a misstep but if it happened then I don’t think it was a misstep…I just think it went on for too long.

    • Karen Laux says:

      I was truly hoping that the misstep was that the part we are all talking about never happened, but I just clicked on the link and saw that yes, it did happen. I curled up in a ball and cried after that episode. It just truly brought everything home for me.
      And I would absolutely go to Chernobyl/Pripyat Ukraine, especially because it still seems to be a respectful look at a horrible part of history. Having said that, I am so angry that people take selfies and act disrespectful at other places like concentration camps. I don’t know what the solution is.

  12. Yennefer of Vengerburger & fries says:

    And I hate it, I hate this tourism. There are already people there who have complained that the increasing tourism (that’s been going up ever since, you know, the STALKER video games) has seen tourists littering the visited areas, disrupting local wildlife. Despite radiation, the Exclusion Zone is currently experiencing rather healthy wildlife populations, it’s a zone whose nature and environment should be preserved. Beyond that, the Exclusion Zone is a grave and a site of a great collective tragedy, and it should be treated with respect, and left in peace. Runcmc said it: it’s arrogant and disrespectful to treat it as a tourist destination. There are other ways to revitalise the region other than gawking at the ruins left by human hubris, carelessness and the collective lies of a messed up, oppressive, exploitative regime.

    Not to mention that it absolutely is still dangerous. Doesn’t matter that it’s ‘no more dangerous than smoking’.

    • Amy says:

      I’m surprised to hear this as, when I visited last year, the guides were SUPER careful about where we could stand (i.e. certainly not going through any of the newly preserved nature reserves) and what we could touch (not much, to be honest). There was also absolutely no litter. Any eating was only done in a restaurant, with food that was brought in from outside the Exclusion Zone, so it’s not like we could drop candy wrappers inside the rest of the area.

      Also, I mentioned it above, but the radiation levels in the vast majority of the areas visited by tours are less than on a commercial flight. Sure, you shouldn’t go and lick a wall, but if you just behave normally and take in what is a very sobering experience, you’re at no increased risk and get an extremely interesting lesson in human (mis-)behavior.

    • Megan says:

      “gawking at the ruins left by human hubris, carelessness and the collective lies of a messed up, oppressive, exploitative regime.”

      I disagree. I think seeing the destructive power of humans is an extremely valuable lesson.

  13. Digital Unicorn says:

    I can’t believe it was 33 years ago, I was about 12 when it happened and can remember watching it on the news – it was awful, esp now when you hear the stories about how ill the survivors became and the awful deaths of the first responders who had no idea what was happening.

    We should never forget the actions of a brave few who acted quickly to contain the leak (even if the USSR gov refused to acknowledge the risk) – if they hadn’t have done what they did Europe would pretty much be a nuclear wasteland.

    Also Russia is going to make it own TV show about the disaster, implicating the US in it.

    • Karen Laux says:

      Wow, that link is pretty shocking. Not only for the idea about US involvement (I guess that is a possibility, but pretty far out?) but why was that article talking about how Russia feels, how Russians see it, etc.? It’s in Ukraine, which is not part of Russia, much like the Moon isn’t part of Mars. I understand that back then it was the USSR, and that Ukraine/Russia tensions are not a joke, so I hope I didn’t offend anyone with my little Orange dictator joke. Had to go there!

  14. manda says:

    I’m fascinated by the disaster but a little wary of the show. It seems sort of scary and stressful (and these days, I cannot really handle extra stress. I even avoided Big Little Lies because Meryl Streep’s character looks very intimidating). I have looked at photos and stuff online. As far as going on tours, yes, it seems very macabre to me. Like the people that went touring around ward 9 after hurricane katrina. Also, I do not think I would trust any “radiation test” the tour company offered me! It’s in their best interest NOT to scare you, so….

    • Carey says:

      “do not think I would trust any “radiation test” the tour company offered me! It’s in their best interest NOT to scare you, so….”


      Also, people don’t seem to understand that lifetime doses of radiation are important. Even if the dose you’re getting in the moment doesn’t seem excessively high, you have to add it into the exposure you get over the course of your entire life, which can affect your cancer risk. I worked at a medical school and the rad-onc doctors wore dosimeters and would calculate their lifetime exposure. They were extremely cautious about avoiding small exposures here and there because they didn’t want to add to their lifetime exposure.

  15. mycomment says:

    the only misstep I can offer is that there was nothing about the deformed children born afterwards… DO NOT google for reference.

    • Carey says:

      You have to be careful when you Google about birth defects related to Chernobyl because there’s a lot of bad information out there. There has been studies done following long-term health effects on people who were exposed and the main bad outcome has been a huge spike in thyroid cancer. It hasn’t been demonstrated that there was a massive increase in birth defects. Here’s a WHO report on the health effects of Chernobyl:

  16. EmmGee says:

    I was living in Germany when it happened. Ex was in the military and had come back to the US on temporary assignment and I stayed behind. I remember waking up the morning after it happened and going outside to find a thick coating of ash over everything, and the sky looked ill, for lack of a better word. For those of you in the PNW, it was very similar to when Mt. Saint Helen’s erupted back in the 80’s. I didn’t have any idea what had happened as there was nothing in the news so I guess I just assumed it was from a fire or something nearby. By the end of the day I was terribly sick, had completely lost my voice, bad headache, flu-like symptoms. Got a frantic phone call a day or two later from the ex in the US wanting to know if I was okay. Told him I was fine, just had a bit of a cold……I still had no idea what had happened because they had managed to keep it out of the news for so long but somehow ex found out about it. He freaked once he realized how sick i was but by that time myself and everyone within hundreds of miles of the site had already had a couple days worth of exposure. It was really scary and I remember feeling so angry when I found out what had happened and how they tried to contain the information from the public. I’ve gone on to live a great life but have had some unusual health issues thru the years, and every time my doctors find something they can’t exlain, I blame it on Chernobyl. Might have to get HBO back so I can check the show out.

    • Tate says:

      Wow, that’s an interesting story, thanks for sharing. Hope you are well!

    • detta says:

      Where in Germany were you?

    • Anatha A. says:

      Only that the cloud reached Germany three days after the explosion happened and by then Western Europe was well aware and all the news talked about it. Radiation was monitored heavily and when they found elevated levels, fruit, vegetables and milk was thrown away. People were advised to keep their windows shut and children weren’t allowed to play outside.
      The radiation reaching Europe was invisible in form of atoms and not as ash. So whatever you experienced doesn’t sound like it is linked to Chernobyl.
      I have no idea where in Germany you’ve been, but if anything, West Germany over reacted in the way they handled it.

      • detta says:

        That was why I was asking where that was, because it does not add up to what happened at the time. There was never ash from Chernobyl in Germany, it was all invisible (also came down with the normal rain). This story sounds strange and cannot have been due to Chernobyl.
        Not sure about overreacting though… better be safe than sorry. I cannot remember that you were supposed to keep windows closed where I lived, but the levels were different in different parts of the country. Some parts in Bavaria still have advanced levels of radiation now, and to this day it is advised to not eat mushrooms or wild boar from those areas.

      • Anatha A. says:

        Yeah, sure. It is always better to be save than sorry. Just that with what we do know now, the safety measures seemed a bit exaggerated. Radiation is really dangerous, but mostly if you ingest contaminated stuff and not every isotope and element is equally dangerous. Looking back, throwing away everything for months seemed a bit much and as others mentioned, it is about life-time radiation. Getting a slightly elevated dose once won’t kill you. In the end though, it is better to overreact than to not react.
        Similar as with sunburns: every single sunburn is dangerous, but as the effects are so statistical you might be fine with getting a few, while your neighbour, who is super careful, dies from skin cancer.
        The story about Bavaria is why I’m so astonished with everyone here saying that visiting Chernobyl is super safe. In Germany radiation levels are in some places 6000 times of what is considered safe. In Pripyat and surrounding areas they only cleaned the streets and everything else, where people had to go to (as the nuclear power plant was working up into the 2000s.). One misstep and you are covered in radiating material. The Iodine from back then is gone, but the Caesium just fell down to half the rate and that is super dangerous as well. As was said in the show, it will be at least 100 years until radiation is on a manageable level.

  17. Adr1s says:

    People start campaings against vaccines because they fear autism but are on board og getting a s**i ton of radiation. Coherent is something we are not.

    • Amie says:

      People who are sceptical of doses of toxins in vaccines are not the same people who willingly expose themselves to radiation; that’s an inane suggestion to make.

  18. Vegemite Pussy says:

    I’m not going to give any spoilers for Chernobyl, but aside from a massive plot misstep in the second to last episode it was masterful. (Those of you who have seen it know exactly what I’m talking about.)

    Definitely don’t know what you’re talking about

  19. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Nothing says vacation like radiation and destruction. I thoroughly enjoyed the show on many levels. And not really as entertainment as I can’t say it was enjoyable. Scary, shocking, sad, scientifically interesting and educational? There are several very popular video games dealing with apocalyptic fallout, industrial radiation survival, etc. I’m imagining this particular genre is drawing visitors to real life war zones. Which is SMH sad and pretty thin.

  20. Dani says:

    I think that it’s great that people are interested in what happened and are watching the documentary and educating themselves HOWEVER I feel like turning such a horrible situation in to a tourist attraction is wrong. It’s wrong for the people who got sick, who died, who lost family members, who had their ENTIRE LIVES turned upside down.

  21. adastraperaspera says:

    I would not visit there. However, for some people it may be the best way for them to understand what happened and help create change in policy that will prevent it from happening again (the Fukushima disaster could have been avoided). Nuclear technology is a terrifying responsibility. We need more scientists studying how to decommission plants and ramp up production of power via sustainable, safe means. We need the public to understand the danger and demand change now.

  22. Katherine says:

    Ok what’s the plot misstep? I’ve watched the whole miniseries twice. Some is not accurate as they made some changes for dramatic license. But as this wasn’t a documentary and that is true of every “based on true events” movie/show I’m not sure I’d call any of it a misstep???

    I HIGHLY recommend the Chernobyl podcast. It’s an episode by episode discussion between the series creator and Peter Sagal. It was riveting. Not only the history but how they made the dramatic decisions they did. Really fascinating to hear the artistic and creative side that goes into depicting a historical event.

  23. Alexandria says:

    I appreciate some of the stories here, very interesting.

    I think as long as it’s safe, controlled and regulated, people should be able to visit Chernobyl to remember what happened and reflect. Maybe restrict it to a number every year. Such places are solemn and should be respected. Disrestpectful people are everywhere but it doesn’t mean we have to stop learning and appreciating because of them.

  24. Detriotgirl says:

    I haven’t been to Chernobyl, but I have been to several holocaust sites. For me personally, I think there is value in seeing these things in person because it makes them real to me. I live in New York City and have since I was a teenager. I moved here three years after 9/11. Of course, I watched the towers go down on tv like everyone else and, of course, it was awful. But, it wasn’t until the first time I actually saw the wreckage in person that I really fully understood the amount of loss that occurred that day. Likewise, the holocaust was just something I’d read about in history books until I saw Auschwitz in person. When I saw all the shoes, and the suitcases… these were suddenly very real people to me. I absolutely do not agree with tourists going to these sites to take selfies or to cross them off some thrill seeking bucket list, but I think it’s important to see things like this close up from time to time if only to remind us of our own fragility. Any of us could find ourselves in the middle of a tragedy at any time. I personally hope that if I die in a 9/11 or a Chernobyl situation that people will remember me and the people around me as individuals who lived and mattered, and possibly learn something from my death.

  25. Maria says:

    Rick Steves did an awesome writeup of his visit there. I definitely do want to go at some point (respectfully).

  26. Karen (new here) says:

    I think the plot misstep was, without giving too much away (but it’s still a hint so stop reading here if you don’t want any hints at all):


    They made the mistake of telling instead of showing. Character 1 mentions something that happened with Character 2 before showing Character 2 dealing with it. If they had shown the Character 2 scene first, then shown Character 1 talking about it, I really think it would have worked a lot better.

    Or maybe not even had Character 1 say anything — I don’t know that it would have been necessary to have anyone talk about it once we saw Character 2.


    • Julie says:

      Lol I’ve watched the whole thing just a couple of days ago and have absolutely no idea what you’re referring to here. 😂 I might just be totally blank though. 😳

      • Karen (new here) says:


        Yeah, waaay to vague. Sorry!

        Slightly more detailed: One of the characters is on a park bench, then later Emily Watson’s character mentions the person who was on the park bench, then we cut to that person again, who is now someplace else and no longer on the park bench. I think the next time we saw the park bench person should have been before Emily Watson said anything, not after.

  27. Amelie says:

    I definitely plan on watching the series, currently rewatching GOT on HBO and started Outlander on Netflix so I’m working my way through those first.

    I was born a a year before Chernobyl in 1988 so I have no memory of the actual disaster. The first time I remember hearing about it was in elementary school (so somewhere between 3rd-5th grade I think) on a field trip to the UN in NYC in the mid 90s. There was a sculpture or some kind of installation in the lobby commemorating the disaster. Can’t remember what it looked like, just that the guide said it was to remember the victims of Chernobyl and that is the first time I ever remember hearing the word “Chernobyl.” Later on I guess I learned about the nuclear reactor and the Exclusion Zone once the Internet became prevalent and Wikipedia came into existence.

    Not sure I would want to visit the site, I’m a bit paranoid about radiation. And I do think it is no different than visiting the battlefields of Gettysburg, a former concentration camp, the World Trade Center memorial, or the D-Day beaches (all places I’ve visited). Some people are saying it’s disrespectful to visit a place where so many people died. Based on that logic, all the places I just named should be closed to the public. I understand not wanting to commercialize tragedy and it seems you can’t visit Pripyat at all for free since you can’t go in unaccompanied (the other places I just mentioned are totally free, but you do pay for the tours). I’m hoping the tours do it a “respectful” way and that tourists don’t act like complete idiots whey they visit. Are there any memorials on site in the exclusion zone?

  28. YAS says:

    Chernobyl is in Ukraine, not Russia. I’m Ukrainian and as someone whose grandfather spent a decade in a Siberian labor camp because he was working towards an independent Ukraine, it’s hurtful and dismissive when people just refer to it as Russia even though it’s finally an independent nation. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

    • Tourmaline says:

      Thank you YAS. I think a lot of people (not just here) are forgetting that the USSR and Russia are not the same thing and that USSR was made up of many nations that are now independent.

    • Kath says:

      Totally with you YAS. (Pole here). The insane conspiracy theories of the Russians also chaps my hide (i.e. it couldn’t possibly have been human error or failure by Soviet technology!)

  29. Caitrin says:

    Have y’all seen Dark Tourist, when David Farrier goes to Fukushima?

    There’s VERY much a market for the macabre.

  30. Alyse says:

    I’d actually strongly considered visiting when I was heading through Eastern Europe a few years ago… glad I didn’t, because otherwise I would’ve spent the entirety of watching Chernobyl convinced I had cancer…

    It had been on the bucket list (as a major history nerd, I do enjoy a bit of dark tourism), but now it’s a strong no.

    Anyway, there’s many other things to see…

  31. Kath says:

    Selfies at Chernobyl. FFS, what is wrong with people? “Look at my sad, concerned face – but isn’t it an attractive angle?” Vomit.

    And as if the fact that the former Soviet satellites aren’t dealing with enough bullshit, now Russia wants to make its own series implicating… the US! Because, of course human incompetence and political obstruction can’t possibly be things associated with the Soviet state… nearly 30 years after its collapse.

  32. LNG says:

    Fun fact – the writer/producer of this show is Ted Cruz’s college roommate. The one who tells all the ridiculous stories about what it was like to live with him.