History and Safety

Chernobyl History

1193 – Chernobyl (Ukrainian name: Chornobyl) City was founded as a part of Kievan Rus. During it’s history the city became multicultural with strong Ukrainian, Polish and Jewish communities.

1932 – The city was the administrative center of the region. It suffered hugely throughout the 1929-33 mass killings, during Stalin’s collectivization campaign and the consequent famine.

1941 – The Jewish community was murdered during the German occupation

1964 – Chernobyl was chosen (from approximately 5 other areas in Ukraine) as a site for a large nuclear power plant (the first on the territory of Ukraine) due to it’s abundant water sources

1970 – Start of the construction of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the nearby city (for workers) Pripyat.

1971 – The first inhabitants moved to Pripyat.

1977 – Official opening of the operation of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant of V.I. Lenin, unit number 1 (1000 MW electric power capacity).

1978 – Start of the operations on unit number 2 (1000 MW electric power capacity).

1981 – Start of the operations on unit number 3 -second generation reactor (1000 MW electric power capacity).

1983 – Start of the operations on unit number 4 -second generation reactor (1000 MW electric power capacity).

1986 – On April 26, at 1:23 AM local Kiev time two explosions occurred in unit number 4. This was later reported to be the largest nuclear energy accident in the history of mankind. In the days after the accident many towns and villages were evacuated – around 100 thousand people were forced to leave their homes forever.

1986 – November. Chernobyl nuclear power plant sarcophagus was finished in record time preventing the radioactive dust from spreading.

1988 – Construction of units’ number 5 and 6 was cancelled leaving them unfinished.

1991 – A major fire at unit number 2 caused this reactor to be decommissioned.

1996 – Unit number 1 was shut down (political agreement).

2000 – The one remaining operating reactor number 3 was shut down (political agreement).

2010 – Building of the new safe containment (sarcophagus) begins.

2017 – The new safe containment (sarcophagus) has to be finished to replace (cover) the old sarcophagus (original date was 2015).

2065 – The site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant has to be completely cleaned out.


Now and Then

Almost 34 years has passed since the Chernobyl nuclear accident. The radiation level (of gamma rays) is back to normal levels in the majority of the Chernobyl zone area. In some places, however, the radiation is bit higher – Pripyat now has, on average, 2-3 times the level of normal natural background radiation; which is totally safe for a visit, but not for habitation. There are also some radioactive “hotspots “ – small places with concentrated radioactivity levels – these will be shown to you on a Chernobyl trip but we advise you to stay away from them.

The total amount of gamma radiation received during one day in Chernobyl is the equivalent of 1-2 hours in an aeroplane on a flight. Please note; people under 18 years old are not permitted to enter the Chernobyl area.

During the Chernobyl trip to the Chernobyl area you will have a guide with a Geiger-Muller counter (and dosimeter) who can show you the exact radiation reading at any time. For people who would like to make their trip even safer Chernobyl Trips will provide you with free quality respirators.


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