33 years have passed since the day of the Chernobyl accident, which changed the fate of hundreds of thousands of people. On April 26, 1986, one of the worst environmental disasters in history happened, which left a dark imprint on Soviet atomic energy.
An accident occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, as a result of which a huge amount of radioactive particles was released into the atmosphere. The city of Pripyat, where, according to official figures, before the accident 47,500 thousand people lived, was empty at the time. In less than a day, 1,200 buses were taken out of the danger zone by people who did not understand the whole danger of what was happening.
They thought they would be back here in a few days. But this move was permanent. However, the city is not dead.
Do people live in Chernobyl today ?
Today, no more than a thousand people live in the vicinity of Chernobyl. The so-called dumpers. These are people who for some reason decided to stay here or return. In addition, about 3,000 people serve enterprises in the exclusion zone, coming here on a rotational basis.
One of the tourists’ favorite pastimes is feeding the local catfish that live in the river near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. They say that they grow large not because of radiation, but because they are often fed. There are a lot of tourists
Interest in the Chernobyl issue remains. All these years, it has been heated by dozens and hundreds of various publications, books, films, games and series. Yes, today Pripyat does not look at all what it looked 33 years ago. Clean streets and squares were overgrown with grass, bushes and trees, houses were dilapidated, children’s laughter on the playgrounds was replaced by the cries of wild animals, which settled in abundant numbers. Nature all this time gradually regained its own. The picture is creepy, but it is it that attracts huge flows of tourists here.
Yes, there is tourism. Everything is official and legal. Anyone can see Pripyat with their own eyes. Several companies conduct tours for those who like to tickle their nerves and are willing to pay for it. Little. It depends, of course, on the chosen day. But on average for the opportunity to wander around local attractions for Ukrainians is about $ 50 (about 3,000 rubles). For foreign citizens – 100-150 (about 6000-9000 rubles). Probably appreciated more. A separate item of expenditure is the entrance fee to the “zone”, which the administration charges. Besides,
For tourists, they even opened several souvenir shops, a medical center and places to sleep, if you decide to stay for several days. Not five stars, but it’s quite possible to take a break from an active walk.
People who organize such tours say that recently the demand for such types of services has increased significantly – by about 30-40 percent compared to last year. If in 2018 about 70 thousand tourists from all over the world visited Chernobyl, then in 2019 it is expected that 110-150 thousand people will visit the “Zone”.
According to the same guides, a very important role in the increased interest in Pripyat was played by the recent HBO series Chernobyl, which surprised the whole world with its credibility and presentation.
Is it dangerous to visit Chernobyl ?
All excursion routes have long been worked out. According to people who have been working in Pripyat for more than one year, the background of radiation is slightly higher than that in megacities. For the day of the tour, a person will receive about the same dose as for an hour and a half flight on an airplane. This is approximately 160 times less than the dose received for one fluorography and 3600 times less than for one study of computed tomography.
Of course, there are those who are not interested in official excursions. The so-called stalkers who enter the “exclusion zone” illegally alone or in groups. They catch such people, draw up a protocol, seize the photographic equipment, fine them and release them, having previously checked for radiation infection. If things find a luminous souvenir from the zone, there will be much more problems. This is a criminal case. Nevertheless, even this does not stop many. Romantics or idiots ? to whom it is convenient.
What does Chernobyl look like today ?
A selection of photographs of landscapes made during one of the last summer excursions to the “exclusion zone” appeared on the network. Judging by the pictures, the presence of a high radiation background, which, although it has decreased several thousand times since the accident, does not interfere with nature, makes this territory unsuitable for life.
Przewalski’s horses. Brought here as an experiment in the late 90s. Scientists wanted to see if they would take root. Took root
The famous Duga radar station. Used for early detection of intercontinental ballistic missile launches
After Chernobyl: why do plants not get cancer?
Chernobyl has become synonymous with disaster. The 1986 nuclear disaster, which the whole world was talking about again, thanks to the HBO series, caused thousands of cancers, turned the once-populated area into a ghost town, and led to the creation of an exclusion zone of 2,600 square kilometers. But the Chernobyl exclusion zone is alive. Wolves, wild boars and bears returned to the lush forests surrounding the old nuclear power plant.
As for vegetation, all of it, except for the most vulnerable and exposed to radiation plants, never died and even in the most radioactive zones was restored within three years. Humans, other mammals and birds would have long died from radiation that irradiated plants in the most polluted areas. So why is plant life so resistant to radiation and nuclear disaster?
What happened to plants in Chernobyl?
To answer this question, we first need to understand how radiation from nuclear reactors affects living cells. Chernobyl’s radioactive material is “unstable” because it constantly emits high-energy particles and waves that destroy cellular structures or produce chemically active substances that attack the cellular mechanism.
Most parts of the cell can be replaced in case of damage, but DNA is an important exception. At high doses of radiation, DNA becomes a bat and cells die quickly. Low doses can lead to less damage in terms of mutations that change the functions of cells – for example, make them carcinogenic, uncontrollably multiply and invade other parts of the body.
In animals, this often leads to death, because their cells and systems are especially specialized and not particularly flexible. Imagine animal biology as a complex machine in which each cell and organ has its own place and purpose, and all parts must work and interact together in order for the individual to live. A person cannot live without a brain, lungs or heart.
But plants develop much more flexibly and organically. Since they cannot move, they have no choice but to adapt to the circumstances in which they find themselves. Instead of having a specific structure, as in an animal, plants create it as they develop. Authentic roots or higher stems are grown – this depends on the balance of chemical signals from other parts of the plant and the “woody Internet”, as well as light, temperature, water and nutritional conditions.
It is imperative that, unlike animal cells, almost all plant cells are able to create new cells of any type that the plant needs. This is why the gardener can grow a new plant from the cuttings, while the roots will sprout from what was once a stem or leaf.
All this means that plants can replace dead cells or tissues much more easily than animals, regardless of whether they are damaged as a result of an animal attack or radiation.
Although radiation and other types of DNA damage can cause tumors in plants, mutated cells, as a rule, are not able to move from one part of the plant to another, as in the process of cancer, due to the rigid connecting walls surrounding the plant cells. Such “tumors” will not be fatal in the vast majority of cases, because the plant will find a way to work without faulty tissue.
What is noteworthy, in addition to this innate resistance to radiation, some plants in the Chernobyl exclusion zone seem to use additional mechanisms to protect their DNA, change the chemical composition to make it more resistant to damage, and include systems for its restoration if it is not works. The level of natural radiation on the Earth’s surface was much higher in the distant past, when the first plants developed, so plants in the exclusion zone can use these ancient defense mechanisms.
Now life around Chernobyl is booming. The variety of plants and animals is probably even higher than before the disaster. In a sense, the Chernobyl disaster became a paradise on earth: having expelled ourselves from this area, we freed up space for the return of nature.