The Chernobyl Disaster is known as one of the worst nuclear power plant disasters in the history of time. It occurred in the Soviet Union causing the neighboring town, Pripyat, to have to be evacuated with days of the disaster. It was caused by two workers who went outside of protocol for a basic operations test. They were careless with the procedure, causing unintended conditions in the reactor that caused both a fire and a steam explosion. Because the fire and steam were so close to the reactor, they emitted radioactive gasses into the air, causing devastating effects.
Once something contaminates the air and water, it could potentially remain in the water forever. The radioactive materials got into streams that led to other cities. The wind and other weather conditions helped blow the radioactivity throughout the air, having potentially devastating effects on everything it touches. To this day, visiting the area affected by the Chernobyl disaster is very dangerous. There are still high levels of radioactivity in some places, the closer to the initial explosion sight the riskier. Chernobyl is now open to limited people, so it is possible for you to visit it yourself one day. After looking at the next few photographs, there’s a chance you might not want to do that.
Not many people have access to photographs during the event, as the radioactivity destroyed cameras close to the incident. However, through rare photographs both past and present, we get a glimpse into the devastating sight. Here are 15 Chilling Images From Chernobyl That Will Make Your Skin Crawl.
15. The Point Of Where It Started Is Still Radioactive
The above photograph is known as “The Elephant’s Foot,” the point in which the initial reaction happened. The massive radioactive lava on the ground is no longer as dangerous as it used to be, but it still has a high level of radiation emitting from it. Right as the disaster occurred, the massive lava mound was so dangerous that it would instantly kill anyone who came close to it. As time has passed, it’s obviously become less dangerous and we have a better ability to get a little closer and study the mound more. Even though it isn’t very large, it’s estimated to weigh several tons! It really doesn’t look like much more than a rock, or large piece of coal. In reality, it was once capable of destroying anything it came in contact with. The fact that we’re able to create such destruction as humans is absolutely insane.
14. Unborn Babies Suffered The Most
Just like any normal town, the city next to Chernobyl was filled with expecting parents soon awaiting the birth of their unborn child. For the mothers in the early stages of pregnancy, the infants suffered the effects of radiation poisoning. Some were simply born with cosmetic deformities. Others had organs grow in the wrong spot or potentially not at all. The mothers may have felt fine and appeared to be healthy, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t at risk for passing on new genetic mutations. Even women who weren’t pregnant at the time of the disaster ran the risk of passing on radiation to their children, the same fate for them. This was an incident that occurred in one small location and was the result of two people’s mistakes. However, the devastating effects will long live on within the victims of the surrounding areas.
13. A Man Helps An Abandoned Baby
The origin of the photograph above shows a man during the cleanup of the disaster who had discovered an abandoned infant after the evacuation. The whereabouts of the man and the infant are both unknown to this day. The story behind it could be potentially haunting. Did the parents think that one of them had the child only to discover at the rescue camp that neither had the child? Did a distressed parent see the evacuation as their opportunity to leave behind a child they didn’t want? Perhaps the parents suffered radiation poisoning and were under devastating circumstances in which they couldn’t properly care for the innocent child. Either way, it’s a good thing that the baby was found and we hope that it managed to escape without serious damage.
12. A Room Full Of Abandoned Gas Masks
In the beginning of the disaster, no one was quite sure what might happen if they stayed in the surrounding areas. Was it just a minor issue that would pass through? Was there only a temporary risk? By this photograph of abandoned gas masks, we can sense that the civilians soon realized that they needed much more than just a filter for their air. The radiation was so strong that it could affect skin and organs without even being inhaled. A sight like this truly displays the loss of hope and the beginning of panic. The people who left these masks behind had to make a quick decision as to whether or not they should trust those around them to leave everything behind, including a mask that could potentially be all they needed, or if they should leave everything they knew and loved behind because it was, indeed, filled with radiation.
11. A City Frozen In Time
Once the radioactivity began spreading, the city next to the plant had to be evacuated fast. The disaster occurred on April 26, 1986. The amusement park in the photograph above was set to be open on May 1st of that year. Once word hit that the town would need evacuating, the Amusement Park owners decided to open the park early, having an idea that they might never get the chance and that it would boost spirits during such a scary time. Once the town was evacuated, the people would never be able to go back to their homes, their stores, and their amusement parks. Everything that was in the area was affected and potentially filled with radioactivity, making it toxic if taken elsewhere. Even if they could easily move the Ferris wheel to a new location, there’s no guarantee that it would ever be safe to the public again.
10. The Mutations Are Genetic
Even though the high-risk areas were affected, even being exposed to the radiation for a short period of time caused genetic mutations. The problem with these mutations is that they are irreversible. Most of the mutation started with the mother in which she then passed on to her offspring. Those children will carry the same genetic mutations, even if they don’t show symptoms of it, like the disfigured legs seen above. This means that more generations could be born carrying the genetic mutations caused by this disaster. As time goes on and our date growths further from this disaster, the radiation risks, and contaminated areas go down, however, that doesn’t mean there doesn’t still exist a great risk to the people who live close to the area. Even though time passes, the devastating effects of this disaster will never truly vanish from our world.
9. Anything That Stayed Was Affected
Due to the quick evacuations that the residents of the neighboring city had to endure, a lot was left behind and never to be recovered. Unfortunately, this meant many animals were left with the devastating effects of the explosion and suffered radiation poisoning. Radiation poisoning is one of the most painful ways to die. Almost immediately, the victim begins vomiting, having trouble breathing, and having trouble seeing. For others, it’s a long process and also has the potential to cause cancer many years after the disaster even happened. Animals are not free from our nuclear weapons. In addition to the animals being affected, the surrounding plant life was harmed as well and suffered the same strange genetic mutations as a result of the disaster. The most devastating part is that not all mutations around the area have evidence that can link them back to the disaster.
8. It’s Dangerous For Everyone To Enter
Although this event occurred over thirty years ago, it’s still dangerous for anyone to enter the restricted zone. Many people still attempt to break into the area so as to explore the devastation left behind. This is incredibly stupid. If you’re not trained in nuclear energy, there’s a good chance you won’t really know what you’re doing or what parts might be dangerous. You might not care yourself if you’re exposed to the radiation, but there’s no way of telling what you might bring back with you if you happen to stumble into a dangerous zone. Although we wouldn’t have these haunting photographs to look at without people still entering the disaster site, it still seems as though no one should ever go back and just leave it be. There’s still a chance that another explosion could occur sometime down the line.
7. Steam And Smoke Destroyed The Building
Although there was a massive fire on site, much of the damage that occurred in the building was caused by radioactive steam. The building that housed the reactor was absolutely massive and took years and teams to construct. It wasn’t just a tiny warehouse that suffered the destruction. This was an absolutely massive plant. The photograph above is one of the first images taken of Chernobyl. It is one of the few that actually survived the radiation poisoning around the time of the disaster. You can sense that the photograph is a bit worn looking. That is because it was taken with film, and the film was being destroyed by radioactive toxins in the air, causing it to have a grainy effect. The building basically looks like it’s melting, and in a sense, that’s somewhat what’s happening. To think all this happened because two men were having a lazy night at work.
6. It Had Devastating Effects On Animals
Not all animals were able to be evacuated. Some animals on farms close to Chernobyl but not enough to be evacuated also fell victim to the harmful effects of the dangerous radiation. They often gave birth to offspring with disfigurations and extra limbs. This meant that the animals that they gave birth to ran the risk of having these mutations as well, making them almost useless to farmers, having a devastating loss on the economy as well. As you can see from the deformed pig above, anything is possible when it comes to a genetic mutation. There’s no way of knowing what part of the body might be affected and how devastating the damage could be. Unfortunately, this innocent pig wasn’t able to survive the way his body was made when he was born. He now serves as a reminder as what horror lies within nuclear energy.
5. Everything Remains As It Was Left
Visiting Chernobyl is much like visiting a post-apocalyptic world. Everything stands still as it was when it was left. There are some potential things that might have been moved or changed by people who snuck in after or pranksters trying to scare future tourists. For the most part, however, the area stays pretty true to how it was when it was inhabited. Left for us to see are all the memories, hopes, and dreams of the people who lived there. Before this, the people of Pripyat were just like you and me. They had daily lives, jobs, and families. When this disaster hit, they were forced to leave everything as it was. They had to completely start a new life in a new area, some sick from the radiation and some left forever disfigured. Disasters like this are rare, but they could happen to anyone who lives around the area of a nuclear power plant.
4. Nature Has Begun To Take Over
It’s been 30 years since the disaster happened, and nature shows that it doesn’t care what remains. Although the humans were forced to abandon the area, the trees and other plant life persist on. As you can see in the photograph above taken on the sixth floor of a building, this tree will continue to grow and spread and allow other trees to grow and spread as well. This is promising in that the radiation didn’t affect the potential that life could still continue in the area one day. Unfortunately, Chernobyl will probably not be the last nuclear disaster we see in our lifetime, but hopefully, it will remain the worst. This photograph proves that nature doesn’t care if humans are around and it will continue to do what it wants forever.
3. Children’s Memories Will Die Here
Being a child during a disaster like this has to be one of the most confusing experiences a person could live through. One moment, they are enjoying playing with their teddy bear, possibly dressing it up and tucking it into bed. The next, they are told they have to leave, never to come back to the teddy bear or the place that they knew was home. The place that they felt the safest, they knew as their world, and the place that was supposed to be where they were going to spend the rest of their lives quickly became a place that they’ll remember as when their nightmare started. Many families lost their jobs and had trouble finding new ones. Others lost family members and had to start a completely new life. Disasters like this happen all the time in forms other than just nuclear. It’s a reminder of what we have the chance to lose at any second without notice.
2. It Still Causes Problems For Wildlife
Fortunately, there haven’t been as many recent reportings of genetic mutations in animals from Chernobyl as there were in the past. With such a hard to track threat such as radiation, there’s no way we could ever be certain that the future animals are safe to consume. Although farm animals may be safe from the radiation, that doesn’t mean that the surrounding wildlife is. As you can see from the image of the deer above, the wildlife is still seeing genetic mutations from the effects of the disaster. These animals continue to breed as nature intended, so unlike humans, they can’t test their offspring to see the potentially harmful effects. These animals will continue to breed and potentially spread radiation for the foreseeable future.
1. Your Skin Would Melt Off If Exposed To Radiation
The radiation causes the skin to literally fall off. We’ve all had superficial wounds and burns that can cause great pain on our skin. Experiencing something like this seems so incredibly gruesome that it was taken straight out of a horror movie. Unfortunately, this was a very real reality for many of the people affected by the Chernobyl disaster. Luckily, wounds like these aren’t deadly. However, once the skin is destroyed by radiation, there is no hope of it regenerating and growing back like how nature intended.