10 Toxic Towns You Still Can’t Live In
Pripyat, Kiev Oblast, Ukraine
Pripyat in modern-day Ukraine was founded in 1970 to house the workers of the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant along with their families.
Declared a city in 1979, Pripyat had a population of 47,500 according to a 1985 census, and all the trappings of a major urban area, including 160 apartment blocks, 25 stores and malls, five secondary schools, a hospital, cinema and more.
Then the world’s worst nuclear disaster occurred at the plant on 26 April 1986, when Reactor 4 exploded, spewing clouds of toxic fallout over the city and across large swathes of Europe.
Following the cataclysmic accident, it took 36 hours to evacuate Pripyat’s entire population, exposing many residents to dangerous levels of radiation. Most personal belongings were left behind and remain in the city to this day.
An exclusion zone was established in the vicinity and is currently still in place, though it has expanded to cover 1,000 square miles.
Frozen in time, Pripyat is now one of the world’s most chilling ghost towns. According to a 2016 study by Greenpeace, the immediate area around the plant won’t be fit for human habitation for a staggering 3,000 years.
Since the evacuation, the former city has become a ‘dark tourism’ magnet – tourists can visit as long as they don’t hang around – as well as a haven for wildlife. Nature is reclaiming the crumbling concrete buildings, with animals such as wolves, bears, foxes and deer spotted roaming Pripyat’s once-busy streets.