Chernobyl Gallery opens...

08th October 2013
I have started this new, and for me important gallery documenting part of my recent visit to the Chernobyl nuclear site.

Its 27 years since the disaster. The size of the plant surprised me: there are still are 6 reactors. No. 4 exploded that fateful night in April, 1986. They built a sarcophagus over the highly radio active debris, which would last for 30 years.. Well, 30 years are up in 2016, and the new sarcophahus isn't finished.

I recall stories at the time of the evacuation of the nearby village of Pripryat (or Prypriat). It wasn't a village, it was a town of some 50,000 people. 120,000 people were removed. Dozens of real villages ceased to be. Pripryat was built in 1970, a new town, an atomic town. The average age was 25. It had 5 schools, swimming pools, a stadium and its own supermarket. A real Soviet model.

500,000 people helped in the nuclear clean up. These were people from all over the Soviet Union: there were miners, engineers, scientists and soldiers. The full extent of the human tragedy isn't known.

Image quality varies, the conditions were mixed, and time there is limited. I was allowed 10 minutes at the nuclear plant, and 1 hour at Pripryat, and just 3 hours in the 30km exclusion zone altogether. I hope they tell a story.

Images will be exhibited at The Old Town Hall Hemel Hempstead Nov 18- Dec 24, 2013, and at the Royal Geographical Society in November 2014.

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