With its decaying apartment blocks, abandoned fairground and school full of books covered in radioactive dust, Pripyat might seem like an unlikely minibreak. Adventure travel companies, however, are reporting a surge in demand for tours to Chernobyl, prompted by the success of the Sky-HBO series about the catastrophic nuclear power station accident in 1986 that led to thousands of deaths. Bookings were up 40 per cent last month, compared with May 2018, according to the tour operator Explore, which offers trips inside the 30km exclusion zone around the power plant that is being slowly decommissioned. The TV series Chernobyl put the Pripyat on the map for touristsThe TV series Chernobyl put the Pripyat on the map for tourists. John Telfer, the company’s deputy managing director, said: “It is an extraordinary place with a story that intrigues people. Because of its nature, originally we launched a photography trip, because we thought it would appeal to people with specific interests. What we found quickly, however, was a lot of the bookings were not from photographers but people wanting to go somewhere they didn’t know they could visit. That’s when we widened the programme.” Tourists spend the night at the Desyatka Hotel, a simple guesthouse with restaurant and bar, in the heart of Chernobyl town, about 20km south of the power plant.
Times 3rd June 2019 read more »
Sky Atlantic/HBO’s drama Chernobyl unfolds over five distressing episodes that show the 1986 explosion was more than just another disaster in a decade horribly cluttered with them: it was a ghastly taste of nuclear war, a monstrous cover-up and, finally, an event that helped bring down the Soviet Union. So it is fitting that the series begins with the explosion, as if to get it out of the way so that we might focus on what happens afterwards. The explosion was caused by a late-night safety test that caused a massive surge in power due to the reactor’s flawed design. The explosion was so great that one worker instantly thought: “The Americans!” Here was nuclear war, at last. The force of the explosion tossed the reactor’s massive concrete lid into the air like a penny, leaving its mouth open wide, belching out radiation in a streak of eerie blue light.
Guardian 4th June 2019 read more »
AT TWENTY-THREE minutes past one in the morning of April 26th 1986, a safety test at a nuclear reactor in Soviet Ukraine went catastrophically wrong. The resulting steam explosion at the plant near the city of Pripyat, 70 miles north of Kiev, spewed out so much radiation that much of the surrounding area will be uninhabitable for 20,000 years. Harmful isotopes were carried by the winds as far as Ireland within a week. According to some accounts, first responders who were exposed to large doses of radiation suffered agonising deaths. These events, as well as the political intrigue of the Soviet government’s actions, are the subject of HBO’s historical drama series, “Chernobyl”. With one episode to go (the finale will air in America on June 3rd) it is the highest-rated television series of all time, according to crowd-sourced reviews on IMDb, a film and television rating site. Reviewers have given the first four episodes of “Chernobyl” stellar ratings. A weighted average calculated by The Economist (according to how recently each episode ran and the number of reviews) accords it 9.6 points out of 10. By the same measure, other leading shows—including comparable historical drama series such as “The Crown” and “The People v. O. J. Simpson” (now called “American Crime Story”)—lag behind.
Economist 3rd June 2019 read more »
In the new HBO miniseries “Chernobyl,” Russian scientists uncover the reason for an explosion in Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which spewed radioactive material across northern Europe. That reactor, a design called the RBMK-1000, was discovered to be fundamentally flawed after the Chernobyl accident. And yet there are still 10 of the same type of reactor in operation in Russia. How do we know if they’re safe? The short answer is, we don’t. These reactors have been modified to lessen the risk of another Chernobyl-style disaster, experts say, but they still aren’t as safe as most Western-style reactors. And there are no international safeguards that would prevent the construction of new plants with similar flaws.
Richard Dawkins.net 3rd June 2019 read more »