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Legacy of Chernobyl: Voices of Pripyat

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April 26, 2011…25 years to the day of the accident at Chernobyl

April 26,1986 was an especially warm day on April 26, 1986, as the people of Pripyat awoke: Pripyat, the town built for the workers and personal of the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl. Parents went to the park pushing their children in their strollers; others walked to work, or woke with thoughts of going to shopping centers, or the music conservatory. They heard trains arrive at the railway or saw cargo ships at the river Pripyat. Pripyat, the “city of the future”  a celebrated city, one of nine atomograds – atom cities– full of hope and possibility.

That day, that warm day in April, how could they know that hours earlier in the night an explosion in the 4th reactor but two miles away at Chernobyl had ripped open a gaping hole, that a radioactive fire was burning, and that they were being bit by bit attacked by something they could not see, touch or feel. Even as they saw soldiers with masks and truck after truck arrive, that something had happened, something that would affect their health, their children’s health, that countries would be affected, lives would be shortened, whole economies weakened, by a single event that would stretch many years into the future. They could not know that their world was about to be stripped, that within 36 hours they would be boarding one of 1,200 buses that would stretch for 15 miles, pointed away from Pripyat. They would have but a single suitcase told that they would return in three days…

But Chernobyl altered time. Three days would become 300 days.. 300 months… 600 years; 600 years and even the clothes on their back would have to be destroyed due to contamination, radioactive contamination, words that they would hear and feel for that year, this year and many years to come.

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Voices of Pripyat

 

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