Pripyat is a ghost town in northern Ukraine, near the Ukraine-Belarus border. Named after the nearby Pripyat River, Pripyat was founded on 4 February, 1970, as the ninth nuclear city (a type of closed city) in the Soviet Union, to serve the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. It was officially proclaimed a city in 1979, and had grown to a population of 49,360 by the time it was evacuated on the afternoon of 27 April 1986, the day after the Chernobyl disaster.

Though Pripyat is located within the administrative district of Ivankiv Raion, the abandoned city now has the status of city of oblast significance within the larger Kiev Oblast (province), being administered directly from Kiev. Pripyat is also supervised by Ukraine’s Ministry of Emergencies, which manages activities for the entire Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Access to Pripyat, unlike cities of military importance, was not restricted before the disaster as nuclear power stations were seen by the Soviet Union as safer than other types of power plants. Nuclear power stations were presented as being an achievement of Soviet engineering, where nuclear power was harnessed for peaceful projects. The original plan had been to build the plant only 25 km (16 mi) from Kiev, but the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, among other bodies, expressed concern about it being too close to the city. As a result, the power station and Pripyat  were built at their current locations, about 100 km (62 mi) from Kiev. After the disaster the city of Pripyat was evacuated in two days.

A natural concern is whether it is safe to visit Pripyat and the surroundings. The Zone of Alienation is considered relatively safe to visit, and several Ukrainian companies offer guided tours around the area.
At present, radiation levels have dropped considerably, compared to the fatal levels of April 1986, due to the decay of the short-lived isotopes released during the accident.

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Posted by Carrie Hood

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