Erie, Amazing, desolate. Three check points (passport control) 30 KM exclusion Zone, 10 KM Zone, then Reactor3/4. Screened three times on the way out for contamination. The only place on earth you can tour a blown reactor. I recommend it to anyone.

I still think nuclear power has a place in our world.

(does that work?)

Comments: 416 • Responses: 62  • Date: 

MaidofAnnwn62 karma

  1. Why did you go in the first place?
  2. Anything that stood out to you whilst you were looking around?
  3. Was it what you expected it to be?
  4. Most outstanding moment?

I am incredibly interested in the Chernobyl accident. If there is anythin more you can tell me I'd be very grateful.

brent00967 karma

Great questions.

  1. I have been fascinated with the topic since it blew and it was 'on my list'. The bravery and self sacrifice those people made to contain it was beyond bravery.

  2. LOL the old Soviet propaganda is still in Prypat. But it is so strange to just see the entire town empty and rotting.

  3. It was more than I expected. It was a warning that this shit needs to be taken seriously but also that it is a technology we can use.

  4. Standing right up to Ractor 3/4 and seeing the radiation levels climb but think it was worth it just to see this one of a kind place on earth.

If you have that strong an interest you should go see it. it's worth it. The bus ride up has a pretty cool video from the Soviet POV on WTF was going on. Lots of cool info.

BTerror15 karma

Propaganda pic? :)

Chitown-237 karma

I too would love to see some soviet propaganda pictures.

brent0097 karma

Done. Added a couple.

Iselore8939 karma

Did you find any RadAway on the ground? Any bandits around?

brent00943 karma

No RadAway but a few squirrel on a sticks.

TehBoardGirl31 karma

Beyond jealous. Did you go with a tour guide? If so, was it expensive? I'm originally from Belarus, been back to visit but never had the chance to go to Chernobyl. Grandma lived in Pripyat at the time of the accident. Will definitely visit next time I'm in the area.

brent00952 karma

Yes the only valid way is with an approved tour. They have a official from Ukraine department of tourism (such as it is) who guides you through the proper checkpoints (3 of them in and out) and gives you the usual useful info as you go along.

Without an approved tour you would have to sneak in and they really hate that since that woman did it several years ago and blogged it.

Wow so your grandpa went through it. Very cool what does he say about it?

Cost was $180 american for tour and I liked the Tourism official so I gave him 40 cause no one else tipped. (Europeans.... sheesh and they say Americans are bad) so $220 for the whole thing.

Bring water and stuff to drink. They give you lunch near the reactor.

Zeno_of_Citium87 karma

"...lunch near the reactor."

Sounds safe.

brent00946 karma

Well I've had worse meals. And you don't need to microwave it just wave it out the window a few minutes... (jk)

genericaccount123454 karma

You get lunch in the small town that's "close" to the reactor. There are some 500 people who live there in the mostly abandoned town.

brent0094 karma

Yes that is correct. You don't eat at the reactor just near it.

Aeolitus43 karma

Well, in Europe, we usually pay our workers a real wage and dont rely on customers to tip them instead.

Although tipping is still appreciated, the system doesnt depend on it, and it is way less common than in the US.

brent00922 karma

Yeah I didn't mean to slam Europeans the way that came out. I just felt like this tour guide was working a rather risky job to provide for his family and I was the only American and I was the only one who tipped. But yes it may be a cultural difference and not as simple as just being cheap.

Ziss0u23 karma

What was the desolation like? was it just creepy and eerie? or was there any peace, or relaxation that came with it?

brent00949 karma

It was calm. But it was unnatural. Both totally engrossing and a surreal feeling

FalloutIRL19 karma

Hey there Brent, thanks for doing this. As someone who works in the nuclear industry, I was just wondering...

  1. What your total dose over the time you were there?

  2. If you we're getting readings for hot spots, what was the highest reading you got?

  3. Did you encounter any contamination problems while exiting the area?

brent00915 karma

Hey There

OK I am not a nuclear expert so I am unable to calculate my total dose. I kind of took their word it was not going to kill me. That being said the average was 5-7 mrems (I thought radiation was measured in rads but the Geiger counter said mrems) and at the hot spot it was as high as 40. At the reactor spot it was 7-10. Not huge deadly doses for short periods but not what you want for hours and hours they said.

I had no issues with contamination but there was also still snow cover so that reduced the radiation exposure and kept soil from sticking to my shoes, and I liked my gloves so didn't touch the stuff they said not to.

whalesauce18 karma

I heard there's animal life back in the area, anything strange like 3 eyes or extra limbs??

brent00955 karma

No so much. Vegatation is weird. A entire pine forest is red and many (most trees) are covered in a moldy yellow stuff.

They kill most ground animals so they can't track radiation out but the bird they said they leave alone.

A herd of wild horses roam the area though...

pn422 karma

thats the red forest. It was allready red before '86.

brent0094 karma

They said the red forest was red/green but all the green died and what was left became green.

I hadn't heard of it and only know what they said.

Onewildpotato16 karma

Any tips on planning a tour/visit? That has to be incredible...

brent00938 karma

Well Ukraine isn't as bad a Russia but they are still east europe.

Book the trip to Chernobyl on an American Web Site. They will pick you up in Kiev for a 3 hour bus ride (I think that was more dangerous than the radiation IMO) to the Exclusion Zone.

About $200 for the excursion. Only book with the approved ones.

Wear crappy clothes you don't care if they take. If you get radiation on yourself whatever it's on is staying in the exclusion zone. Other wise just go and see it first hand. A unique experience for sure.

US Citizens don't need a visa to Ukraine.

inagiffy11 karma

Why do you say the bus ride is more dangerous than the radiation?

Also, do you need to know any Ukrainian/Russian? (I know a little Russian)

genericaccount1234523 karma

Because Pripyat is harmless, but the road there is horrible and you pass through two checkpoints with sour Russian guards that make you sign release forms "in case you die". (I was on the tour last week)

brent00913 karma

That more or less sums it up. LOL.

conbon5215 karma

How bad is the radiation there compared to 20 years ago

brent00932 karma

Well it's bad. But not the kill you in 5 minutes it was. After the reactor was entombed in the 'saracoughous' it became tolerable for small periods of time. I was at the reactor for 15 minutes. They said it was about 10 chest xrays. But the gieger counter was making that holy crap noise the entire time...

Links to pics

AramisAthosPorthos10 karma


brent0098 karma

Yeah, it was late. But that's what they call the steel and concrete tomb they built around the still deadly reactor. Something like 140 kilos of Plutonium melted into the lowed levels still sitting there.

roastedbagel4 karma

We can't see the pictures.

brent00913 karma

Does this work

Vulgars15 karma


brent00920 karma

There wasn't really anything 'creepy' more like eerie. I would not have wanted to be there after dark... hahah. But it was forlorn and bleak is the best words I have. Not creepy... sad, ruined....

concreteovercoat15 karma

Did you see much of the new sarcophagus they're building? Did you see much evidence of the original breaking down?

brent0097 karma

I saw the new structure. I could not see any obvious signs of the decay of the old tomb but I think it happening from the inside out.

babyfarmer15 karma

Did you know that 50,000 people used to live there?

brent00962 karma

Yes and they were told 'no prob no prob' then 10,000 busses came and orderly evacuated the entire town of 53,000 within 3 hours.

Communism actually working... LOL

demstrovost15 karma

Did you happen to find a severed arm hanging out on the ground?

brent00934 karma

No, and sadly no mutant zombies anywhere...

demstrovost10 karma

Ah well... There always the chance you'll turn into a superhero.

Edit: I should never have figured out how to insert links into reddit comments. I should be stopped.

brent00945 karma

Yeah I was hoping for the whole superhero thing. My wife is just glad my junk still works.... LOL

Flincher1414 karma

Have you ever played S.T.A.L.K.E.R? How similar did it look and feel to that game?

brent00915 karma

I haven't played that but it deff felt like all the 'end of the world' type games. Like mankind was gone and earth was reclaiming that place..

KnashDavis12 karma

See anything that struck you as abnormal/shouldn't be there. Anything haunted?

brent00915 karma

The building are all rotted so you can't get in many of them. But the preschool was kinda spooky feeling. I'll put pics up.

TheMisterFlux12 karma

Did you go up to the reactor without a hazmat suit on or did they give you some kind of protective clothing?

brent00933 karma

You can't actually go right to the reactor. You are allowed 15 minutes about 1/10 of a mile away. No hazmat suit but they do give you a Geiger counter to make sure you are not standing in a bad zone.

I didn't know radiation was kinda local. One spot could be very high and 15 feet away nothing.

xDARTYx11 karma

How did it feel walking around? I imagine it to feel very off

brent00915 karma

Yes. It was cold too. But very weird to see a small city just vacant and rotting and all the remnants of the long gone Soviet era still there.

dampew11 karma

Did you bring back any mushrooms?

brent00913 karma

You are not allowed to bring ANYTHING out of the exclusion zone. They scan you and monitor you to make sure nothing gets out.

brent00910 karma

I booked my tour with these guys..

Very helpful and accepted I wouldn't give up my CC number to an East European firm.

itsnotharry9 karma


brent00929 karma

The worst moment was the drive up. The roads were in bad shape and had become icy. I was more in fear of that part than the reactor.

I saw a documentary years ago about the people who contained it. On the trip I found out they are called "Bio Robots" and 50% have of course died from exotic cancers. But the rest are just struggling to survive and I think the world owes them and I wish they were better off. They gave all that could have been asked. And the ride up documentary interviewed one in like 2007 and when they asked him why he did it he said

" I didn't want to go out on that roof. I was so scared. But it was my duty, and no one else could do my duty so I did it." They asked him how many times he went to the roof and he said 3 times about 1 minute each time. Then his nose was bleeding and he couldn't see so well. In that comparison I am just a sightseer, and he is the one with titanium balls.

sativan9 karma

What super powers did you gain?

Besides the gigantic testicles you walked in there with.

brent0096 karma

LOL. Nice. Still trying to figure that one out.

cmjohnson77997 karma

How's having two dicks?

brent00912 karma

Still getting used to it.

Pithy_Username7 karma

Where you issued a dosimeter, or did you calculate your dose based on stay times and background levels?

Are there severe gradient areas outside the sarcophagus?

What was the highest dose rate in the 15-minute stay time area?

brent0096 karma

No dosimeter. Calculated dose/time. Tour guide keeps track mostly.

Outside the reactor it was fairly constant. The largest fluctuations were in Pripyat. Those were on the ground and certain locations. They cleaned the fallout up at some point but of course a lot was missed.

The reactor being encased has limited its high energy radiation so it is fairly stable. High but not lethal.

AwfulHomesick6 karma

Which buildings did they let you go inside?

genericaccount123453 karma

OP was allowed to enter the School. Otherwise, if you ask, you are allowed to enter some of the other buildings, eg. the swimming-hall.

brent0099 karma

Yes we hit the usual suspects. School, a house. I also went into City Hall, and another apartment building but the floor was so rotted I didn't go to far.

I did not go to the swimming pool it was off limits the day I was there for some reason. I asked.

Koeny16 karma

What was the highest level of radiation measured in µSv/h? 10 chest x-rays in 15 minutes is 4000 µSv/h which is enormous and very hard to believe. Natural background levels are 0.1 µSv at the least, last I saw it was 4 µSv/h 100 meters from the Fukushima reactors.

brent0097 karma

I have no idea what these values mean. I am not a nuclear expert. Sorry. nano what?

genericaccount123453 karma

When I was there (last week), the highest measured was 8µSv/h, which was right above some moss (the moss absorbs the radiation out of the ground). Where he's standing in the picture we measured 4µSv/h

brent0093 karma

At the reactor I measured 7. I think I have a close up pic I will look for it.

farmerfoo6 karma

Did you see any prep construction work on the new sarcophagus planned for the blown reactor?

Did you see any of the inhabitants of the exclusion zone? If not did the tour guides mention them?

brent0095 karma

I did see the new structure. It's off to the side but huge and very visible.

The tour guide did mention the returnees but I did not see any of them.

Jakeable6 karma

What was the weird looking machine that your hands we on?

brent0097 karma

Radiation detector. You gotta be cleared to leave each area. If you are contaminated they take whatever is radioactive.

Redditisfun55 karma

Are you glowing?

brent0099 karma


claymick5 karma

Have you played any of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. computer games?

brent0095 karma

No but I will.

wd4life5 karma

You say wear crappy clothes so you can leave them if radiation gets over them - did your clothes get contaminated after the trip?

brent0095 karma

I got out fully dressed.

bkwrmi4 karma

I have heard rumors that you may have issues reentering the US after visiting Chernobyl - have you heard anything about this?

brent0093 karma

No. What issues? I doubt the Feds even knew I went (damn it until I posted here!!!).

I suppose if you came through passport control and some radiation detector went off you'd have some 'splainin to dooooo but I don't think the US cares if you go to Chernobyl.

But if you see me on the news at Gitmo you know I was wrong here...

people19254 karma

Will you tell me interesting facts about the place? I need to do a report on it.

brent00917 karma

All of the first 26 firemen first responders all died within a few days. They thought it was just a fire on a building until they started to drop dead on the spot. It is estimated they received 1000+ Sieverts an hour or some crazy number like that.

And the 2 control room operators did not do so well. There is a monument to them. Firemen as brave as our 9/11 tower guys. Running to help others without asking, gee will I get hurt.

If I had their names I'd list them too.

cheebahmonkey4 karma

That damn ferris wheel from COD

brent00910 karma

Yep. for Mayday... never used.

pripyat_beast3 karma

Did you see me? I saw you...

brent0094 karma

Just your eyes peeking out of the door when you said "hey... come here" and I craped my pants and ran...

TurbulentViscosity3 karma

  1. What country did you leave from? About how much does the trip cost total?

  2. What does it smell like there??

brent0094 karma

I left from USA. You could easily do it on the cheap say $1800 total and still have a great week. I spent a more than because when I travel I tend to blow more than I should and worry about it later.

It smells like the outdoors in winter. Nothing I could detect different really.

Whacker0073 karma

So how close did you get to the actual sarcophagus? Is the first picture it?

Not a question but a statement. My understanding is that Ferris wheel is one of the most radioactive unshielded things around the area. I wouldn't get that close to it. Brass balls of thine, good sir.

brent0093 karma

Yes some of the higher levels were around the Ferris Wheel. Still nothing to freak out about. I think 5-8 on the meter. But not enough to kill me quick.

DootchBarg3 karma

Did you have a guide?? How are they in terms of health from radiation exposure? And how safe are you from radiation exposure throughout the tour?

genericaccount123452 karma

You are not allowed to enter the zone without a guide from the Ukraine tourist department. No real health-risk in the areas that the guide moves. No areas during the tour should have over, at the very most, 20-30 mSv/hour, so you are perfectly safe the entire time.

brent0098 karma

Yes this sounds right. The only time my Geiger counter went over 20 was when I deliberately went to the hotspot (which the guide suggested I do not do) and I ran up looked at the Geiger Counter, got two pics and at 38 I ran.... (I didn't take pics of me running like a girl from the hot spot... just me standing there like.. hey man... no understand..)

teleclem3 karma

How safe (in terms of security) was the whole tour? (Including the trip going there)

brent0096 karma

I would rate it as very safe. I have traveled a lot and this was well managed and not any sense of danger. No one was unprofessional and it is a small group with few people but all in all it felt just fine.

jungletek2 karma

Nice little AMA, I've been fascinated by the topic for a while.

Hate to be that guy, but it seems that you're misspelling the name of the town slightly -

brent0092 karma

Yeah I know. It was late. I suck.

Typomaster2 karma

Did you keep a Geiger counter with you? Any radiation poisoning symptoms on your tour?

brent0095 karma

I did have a Geiger counter and no I did not have any symptoms. Radiation is cumulative over a lifetime so I have perhaps 10-20 Xrays worth that day. (although standing on the marked hotspot may have increased that but I couldn't resist the photo op). But it was not so much I would see anything for years (I hope).

opibat2 karma

Did you have to take any iodine tablets before going entering the area?

brent0093 karma

I did not.

OriginalityIsDead2 karma

Did you encounter any fellow Stalkers?

Did you see any wildlife or strange vegetation and if so did they differ at all from animals/plants you've seen?

What sort of 'hoops' did you have to jump through to enter the exclusion zone?

Was it very populated with other tours or was your tour group the only ones around?

How high are the levels in the areas near the reactors? Like, would staying a night or two be risky, or are they safe enough that only long-term exposure would be an issue?

And seeing as you visited the Ghoul Mecca, this question has never been more relevant: would you rather fight one hundred irradiated duck-sized horses, or one massive mutated horse sized duck?

brent0092 karma

Hoops - just 3 check points and sign some wavers at each one. I guess they could have searched us and other crap but they didn't.

I think you can stay longer than a day and be OK. Its high enough to be dangerous but only with extended exposure. I wouldn't want to stand on that hot spot all day but I think the low level areas you could do a few weeks or month and call it fine.

As for the fight question I feel these deep philosophical questions are to profound to answer so simply. Would the massive horse sized duck splinter into a hundred duck sized horses after I defeated it? Would the ducks walk like a duck and quack like a duck? The endless possibilities defy an answer.

Personlady4342 karma

What did it look like in the houses?

brent0092 karma

Old and rotting. Unsafe to walk in most of them. Dust and random debris. Most stuff of value was looted at the fall of the Soviet union they said before they got it all secured.

RedFoxZERO2 karma

I've heard the nature is really beginning to take over the town. Is this true and does it make for a surreal experience?

Also, any mutant deer?

brent0094 karma

Yes nature is reclaiming the land. I didn't see any mutated animals although I was sort of hoping to. even bugs or something but there is a lack of wildlife in general.

DodgyBollocks2 karma

I have to admit I'm so jealous right now, visiting Pripyat and Chernobyl is at the very top of my bucket list. I've always had a fascination with it since I was fairly young and it just seems like such an incredibly and eerie place. Thank you for sharing your pictures!

What would you says was the most unexpected part of the actual visit? not including the terrifying bus ride over there of course.

What were you most looking forward to about your visit there?

How was the food in Ukraine?

brent0092 karma

Eastern European food is not my favorite but it's gut lumber. So my opinion may not be valid on the food. Its pretty salty and something you need to get used to I suspect. But it is by no means bad.

I was most looking forward to seeing the blown reactor, and it didn't disappoint. But I was most surprised at how vast the exclusion zone really is. It's a lot of land just marked 'do not disturb for next 20,000 years'.

LMEOD2 karma

Fascinating. Thanks for sharing! I've visited Belarus a number of times, working with disabled children, some of which directly resulted from the Chernobyl disaster. It's good to see that it's still a topic of interest all these years later. Just out of curiosity, what was the response to the Native Ukranians on your trip. Assuming you spoke to anyone with English (I know it's sometimes pretty tough to find English speakers!), what did they feel about your visit? Was there any hostility towards you/the tour company? Though I'd love to visit, I guess I just wonder how the natives feel about the place becoming a tourist attraction.

brent0095 karma

I had no issues with the Ukrainians. They are a practical people but very gracious. They were helpful, and I felt no hostility at all. I feel a little bad for them as they are caught between Russia and Europe now and their economy is kinda bad. But I spent as much as I could afford to help it out. :)

It does help to lean some basic Russian like "I don't speak Russian" and Where is <Fill in What you need>. And of course hello, thank you and good bye.

FYI Belarus got most of the fallout according to the maps I saw.

Aphilio1 karma

Would you say it would be easy to wander off to restricted areas or split from the group without them noticing?

brent0093 karma

Yes you could. But do you really want to? It's not like they are going to send the marines in to look for you if you fall through a floor. You could just end up seriously wishing you hadn't.

But yeah I could have walked off easy. I did a little but not just heading off all on my own.

Ann31 karma

I thought Chernobyl was closed for ever ?

brent0093 karma

The reactors are closed. But not the site.

venice_mcgangbang1 karma

is it still worth going or is quickly becoming a mass tourism spot (does the magic of the abomination and abandoned buildings still remain)?

brent0096 karma

No they had less than 10,000 people go all of last year. It is definitely just starting to be a known place to go. 10 years from now I suspect they will have rides on the Ferris Wheel and Mutant Mouse photo ops.

Not yet thought its as raw as it gets.

bencamp1 karma

How inconvenient was the movie, "Chernobyl Diaries"?

brent0093 karma

Well I redbox'ed it so it only inconvenienced me $1.20. Feel for the guys who paid $15 at the theater though...

Horsejacker221 karma

How hard is it to be able to visit Chernobyl if you're not Russian? Did you schedule this visit directly thought the Russian government or was this something handled through an agency? It'd be great if you could post any links too. Thanks for doing this, it's really interesting!

brent0098 karma

Chernobyl is not in Russia. It's in the Ukraine. If you google Ukraine Chernobyl trip you will find the approved tour operators. I assume each is as good as the next. I will look for the name of who I used and put it up.

Anyone who can go to Ukraine can take the tour. no limit on nationality.

Horsejacker224 karma

Thanks! Sorry I went full retard with the location. Still recovering from 4/20 here.

brent0092 karma


TheyCallMeXerok1 karma

Is your third arm already showing?

brent0091 karma

Not yet!