The zone of alienation: thirty years on and counting...

On April 26, 1986, reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant sent a plume of radioactive material into the atmosphere, fatally contaminating nearby lands of Ukraine, Belarus, and the Russian Federation. The resulting fire lasted 10 days, releasing as much radiation as 400 Hiroshima bombs. Radioactive fallout threatened most of Europe, leaving all at the mercy of winds that will decide which direction to carry radioactive clouds. The disaster was the worst nuclear power plant accident in history in terms of casualties and total cost.

Today, an area originally extending 30 kilometers in all directions from the plant is officially called the "zone of alienation". It is largely uninhabited and has for the most part been overrun by forest and wildlife as nature takes its toll. The roads are overgrown with trees and grass, and the concrete buildings are crumbling. Entering the zone can prove fatal if strict rules are not followed. The land is dotted with hot spots and Geiger counters intermittently give alarms for an invisible enemy in random pockets where radioactive material has accumulated.