Category: nuclear tourism


35 Years since Chernobyl

On this day, 35 years ago, in the early hours of 26 April 1986, the Chernobyl disaster began. The story of that disaster, the technical details and the people involved, all that has been recounted numerous times in various places, including on my website (see Chernobyl, and ChNPP), and more recently this book (my review). For this post I decided to instead give you a photo essay and tell my personal story in relation to Chernobyl, gathered over the three tours to the Zone that

New Year, new poll, and a little-known nuclear accident

Today is also the 60th anniversary of a nuclear accident that is rarely noted, yet it was the only reactor accident in the USA that directly caused fatalities. (There had been earlier accidents at the Los Alamos laboratories, including ones with fatalities as a result of lethal radiation doses, as well as accidents at other reactors where radiation was released, but without killing anybody outright).

The incident in question happened on 3 January 1961 at a reactor testing station in

Two apologies and one recommendation

There’s an interesting film out about the so-called “stalkers” of Chernobyl, i.e. those people going there not by the usual tourist route, with a guide and a permit, but who enter the Exclusion Zone independently and illegally. The above photo was taken by one of them (Thierry Vanhuysse) and is part of a press package of the film company, which is where I took it from.
Apparently there’s quite a large scene of Chernobyl stalkers. I know one personally, who also told me that this film is a bit unrepresentative in so far as it only features a certain subtype of stalkers. The majority of stalkers, so I was told, follow an ethos of not banging on about their stalking exploits on blogs or social media, whereas


On this day, 75 years ago, on 16 July 1945, the first atomic bomb explosion was set off in what was called the “Trinity” test in the desert near Alamogordo, New Mexico, USA. The image above is a historic photo of the mushroom cloud that formed shortly after the detonation. The whole event was meticulously documented, including by means of super-high-speed cameras. Here’s another example; it shows

The Nuclear Landscapes of the Polygon, Kazakhstan

A few years ago I had an extended exchange with a guy in Canada who did an intriguing project about the Polygon/Semipalatinsk Test Site (STS) in Kazakhstan, the place where the Soviet Union carried out the majority of its nuclear tests. The project was part of a master’s thesis in Landscape Architecture, at the University of Toronto, and proposed a number of structural “interventions” at the site, so a kind of commodification for visitors. It was envisioned that