You are welcome to apply for excursions. When the war is over and it is safe to visit the Chernobyl Zone, we will contact you.

Is Chernobyl Still Radioactive?

Since the disaster in 1986, Chernobyl has been known around the world as a radioactive hot spot. Even today, almost 40 years later, radioactivity within the Exclusion Zone is dangerous. From apocalyptic films to horror novels, this radioactive area has been an incredible source of inspiration… and fear.

But exactly how radioactive is Chernobyl? Is it really dangerous? And when will it be safe to live here? This article explains how radioactivity occurs in the area and how it will change.

Chernobyl Abandoned Port 2

Radioactivity at Chernobyl

chernobyl claw

The radioactive fallout, spread by the explosion and subsequent fire at Reactor Number 4, reaches a radius of 30km (19 miles) which is known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Radionuclides including isotopes of iodine, cesium, and strontium are the primary elements spread around the Zone that prevent it from being inhabited.

The dangers of radiation exposure are not to be taken lightly. Although it won’t trigger the grotesque mutations that sci-fi imagines, high doses of radiation can cause:

  • Nausea and vomiting,
  • Skin redness and radiation burns,
  • Damage at a cellular level, leading to cancer,
  • Organ failure and even death.

As time goes by and each radioactive element reaches its half-life, the dangers of radiation exposure reduce. Nonetheless, it has been estimated that it could be at least 3,000 years before the Zone is safe to be inhabited, with some scientists calculating that parts won’t be completely safe until the year 102014.

Is Chernobyl Still Dangerous?

With so much radiation that’s estimated to last up to a millennium, you may be wondering is Chernobyl safe now? The answer is yes, parts are safe. The nuclear fallout was not spread equally across the Zone, and as a result, you will find areas very radioactive areas and less radioactive areas.

Approximately 60% of the Exclusion Zone could be suitable for habitation in 60 years’ time. The remaining 40% will never be lived in again. But that hasn’t stopped wildlife from living in the area. In fact, without human interference, many native species including animals and plant life have thrived in the clean air and quiet environment.

When Will Chernobyl Be Safe?

Pripyat Ukraine

Over the last 30 years, total radioactive exposure has decreased 10,000 times. This is partly thanks to the 100,000 people who helped to enclose Reactor Number 4 and suffered the radioactive effects as a result. In those first years, workers around the damaged reactor received a radiation dose of 25 roentgens. Monuments within the Zone commemorate their heroic efforts.

To answer the question ‘will Chernobyl ever be safe?’, the answer is yes for short trips and a definitive no for permanent residence. A better question would be ‘why would you want to live here?’

Approximately 70% of the Exclusion Zone is forest, with the remaining 30% being agricultural land that has been reclaimed by nature over the past 30 years. In general, the area north of Kyiv is unsuitable for agriculture and is 6x less populated than other regions in Ukraine. This is why the area was initially chosen for the Nuclear Power Plant! Even if you magically removed all the radiation from the Zone, it makes no economic sense to reinhabit the area. Today, in order to repopulate these lands, significant funds would have to be spent on research. Therefore, the decision was made to abandon this idea in favor of a project to establish a special reserve and conduct scientific research on the impact of radiation on various species.

Future Plans for The Zone

Rather than reinhabit as parts of the Zone become safer, it has been proposed that a special nature reserve be created instead. This would allow scientists to observe the incredible number of species currently occupying the radioactive area.

Other proposals have suggested that wind turbines and solar panels could be installed in the highly radioactive areas of the Zone. Plans to plant fast-growing tree varieties as fuel and construct solid fuel burners have also been considered.

Can You Visit Chernobyl?

Today, it is safe to visit Chernobyl. In fact, the Nuclear Power Plant employs a number of workers to operate in shifts, allowing work without prolonged exposure to radiation. Importantly, only short and pre-authorized trips into the radioactive Zone are allowed.

During the Battle of Chernobyl in 2022, Russian forces received significant doses of radiation by excavating and disturbing the ground. But for the average tourist or NPP worker, the risk of serious injury due to radiation is extremely low.

Although visiting the Exclusion Zone in Belarus is strictly forbidden (except on Radunitsa, when family members can visit relatives buried within the Zone), you can visit the Zone in Ukraine as a tourist. Tours are not only very popular, but also a great way to observe a piece of history and admire how nature has thrived. Chernobyl tours are expected to resume after the war.


Is Chernobyl still radioactive in 2023?

Yes, although the fallout landed unequally across the area, Chernobyl is still radioactive.

How long will Chernobyl stay radioactive?

Scientific estimates suggest some radioactive areas may be habitable within 30-60 years, while heavily contaminated areas will stay radioactive for over a millennium.

Can you live in Chernobyl now?

No. Besides 158 self-employed people currently living within the Zone, permanent residence is banned.

How much of Chernobyl is still radioactive?

Over 1,000 square miles around Chernobyl is radioactive, with pockets of high and low radiation throughout. This area is known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Why is Chernobyl still radioactive and Hiroshima is not?

The bomb dropped at Hiroshima contained far less fuel (a few pounds rather than the hundreds of tons at Chernobyl) and the half-lives of the radionuclides were much shorter. The radioactive effect of Hiroshima was intense but short-lived.


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