The Slow (And Eerily Beautiful) Decay of Chernobyl

Thursday August 08, 2019 Written by James

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If you’ve been following the fallout from HBO’s latest hit series, Chernobyl, these shots might be right up your alley.

Scottish-born Canadian photographer David McMillan has made 21 trips to Chernobyl over the last 25 years, shooting inside the Exclusion Zone (AKA the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Zone Of Alienation).

When he started, there was hardly anyone there – just himself and some HAZMAT-wearing Russian scientists, poking around with Geiger counters. But over time, McMillan got to watch Chernobyl change. First as nature reclaimed the town of Pripyat, and then as a bona fide tourist attraction. He’s documented the process in his new book, Growth and Decay: Pripyat and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

The Exclusion Zone ironically now draws about 100,000 Dark Tourism junkies each year (‘Inclusion Zone’ might be more appropriate), and that number is set to boom, thanks to HBO’s dramatic efforts. Is that radiation’s luminous silver lining? Or just modern-day voyeurism? McMillan doesn’t know – he’s just there to watch it happen. 

Get your copy of Chernobyl photographic history over here. Or you check out McMillan’s pics on his website.

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