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Pole to Pole

Day 35: Kiev to Narodichi to Kiev

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleToday we are going close to Chernobyl to visit towns and villages that have been, or are about to be, evacuated as a result of the disaster. We shall not be entering the thirty-mile exclusion zone but will be in contaminated areas and Volodya, Irena and the rest of our Russian team will not be coming with us. Mirabel too has decided not to risk it. Roger has been in contact with the National Radiological Protection Board at Harwell, whose advice offered mixed comfort. They said radiation levels would be the same, if not less, than at the Poles, with their concentration of magnetic forces. However, the knowledge that there is still confusion and debate over the effects of the disaster, and the advice from scientists that we wear shoes and clothing we could throw away afterwards, add a frisson of danger to the journey and there is some nervous joking over the slivers of cheese at breakfast.

We head north and west from Kiev, making for the town of Narodichi. It's forty-two miles due west of Chernobyl, two of whose reactors, Vadim reminds us, are still operational. The Ukrainian Parliament has voted unanimously to close them down. The Soviet government has refused. The Ukrainians claim that 8000 died as a result of the accident. The official Soviet figure is thirty-two.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 35
  • Country/sea: USSR
  • Place: Narodichi
  • Book page no: 77

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