Chernobyl Radiation Visualization in Google Earth

Last week, our friend Valery Hronusov from Russia’s Academy of Science in Perm, Russia (aka Valery35 at the Google Earth Community) posted a series of Google Earth files to illustrate radiation quantities at the Chernobyl site. Chernobyl (located in Pripyat, Ukraine) was the site of the worst nuclear power disaster in history and occurred 20 years ago on April 26, 1986 (see Wikipedia story). It turns out Google Earth now has a high resolution photo for the Chernobyl disaster (not sure when that got added).
You can visit Chernobyl and see Valery’s visualizations below. There are more examples in his post. Valery used a GIS tool he has helped develop called KMLer.

By the way, you would think the site of the worst nuclear disaster would be empty of life. But, in fact people work nearby there today. And animals have seen a startling comeback (in the absense of a lot of people living near the site). And trees have overtaken the nearby building northwest of the site. Read this BBC story about it.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was released. He worked in 3D graphics for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank left in 2009 to circumnavigate the earth by sailboat as part of the Tahina Expedition.



Comments

  1. Here’s a website devoted to the author’s motorcycle rides through and explorations of Chernobyl: http://www.kiddofspeed.com/

  2. Roger Driver says:

    Regarding the statement: “By the way, you would think the site of the worst nuclear disaster would be empty of life. But, in fact people work nearby there today”
    This is true, but depends what is understood by ‘nearby’ – if you exclude workers still trying to make the site safe.
    National Geographic did an interesting feature in their April 2006 issue, including a map of the exclusion zone – there’s a gate and guard house house 18 miles from the reactor apparently!
    Have a look at http://www.ngm.com/0604 for the story and pictures

  3. This is a devastating catastrophe…I must ask is the Russian government helping clean up efforts? And is their any fund raisers active to raise money for the re-encasement of the reactor?

  4. execuse me, but what you’d like to tell us, by setting this picture next to the text? Do you mean that the Chernobyl 2, is the most radioactive (sorry, I dont know english very well) bulding in this city? I see on this picture, that the central part of the launcher of rockets (chernobyl 2) is more radioactive than outside parts. Is that possible?

  5. Ben wrote: “This is a devastating catastrophe…I must ask is the Russian government helping clean up efforts? And is their any fund raisers active to raise money for the re-encasement of the reactor?”
    As I know, there is not any found risers to active to rise money for the re-encasement of the reactor. People who are ill cause of the disaster (e.g. they have radiation illnes) recive little money. More over russia (as the russia) don’t want send any support. They cut away from this problem and don’t do anything in this case. The Ukraine is too poor country for expense like that. Only what I know, is that the EU send some money for minimalize the radiation from Chernobyl, but now it’s needed more money cause the sarcophagus arround the power plant is too old and is deteriorating (going to destruction).
    Sorry for my english :)

  6. Christopher James Bingham says:

    This is actually a question, dosn’t radiation take about 20 to 30 years to return to backround level, and will Chernobyl ever be colonised (for lack of a better word)?

  7. Takes much much longer, even with the casing surround the reactor the levels are deadly even after a few minutes near the site. i dont think anyone will ever re-colonize the area. Considering cities like this are scattered all over Ukraine and havnt had such issues…. i dont think it will ever happen.

  8. Radiation Takes About 100,000 Years

  9. Radiation doesn’t necessarily take 100,000 years. It depends on what the radioactive element was and its half life. Plutonium 239 has a half life of 24,100 years and strontium 90 has a half life of 28.90 years.
    As to the question of why Russia is not helping out. Russia was just another state in the Soviet Union, like Ukraine or Georgia were. How can you hold a collapsed empire accountable for the disaster? The USSR was almost completely bankrupt by the time the accident occurred.

  10. Well… It’s happened again and this time it’s called Fukushima Japan. Unfortunately it’s worse than Chernobyl or Mayak. We here in the U.S. are getting the fallout daily. Main stream media isn’t reporting on it. Obama lied about it. I can’t think of anything worse than fissioning atoms and the waste it creates. This rubbish needs to stop.

  11. ReVeLaTeD says:

    Just to interject on stopnp.
    Fukushima was a drop in the bucket compared to Chernobyl. A fraction of the radioactive material was released, partially because they had a containment chamber in place where Chernobyl did not.
    If Fukushima were anywhere close to Chernobyl in terms of impact, half the West Coast would be dead or dying right now.

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