I am not sure why I keep returning to this place. We walk around the deserted village. Stray dogs are following us, but we don’t mind.  This is our fifth visit to the exclusion zone in 6 years. Every year we organize a study trip for radiation protection experts and CBRN experts and we try to show them what happened and why it did happen. We follow our guide around the abandoned buildings. We visit the docks, where we find some hot spots near the harbor house and on the lake we see the wrecks of ships in the distance. After visiting the town square and the swimming pool,  we drive to the reactor building. On our way, we pass reactors 5 and 6, which were under construction at the time of the incident. In the reactor we visit the control room, the turbine hall and several other places. Our dosimeters keep beeping.  We are not worried, as we are all radiation protection experts. We are however fascinated, walking through the catacombs of the world’s most famous reactor. In a way we feel like dark tourists, visiting a place where a terrible tragedy took place. On the other hand, we feel like fanatics, who want to know as much as possible about the disaster and the consequences.

In 2003, I started working in the field of nuclear safety when I became a radiation protection expert for the fire department of Mid-West Brabant in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands we have a few nuclear reactors for scientific purposes and only one for nuclear energy. South of the Netherlands, there are 4 reactors in Doel, Belgium.  When the wind comes from the South West, The Netherlands could receive the possible plume from a reactor incident at one of those reactors. That is the reason why our fire department wanted to have a trained radiation protection expert. Over the years nothing really bad happened, and I did my retraining during several exercises and visited some courses abroad in Belgium (SCK) and Vienna (IAEA).

Read the full case study on NCT Magazine.