My name is Scott and I like to travel. There I said it, wow that does feel better. There is probably a program for my affliction somewhere. I am what I would consider a Normal Guy. I am a native Arizonan, sometimes we are called “Zonies”. I am in my mid 40′s and enjoy a great life. I am self employed and have a wonderful daughter and Partner. Although I would say my life is a fairly normal one, I am also quite lucky in that I have the ability to travel and enjoy the world, I enjoy learning about other cultures and experiencing the world around us.
I want to be right upfront about the type of travel I enjoy and the type I don’t. You will probably not ever read a story of about me backpacking my way through the serengeti during the height of summer, nor will you probably read any stories of me sleeping in the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton in Paris. I am not a budget traveler, nor am I an uber luxury traveler, I fall somewhere in the middle, where most people fall I believe.
I started this blog for the sole purpose of sharing my stories, my views and my excitement for traveling around this world with my friends, family. However it doesn’t stop there for me, I also wanted to make friends with others around the world, those who travel and those who dream of travel. Blogs and Websites evolve over time, mine will no doubt expand over time as well please come back and see what has taken place. However if you have come to my blog to schedule a flight or a hotel, this is not the place.
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Hot Vacation Travel Destinations
Lists, lists and more lists. That is the way of the travel writer, making a list of the best places to beach, best places to sleep, best places to hike, best places drink a beer while whistling. You know Top Whatever lists. Well I’m not usually one who puts together lists like that, I feel they’re all very subjective to begin with. So I have resisted putting my two cents in the on List Craze.
Today I present you with Travel with Scott’s Top 5 Hot Vacation Travel Destinations, ok with a twist. My Hot Vacation Destination list consists of those places that have had significant Nuclear Meltdowns. If that’s not HOT I don’t know what is. Why in the world are you making a list like that you ask? There are so many adventurous people out in the world that might find them interesting, creepy, scary, even sexy. RRRGGGGG. I am not one of them, but I must admit to wanting to visit the #1 location on my list. I have been thinking about this for some time, just recently I’ve found vacation packages for the #1 location on my list. So the question is do I go or don’t I?
Since the 1950’s there has been 27 nuclear accidents. The International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) is how accidents are rated in terms of their significance of danger. Ranges run from 0 or Deviation to 7 or Major Accident. As of today the world has witnessed two #7 Major Accidents, Chernobyl and Fukushima just last year. I know this list probably seems silly to most, but many of today’s Nuclear Facilities are located in some beautiful places and it would be horrible to see those places decimated to the point you can’t visit, and that is exactly what has happened to these two locations. That is until recently.
Please don’t misunderstand today’s post. I am not sharing my political position on whether Nuclear energy is good or not, just the facts that it exists and in many parts of the world people aren’t even aware of. In fact right in my own backyard, Arizona. We have the largest Nuclear Generating Station in the United States, it’s just West of Phoenix. And you would be surprised how many people living in Phoenix and the surrounding cities aren’t even aware of it.
Without further a-due on to my Top 5 Nuclear Disaster Vacation Destinations.
#5 ~ Tomsk, Russia
On April 6th, 1993 a pressure buildup led to an explosive mechanical failure in a 34 cubic meter stainless steel reaction vessel buried in a concrete bunker under building 201 of the radiochemical works at the Tomsk-7 Siberian Chemical Enterprise plutonium reprocessing facility. The vessel contained a mixture of concentrated nitric acid, uranium and plutonium along with a mixture of radioactive and organic waste from a prior extraction cycle. The explosion dislodged the concrete lid of the bunker and blew a large hole in the roof of the building. The small village of Georgievka (pop. 200) was at the end of the fallout plume, but no fatalities, illnesses or injuries were reported. The accident exposed 160 on-site workers and almost two thousand cleanup workers. But don’t this scare you away, Georgievka is well known for Hiking, Mountain Climbing and Skiing.
Tomsk has none of the historical pomp and circumstance of the two major tourist destinations, Moscow and St. Petersburg. For the traveler who hankers for something besides glittering churches and postcard-familiar scenery, Tomsk offers something more subdued. Wooden houses, like those out of a favorite Russian fairy tale, line the streets in various stages of repair or renovation. The many universities give the town a learned, serious atmosphere. Tomsk has a quiet dignity.
The best time to visit Tomsk is in the summer—June, July, or August. The sunny, warm days are perfect for taking walks in Lagerny Sad, the war memorial park that looks over the River Tom. The residential neighborhoods are full of points of interest, and the downtown area is great for shopping and eating. However, even on the rainy days you can find something to do. Not only is there a recently established art museum, but the Tomsk Regional Museum gives an in-depth look at how the peoples of Siberia once lived.
For those who want something special, it’s imperative to check out the KGB Memorial Museum. Located in the original Tomsk KGB headquarters, it is a reminder of the terror of the Communist years and the many labor and concentration camps that were set up in the Tomsk region. The holding cells for prisoners also contain their stories of survival; a rotating exhibit honors the art, literature, and lives of those who were brave enough to fight against and tell about their experiences at the hands of the KGB. The museum is the only one like it in the country.
#4 ~ Orlean’s, France
March 13th, 1980 A brief power excursion in Reactor A2 at the Dampierre Nuclear Power Plant led to a rupture of fuel bundles and a minor release of nuclear materials at the Saint-Laurent Nuclear Power Plant. The reactor was repaired and continued operation until its decommissioning in 1992. Orleans is a city in north-central France, about 81 miles southwest of Paris. It is the capital of the Loiret Department and of the Centre region. Orléans is located on the Loire River where the river curves south towards the Massif Central.
The capital of the Loire Valley, Orléans (ohr-lay-ahn) compensates for its lack of lewd nightclubs and youth culture with its phenomenal amount of history. Joan of Arc, aptly known as the “Maid of Orléans,” marched armies down these crooked cobbled streets when she liberated the city from a brutal seven-month English siege in 1429, a victory which rejuvenated French forces and contributed to their victory in the Hundred Years War. Medieval studies nerds eager to submerge themselves in all things pertaining to infected rats and feudal cat fights will find themselves completely at home here. The historic petit vieille ville and its tremendous Cathedral lie at the heart of Orléans, complete with the patisseries and boulangeries of any traditional French town. Though Orléans should definitely make an appearance on your Loire Valley itinerary, one or two days here should be just enough time.
#3 ~ Three Mile Island, United States
March 28, 1979 Equipment failures and worker mistakes contributed to a loss of coolant and a partial core meltdown at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station 9.3 mi southeast of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. While the reactor was extensively damaged, on-site radiation exposure was under 100 millirems (less than annual exposure due to natural sources). Area residents received a smaller exposure of 1 millirem, or about 1/3 the dose from eating a banana per day for one year. There were no fatalities. Follow-up radiological studies predict between zero and one long-term cancer fatality. It was the worst accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history, and resulted in the release of small amounts of radioactive gases and radioactive iodine into the environment.
Dauphin County was created on March 4, 1785, from part of Lancaster County and named for the Dauphin, the title of the eldest son of the French King. Harrisburg, the county seat, is named for its founder, John Harris. Harrisburg is the best of old and new where colonial buildings of the 1700’s are nestled between architectural wonders of today. As the center of state government Harrisburg is alive with history and educational buildings like the Capital Building, the State Museum and the Museum of Scientific Discoveries. Harrisburg boasts some of the best shopping in the region, including the innovative and truly unique Strawberry Square shopping gallery. Hershey is a unique community where fun is the order of the day. Few places offer so much to do. Children of all ages flock to Hershey Park. Other points of interest include Chocolate World, ZOOAMERICA, the fabulous Hershey Gardens, Founders Hall and the Milton S. Hershey School, Indian Echo Caverns, the Hershey Museum of American History and so much more.
#2 ~ Fukushima Daiichi Prefecture, Japan
March 11, 2011 After the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunmai of March 11, the emergency power supply of the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant failed. This was followed by deliberate releases of radioactive gas from reactors 1 and 2 to relieve pressure. On March 12, triggered by falling water levels, a hydrogen explosion occurred at reactor 1, resulting in the collapse of the concrete outer structure. Although the reactor containment itself was confirmed to be intact, the hourly radiation from the plant reached 1,015 microsievert – an amount equivalent to that allowable for ordinary people in one year. “Residents of the Fukushima area were advised to stay inside, close doors and windows, turn off air conditioning, and to cover their mouths with masks, towels or handkerchiefs as well as not to drink tap water. By the evening of March 12, the exclusion zone had been extended to approximately 12 mi around the plant and 70,000 to 80,000 people had been evacuated from homes in northern Japan. A second, nearly identical hydrogen explosion occurred in the reactor building for Unit 3 on March 14, with similar effects. A third explosion in the “pressure suppression room” of Unit 2 initially was said not to have breached the reactor’s inner steel containment vessel, but later reports indicated that the explosion damaged the steel containment structure of Unit 2 and much larger releases of radiation were expected than previously.
Disposed rods of reactor Unit 4 were stored outside the reactor in a separate pool which ran dry, yielding fire and risk of serious contamination.
Staff was brought down from 800 Fukushima, who have been named the “Fukushima 50” by the press. Events are still developing.
Fukushima is the third largest of Japan’s 47 prefectures and stretches over 150 kilometers from the Pacific coast into the mountainous interior of northeastern Honshu. The evacuation zone around the nuclear plant makes up less than 10% of its area, while the remaining 90% are safe for tourists to visit. Wide areas of western Fukushima, in particular, escaped heavy contamination, including the mountainous interior around the historic city of Aizu-Wakamatsu.
Reached in just over an hour by shinkansen from Tokyo, Fukushima offers ample of natural beauty, historic sites and leisure activities. To learn more about travel to this part of Japan it’s important to note the updated travel advisories from the Japanese Government. Click here to read the latest.
And the #1 Location for our Hot Travel Destinations is:
#1 ~ Chernobyl, USSR
April 26, 1986 actually located in Prypiat, Ukraine. An inadequate reactor safety system led to an uncontrolled power excursion, causing a severe steam explosion, meltdown and release of radioactive material at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant located approximately 100 kilometers north-northwest of Kiev. Approximately fifty fatalities (mostly cleanup personnel) resulted from the accident and the immediate aftermath. An additional nine fatal cases of thyroid cancer in children in the Chernobyl area have been attributed to the accident. The explosion and combustion of the graphite reactor core spread radioactive material over much of Europe. 100,000 people were evacuated from the areas immediately surrounding Chernobyl in addition to 300,000 from the areas of heavy fallout in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. An “Exclusion Zone” was created surrounding the site encompassing approximately 1,000 mi² (3,000 km²) and deemed off-limits for human habitation for an indefinite period. This disaster was a complete meltdown, the worst the World has witnessed.
Why is this my #1 location? Recently the town of Prypiat has been opened for tours and overnight stays. And what I find really fascinating is they have not disturbed the surroundings, they are exactly as they were on that fateful day in March 1986. No Internet, no cell phone ringtones to drown out the songs of the birds, no people wandering the streets and no one living in the town. It is a Ghost Town, the Ghost City of Chernobyl. Currently there is a rush a news around Chernobyl, partly because the town of Prypiat has been opened and partly because of a new Horror movie called Chernobyl Diaries.
How safe is it you ask?
Experts have said that radiation ‘hot spots’ are scattered throughout the zone, so any visitors are advised to follow guides extremely carefully. No breaking off from the group for a bit of independent exploration here and there. That said, the International Atomic Energy Agency maintains that although radioactive isotopes remain in the exclusion zone, they are at ‘tolerable exposure levels for limited periods of time.
Pripyat was home to 50,000 people, including workers from the nearby Chernobyl plant until its evacuation some 36 hours after the blast at the reactor. The Cities residents were told they would only be gone for a couple of days, they never returned. Today, the city’s streets lie overgrown, and schools, apartments and shops crumble under the twin onslaught of time and the elements. From forgotten toys in kindergartens to the ubiquitous, fading Soviet-era propaganda, a stroll through Pripyat feels very much like being on the set of a Hollywood post-apocalypse movie.
One of the most poignant sights awaiting visitors is the funfair, which was due to open just a few days before disaster struck. Its Ferris Wheel, which was never put into action, is now an unforgettable symbol of the catastrophe. If this is an adventure trip you would like to take, you can start with this company, SoloEast Travel to organize your tour.
Travel with scott is not suggesting these places are places everyone should go and see. This post is to highlight that even though disaster has struck these locations they endure and in some cases have become beautiful places to visit and see. At not time do I underestimate the disasters affect on people and their lives.