British researcher Darmon Richter has completed a series of journeys into the Exclusion Zone of Chernobyl. Captured through the book Chernobyl: A Stalkers’ Guide, Richter's documentation explores an area the size of a small country, and in turn, ventures deeper than any previously published account. Through a series of photographs, his work reveals forgotten ghost towns and monuments lost deep in irradiated forests.
Located north of Kiev, Chernobyl is the site of the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history. Previously known as the V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Plant, it was constructed between 1970 and 1977. Shortly after the nuclear disaster in 1986, the nearby town of Pripyat was evacuated and the Exclusion Zone set up to ensure no one entered in the areas of high radiation. Though the radiation levels gradually decreased, the power plant and Exclusion Zone surrounding it were largely off-limits for human inhabitants.
Decades later, the zone eventually opened for short tourist excursions, allowing visitors to experience the ghost town of Pripyat and see the site first hand. To date, the rebuilding efforts within and around Chernobyl have focused on both environmental recovery and redevelopment of the area. In an effort to shield the damaged nuclear reactor, the world’s largest movable metal structure was built back in 2016, known as the New Safe Confinement.
Richter captured the forests of Chernobyl, historic village settlements and evacuated regions in both Ukraine and Belarus. He combined photographs of discoveries made during his visits to the Zone with the experiences of those who witnessed its history – engineers, scientists, police and evacuees. In turn, he also gained access inside some the most secure areas of the power plant itself at the heart of the 30-kilometer ring that surrounds the nuclear site.