Trying to perform research about Chernobyl on a deeper level is not as easy as it might appear, especially not once you have been in the Zone.
Already before I left Sweden for Ukraine and Chernobyl, I experienced certain difficulties in finding the information and answers to my questions that I needed and required to add to the full picture. The first problem was finding out correct data about the average levels of radiation in different parts of the Zone. I had been told that the levels were "almost normal", but why should I believe that? I risked appearing like an anxious idiot, and still wonder how the request of correct information can be mistaken for such a thing. When finally finding some relatively up-to-date numbers, I could only sneer at the previous statement of "almost normal" readings.
I have learnt that some people tend to follow the trend of mistaking "not lethal" for "almost normal". A one time tourist joining in for a day-trip on a bus ride arranged by a Kiev hotel may get away with that kind of arrogance, but for those who feel the call to return more than once, greater measures of caution and respect are recommended to be taken. - The radiation isn't only in the air - it's everywhere.
When I finally entered the Zone, I pretty soon got to see for myself that the levels of radiation naturally vary, depending on where you are, but I also realized the danger of getting used to the numbers displayed on the geiger counter. Us Swedes are great with radiation, inventing measures for Roentgen, Sieverts and so on ,and living in Sweden, I also receive about 1000 - 4000 μSv/year. The average dose for a person living in Australia or the U.S is between 1500 - 3000 μSv a year. Compare this with the geiger counter giving you readings of 2, 5 or 14 μSv/hour, you may realize it's not lethal, but it's far from healthy in the long run. The point is that there are no constant numbers, and you should watch out where you're going, rather than believe the numbers someone have published, or for that matter get blinded by the geiger counter, because you will get used to it. Stay aware.
During the expedition, I lost count of how many times I faced contraditions to what I thought I knew by asking "But I thought/heard that..." -The official statements are for the public and for the journalists to provide to the public, but in the Zone, you get to see another view of it all; that's it's by far not so much under control as the public statements want you to believe, and when understanding that the 90 percents of the iceberg are there, you quickly realize that you can only imagine 10 percents of it all.
"Ukraine has finally received enough money to proceed working on the New Safe Confinement (NSC)"
"They keep running into problems. Whilst working, they can suddenly run into heavily radioactive obstacles, and how to remove it raise new problems."
"Moving the NSC into place will cause vibrations that will stir up radioactive dust. In itself it's a hazard."
Then what to believe? -We're facing a problem larger than most people imagine, and the controversies outside, contra inside the Zone, doesn't make anything easier: Whilst some are optimistic about the NSC, believing that during the 100 years it's supposed to last, we will have developed the technology to get rid of the radioactive dust of the Sarcophagus, constantly acumulating, into safe storage, others are against the disassemblance of the broken chimney of Reactor 4, as it in their opinion would destroy the monument of the disaster.
The above mentioned are more or less public matters. Let's move in closer to the Zone. Let's go past Reactor 4 and into Pripyat and its surroundings. Let's re-enter the Jupiter factory, where they once produced tape recorders, and other electronic gear.
When entering the Jupiter factory, I was told it was perfectly safe, but only a few weeks after I had returned to Sweden I was warned about this place:
"Do not go into those places without wearing at least a respiratory mask."
We have only pieces of information contradicting each other all the time, and that's a reason good enough for anyone interested enough to go there and see with own eyes rather than believe what other people say. Everyone have a different view on this, and focus on different things, but the only way to find out, is to find out by yourselves. I want the entire truth, but still - dont believe everything you read here, because I might be wrong.
Concerning the Zone only one thing is certain - radiation..