A claw believed to be used in the Chernobyl clean-up process is so radioactive ‘one touch would kill’ anyone coming into contact with it.
The Claw of Chernobyl is a large piece of machinery which was used to pick up extremely radioactive graphite from the power station’s destroyed core in 1986.
In the aftermath of the clean-up mission, the Claw was deemed too dangerous to be disposed of, and so it was abandoned in the depths of a forest on the outskirts of Pripyat in the hope that nobody would ever find it.
Its location is known to a select few people though, with a handful of official guides knowing where the Claw currently sits. Regardless, very few tourists request permission from Ukrainian officials to get close to it.
Chernobyl expert Robert Maxwell, the only archaeologist in the world to work at Chernobyl during two field excursions, told News.com.au he visited the Claw and even put his hand right next to it to get a radiation reading – something he doesn’t recommend anyone else does.
The archaeologist explained:
There are many things in the zone today for which contact for any prolonged period will definitely kill you, and the Claw is definitely the most dangerous of all because it’s not roped off or inaccessible like other hazards. It’s essentially just sitting in a forest clearing for the rest of time. It’s severely, potently lethal.
I put my hand inside it because I wanted to get a reading with the Geiger counter. Was I worried? Yes, but I was worried the whole time. The guide kept saying to me, ‘Do not touch it, do NOT touch it!’ So I just put my hand in very quickly and took it out again.
The Claw isn’t the only abandoned piece of machinery sitting in the exclusion zone; a graveyard of vehicles covers a large area outside of Pripyat, with tourists being able to get access to the area depending on what Ukrainian officials think is appropriate at the time.
The graveyard is full of the vehicles used in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, including cars and aircraft, which are now so radioactive they cannot be touched – just like the Chernobyl Claw.
Such abandoned relics continue to sit in the exclusion zone untouched, attracting the occasional visitor out of morbid fascination.
Let’s just hope everyone heeds Maxwell’s advice to avoid touching the machinery.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).