Visit Sunny Chernobyl

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Visit Sunny Chernobyl 01 271And Other Adventures in the World’s Most Polluted Places is the subtitle for Andrew Blackwell’s worldwide jaunt around a collection of destinations not on most people’s next vacation wish list. Although curiously sunny Chernobyl seems to be becoming a favourite for dark lands tourists. I’ve recently read Dom Joly’s The Dark Tourist, although Andrew seems to have rather more fun in Chernobyl than Dom. His travels also took him to:

• The oil sands of Fort McMurray in northern Canada, don’t land on those lakes if you’re a duck.

• To Port Arthur where the Texas oil story was born and where, amazingly, they’re still drilling for oil to this day.


• The Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch where all that plastic debris is supposed to circle around in a never ending death spiral. Trouble is he doesn’t find much of it, but it’s quite a search. Moby Duck, a Pacific quest for escaped bath toys, also went in search of the Pacific plastic garbage circuit and in 1998 I visited Ducie Island which has a reputation for collecting Pacific debris. Ducie is a very remote island, part of the Pitcairn group, and there was indeed a surprising amount of interesting material on the beach – particularly fishing net floats and Suntory Whisky bottles.

Visit Sunny Chernobyl 02 271• Soymageddon takes him in search of the damage caused to the Amazon jungle by soy farmers, where he discovers there are worse villains, like cattle ranchers.

• Then there’s a double visit to China, tracking down computer equipment recycling (a dirty business) in Guiyu near Hong Kong and then a visit to Linfen in Shanxi Province, possibly the most polluted place on earth thanks to coal mining. Although in fact it’s just potentially one of the most polluted places on earth, there are other strong contenders.

• Finally he’s off to India for a little trek along the Yamuna River which flows through New Delhi and past the Taj Mahal in Agra. Or at least it flows at certain times of year, when there’s enough water. At other times it’s only the sewage input that flows.