Take Two

A weekly look at Southern California life, news, arts and culture, and more. Hosted by Alex Cohen & A Martínez

Picture This: Documenting life after a nuclear disaster

by Take Two

The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident. Forster Rothbart shot this inside Control Room Four, where technicians lost control of the reactor that eventually expelled radioactive particles into the atmosphere and eventually around the world. Michael Forster Rothbart

They're two major disasters at nuclear power plants that happened 25 years apart. In 1986, an explosion and fire at the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine sent huge amounts of radioactive material into the air. And in 2011, an earthquake off the eastern coast of Japan led to a series of events culminating in a nuclear meltdown at the power plant in Fukushima.

Check out more photos from Forster Rothbart's series on KPCC's AudioVision.

Both are the only two major nuclear accidents in history, and you'd think the area around the plants would be decimated. But travel around, and you'll see that life has gone on for many Ukrainians and Japanese who decided to stay nearby.

It brings up a question you may have wondered: "If my home, my community were victim to a major disaster, would I leave, too? Would I stay?"

That idea is the subject of a new ebook by photographer Michael Forster Rothbart called, "Would You Stay?" documenting his time with the people living so close to where disasters struck.

"It's so hard for us to think about in this country because we're so transient, moving from year to year," said Forster Rothbart, "But in a place like Ukraine and Japan, people have lived in the same village for generations -- sometimes the same house. How can you even imagine uprooting when your ancestors are there with you?"

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