Slavutych is situated on the left bank of the Dnieper River, 40 kilometers from Chernihiv, 45 kilometers from the city of Pripyat, 50 kilometers from Chernobyl (both in Ivankiv Raion) and 200 kilometers from Kiev. It lies outside of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, but is included on this site because it is a hugely important city in the Chernobyl story. The city was built in 1986 shortly after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, to provide homes for those who had worked at the Nuclear power plant, and who'd previously lived in the now abandoned city of Pripyat. The economic and social situation of the city is still heavily influenced by the power plant and other Chernobyl zone installations. Many of the residents still work in the energy industry in the region.
Slavutych is located about 50 kilometers east of the former plant. The site had to be a reasonable distance away from the Chernobyl zone to ensure the risk of radiation-related illnesses was reduced. However, other factors that contributed to the choosing of the site was the availability of a nearby ready railroad infrastructure, and an accessible water supply from the nearby Dnieper River. In order to build the city, the ground was covered with a two-meter layer of uncontaminated soil.
Slavutych under construction
From the start, Slavutych was planned to become a "21st-century city". During the construction of the city, workers and architects from eight former soviet republics became involved: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonian, Georgian, Latvia, Lithuanian, Russia and Ukraine. As a result, the city is divided into eight districts named after the capitals of the contributing republics. Around 80% of housing in the city is formed by apartments while the other 20% is formed by small, family houses. The city has a uniquely high birth rate as well as surprisingly low mortality. As a result, the average age in Slavutych is by far the lowest of any city in Ukraine. More than one third of its inhabitants are under 18.
The infrastructure and public facilities of the city are mostly paid by the company which operated the Chernobyl nuclear plant. Because the remaining units of the nuclear power plant were shut down in 2001, the city would face significant social problems and an uncertain future. Until 2001, approximately 9,000 people worked at the plant. Since the shutdown, this number has dropped to 3,000, most of them working on monitoring and maintenance. 85% of the city budget was funded by the operator of the plant. In order to support the settlement and establishment of new companies, Slavutych was declared a Special Economic Zone. In addition, substantial vocational retraining programs are provided by the government to improve the occupational outlook of those who lost jobs. Despite these efforts, about 1,500 people have already left the city, a trend which is predicted to continue for the foreseeable future.