The Claw sits alone in a dead pocket of a forest on the outskirts of Pripyat, where it was abandoned in the aftermath of the clean-up efforts following the 1986 disaster.

Workers, unsure of where to leave the highly radioactive claw, dumped the frightening piece of machinery in the depths of the forest, far from the beaten track, in the hope nobody would ever find it — it was simply deemed too dangerous to leave anywhere else.

But while the Claw isn’t easy to find, a handful of official guides know where it’s located. Even so, very few tourists request permission from Ukrainian officials to get close to the highly contaminated claw.

It’s now become a creepy relic of the tragedy that happened 33 years ago. Yet, like almost everything about Chernobyl, even a discarded piece of radioactive machinery is still capable of stirring up feelings of both horror and morbid fascination.

Tourism to Chernobyl has skyrocketed in the wake of the HBO TV series Chernobyl, but the question remains: Would you be content to stick with the official exclusion zone tour, or would you go out of your way to visit the Claw?

Here’s what happened when our Chernobyl expert Robert Maxwell got as close as you can get to the most dangerous thing in the zone.


The Claw is a large piece of crane machinery that was used in the weeks after the Chernobyl disaster of April 26, 1986 to help clean up the radioactive graphite and material that exploded out of reactor four and onto the neighbouring roofs of the power plant.

When it was no longer useful, the Claw was removed from the crane and dumped deep in a forest where it was hoped nobody would find it.

But, of course, they did.

The Claw was used to dismantle the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and other radioactive areas. It is still so irradiated that, 30 years on, touching it could prove lethal. Photo / Supplied

Sydney archaeologist Robert Maxwell, who is the only archaeologist in the world who has worked at Chernobyl during two field excursions, told the work of the Claw was critical.

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