Environment: Man with A Mission

Just hours after the Chernobyl accident, a pilot friend asked Igor Kostin if he wanted to fly over the nuclear plant. "I agreed, of course," recalls Kostin, 53. "I wanted to prove that I was a man." He also proved he was a good journalist by becoming the first photographer on the scene. "There was still smoke coming out of the reactor," he says, "but I managed to get a few shots off. You could actually feel the silence. It was like a cemetery."

Since then, Kostin has returned to the reactor site six times and has traveled extensively through the...

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