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Found 39 results

  1. Ukrane Chernobyl, October 2013

    Following on from my Pripyat post, one of the other places on the mini tour was a visit to the Chernobyl power plant. I must admit that this was an extra, and to this day I am not sure that it was a good thing. But go I did. Outside the entrance to the power plant is the memorial to the Liquidators. These were the people who took on the job of "cleaning up" after the nuclear explosion. Interestingly a number of studies indicate that there is no increase in incidents of cancer among the Liquidators. The cynic in me wonders if the government that only allowed the world to know of the explosion after it was obvious to do the massively high radio active readings in Scandinavia, would allow a report which indicated more casualties were the result of the accident? In the background is the sarcophagus which is the structure that "contains" the nuclear core of Reactor 4. The sarcophagus is corroding, far quicker than the scientists thought, and should it breakdown completely, the reactor core would be exposed. In order to prevent this from happening, a new structure is being constructed to encase the reactor. Known as the "New Safe Confinement", the NSC is an incredible structure. I watched a short video on how it was constructed. The dome was assembled first, and then lifted so that the remainder of the arch could be raised in to place. The idea is that the completed arch could be slid over the top of the reactor building. This could only be done once the chimney was removed. Seen in the image below on the left - the chimney has now been removed. I learned on my return from Chernobyl that the removal started the day I returned to the UK. More by luck than any sort of judgement, I had seen, in a manner of speaking, how the reactor would have looked before that fateful day in 1986. As part of the visit to the power plant, we had a talk / presentation on the disaster, the explosion and how that affected the structure of the reactor. After this, we went to one of the control rooms - similar in design to the one that the operators looking after Reactor 4 would have worked in. The processes and procedures governing the operation of the nuclear power plant were so important that only the president could sanction a change in them. However, people will find a way of doing things more quickly, maybe skipping out a step or two here and there. Over the years, and without incident, the strict procedures were not all followed. On the fateful night, there was an experiment. It went horribly wrong. A power surge occurred and when the operators attempted to shut the reactor down, a larger power spike occurred. This cause a series of explosions resulting in the reactor being exposed to the air - the fire that raged sent radioactive particles in to the atmosphere. As the group walked through various corridors, we passed this large red door. I asked our guide what was behind the door. Reactor 4 I was told. I thought he was joking. I mean, why would anyone want to go anywhere near Reactor 4. The reactor that was at the centre of the world's biggest nuclear disaster. I later learned that it was no joke, that is what lurked behind the red door. At the end of the corridor was a memorial to the first person who died as as result of the nuclear disaster. Valery Ilyich Khodemchuk was stationed in the southern main circulating pumps engine room, likely killed immediately; his body never found, buried under the wreckage of the steam separator drums. Valery was posthumously awarded the Order "For Courage" of third degree. As we gathered near the memorial, the air was filled with the sound of our radiation detectors. With so many going off, warning of the levels of radiation, the sound was eerie, scary and hypnotic all at the same time. We were asked to turn them off, so that we could have a 2 minutes silence in memory of those who died. A few seconds after turning off the radiation detectors, the realisation that we were standing very close to the centre of the world's biggest nuclear disaster slowly seeped in. Almost without saying anything we started to move away and walk back down the corridor we had walked along to get to this point. Once outside, we visited a memorial to all those who had died in the explosion. There are no official figures for the number of deaths that could be attributed to the disaster. I am not referring to those that may have contracted cancer of some description as a result of the exposure to radiation, that number will never be known. Rather the workers, both military and civilian who worked around the power plant to contain and make the area... safer. There are 28, I think, official deaths as a result of the explosion. The statue of Prometheus is part of that memorial. It was originally located in Pripyat, and was moved to this spot after the disaster. Hopefully I haven't offended anyone with my, sometimes scathing report, thank you for viewing
  2. The Chernobyl disaster was a catastrophic nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. An explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, which spread over much of the western USSR and Europe. It was the worst nuclear power plant accident in history in terms of cost and casualties, and is one of only two classified as a level 7 event (the maximum classification) on the International Nuclear Event Scale (the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011). Kopachi was a small village near Chernobyl, it was entirely torn down as it was heavily contaminated, only the kindergarten - which was too solid to tear down quickly - remained..... Thanks for looking
  3. Pripyat is a ghost town in northern Ukraine, near the border with Belarus. Named after the nearby Pripyat River, Pripyat was founded on 4 February 1970, the ninth nuclear city in the Soviet Union, for the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. It was officially proclaimed a city in 1979, and had grown to a population of 49,360 before being evacuated a few days after the 26 April 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Though Pripyat is located within the administrative district of Ivankiv Raion, the abandoned city now has a special status within the larger Kiev Oblast (province), being administered directly from Kiev. Pripyat is also supervised by Ukraine's Ministry of Emergencies, which manages activities for the entire Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. We took a look around in some of the apartment blocks, there were some random bits of furniture here and there but mostly empty flats rotting away. The real highlight was the view from the rooftops overlooking the silent town of Pripyat with the Chernobyl power plant in the background. It's a spectacle that you will never forget, a town once home to 50,000 people now overgrown with trees and nothing but the whistling of the wind to break the silence. Well, with the exception of us burping, farting, laughing and swearing for three days Took these pictures from two different rooftops. Saw a few of these paintings dotted around Trashed flat with bits of furniture Piano in a flat The hospital with the sarcophagus covering reactor 4 in the background More artwork The ferris wheel in the distance One of the tallest buildings in Pripyat, it was from here that people watched the multicoloured plume of burning blue, yellow and green fire from the reactor light up the night sky, unaware they were receiving a potentially lethal dose of radiation. Power plant covered with a sarcophagus to contain the mess Throughout Eastern Europe symbols of the Soviet Union have been torn down, but in Pripyat, where the year is still 1986, the wreathed hammer, sickle and star of the USSR still adorns buildings (on the left of shot). Looking down The sunset Empty streets Thanks for looking
  4. I have been meaning to get here for years and over Halloween weekend I finally made it. It didn’t disappoint, the place is awesome packed full of treasures that have been left behind after the 1986 evacuation. We had a two day private tour of the zone and took in various sights over the two days. We had a cracking guide who had no problem in letting us into the buildings even though the official line is that it is prohibited to enter them! I'm not sure how many guides actually stick to those rules and that's fine by me! So, in no particular order here a few pictures of some of the stuff we did see. #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17 #18 #19 #20 #21 #22 #23 #24
  5. Duga 3 (OTH) Radar During our trip to Chernobyl and Pripyat our man on the ground informed us we were off to Duga-3. We jumped in the van and headed off into the countryside a few kilometres from the centre of Pripyat through the vast forests of northern Ukraine to the site. The sight of Duga from the road as we headed in was intimidating, this behemoth of Soviet steel that stood before us getting taller and taller the closer we got started to make my palms sweat and my heart rate rise. I only had one thought on my mind. History The Russian Woodpecker was a notorious Soviet signal that could be heard on the shortwave radio bands worldwide between July 1976 and December 1989. It sounded like a sharp, repetitive tapping noise, at 10 Hz, giving rise to the "Woodpecker" name. The random frequency hops disrupted legitimate broadcast, amateur radio, utility transmissions, and resulted in thousands of complaints by many countries worldwide. The signal was long believed to be that of an over-the-horizon radar (OTH) system. This theory was publicly confirmed after the fall of the Soviet Union, and is now known to be the Duga-3 system, part of the Soviet Anti-ballistic missile early-warning network. The Soviets had been working on early warning radar for their anti-ballistic missile systems through the 1960s, but most of these had been line-of-sight systems that were useful for raid analysis and interception only. None of these systems had the capability to provide early warning of a launch, which would give the defences time to study the attack and plan a response. At the time the Soviet early-warning satellite network was not well developed, and there were questions about their ability to operate in a hostile environment including anti-satellite efforts. An over-the-horizon radar sited in the USSR would not have any of these problems, and work on such a system for this associated role started in the late 1960s. The first experimental system, Duga-1, was built outside Mykolaiv in Ukraine, successfully detecting rocket launches from Baikonur Cosmodrome at 2,500 kilometres. This was followed by the prototype Duga-2, built on the same site, which was able to track launches from the far east and submarines in the Pacific Ocean as the missiles flew towards Novaya Zemlya. Both of these radar systems were aimed east and were fairly low power, but with the concept proven work began on an operational system. The new Duga-3 systems used a transmitter and receiver separated by about 60 km. Starting in 1976 a new and powerful radio signal was detected worldwide, and quickly dubbed the Woodpecker by amateur radio operators. Transmission power on some woodpecker transmitters was estimated to be as high as 10 MW EIRP. As well as disrupting shortwave amateur radio and broadcasting it could sometimes be heard over telephone circuits due to the strength of the signals. This led to a thriving industry of "Woodpecker filters" and noise blankers. Example of the signal Triangulation quickly revealed the signals came from Ukraine. Confusion due to small differences in the reports being made from various military sources led to the site being alternately located near Kiev, Minsk, Chernobyl, Gomel or Chernihiv. All of these reports were describing the same deployment, with the transmitter only a few kilometers southwest of Chernobyl (south of Minsk, northwest of Kiev) and the receiver about 50 km northeast of Chernobyl (just west of Chernihiv, south of Gomel). Starting in the late 1980s, even as the Federal Communications Comission (FCC) was publishing studies of the signal, the signals became less frequent, and in 1989 disappeared altogether. Although the reasons for the eventual shutdown of the Duga-3 systems have not been made public, the changing strategic balance with the end of the cold war in the late 1980s likely had a major part to play. Another factor was the success of the US-KS early-warning satellites, which entered preliminary service in the early 1980s, and by this time had grown into a complete network. The satellites provide immediate, direct and highly secure warnings, whereas any radar-based system is subject to jamming, and the effectiveness of OTH systems is also subject to atmospheric conditions. According to some reports, the installation was taken off combat alert duty in November 1989, and some of its equipment was subsequently scrapped. The original Duga-3 site lies within the 30 kilometer Zone of Alienation around the Chernobyl Plant. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. Thanks for Looking
  6. Evening all, As you already know from my previous Chernobyl village report, I was part of a 35 man group which went in April. Part of the trip was two full days mooching in Pripyat which is the main objective for anyone especially with access to buildings too. We were basically taken here and left to wander around for over 2 hours which was plenty for such a massive complex. I'm sure on revisit I will find more rooms I didn't get to see. Part of day one was a visit to Hospital 126 (MSCh 126) which is a large hospital based at the North end of Priypat. The basement contains liquidators uniforms which are highly radioactive. On this note, it is not recommended to go into the basement for this reason alone. The hospital is a vast complex occupying the largest part of the first micro-district of Pripyat. The building is adorned with huge letters on its roof that read: “health of a people - riches of the countryâ€Â. It was at this hospital on the 26th April 1986 that the first victims of the disaster were delivered by ambulance: firemen and personnel of the Chernobyl Powerplant. The majority of those had already received deadly doses of external and internal radiation also having severe skin burning from beta radiation. After such doses, most did not survive; they still stood up, tried to joke about it but the days or even hours of their lives were already numbered. Hospitals are not a cheery place to be but this one was full of dereliction, dark corridors, doors slamming with the wind. Ghosts of the past still haunting this building. The victims stayed here less than a day; were then transported to Kiev, and then by plane to Moscow. Everybody, except engineer Shashenok, died in hospital, he was the first one to die in the night of April, 26th. There were 6 firemen, 22 powerplant workers who died of sharp radiation sickness in the 6th radiological clinic of Moscow in the course of several months after the initial disaster. Named for the nearby Pripyat River, Pripyat was founded on 4 February 1970, the ninth nuclear city in the Soviet Union, for the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. It was officially proclaimed a city in 1979, and had grown to a population of 49,360 before being evacuated a few days after the 26 April 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Though Pripyat is located within the administrative district of Ivankiv Raion, the abandoned city now has a special status within the larger Kiev Oblast (province), being administered directly from Kiev. Pripyat is also supervised by Ukraine's Ministry of Emergencies, which manages activities for the entire Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Access to Pripyat, unlike cities of military importance, was not restricted before the disaster as nuclear power stations were seen by the Soviet Union as safer than other types of power plants. Nuclear power stations were presented as being an achievement of Soviet engineering, where nuclear power was harnessed for peaceful projects. The slogan "peaceful atom" (Russian: ?????? ????, mirnyj atom) was popular during those times. The original plan had been to build the plant only 25 km (16 mi) from Kiev, but the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, among other bodies, expressed concern about it being too close to the city. As a result, the power station and Pripyat were built at their current locations, about 100 km (62 mi) from Kiev. After the disaster the city of Pripyat was evacuated in two days. On with the photos 1. Front foyer at main entrance to the Hospital 2. Maternity ward and wards close by 3. 4. 5. 6. Staff social club - complete with moss carpet 7. 8. 9. Iron lung 10. 11. 12. Details 13. Corridors 14. 15. 16. Visiting hours 17. Various chairs 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. Plant life More to process but this is the main jist of what I wanted to put on here. Cheers for looking in
  7. Sunrise in Pripyat? Why not! I've been to Pripyat so many times, in different seasons, day and night. It's finally time to greet the city at the break of day. I get up before 4 in the morning and at 5 I'm already standing on the roof of a 16 storey building which has an excellent view of the town centre and nearby power plant. Sleepy Pripyat slowly emerges from the shadows and comes to life. A strange feeling. As if any moment now people will appear, hurrying on their way to work. Or mothers taking kids to kindergarten. Soon there will be hustle and bustle, the noise of cars, and shouts of children playing. But that's just my imagination at work. In the abandoned city, nature is the only thing springing to life. Everything else died 28 years ago. But Pripyat isn't the main reason I returned to the zone. For some time I've been coming here less often and for shorter times. There is just one reason. Pripyat is systematically falling apart. Plaster is falling off of buildings, concrete and bricks are crumbling, then the floors rot and collapse. In the end whole walls and ceilings collapse. The books, newspapers and posters left inside them turn into a pile of damp mush. The city is disappearing. Tourists who come for the first time and often only visit the zone generally aren't able to notice the changes, the progress of the destruction, the ever decreasing number of objects. It looks to them like time stopped here. That's just an illusion. LOST VILLAGES In my search for traces of the past, I’ve been leaving Pripyat more often and getting farther and farther away from it. I venture into unknown regions of the zone. I know from experience that the farther away, the more chance there is of finding something truly exceptional. That's why I decide to visit more far-flung places in the northern corners of the zone. Villages located right by the border with Belarus. 40 km in one direction, two hours drive. Regular tourists don't make it here. Initially asphalt, the potholed roads soon give way to narrow, overgrown dirt roads. Eventually there are no roads at all. It's only possible to go farther with an off-road vehicle. Scattered trees, dense foliage, no sign of any human presence. And animals are appearing more and more often. The marshy terrain, uninhabited by people, is the ideal place for deer, moose, wild boars and a multitude of birds. I'm looking for interesting places, objects, traces of the bygone system. It's easiest to find them in abandoned schools, kindergartens and clubs. In places that tourists haven't discovered, only known by former residents. Some of them still visit the places they used to live. They regularly stick calendars with the passing years up in empty homes. They leave inscriptions on school desks as souvenirs. All the larger villages have a school. You just have to spot them through the dense vegetation. Experience comes in handy: the school is most often located on Lenin street – the main street of every village. You can spot schools more easily if you know that they're usually made of brick rather than wood. Then it's just a matter of luck – if the school has stood the test of time, the roof hasn't caved in or the glass hasn't been broken you can still find real gems from the bygone era. THE RED FOREST I've already written about the Red Forest while looking for radioactive remains of the power plant disaster. To recap – as a result of the catastrophe, radioactive isotopes entered the atmosphere from the reactor and were distributed by the air stream over a significant portion of Europe. Most of these fell near the power plant, contaminating tens of thousands of nearby trees. Most of these are located directly next to the power plant. All the coniferous trees (trunks) in this area died and their needles turned red. Hence the name Red Forest. Shortly after the catastrophe, the decision was made to cut down and bury all the dead trees. Leaving them posed a risk of re-distributing the radiation, for example, as a result of a fire or high traffic of cars passing by the forest. Cutting down and burying the trees also significantly decreased the background radiation which is currently around 20-30 uSv/h. Despite the fact that almost 30 years have passed since the catastrophe, the Red Forest is still one of the most radioactive places in the zone. The last time I was here I found a highly radioactive fragment (around 100 mSv/h) pretty easily, which was probably a fragment of graphite from reactor 4. This time I'm checking the place where the radioactive trees were buried. It's easy to identify the burial place – the long, brown ditches and the mounds sticking up above ground level are clearly visible on satellite pictures. As I get closer to the burial location of the trees, the background radiation increases, reaching a level of around 100 uSv/h. It reaches its maximum, around 200 uSv/h, several metres away, where rainwater flowing from the mounds and washing radioactive isotopes with it gathers in the troughs. In the Red Forest I happen to come across a building where there are several well-preserved objects. KRUG I've visited the Chernobyl-2 military complex, where the DUGA over-the-horizon radar is located, many times. This time I'm visiting two places that are inextricably linked to it. Overgrown roads that are now impossible to see and can only be navigated by off-road vehicle or on foot lead to them. The first of these is the auxiliary DUGA radar system, known as Krug. It consists of 240 antennae (each 12 metres high), laid out in two circles with a diameter of 300 metres. In the centre of the construction there is a one-storey building which serves as control centre, on the roof of which is the main antenna. Despite the fact that there is no longer any equipment in the building that would make it possible to tell what the complex is for, it's generally known that its task was to optimise the angular frequency modes of the over-the-horizon radar's operation. Supposedly the equipment used was so sensitive that it could detect a signal that had already been around the world twice. After approaching the antennae, it turns out that 120 antennae, in one circle, have already been dismantled and are lying beside the concrete foundations they once stood on. Some of them have already been cut up for scrap. The majority of the 120 antennae, making up the second – outer – circle and the net serving as wave reflectors, are still in very good condition. "> Over the significant amount of time that has passed, all the antennae have been almost completely hidden by trees, making it hard to see more than one at a time. You can only see all of them at once from the air, best in the autumn when the leaves have fallen off the trees. ANTI-AIRCRAFT DEFENSE SYSTEM The second object near Chernobyl-2 is the firing position of the defence missile squadron, built for anti-aircraft defence of the DUGA radar complex. The system consisted of 6 SM-90 rocket launchers which were disguised and surrounded by earthen ramparts, equipped with Volkhov S-75M missile sets placed in a circle around a centrally located missile homing station. While nearby the over-the-horizon radar, I decide to also check its height. Different sources give different results. With this purpose in mind, I climb up the side mast which the net serving as wave reflector is attached to. It's the same height as the mast supporting the antenna. The official height reading is 156 metres (including the top mast). Full report (more text, photos and short film) you can see here http://www.podniesinski.pl/portal/chernobyl-off-the-beaten-track-2/ Arek
  8. Evening all, Part of the first full day we went to the Police and Firestation and junkyard attached to the Police station. The majority of the photos were taken in the junkyard as it was a little dark in the police cells. Next time will do a proper recce of the police station (if I can slip away) History as per - Pripyat town part of the area that was effected by the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident. Most of the vehicle left here were from the town and were dumped. The photos Thanks for looking in.
  9. Evening all, As part of our 35 man tour in April this year, one of the early morning stops on our first day was at this village on the outskirts of the powerplant and within the exclusion zone. The Chernobyl contamination was divided into four exclusion zones based on radiation amounts. The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone with highest contamination is officially uninhabited. In truth, over 2,000 elderly villagers illegally resettled their homes and farms inside the Zone. Today nearly 400 remain. More than 3,000 workers manage the Zone, living in Chernobyl town during 4-day and 15-day shifts. Another 3,800 personnel commute daily to work at the Chernobyl plant from their new home in Slavutych. After the accident in 1986, over 160 towns and villages nearby were evacuated. Many were demolished, some were simply abandoned. This village that is beyond the main zone of exclusion where radiation fell but evacuation was not mandatory. In Ukraine, this included over two thousand villages. The accident and indirect consequences continue to affect these residents physically, economically, socially and psychologically. The questions remain - Why do people stay? No alternatives or a sense of duty or because this is their home? On wandering around in the time we had, there were a few villagers who came out to see what was going on as someone attempted to access their home. Just goes to show that people are resilient and decide to plod on, regardless of the situation. One had cattle and crops in the garden. Some of the photos. Thanks for looking in.
  10. Evening all, A selection of images from several of the kindergartens and middle schools that we managed to get around on our 2 full days in the zone in Pripyat. also included a few from the music school. Hard to believe that some of the items still remain 28 years since the disaster. Named for the nearby Pripyat River, Pripyat was founded on 4 February 1970, the ninth nuclear city in the Soviet Union, for the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. It was officially proclaimed a city in 1979, and had grown to a population of 49,360 before being evacuated a few days after the 26 April 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Though Pripyat is located within the administrative district of Ivankiv Raion, the abandoned city now has a special status within the larger Kiev Oblast (province), being administered directly from Kiev. Pripyat is also supervised by Ukraine's Ministry of Emergencies, which manages activities for the entire Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Access to Pripyat, unlike cities of military importance, was not restricted before the disaster as nuclear power stations were seen by the Soviet Union as safer than other types of power plants. Nuclear power stations were presented as being an achievement of Soviet engineering, where nuclear power was harnessed for peaceful projects. The slogan "peaceful atom" (mirnyj atom) was popular during those times. The original plan had been to build the plant only 25 km (16 mi) from Kiev, but the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, among other bodies, expressed concern about it being too close to the city. As a result, the power station and Pripyat were built at their current locations, about 100 km (62 mi) from Kiev. After the disaster the city of Pripyat was evacuated in two days. Lots more to come but this gives a flavour of what I've processed so far. Hopefully will get a different set of photos from the next trip and visit some more of the schools in the city. Thanks for looking in.
  11. Hospital No. 126 was the general infirmary for Pripyat. The first firemen to respond to the Chernobyl Disaster were taken here and their clothing remains radioactive. 1. Operating Room Hospital MsCh-126 Medico-Sanitary unit was the general infirmary in Pripyat, serving the workers of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and their families. The hospital has been abandoned since the evacuation of Pripyat following the Chernobyl disaster. The hospital could accommodate up to 410 patients and had a further three clinics. The hospital is a large complex of buildings of five interconnected buildings of 6 stories each. The building sits on Druzhby Narodov street (Friendship of the People street) and occupies most of Microdistrict 1. The large letters on the roof read “×ôþрþò’Ѡýðрþôу – ñðóðтÑÂтòþ úрðїýø†or “health of the people – riches of the countryâ€Â. The basement of the hospital contains the suits worn by the firemen who attended the scene at Chernobyl after the explosion. The firemen weretaken to the hospital by albulance after being exposed to such high levels of radiation that even after 28 years their suits still emit a lethal dose of radiation. Needless to say we avoided the basement where the suits were left, however part of a fireman’s hat has been moved into the reception area. Our dosimeters were capable of reading up to a maximum 999 millisieverts per hour. When placed near the hat, the reading was 999, we do not know how much higher than that the radiation actually was. Average background radiation is around 0.02 millisieverts per hour! The hospital was one of my favourite buildings to visit in Pripyat. There were plenty of things to photograph – something different and intriguing in almost every room. When exploring abandoned hospitals it’s common to find repetitive layouts, each floor built to the same design for example, but Pripyat Hospital has a different feel to each area, something different to offer every each corner. 2. Gynaecology chair with vaginal dilator!! 3. Room with bed and shelves 4. A bed in a patient room 5. Medical items left behind 6. Patient room 7. A room full of cots in the maternity ward 8. Crib between partitions 9. Operating Theatre 10. Signs demonstrating what to do in the event of an emergency 11. Newspapers from before the disaster 12. Medical Records 13. Book shelves 14. Doll in hospital bed 15. Wheel chair 16. Room with items left 17. View into a room 18. Items on shelves 19. Another patient room 20. Records strewn across the floor 21. A messy room 22. Twin beds 23. More items on shelves 24. Corridor in the hospital 25. Sofa with 1985 throw 26. Photos of nurses 27. Waiting room 28. Examination room 29. Sign on door 30. Dosimeter reaching it’s maximum reading 999 millisieverts per hour – a dangerously high level – when placed next to an item of clothing worn by a fire fighter who attended the Chernobyl disaster. Backround radiation is 0.02 millisieverts per hour. Thanks for looking. Now, its cheeky self promo time..... If you liked this why not check out my website - www.bcd-urbex.com
  12. Evening all, A lot of photos here but more to process but I feel that this is the jist of the set so thought I'd do my first report in a while. I'm sure most of you are aware of the big group of people who travelled to the Ukraine for an epic trip - some from the forum and some not so I'll get on with the repo. Duga-3 (NATO reporting name Steel Yard) was a Soviet over-the-horizon radar system. It was developed for the Soviet ABM early-warning network. The system operated from 1976 to 1989. Its distinctive and mysterious shortwave radio signal came to be known in the west as the Russian Woodpecker. Two stations of Duga-3 were installed: a western system around Chernobyl and an eastern system in Siberia. This transmitter for the western Duga-3 is located a few kilometers southwest of Chernobyl (south of Minsk, northwest of Kiev). The receiver was located about 50 km northeast of Chernobyl (just west of Chernihiv, south of Gomel). The Soviets had been working on early warning radar for their anti-ballistic missile systems through the 1960s, but most of these had been line-of-sight systems that were useful for raid analysis and interception only. None of these systems had the capability to provide early warning of a launch, which would give the defenses time to study the attack and plan a response. At the time the Soviet early-warning satellite network was not well developed, and there were questions about their ability to operate in a hostile environment including anti-satellite efforts. An over-the-horizon radar sited in the USSR would not have any of these problems, and work on such a system for this associated role started in the late 1960s. Duga-3 could detect submarines and missile launches in all of Europe and the Eastern coast of United States. The first experimental system, Duga-1, was built outside Mykolaiv in Ukraine, successfully detecting rocket launches from Baikonur Cosmodrome at 2,500 kilometers. This was followed by the prototype Duga-2, built on the same site, which was able to track launches from the far east and submarines in the Pacific Ocean as the missiles flew towards Novaya Zemlya. Both of these radar systems were aimed east and were fairly low power, but with the concept proven work began on an operational system. The new Duga-3 systems used a transmitter and receiver separated by about 60 km. We were given over 2 hours to explore and split up to do what we wanted. Myself and a few others headed to the command centre at the bottom end of the site. I planned to visit this and work my way back up to the gates. Command Centre Fairly stripped out but some nice details found whilst running around this place Walking back from the Command Centre Some of the many murals on the walls and littering the site There was a fair bit to cover but I was told that the cinema, kindergarten and the gym were over to the far left of the site so with the hour or so to spare I made my way over to the kindergarten which was stacked high with old beds but the building itself plus the playground made for some nice shots. Kindergarten Theatre Gym The floor was extremely rotten here and only found that out when I was halfway across so a few shots and I left to go to the admin building on the opposite side. Admin building
  13. To help keep this long report concise: Deafult = In the Zone/Relevant Green= Out of the Zone/Non Relevant ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Part 1 At 1:33 am on the April 26th 1986, a routine emergency drill conducted under unsafe circumstances, possibly due to strict management and cost cutting, Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant overheated and went into meltdown. Fire-fighters were fast to act, but were not aware of the severity of the situation and treated it as if it was a normal fire. 31 workers and fire-fighters died in the weeks after the incident. The final death toll is in its thousands as many cancer deaths are believed to be linked. 3 of the plant workers displayed bravery on unimaginable levels. This blog is dedicated to those people, not just to the liquidators and fire fighters whom I will explain later, but to Engineers Alexi Ananenko, Valeri Bezpalov and Boris Baranov. The 1200 Celsius Corium was burning through the floors at such a rate that if it hit the cooling reservoir, it would cause a steam explosion so severe it could have made Europe uninhabitable and killed millions. The only way to drain this was manually, so Ananenko and Bezpalov; kitted with just diving suits dived into the highly contaminated water, taking in radiation at extremely high doses, to open the sluice gates and prevent the explosion, with Baranov holding a faulty torch. As the torch flickered the two engineers successfully drained the reservoir, but the damage was already done. They sacrificed their lives for you and me several days later. The next day the entire population of Pripyat was evacuated; residents believed that they would return in 3 days. That was in 1986 and they will never return to their homes. The government put in a 30km exclusion zone which makes up for 1,100 square miles; an estimated 200,000 people made homeless. Many people forced their way back to their former abodes against government order, and still live there today. Some 600,000 “Liquidators†were called upon, or volunteered to try and reduce the level of radiation on the grounds of the exclusion zone between 86 and 92. The Plant continued operating till 2000, despite radiation, with some amenities in Pripyat such as the pool staying open till as late as 1996. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ We arrived on the evening of my 23rd Birthday at Kiev Airport to a nice hot and sunny evening, after a fairly uneventful flight of three hours on an extreme budget, no frills airline. We were excited about our adventure in part of the ex-Soviet Union. After being collected from the airport, we walked what seemed like a fair way to our driver’s car. He didn’t speak any English, and we didn’t speak any Ukrainian. On the short journey to our hostel in the centre of Kiev we got to see many Soviet cars, to mine and Scott’s delight, and also some pretty defensive driving! So the driver dropped us off outside an old apartment building, and helped us with our bags. He put us into a rickety old lift, clad with Formica which couldn’t have been more than 5 foot by 6 foot, and claimed to take 6 people. He pressed one of the huge buttons on the aluminium plated control bar with the number “6†written next to it in permanent marker. We went up in two groups as there were people already waiting to go up in the lift which bumped its way up the floors, which you could clearly see whizzing past between the middle of the two doors. It was excellent! So, we finally find our way to our hostel. This apartment block was old, pre Soviet Union, and was made up of several hostels and apartment rooms. We knock on the door and the owner answers. He has no idea of our booking, and insists he has no rooms available. 3 hours and 1,500 miles from home, we are without a room! So we phone back our tour firm owner on his emergency number, and we relay messages; deciding we should go down two floors and try the hostel down there. We have already been paid the money for the hostel at this point, so we do have the available funds We are approached by about three people, none of whom speak English. By this point I wish I had bought a phrase book with me! We kick about outside the hostel for a bit, throw some ideas about, and we decide that we should one at a time withdraw our Hirviniya; a currency unavailable outside the Ukraine. I was a little nervous after hearing the stories of ex Soviet countries, as an English boy with sterling in my pocket, and withdrawing money with my Barclays Bank Card. Finally with several hundred UAH; barely £50, I start walking back to the hostel and receive a phone call. The proprietor we have been waiting for has found us a room! The girl is young, our age, and speaks perfect English. She supplies us with a map marked with the best Ukrainian restaurants and bars in the local area. After a bit of walking, we have our best meal on the whole trip in a Ukrainian eatery, and then decided to explore the streets. We grab 3 good quality lagers from a street vendor; £2.90 for the entire round, and walk down the pedestrian strip. We are surprised to see packets of cigarettes for about 75p a pack on similar street stalls to the one we bought the beer from. Kiev has lots of really pretty buildings, but the Soviet Union was still apparent in places, one minute a brand new G-Wagon would pass by, the next a beaten Lada, Moskvich, Volga, UAZ, VAZ or Zaporozhet would chug past, which wasn’t a bad thing for me and Scott, the two car buffs. Soviet concrete also reared its head between historic buildings. After Tom and Scott proceeded to stock up on booze (a bottle of vodka is normally no more than £3 for a litre), we decided to go back to our hotel rooms. By the time we got to sleep it was 2am, (midnight at home), setting our alarms for 6 as we want to get some daytime photos of Kiev. The sun and heat are pretty impressive compared to the cloudy, grey weather we left behind in the UK. After this we eat a breakfast a buffet type café, which cost us tuppance, and walk back to the Hostel. After check out we wait in anticipation for our guide to arrive. I am looking forward to driving the old Lada from our holiday cottage to the zone, but when we are picked up in Kiev, the guide has no idea of this arrangement, and we would be using his car over the two days. During a phone call between our guide and someone in the office, I hear the words â€ÂPripyat†and Lada be thrown around several times, and eventually it is agreed I drive the Lada after we arrive at the cottage for a few hours as an experience of Ukrainian roads. I was happy with this arrangement as not only did I pay for an International Driving Permit; I also wanted to use the Lada as promised! This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I did not know the roads, and valuable touring time would have been lost in driving to the zone in a 32 year old VAZ-2101. On the way to the first checkpoint; our knowledgeable guide points out various things by the roadside, such as the largest battery chicken farm in Europe, and old Soviet Era vehicle inspection ramps dotted about… After the long drive from Kiev and checkpoints, we arrive in Chernobyl. There are a lot of survivors live here, and people who work at the plant today, as scientists, government agents etc. The plant isn’t actually located in Chernobyl and shares only the name. There are memorials here, both for Fukishima and the Chernobyl disaster. In the memorial park are signs to remember villagers who have died, but not in the Chernobyl Disaster, they have died of old age. The average age of death here is high, around 96. The Fukishima Memorial is made of two metal origami swans, remembering the 2011 meltdown. From here, we drove down to the area of abandoned boats. These boats, like everything else were abandoned here in 1986, but are not believed to be dangerously radioactive. Kopachi was evacuated by the 3trd of May, all 1,114 inhabitants. It was the only part of the Chernobyl exclusion zone to have all of its buildings demolished and buried as part of an experiment of cleaning up radiation leaving only this nursery behind. This nursery is one of the touristy hotspots. When we arrived, our guide showed us the two Geiger counters, one for Beta, one for Gamma. Beta was almost non existent, and Gamma was low, except in the soil round the nursery. Take some time to look at these pictures and realise what was left behind. Believe me, this is the tip of the iceberg… http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3768/9261530444_f73d78c968_z.jpg We take the old road to the power plant, and stop of next to the cooling ponds to take in the scenery. From here we can see almost everything, the destroyed reactor, the three remaining reactors which operated till 2000, and reactor 5 and 6, due for completion in 1988. Chernobyl was intended to be the largest Nuclear Plant in the world with 12 reactors. It was in the top five largest in the 1986 disaster. Huge Catfish swim these ponds, but are only huge due to having no people to fish them. They are not mutated. Unfinished Cooling Tower Unfinished Reactor Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Reactor Cooling Ponds Another View of the Unfinished Reactor
  14. I am not sure where to start with this one to be honest. I visited last year with my brother and 14 other friends, acquaintances and alcoholics. Our trip had been organised by someone who had been there regularly for about 5 years, so we were able to organise a longer amount of time within the zone. We even went as far as staying at the workers barracks, eating with the workers and being subjected to the same curfew as the whole zone. Which meant that we experienced a small slice of what it was like living in communism. Our journey started with a short hop in a plane to Kiev and having got our tickets cheap we did not arrive at the usual airport. Rather, we arrived at Zhuliany, only to find that it had only reopened to public traffic in the recent months. This meant the arrival lounge was a marque on the side of the runway, and customs was a single burly man. The baggage handling facility were two guys named Boris and Antonov, who happily threw the bags from the airplane and through the side of the marque with a thump. Due to the massive insufficiencies, one border guard and 4 plane loads of passengers, we very nearly did not make it to the exclusion zone before it was closed. A mad dash across the Ukrainian outback ensued, with us listening to Armin van Bureen loudly and having the driver pay more attention to showing us his weapon collection than the road! Eventually we arrived. Short of dinner, water and anything to do, we hit the hay for the night. You may notice it is day time in the photo below, we snapped this on the way home Check Point One Our morning started early, we were up for breakfast within the canteen at 7:30am to eat with the locals. After this, we drove all of 100m down the road to one of the 4 shops within Chernobyl Village. This shop was an experience, the owner spoke no English and we spoke no Ukrainian. And our guide did not offer any help. We also experience a slightly backward way in thinking, the shop owner would add up the totals on an abacus and the present the total using a modern calculator It was here I discovered Kvass. Chernobyl004 Chernobyl006 Our first day took us to a large number of sites that were far from the beaten tourist trails that are run out of Kiev. We saw the fire fighters memorial, 5&6 Cooling Towers, Reactor 4, Pripyat, Fire House, Police Station, Leisure Centre, Middle School, Laboratory, Greenhouses, Chernobyl Village. The Most important memorial in the World The cooling towers for Reactors 5 & 6. This place had a high background radiations, so we spent little time here. It was worth it for the acoustics and the birds of prey soaring above... Cooling We then hopped back into the minibus and headed round to the old railway bridge to feed the giant catfish. This was the only time I saw any active security away from the checkpoints - out of no where, a man with dog and gun appeared out of the bushes and strolled off into another set of bushes. Bugger knows who he was, or where he was heading. Chernobyl019 Chernobyl023 After this, we went round to the main reactor memorial and entrance to piss about with group photos etc etc. We did pass the French built reprocessing plant, and from what I understand, they tooled it wrong and it is a $500 million white elephant. Only 50 times higher than background After this, it was into Pripyat itself. Pripyat 1970 Here we saw the fire station, police station, swimming pool, one of the many middle schools and the streets of Pripyat. We also saw the filming of Young and Radioactive - from the title you can probably guess that this was on the bluer side of the spectrum! Fire Station: Maintenance Bay Police Station, complete with Soviet Symbols: The Red Star Chernobyl068 Scrap Value The swimming pool / leisure centre. This was still in use in 1996 when the power station was still switched on! Pripyat Leisure Centre Chernobyl085 Swimming Pool Pripyat Leisure Centre The Middle Schoool #5 Pripyat Middle School number 5 Something Blue Type Face Kindergarten / Soil Sample Labs - this kindergarten was converted to a laboratory which tested the soil samples collected from all of the zone. This allowed for the relief map to be created showing the most devastated areas. Kindergarten/Laboratory Kindergarten/Laboratory Greenhouse Our final stop for the say was the radioactive sandbucket. Which measured an impressive 2500 times background radiation! Sand Buket After a busy first day, we jumped back in the van to experience more Eastern Europe delicacies, beer and slightly wild cats Cat

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