Tuši's blog

Sunday, April 29, 2018


Ukraine: Road Trip Day 4 - Чорно́биль / Chernobyl

On our 4th day our Peugeot Boxer had a day off, and we went on a guided tour in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, an officially designated exclusion zone around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster.

The Chernobyl accident was a catastrophic nuclear accident. It occurred on 26 April 1986, at about 1:23 am, in the No. 4 light water graphite moderated reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near the now-abandoned town of Pripyat, in northern Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Soviet Union, approximately 104 km north of Kiev.

More about the accident:
Some interesting facts:
  • The Chernobyl disaster and Fukushima disaster are the only level 7 incident on the international Nuclear Event Scale (INES).
  • The disaster released at least 100 times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
  • Nuclear rain from the disaster fell as far away as Ireland.
  • The region has become one of the world's most unique wildlife sanctuaries with thriving populations of wolves, deer, beavers, eagles, and other animals.
  • Many doctors throughout Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union advised pregnant women to undergo abortions to avoid bearing children with birth defects in spite of the fact that radiation levels the women were exposed to was too low to cause problems.
  • Surprisingly, the overall rate of cancer deaths and other health effects related to Chernobyl accident is lower than initially feared.
  • Belarus received 70% of the contamination from Chernobyl.
  • According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Comission (NRC), 28 of the workers at Chernobyl died in the four months following the accident.
  • Around 97% of the radioactive material remains in a crumbling sarcophagus. 200 tons of radioactive materials are still inside the reactor.
  • Chernobyl's last reactor was shut down in 2000.
  • Sweden sent the first alert.
  • Radioactive Iodine is the first killer (Iodine-131 has half-life of 8 days), Strontium-90 and Caesium-137 are the long term killers (both have around 30 years half-life).
Our previous days of Ukraine Road Trip: Day 3Day 2 and Day 1.

Cooking breakfast for the champions

Money, money, money. The guided trip to Chernobyl Exclusion Zone costs around 80 € per person.

One of the vehicles from Chernobyl vehicle graveyard

Road to Chernobyl

Aleš2, Neža, Rok, Aleš, Katja, Miha, Nada and Tuši

Statue of the Angel Gabriel and the signboards for all 186 settlements in the exclusion zone that were evacuated after the accident, one (Kopachi) was even buried, until it was discovered that the radiation trickled down into the groundwater.

The initial 28 firefighters that were sent to the scene – without any information of what happened – were all dead within 2 weeks. Only 10 years after the accident was a memorial put up in their honor with a plate saying “To those who saved the world”.

Already in the exclusion zone, still the dosimeter showed same values as in Kiev. 0.11 uSV/h (cca 0.96 mSv/year) is less than global natural average radiation (2.4 mSv/year). The sievert is a derived unit of ionizing radiation dose in the International System of Units (SI) and is a measure of the health effect of low levels of ionizing radiation on the human body.

Ionizing radiation hazard symbols started showing up.

After the disaster the Kopachi village was contaminated by fallout and subsequently evacuated and thus has been abandoned since 1986.

World war 2 memorial in Kopachi.

Before we entered the kindergarten, our guide Jevgenija explained some interesting things.

One of the hotspots near the kindergarten. 

Details from the kindergarten #1

Details from the kindergarten #2

Pupils in Kindergarten

The village, located in the 10-kilometer Chernobyl exclusion zone was eliminated by complete destruction. The remains of it were covered with earth. Several unnaturally looking mounds can be found in the woodland surrounding it, they’re remains of the homes buried under the ground. The Ukrainian government didn’t take the ground waters into consideration when issuing the demolition order, all contaminated houses and soil were simply buried in hastily dug pits, leaking radioactive isotopes deeper into the ground. As a result most of the ground water surrounding the Kopachi village is heavily contaminated with caesium-137, strontium-90, and plutonium.

Approaching the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station (Russian: Чернобыльская АЭС им. В.И.Ленина) as it was known during the Soviet times, consisted of four reactors of type RBMK-1000, each capable of producing 1,000 megawatts (MW) of electric power (3.2 GW of thermal power), and the four together produced about 10% of Ukraine's electricity at the time of the disaster. The completion of the first reactor in 1977 was followed by reactor N. 2 (1978), N. 3 (1981), and N. 4 (1983). Two more blocks, numbered 5 and 6, of more or less the same reactor design, were planned at a site roughly 1 kilometer's distance from the contiguous buildings of the four older blocks.

The largest moveable land-based structure ever built - Chernobyl New Safe Confinement is already positioned over the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant sarcophagus. The design of the sarcophagus started on May 20, 1986, 24 days after the disaster. Subsequent construction lasted for 206 days, from June to late November of the same year.

On the NPP observation deck stands the monument in honor of the liquidators, who eliminated the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster.

The NSC (the New Safe Confinement) was constructed 180 metres west of Unit 4, and slid into place.

Another group photo, this time in front of the New Shelter

Pripyat (При́п'ять) is a ghost city named after the nearby Pripyat River. It was founded on 4 February 1970, as the ninth nuclear city (a type of closed city) in the Soviet Union, to serve the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. It was officially proclaimed a city in 1979, and had grown to a population of 49,360 by the time it was evacuated, on the afternoon of 27 April 1986, the day after the Chernobyl disaster.

Abandoned shipwreck on the banks of the Pripyat River.

Mother nature and its work

View to Palace of Culture Energetik after it was abandoned 30 years ago.

Inside the palace of Culture

The bumper cars in Pripyat amusement park. It was to be opened for the first time on 1 May 1986, in time for the May Day celebrations. Several sources report that the park was opened for a short time on 27 April before the announcement to evacuate the city was made, still some argue about it.

Ferris wheel has become one of the symbols of the Chernobyl disaster.

Boxing Ring and view from one of the windows in Palace of Culture Energetik

We moved on and visited the Duga radar system within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Abandoned vehicles

On our way to the over-the-horizon radar system.

Duga-1 was built in northern Ukraine, between Liubech and Chernobyl-2, with the receiver at 51°18′19.06″N 30°03′57.35″E located a few kilometers west-north-west of Chernobyl; the transmitter is located at 51°38′15.98″N 30°42′10.41″E about 50 km northeast of Chernobyl. We visited the receiver part of the system.

The system operated from July 1976 to December 1989 and it was used as part of the Soviet anti-ballistic missile early-warning network.

The Duga systems were extremely powerful, over 10 MW in some cases, and broadcast in the shortwave radio bands. They appeared without warning, sounding like a sharp, repetitive tapping noise at 10 Hz, which led to it being nicknamed by shortwave listeners the Russian Woodpecker. The signal became such a nuisance that some receivers such as amateur radios and televisions actually began including 'Woodpecker Blankers' in their circuit designs in an effort to filter out the interference.

Lunch time in Chernobyl

Borscht (Борщ) from Chernobyl and potatoes with some meat.

After lunch we returned back to Kiev. In Maidan Nezalezhnosti we met with Andrey, Vira and Vita and we explored the city in the evening.

Same church? No. On the left there is St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery and on the right St. Andrew's Church.

Dnieper, one of the major rivers in Europe, flows through Kiev.

Chatting on the banks of Dnieper.

GeoCaches found (all received a visit by trackable item "Show me Las Vegas", TB43NY8):
- Urbex, GC62Q6D
- Bennies Blowout Battle, EarthCache, GC2V455

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