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Report (Permission Visit) Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Ukraine - May 2016 (30 years on)

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by TVurbex, May 30, 2016.

  1. TVurbex

    TVurbex TV Locations Aficionado
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    Most people will be familiar with the Chernobyl disaster so I won't go into the background.

    However, I did learn something from our exclusion zone guide (who himself has been directly affected by the disaster) that I'd previously been unaware of which is that we probably wouldn't be sat here today if it wasn't for the brave actions of three men - Alexei Ananenko, Valeri Bezpalov and Boris Baranov. They prevented the likelihood of a further steam explosion which would have made much of Europe completely inhabitable. Hats off to them (understatement).

    This report focuses on the Ukrainian part of the exclusion zone - there is also a significant part in neighbouring Belarus, known as 'Polesie State Radioecological Reserve'.

    The visit
    We depart Kyiv (Kiev) in a small group at around 9am, and arrive at the Dytiatky police and dosimetry control checkpoint on the border of the 30km exclusion zone a couple of hours later.

    Soon after this checkpoint, we capture the odd glimpse of abandoned villages through the overgrown trees - namely, the village of Zalissya.

    Prior to passing through the next checkpoint (10km exclusion zone), we stop briefly in Chernobyl town for a toilet break at the ecologically-clean canteen and have a quick mooch around the immediate area:
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    Translation: "STOP! RADIOACTIVITY"
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    The 'Third Angel' statue and surrounding memorial to the abandoned settlements within the exclusion zone. The area to the bottom right of the photograph is actually a map of the zone - each beacon representing a different town or village.

    We then pass through the Leliv checkpoint, taking us into the 10km exclusion zone - the area immediately surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

    After passing the checkpoint, our first stop is the Duga-1 (sometimes incorrectly known as Duga-3) OTH radar transmitter, once used by the Soviet Union to detect potential incoming ballistic missiles from the US:

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    There are plenty of wild but friendly dogs roaming throughout the exclusion zone. This one though may belong to a man wearing a JW Lees brewery polo shirt who opens up the Communism-branded gate into the radar station for us:
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    Translation: "PASS PROHIBITED. TERRITORY (OBJECT) GUARDED"
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    A disused electricity substation within the compound.
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    Inside one of the buildings.
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    Inner security checkpoint prior to reaching the radar array itself. Translation: "MAKE YOUR PASS VISIBLE"(?)
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    As with anything, it's difficult to capture the scale of this but it's thought to be around 150 metres (approx. 45 storeys) high - about the same as Manchester's Beetham Tower.

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    The bumpy road on the way out of this site causes a flat tyre - a little concerning, but on the plus side, gives us a bit of extra time to look around Kopachi nursery:

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    A sign close to the path leading up to the nursery building - just inches to the left of this is one of several known radioactive 'hotspots' where particles in the soil produce very high Geiger counter readings. Just a few steps to the left of this are some lonely looking children's toys:

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    Inside:
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    There are various medications left lying around - this one appears to be antibiotics for infected wounds but there is also liquid antiseptic and a solution used to treat skin conditions. It is reported that shortly after the disaster, iodine tablets were issued to schools to help prevent the risk of radiation poisoning, although there aren't any of these left amongst the medication in the nursery.

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    Then onto Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant:
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    Huge catfish swim in the cooling stream. This isn't because of mutation, but simply because they have no predators and are regularly fed by passers-by.

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    Reactor 4, which will soon be encased by the New Safe Confinement (pictured below) - a steel arch constructed by the French that will be slid over it by the end of 2017.
    27074593140_a270c55000_c.jpg

    Radiation levels here are high, so we don't stick around for long:
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    Although this reading looks high (the level in central Kyiv is around 0.14µSv/h), it's barely as harmful as a medical x-ray for the time spent here (disclaimer: radiation levels are a little confusing. I'm no expert. This might be wrong).

    However, the surrounding Red Forest (named after the colour of the trees following their radiation-induced deaths) is still one of the most radioactive places in the world and the dose rate quadrupled when passing through in our transport - needless to say, I'm glad that the flat tyre incident occured earlier in the trip and not here...

    Next, we head to Pripyat city:
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    A train line that serves the power plant runs parallel along the road leading to the city.

    We pass through the neglected-looking Pripyat checkpoint manned by a guy in civilian clothing (unlike the previous two) who manually lifts the once mechanically-operated barrier.

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    The first building we see as we enter Pripyat - a residential building (White House) with shop (Rainbow store) beneath. Then onto Lenin Square, Pripyat's city centre:

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    The Polissya Hotel, where scientists and other workers stayed immediately following the disaster - at the time unaware of the danger.

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    'Energetik' - Pripyat's 'palace of culture' - a Soviet initiative to bring communities together through a range of activities all in one place - from dancing to boxing, or even shooting. There would have also been a cinema, pool, gym, library and theatre inside. It's current state is a far throw away from what it would have looked like prior to the disaster.

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    Inside the shopping complex in Lenin Square.

    Continued in following post...
     
    ClaireM, the darkside, Brenin and 3 others like this.

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  2. TVurbex

    TVurbex TV Locations Aficionado
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    Continued from previous post...

    Just a short walk from here is the Pripyat amusement park, which was due to open just a few days after the disaster. The park did infact open its gates following the disaster, but closed just a couple of hours later when the city was eventually evacuated.

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    Documents inside the ferris wheel control booth.

    Before exploring the rest of the city, another short walk takes us to another leisure site - the Avanhard Stadium:
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    Turnstiles.
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    Bar.
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    Concourse.
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    Toilet.
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    Access to terraces.

    Facilities once used by the players of FC Stroitel Pripyat and other sportspersons/athletes:
    26742468664_ff8846b393_c.jpg
    Showers.
    27279167141_d1044b33b9_c.jpg
    Pool.
    27349810265_cf47c6db2a_c.jpg
    Possibly a changing room.

    Close by to the stadium is the Azure Swimming Pool, which also hosts a basketball court:
    Note: some of the following photos contain a covered part in the top left-hand corner. This is because there was a mark on the lens which looked messy so I edited it out, incase you were wondering.
    27316380716_e44de05921_c.jpg
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    The pool (and possibly the basketball court) were actually still in use up until 1998 (12 years after the disaster) by Chernobyl liquidators, tasked with 'cleaning up' the zone.

    Next to this complex is Pripyat Middle School Number 3. This is where the iconic gas mask photos are taken. Although eerie, the gas masks were kept in storage to provide protection against an attack during the Cold War and were not actually used during the Chernobyl disaster. It is believed that the masks were removed from storage by thieves looking to salvage the silver contained within the filters, then left strewn across the floor.

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    We then visit the River Port (incorporating Pripyat Cafe). Unfortunately, technology (my phone) fails me at this point so I don't manage to get any photos, although it's pretty much an extremely run-down café with a sinking pier attached to it :rolleyes: Google Maps has satellite imagery - plus Chernobyl Street View which I've literally only just discovered!

    Finally, we have a late lunch at the Chernobyl canteen (nicer than it sounds) and pass through radiation control checks at both the 30km and 10km checkpoints. To the relief of my friends, family, partner and co-workers, I'm clean :D

    Thanks for reading :thumb
     
  3. Mr Anonymous

    Mr Anonymous 28DL Full Member
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    Hi, would you be able to provide me with details of your trip and the tour company you used? Nice report by the way!

    Thanks
     
  4. trailboss99

    trailboss99 28DL Full Member
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    I never tire of photos of this place but one year someone needs to seek permission to take a Phantom to Pripyat. Image the footage you could get!
     
  5. TVurbex

    TVurbex TV Locations Aficionado
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    Very true! There's loads to capture.
     
  6. Treasure Hunter513

    Treasure Hunter513 Rust Hunter513
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    WOW, that place is weird+spooky; but it looks amazing. I think i better save up!!! :cool:
     
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