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Report - - Duga (Woodpecker), Ukraine, August 2015 | European and International Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Duga (Woodpecker), Ukraine, August 2015


HavanaExplorer

28DL Member
28DL Member
Nipped up the old Duga radar antenna while I was working as a tour guide at Chernobyl a few years ago.

At the time I made a mental note of exactly how many steps it was, and measured a step, in order to calculate the height. But I stupidly forgot to note the info. Anyway it was a pretty long climb - I'm reasonably fit and I think it was a good 45 minutes to get to the top.

Needless to say the view from the top was amazing, looking out from high above the trees towards the Chernobyl NPP. At that time the new safe confinement was still under construction though nearing completion.

It struck me as a thing of real beauty from an engineering point of view. It was also in amazingly good condition, considering there's been no maintenance in 30+ years. No significant deterioration of the structure at all, apart from what's been removed deliberately. The use of tubular structural elements was obviously practical to minimise wind resistance and ice buildup but must have really been cutting edge technology back in 1970s USSR. That's saying nothing of the scale and presumably the precision of the thing.

I don't have a problem with heights but it did take a bit of nerve to step out onto the cantilevered 'bridges' that support the hanging wire mesh in front of the steerable antennas!

I heard it's now being demolished, and that someone died climbing on a ladder which had been partly dismantled. Real shame on both accounts.

Слава Україні!

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HavanaExplorer

28DL Member
28DL Member
Thanks
I wrote incorrectly about the purpose of the 'bridges' - I now remember that they support the RF balanced feeder lines to the antenna elements. The wire mesh backplane is behind the antenna elements (closer to the main structure). Can be seen better in this picture. I think they could also be used for abseiling down from or hauling materials up for maintenance.

I was told that the reason that climbing the structure was prohibited was because of the risk of picking up hot (radioactive) particles on hands and feet. Sounds highly unlikely to me; the thing obviously gets a good wash down every time it rains and in general in the exclusion zone it's much more likely to pick up hot particles at ground level or below; even then it's extremely rare these days. In any case the radiation scanner didn't pick anything up on me afterwards.

Below also... waiting for the lift that never came!

The structure really was incredibly sturdy - rock solid with no wobble at all anywhere, and at no point did I feel in danger.

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