Visiting Chernobyl

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The vehicle graveyard

About 15 km from Chernobyl, thousands of vehicles are left to rust. At first, the graveyard was meant to store only vehicles contaminated by isotopes with a short half-life, like Iodine. After a few months they would have been safe. Unfortunately, other vehicles were parked there, and the wind blew more dangerous particles over here, rendering all these trucks and helicopters useless for the first few centuries.
Unfortunately we were not allowed to walk between the vehicles.

^^ fire engines.

^^ school busses used for the evacuation of the zone. You can clearly see what is left of the rotors of two helicopters in the back.

^^ An army truck. Note that the engine is missing, probably stolen by looters or corrupt civil servants for sale on the black market.

^^ Armored Personnel Carriers used by the fire department.

^^ These gunship helicopters flew straight from the Afghan battlefield to Chernobyl to aid in the building of the sarcophagus.

Pripyat III: The kindergarten

We also visited a kindergarten. Most childeren aged 3 - 6 would spend their day here, since it was customary for both parents to go out working in the Soviet Union.

^^ The entrance. You may have noticed that I love peeling paint.

^^ Little trees are reclaiming the playground.

^^ A piece of graffiti in the gym.

^^ A toy car with a child's gasmask on top. Without a doubt the weirdest image I have seen during our trip. Childeren sized gasmasks creep me out.

^^ The kitchen.

^^ Obligatory shoe-shots.

^^ I loved that drawing. After a while, it gets harder to imagine that at one time, Pripyat was a happy place (Filled with turnip-cooking sparrows?).

Pripyat II: Swimming pool

These are some pictures of an indoor swimming pool / sporting hall :

^^ The windows of the swimming pool are long gone

^^ Another view from outside

^^ Our guide climbing the stairs to the pool.

^^ The basketball court on the first floor.

^^ The swimming pool. There were shards of glass everywhere. (Click for big)

^^ Serge and the pool

^^ The team filming us

Monday, May 22, 2006

Pripyat I

The abandoned town "Pripyat" was a so-called "sleeper town", built to house those who worked in the power plant and the port. It was built from scratch in the seventies after the plant was completed and was very modern by contemporary soviet standards.

^^ When entering Pripyat from the south, travellers are greeted with a part of the refrain of the Hymn of the Soviet Union. "Partiya Lenina, sila narodnaya / Nas k torzhestvu kommunizma vedyot!" (Party of Lenin, will of the people / Lead us to the victory of communism).

^^ Further down the road is the "cultural palace". The gray cloud in the background is smoke from a forrest fire. Pictures from inside will follow.

^^ Those little stars were a nice touch.

^^ We climbed that high rise building. The view was spectacular.

^^ Another view of that appartment building. About five hundred people lived here.

^^ Ugh, insitutional green. This is inside the appartment building. Unfortunately, there was no time to explore it.

^^ The kindergarten as seen from above. Pictures from inside will follow

^^ The view of the town square as seen from the top floor: bottom: The restaurant, left: the cinema / cultural palace, top: the hotel.

^^ More housing blocks (click for big)

^^ Reactor 4 still dominates the landscape in Pripyat.

^^ A giant hammer and sickle, Serge and reactor 4.

^^ A forrest fire

In the next update, I will show how some of the buildings look from the inside.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Part 1

This is taking forever, because I had to scan a lot of negatives (my digital camera broke during the trip).

I kept my eyes peeled on the way to the Dytyaki checkpoint (where we would enter the zone) for arrows pointing to Chernobyl. There were several, this is the first one:

^^ "Chornobyl", to the left.

^^ 2 Kilometers before the zone, an old sign welcomes us to the "Chornobylskii Raion" (District of Chernobyl). "If you move behind this sign, you're back in the Soviet Union" according to our guide.

^^Sound engineer Kenneth in front and photographer Serge in the back.

^^ The sign reads "Chornobyl".

^^ The main roads in the zone weren't in any worse condition than those outside.

After a short talk in the Chernobylinterinform visitor's center we went directly to see the Sarcophagus.

^^ I posted this one before, I like that shot a lot :-)

^^ Reactor 5 was never finished.

^^ Serge, Tim, David and Kenneth in front of reactor 5.

^^ This would have been reactor 5's cooling tower. Reactors 1 to 4 were cooled directly with water from the Pripyat river.

^^ Soviet pylons look friendly, don't you think?

^^ Our guide Maksum in front of one of them.

^^ Reactor 4 in close up

^^ David filming the sarcophagus. The light was pretty bad (not a lot of contrast).

Coming up: The abandoned town Pripyat and more.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Soviet Pimpmobiles

^^ I believe this one is a Volga, a luxury car reserved for high ranking party officials.


^^ The friendliest car in the east.