< Andrew Marcus. Chernobyl in October 2013

Chernobyl in October 2013

Chernobyl is a quiet, cozy, almost resort-like town. There is a common misconception that the city was destroyed by a catastrophe and is uninhabited. In reality, it is about Pripyat, while Chernobyl itself does not have anything like that.

The town is residential, and here live workers of the nuclear power plant and other city enterprises. In Chernobyl, there are cafes.

There is Wi-Fi.

There are shops.

There are groceries in the shops. They even accept credit cards here. If the saleswoman at a local stall tells you that cards are not accepted, confidently refuse: they even accept them in Chernobyl.

There are hotels for tourists.

True, only one star though.

Just ordinary residential houses.

Good roads.

Old posters.

There is also a local police station in Chernobyl.

And there’s also a museum in Chernobyl. It is the museum of the memorial complex “Zvyezda Polyny” (Star of Wormwood). Initially, there was a cinema called “Ukraine” built in 1964. Later, the cinema was converted into a grocery store, and for the 25th anniversary of the accident, a museum was opened here.

Across from it is the composition “Sounding Angel.”

An ominous monument erected in memory of the catastrophe, inspired by the well-known prophecy of John the Revelator: “And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters because they were made bitter.”

There is a version that the word “Chernobyl” is derived from the name of the plant called “chernobylnik,” which means “wormwood” in Ukrainian. This fact has given rise to numerous myths surrounding the event and its connection to the Bible.

Next is the Alley of Dead Settlements. It is a pathway in the city park, adorned with plaques displaying the names of the settlements affected by the accident.

At the other end of the alley, another memorial is located. There are hardly any mentions of it online, so the symbolism remains unknown to the author. Perhaps it represents a world divided in half by the pipes of a nuclear reactor.

Two stones next to the pigeons are divided by plaques saying “Hiroshima” and “Fukushima.”

The memorial complex is located in a small, modest historical center of Chernobyl.

They have tilted and rusted.

Former grocery store, now it is a fitness center.

It appears to be functioning. There is even a schedule posted.

A Soviet signpost.

Street in the center.

Unfortunately, the city’s population is small and actively engaged in alcohol abuse. It is said that drunken fights are a common occurrence here. Among the local traditions is the annual celebration of the disaster day. Every year, from April 25th to 26th, a fire truck with a siren blaring drives out of the gates of the State Fire and Rescue Department and travels throughout the city towards the nuclear power plant.

Next to the military unit, there is another monument, unofficially created by enthusiasts, not even included in the general register of monuments in Ukraine, but no less remarkable as a result.

The city has a small exhibition of robotics that participated in the cleanup of the accident. German machines were ordered, as well as locally developed ones, to work in the radioactive debris of the fourth reactor. More detailed information about the robots can be found on the Chernobyl Zone website.

Bridge over the Pripyat River.

Abandoned construction site of a new reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

Cooling water intake channel for the reactor.

Unfinished cooling tower of the fifth power block.

To enter, you need to walk across a dilapidated bridge.

And inside it looks like this.

There is a skull of some animal lying around. The dosimeter shows beta radiation. The animal must have eaten something radioactive: there is cesium in its bones.

Construction of the fifth reactor.

Inside is pitch darkness.

A warning sign next to the staircase leading up, God knows how many floors. Probably around 20.

One of the floors has some rails on it.

It’s difficult to capture in such darkness without a good flash. Here is something resembling a piece of the central hall.

Overall, it should look like this.

View from the window of the reactor walls, a cascade of power lines, remnants of a lifting crane, and a cooling pond.

Very close by is the fourth block. A beautiful view.

The famous pipe sticking out of the reactor is ventilation. During the operation of a nuclear power plant, radioactive gases with particles of solid substances and liquids are formed, which are contained and filtered before being released into the atmosphere through such pipes, which exist in one form or another at all nuclear power plants. Essentially, it’s just a pipe, and the metal framework around it is created for strength.

The arch to the left of the pipe is the new sarcophagus, the construction of which has been underway with varying success for several years.

The completion of the construction of the new sarcophagus, also known as “Shelter-2” or simply “the arch,” was planned for 2015. Subsequently, approximately until 2023, the old sarcophagus will be gradually dismantled, and the remnants of nuclear fuel will be disposed of.

It is easy to notice that the arch is significantly smaller in size compared to the reactor. To be precise, its height is slightly taller than the sarcophagus without considering the pipe. Yes, unfortunately, the pipe, which has become a symbol of the Chernobyl accident, will be dismantled in the near future. The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (ChNPP) is living out its final days in its current state.

The construction of the arch is carried out by the company Novarka. The company’s logo is something else. Honestly, if it was intentionally designed like that, it is one of the most brilliant logos. It depicts a complete dystopia. Imagination paints a grim future, a new catastrophe, and a scientist with a wrench.

View of the fourth reactor from the platform next to the fifth block.

We drive past the engine room.

We are heading towards the observation deck.

The observation deck is simply a place near the 4th reactor, where a monument is located and the reactor is clearly visible up close. It is the most popular spot for photographs. It is no longer possible to access it beyond the fence.

In this area, filming is only allowed towards the reactor. It is strictly prohibited to photograph the arch.

Near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (ChNPP), there is a Soviet-style cafeteria where station workers eat. There is a radiation monitoring at the entrance.

The food in the cafeteria is incredibly delicious.

We’ve refreshed ourselves, it’s time to go to Pripyat.