Email Stephen
Contact
949-510-5272

Site Map

a_nikon-user-437202
Nikon Logo for web
instagram-logo-0625

Follow me on Instagram

Stephen’s C.V.

 

 

Chernobyl

Site Map

 

 

When one thinks of Chernobyl, vacation spot is certainly not the first thing to come to mind. However, more than three decades after the terrible reactor meltdown, tours of the contaminated towns surrounding the infamous reactor are gaining in popularity.

On April 26, 1986, during a test to see how much power was needed to keep the No. 4 reactor operating in the event of a blackout, the Chernobyl Nuclear Station exploded, releasing extremely dangerous amounts of radioactive chemicals into the air, which over time contaminated millions of square miles in dozens of European nations. The IAEA estimates that approximately 30 people were killed by the explosion and related radiation exposure, with several thousand additional deaths due to higher cancer incidence possible over the long term.

The town closest to the No. 4 reactor was Pripyat, a city of 49,000 founded in 1970 to house workers from Chernobyl. It had 15 primary schools, a hospital, 25 stores, 10 gyms, along with parks, cinemas, factories, and other marks of a thriving community. There was even an amusement park. Only about three kilometers from the explosion, the entire city was forced to evacuate in a mere two days.

Over two decades later, this ghost town is a freeze-frame of the Soviet Union in 1986. Communist propaganda still hangs on walls, personal belongings litter the streets and abandoned buildings. The hammer and sickle decorate lampposts, awaiting May Day celebrations that never took place. Toys are strewn about a schoolhouse where they were last dropped by children who are now fully grown. All clocks are frozen at 11:55, the moment the electricity was cut.

Ironically, the absence of humans has been excellent for the wildlife. In 1986 wildlife was not doing well in Chernobyl, outcompeted for resources by pine and dairy farms. After people left the deer and boar populations returned almost immediately, and despite having radiation levels thousands of times higher than normal, they were not showing obvious signs of mutations (though the plants got pretty weird including some actual glowing) and the animal populations grew enormously. After the elk, moose, deer and boar returned so did their predators the wolves and lynx. Today the animal populations more closely resemble that of a national park than a radioactive containment zone. As it turns out, from the animals point of view, a nuclear disaster is preferable to normal human habitation.

Already, after three decades of abandonment, Pripyat is being to be swallowed up by the surrounding forest. Someday soon, it will no doubt be completely overgrown.  (Source: Atlas Obscura)

Images Page

Previous Page

Next Page

20180607_163654-1216360

_DSC0005-1216360

_6100284-1216360

_DSC0199-1216360

20180606_131409-1216362

_DSC0145-1216360

_6070049-1216360

20180607_151309-1216360-v2

_DSC9750-1216360

_DSC9764-1216360-V2

_DSC9248-1216360

_DSC0135-1216361

_DSC9175-1216360

_DSC4089-1216360

_6080120-1216360

_6100281-1216360

_DSC0028-1216360

_6080145-1216360

20180607_155706-1216360

_DSC4202-1216360

_DSC9250-1216360-V2

_DSC4182-1216360

_DSC9804-1216360

_DSC9535-1216360

20180608_115323-1216360

_DSC9998-1216360-Polissya-Hotel

_DSC9709-1216360-v5

_DSC4414-1216360

_DSC9864-V2-1216360

_DSC9454-1216360

_DSC9078-Sukachi-Ukraine-1216361

_6070070-v1-1216360

_DSC9407-1216360

In the early morning hours of April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine (formerly part of the Soviet Union) exploded, creating what has been described as the worst nuclear disaster the world has ever seen.

What happened?
The day before the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, plant operators were preparing for a one-time shutdown to perform routine maintenance on reactor number 4. In violation of safety regulations, operators disabled plant equipment including the automatic shutdown mechanisms, according to the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).

At 1:23 a.m. on April 26, when extremely hot nuclear fuel rods were lowered into cooling water, an immense amount of steam was created, which — because of the RBMK reactors' design flaws — created more reactivity in the nuclear core of reactor number 4. The resultant power surge caused an immense explosion that detached the 1,000-ton plate covering the reactor core, releasing radiation into the atmosphere and cutting off the flow of coolant into the reactor.

A few seconds later, a second explosion of even greater power than the first blew the reactor building apart and spewed burning graphite and other parts of the reactor core around the plant, starting a number of intense fires around the damaged reactor and reactor number 3, which was still operating at the time of the explosions

On April 27, the residents of Pripyat were evacuated — about 36 hours after the accident had occurred. By that time, many were already complaining about vomiting, headaches and other signs of radiation sickness. Officials eventually closed off an 18-mile (30 km) area around the plant; residents were told they would be able to return after a few days, so many left their personal belongings and valuables behind.

Shortly after the radiation leaks from Chernobyl occurred, the trees in the woodlands surrounding the plant were killed by high levels of radiation. This region came to be known as the "Red Forest" because the dead trees turned a bright ginger color. The trees were eventually bulldozed and buried in trenches.

Radiation levels
The radiation levels in the worst-hit areas of the reactor building have been estimated to be 5.6 roentgens per second (R/s), equivalent to more than 20,000 roentgens per hour. A lethal dose is around 500 roentgens (~5 Gy) over 5 hours, so in some areas, unprotected workers received fatal doses in less than a minute. However, a dosimeter capable of measuring up to 1000 R/s was buried in the rubble of a collapsed part of the building, and another one failed when turned on. All remaining dosimeters had limits of 0.001 R/s and therefore read "off scale". Thus, the reactor crew could ascertain only that the radiation levels were somewhere above 0.001 R/s (3.6 R/h), while the true levels were much higher in some areas.  (Source:  LiveScience)