This post is unique without any exaggeration. The story is told by a man who participated in liquidation of the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. His name is Alexander and he arrived in Chernobyl in the middle of August in 1986...
By that time the reactor had already been "pacified". The threat of nuclear explosion was ruled out, the threat of thermal explosion was minimal, emissions were absent.
The most dangerous work had already been done by the liquidators. You can see boom truck-mounted concrete pumps (then a very rare machine in the Soviet Union) and concrete line pumps in the photo. Between them is a white booth where its operators sheltered. The booth made of lead weakened the radiation level.
These operators are heroes, either because of their recklessness or ignorance. They were paid a 5 time higher wage and promised the "Zhiguli" without standing in a queue. But very few of them seem to have managed to get this car...
The radiation level in the place of a photographer was 2 r/h, in the place of operators - at least 20 r/h. It means it was safe to work here only for an hour which was actually impossible in such circumstances.
Besides, Russian people pursuing big money and the "Zhiguli" left their dosimeters in a "clean area" so that they wouldn't be sent away from the "hot area" before time. That's the paradox of the USSR - the "Zhiguli" at the cost of life.
The liquidators in black overalls and white caps descend the stairs. The chances that they're now gone are very high...
The sarcophagus. It was heroically built to protect against new releases. A lot of money and health were thrown away.
There are two points of view on this matter. The first one: about 194 tons of fuel (out of 200 tons) were left in the ruins of the NPP, and the sarcophagus was really needed. And the second one: by the time of its building all the fuel had already been burned out, it means such protection wasn't needed. The latter opinion has been expressed in "Youth" magazine on the 20th anniversary of the accident. It was based on the personal experience of one of the dosimetrists.
If the second point of view is correct then the whole strategy of liquidation was wrong as well as today's decision on construction of another sarcophagus over the old one.
Sacks of lead shot were widely used in early May.
Lead was collected throughout the whole country (mostly in hunting societies) and dropped from the helicopters directly to the collapse. The goal was to block emissions. But... accumulating gas and increasing temperature lead to additional thermal emissions with even more pressure. Then it was decided to stop doing this.