Chernobyl was left behind and now we are coming to another checkpoint. This is Lelyov – once it was a village with the popultaion of 1 000 people lying on the bank of the Chernobyl cooling pond, now it is the boundary of the 10 km exclusion zone, the territory that suffered from the accident most.
They do not like tourists here because they often bring problems. Many of visitors think it’s a cool adventure to be here, sometimes they get into troubles which can end rather tragically.
One girl from Moscow became a real queen of stupidity – she came to Pripyat to sunbathe. She underessed to a bikini and lay on the moss, right at the place of the highest background radiation. She was refusing to leave cause her friends allegedly had told her that Chernobyl tan would not be lost for a whole year, especially if she lies on the moss.
In the background is “Chernobyl-2”, “Duga” or Russian Woodpecker (called so because of the sound produced while working).
The radar station “Duga” is higher than 100 meters. It was intended for detection of ballistic missile launches and put into service not much earlier than the catastrophe happened. The complex was very expensive but worked only for a year, being abandoned and partially dismantled after the accident. Local workers rumour that one of the power units of the Chernobyl NPP worked exceptionally for powering of “Duga”.
Wildlife of the zone.
The area is really rich in animals. One can see huge herds of wild boars, sheatfish have become very big not because of radiation but because nobody goes fishing here and tourists feed it up. Roes, deer, hares and wolves roam freely in the zone.
However some change gives reasons for anxiety – insects have become much bigger, some beatles are half palm-sized.
The station itself – the source of life for some workers and the cause of death for others. The fourth power unit where the accident happened.
The construction that began in 1967 used to be called an “all-union”, “Komsomol”, “progressive” one.
However there were some delays in the process of the construction. By the moment of the catastrophe the Chernobyl NPP was the largest one in the Soviet Union, its total capacity was 4000 MW, the fifth and sixth power units were being actively built. At the moment of the accident it was ready for 80%. They still look they way they did in April 26th, 1986.
There is an observation point usually visited by all tourists here. They can see the fourth exploded power unit which was covered by the sarcophagus seven months later after the accident, and the monument to the victims of Chernobyl.
This object called “Shelter” is turning twenty seven this year. The huge structure which required 400,000 cubic meters of concrete is decaying today.
An interesting time-lapse video of the new sarcophagus arch lifting.
The international project should provide safety for the local population, personnel and environment and optimal functioning of the “Shelter” object for the next 100 years. The work is planned to have been finished by 2015, according to some data its cost is almost one billion euros.
Not far from the Chernobyl NPP is a railway station Yanov. It’s the very place from where many citizens of Pripyat were evacuated in April, 27-28th, 1986. Since then the station had not been used for a long time and the railway equipment affected by radiation was left there too.
Yanov is a dangerous place, tourists are rare here, they usually observe it from the nearest bridge.
Here lives a man who has been here since the very explosion but he refuses to talk.
The station is slowly reviving. Some part of the railway was reconstructed, cargoes needed for the sarcophagus construction are regularly transported here.
This bridge is called “the bridge of death” and is associated with different legends.
People rumour that after the explosion in April, 26th, there was an amazing light over the station, and many people came here to see it closer: mainly women and children – they all received a lethal dose of radiation.
Pripyat of today is a favourite place of stalkers.
This is the picture of the city before the accident.
Today it’s all like this…
“Hello, the city of nuclear power plant builders!”
The new city for those who worked at the station was started to be built in February, 4th, 1970. It was growing rather fast. In 1972 it was called “Pripyat”.
They planned to build such a sports complex and call it “Uranium”.
Like any other Soviet city, Pripyat represented one huge dwelling area built up with 5-16 storey houses.
The city of the wonderful socialistic future.
Today this place looks like this…
It took only fifteen years to build a full-fledged city for 50 thousand people with everything they needed for comfortable life.
While the construction they tried to preserve the forests growing on the territory of Pripyat, decorated houses and streets with mosaic, stained-glass windows, sculptures. On the 1st of May they wanted to open a new amusement park which didn’t have a chance to start working.
The city was young as well as its population. Workers of the NPP had good salaries by Soviet standards. On the old pictures streets of Pripyat were full of children.
Where are these little football players today?
For those who knew the city before the accident it’s hard to see what it has turned into…
“The House of Books”.
The same building twenty seven years later.
“Peoples Friendship Monument” then…
Another checkpoint is guarded by two persons in uniform.
Welcome to the dead city!
The central street of the city then…
Local “White House” and the shop “Raduga” (“Rainbow”) next to it.
Inside the shop today.
Palace of Culture “Energetic” in the mid-1980s.
The hotel “Polesye” then…
“The people and the party are a single whole!”
Do you see those fir trees atthe entry of the administrative building?
27 years after…
The school of arts then…
… and now.
“Prometheus” cinema then…
… and now.
Service centre then…
… and these days.
“Svetlyachok” shop and dormitories then…
… and today.
“Lazurny” swimming pool…
So called Shadows of Hiroshima have become the attractions of the dead city.
They planned to build more cinemas, hotels, palace of arts etc. and the population of the city was supposed to grow up to eigthy thousand people.
But this happened and all the plans were scattered.
Only 24 hours after the accident they realized the extent of the catastrophe and decided to evacuate the city. At that very moment there were fourty seven thousand people in Pripyat, including seventeen thousand of children. 1200 buses took them all away. People were told that the evacuation was a temporary measure, that they didn’t have to take all their belongings with them. But the absolute majority of those who left, never came back.
Two years later, the families of Pripyat started to settle down in the new city called Slavutich while Pripyat itself turned for someone into a nightmarish present, for others – into a cool location of the computer game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. so popular in Russia. But for many thousands of its former citizens it became the light past that remained in their memories and on old Soviet pictures.
We are going to show you Slavutich soon…