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Chernobyl 20+ Years After the Accident

“I remember that day when we learnt for the first time what Chernobyl was…

It was a beautiful sunny day [26 April 1986]. My daughter and me were sitting in our yard. A soft spring wind was blowing. Suddenly a huge military truck stopped right in front of us. A man wearing a gas-mask and a protective costume jumped out of the truck and began to walk around us gazing at some device that was hanging on his chest… Then he looked at us, fastened a little sign with a symbol that we had never seen before, got back into the truck and drove away. Everything happened in complete silence. No word was pronounced. We were just looking at the sign and the truck and had no idea what was going on… The day was not that beautiful any more…”

From the memories of an elderly woman,

Yurovichi village

Northern Ukraine, Kiev Oblast, near the border with Belarus. Prypiat used to be proud for being home to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant workers. Its population had been around 50,000 prior to the accident. But something terrible happened on 26 April 1986… Today, the only residents are deer and wolves along with a solitary guard.

According to experts’ evaluations, the damage caused by the Chernobyl reactor accident equals to about USD 235 bln which corresponds to 32 Belarus’ annual budgets of 1986 – the year of the disaster.

Let the story be told by the creepy pictures taken ~20 years after the accident along with comments made by the authors of the photos.

(Bamboos for: Pedro Moura Pinheiro)

“The sign on the road to Pripyat, the town where the workers of the nuclear plant lived.”

The bridge of death

(Bamboos for: Vivo (Ben))

“After the explosion at Reactor 4 the people of Pripyat flocked on the railway bridge just outside the city to get a good view of the reactor and see what had happened.

Initially, everyone was told that radiation level was minimal and that they were safe. Little did they know that much of the radiation had been blown onto this bridge in a huge spike.”

They saw a beautiful rainbow coloured flames of the burning graphite nuclear core, whose flames were higher than the smoke stack itself. All of them are dead now – they were exposed to levels of over 500 roentgens, which is a fatal dose.

 

Schools

(Bamboos for: misterbisson)

“Deserted secondary school near Chernobyl, Illinsty, Ukraine. Dec 1995 0.96.07.01.19″

(Bamboos for: Vivo (Ben) and Anosmia)

Left: “One of the five schools of Pripyat, each teaching about 1000 children. The schools have remained relatively intact considering the problems with looters eight years ago. I guess books don’t hold much value to the poor.”

Right:”At a 20th anniversary Chernobyl exhibit on Capitol Hill.”

(Bamboos for: zbruch)

“Children will never run here again.”

(Bamboos for: oinkylicious)

(Bamboos for: Vivo (Ben))

“Gym class”

Kindergarten

(Bamboos for: Pedro Moura Pinheiro)

On the left: “Stairs on the creche/kindergarten near the center of Pripyat”; on the right: “Broken doll on top of a corner cupboard in one of the rooms in the creche/kindergarten in the center of Pripyat.”

(Bamboos for: hanszinsli)

“Nursery in the creche/kindergarten”.

(Bamboos for: Pedro Moura Pinheiro)

“Child’s big toy car in one of the rooms of the creche/kindergarten”. Notice the number plate of the car – 1984. It must have been manufactured 2 years before the accident.

(Bamboos for: Pedro Moura Pinheiro)

The note says “Rabbit”.

(Bamboos for: Pedro Moura Pinheiro)

“Hay stuffed toy”.

(Bamboos for: Vivo (Ben))

Pripyat funfair

(Bamboos for: Vivo (Ben))

“Pripyat funfair was due to be opened on May 1st. The Chernobyl disaster happened April 26th.

No one ever managed to ride the ferries wheel. It remains one of the most irradiated parts of Pripyat since the disaster, making it still dangerous today, 22 years on.”

(Bamboos for: hanszinsli)

“Bumper car ride in the amusement park in central Pripyat, it was to be opened on the May 1st celebrations of 1986, five days after the accident.”

(Bamboos for: Pedro Moura Pinheiro)

(Bamboos for: Pedro Moura Pinheiro)

“Ferris wheel control or ticket booth in the amusement park .. I’m sure the plush teddy bear was placed there later by someone looking for an emotional photo, but it’s interesting also to document the later attempts of using the accident to achieve certain media goals.”

Hospital

(Bamboos for: Vivo (Ben))

“Hospital corridor”.

(Bamboos for: Vivo (Ben))

“Found just outside the surgery in the hospital. This hospital received many of Reactor 4′s first victims for treatment immediately after the explosion. The hospital itself however was already exposed to huge amounts of radiation.

Every rescue worker who attended the initial explosion was killed by radiation poisoning.”

(Bamboos for: abandonia)

(Bamboos for: abandonia)

(Bamboos for: abandonia)

Swimming Pool

Olympic athletes must have been training here for the 70′s/80′s. The pool is really huge – this place must’ve been the best around.

(Bamboos for: oinkylicious)

(Bamboos for: oinkylicious)

Other buildings

(Bamboos for: Ruben Solaz)

“Pripyat, ghost city abandoned after Chernobyl catastrophe, has grown to a forest. nature takes over and invades and collapses human creations the views remind some apocalipthic films like I am a Legend; Views from highst building in town, a former Hotel”.

(Bamboos for: Stuck in Customs)

“Radiated Apartment Building”.

(Bamboos for: Vivo (Ben))

“The Government have left us – From what I saw inside, I’d presume this was the local government building. There was a political event scheduled for a few days after the explosion and there are many pamphlets and banners still inside. “

(Bamboos for: Vivo (Ben))

“These extremely well preserved posters are the last evidence of what the city’s inhabitants were like. I’m unsure of the details but I believe these men were politicians”.

(Bamboos for: Stuck in Customs)

We can see hammer and sickle on the roof which is a communist symbol.

(Bamboos for: Carpetblogger)

(Bamboos for: Pedro Moura Pinheiro)

Left: “Dismantled sofa-bed in one of the apartments in the 16 story residential apartment”

Right: “Elevator call button in the 16 story residential apartment building facing the central square of Pripyat.”

(Bamboos for: Pedro Moura Pinheiro)

(Bamboos for: Pedro Moura Pinheiro)

“Electrical junction box in the 16 story residential apartment building”

(Bamboos for: Pedro Moura Pinheiro)

Left: “Sofa under an open back window in one of the apartments in the 16 story residential apartment building”

Right: “Broken ceiling light fixture in one of the apartments in the 16 story residential apartment”

(Bamboos for: Pedro Moura Pinheiro)

“Newspaper used as a backing to glue the wallpaper in one of the apartments in the 16 story residential apartment building facing the central square of Pripyat.”

Newspapers title: “Pravda” (Truth) – the official propaganda newspaper of the Soviet Union

Newspapers date: “Wednesday, 25th of May 1983″

Articles title on the left: “Africa fights and builds”

Other title at the bottom: “Land owners”

(Bamboos for: Pedro Moura Pinheiro)

Translations from the top to bottom: “Store #1 “Rainbow”  Happy to provide service from 11 to 20 (?) Lunch from 14 to 15 Saturday from 9 to 17″ “Lunch from 13 to 14″

(Bamboos for: Ruben Solaz)

“400m away from the reactor (max allowed)” – 2.0 rt being off-scale of the reader-device. average radiation level of a non contaminated area: 0.010 rt/m2″

(Bamboos for: Stuck in Customs)

Two more reactors, no. 5 and 6, capable of producing 1 GW each, were under construction at the time of the disaster.

Living creatures

(Bamboos for: Ruben Solaz)

“These whikeers-fish survived and developed countermeasures against the deadly radiation levels of the contaminated water in the rivers surrounding Chernobyl. we didn’t there to have a splash with them but we fed them big chunks of bread that were guzzled in the blink of an eye !! “.

Learn More

If you want to read real stories of Chernobyl survivors you should definitely check: Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

“This book is a punch in the gut. There’s no nicer way to say it. It’s downright devastating. It’s something that every single person should read. Even if you only know Chernobyl vaguely, two things are made painfully apparent by this book: whatever you’ve read about Chernobyl in the past has probably grossly underestimated the magnitude of the disaster; and the death and injury toll from the accident hasn’t stopped yet. Not by a long shot.” – a review from Amazon.com.

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What do you think?

  • Alison Allen

    Very moving: for me it was the bridge of death that really brought it home. I was 17 when it happened and big CND member and the horror as the stories slowly came out really effected me…

  • HonoluluJoe

    It looks a lot like the ‘Shadow of Cherobyl’ or ‘Fallout’
    Really cool!
    All bad though.
    Great pictures, <3

  • Odna

    Awesome. For some reason reminds me of cod4………

  • Magd

    gosh, it’s so scary, surrealistic

  • Snaporaz
    • chernobyl

      the same author did both of these articles, so no problem here

  • Anonymous

    In the store window, the caption says, for opening hours, 11-20
    They had a ? after 20, so I’m guessing they didn’t realize it’s 8pm in 12hr time.

    • http://pedromourapinheiro.com/ Pedro Moura Pinheiro

      The “?” wasn’t about the way time is represented, but because the number is partially deleted and behind the metal bar, so I’m not sure if it’s a 0 or if it was another number (like a 1 for instance).

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the link, Snaporaz, since the pics seem to have disappeared here.

Author:   Date posted: Apr 26th, 2010
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