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Old August 17th, 2008, 09:52 PM   #1
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Чорнобиль | Chernobyl & Pripyat

Hello, i had the opportunity to visit Ukraine and the infamous Chernobyl powerplant and the ghosttown of Pripyat. Keep in mind that this are large pictures, so downloading could take some time. I want to apologize forthe size of the pictures, but nevertheless, enjoy the trip!

For more information about the the nuclear disaster: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster


01) The (in)famous nuclear powerplant in Chernobyl, Ukraine.




02) The left side of the building, reactor number four, is the place where the explosion occured on the 26th of April 1986. Reactor no. 4 was completely destroyed and has since been enclosed in a concrete sarcophagus to prevent further escape of radiation. There are plans to construct of new, very large sarcophagus.




03) On the left we can see reactors numbers 3 and 4, and on the right side of the picture we can see the older reactors 1 and 2.




04) Two more reactors were under construction at the time of the accident, and were never finished. Reactor no. 5 was almost complete and was scheduled to start operating in the fall of 1986.




05)




06) Reactor number four and a monument in front of it. The levels of radation in this area weren't a high as some other parts in the region.




07)




08) The most notorious chimney in the history of mankind.




09) The skyline of Pripyat. This town had a population of almost 50,000 and was a Soviet Utopia. The city was young and growing. According to Wikipedia, 'Initially the plant was intended to be built only 25 km from Kiev, but the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, among other bodies, expressed concern about the station being too close to the city, and so the station, together with Prypiat[1] , were built in their current location — about 100 km from Kiev.'




10)




11) Soviet symbolism.




12) This was once the entrance of the cultural center.




13) Our guide (on the right side) told us a lot of interesting stories.




14)




15) Old Greek paintings.




16)




17) This is the only trafficlight in town, and it's always green!




18)




19)




20)




21) The complete themepark was never used, except for the bumper cars. It was scheduled to open on the day of the disaster.




22)




23) These bumper cars were used only once at the day of the evacuation. Parents could drop their kids here so they were able to pick up some stuff from their homes, convinced that the evacuation whould be temporary.




24) The Geiger counter is measuring high levels of radiation in the moss, more than 1,3 rontgen. A dose of 500 rontgen is deadly in five hours.




25)




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28)




29) This is a part of the so-called Red Forest, refering to the colour of the trees which was a result of the radioactive contamination. The levels of radiation were so high that most of the trees simply burned down. What was left of the forest has been destroyed and buried, and the area stills remains one of the most radioactive in the world. Notice the tree in the middle, which shows clearly signes of radation: the tree is burned.




30) A view toward the north, we can see the nuclear power plant.




31) The Dnieper River, which also flows through Kiev and other import cities in Ukraine like Dniperpetrovsk and Zaporizhzhya.




32) A rusty old shipyard, these are contaminated.




33)




34) Some vehicles used by the 'liquidators', the people who had the stop the disaster. These vehicles are still radioactive and can not be used anymore. It's interesting to notice that there was once a great graveyard of machines like cars, tanks and helicopters but those were stripped and sold as 'old metal'. Only the very contaminated parts were destroyed.




35)




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37) This is the 'Russian Woodpecker', which is almost 150 meters tall and (i believe) almost one kilometer long. According to some, this antenna would be twice as expansive as the nuclear powerplant at the time of construction.




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50) That's me!

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Old August 17th, 2008, 10:38 PM   #2
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That was absolutely fascinating! Thanks.
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Old August 18th, 2008, 01:02 AM   #3
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The place creeps me out, but I've always wanted to visit. Nice pics
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Old August 18th, 2008, 01:42 AM   #4
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Great Job! How much radiation were you exposed to visiting? I notice no one in the pictures is wearing any sort of protection...
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Old August 18th, 2008, 02:02 AM   #5
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One of the most fascinating town IMO. Thank you so much for risking your life for the pictures! I really enjoyed them.
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Old August 18th, 2008, 02:06 AM   #6
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really creepy, its like russian area 51.
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Old August 18th, 2008, 02:20 AM   #7
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Except Area 51 is a testing site, not where people lived daily lives
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Old August 18th, 2008, 02:25 AM   #8
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your work is incredible. congratulations!!
Greetings from Argentina!
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Old August 18th, 2008, 03:25 AM   #9
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Wow amazing absolutely amazing!
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Old August 18th, 2008, 10:35 AM   #10
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were you allowed to take some of those books if you wanted to? they would make a nice souvenir
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Old August 18th, 2008, 11:40 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brett View Post
Great Job! How much radiation were you exposed to visiting? I notice no one in the pictures is wearing any sort of protection...
If you're there for a short period, it isn't dangerous. I heard it can vary from place to place, like some stuff is heavily under radiation, such as abandoned vehicles, but you can walk around without protection.

Remember you're exposed to radiation all the time, there's always a background radiation, and some stuff like older fire alarms also have radiation, and fertilizer too if I remember correctly.
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Old August 18th, 2008, 01:22 PM   #12
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Amazing photos, extreme pathos, thanks.
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Old August 18th, 2008, 01:44 PM   #13
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Best thread this year, easily.

I've always wanted to visit Chernobyl. How much was your tour? Can you give me any information about it? I'd love to visit sometime. I find the science and eeriness very interesting.

Brilliant photos.
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Old August 18th, 2008, 02:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by city_thing View Post
Best thread this year, easily.

I've always wanted to visit Chernobyl. How much was your tour? Can you give me any information about it? I'd love to visit sometime. I find the science and eeriness very interesting.

Brilliant photos.
http://pripyat.com/en/
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Old August 18th, 2008, 04:24 PM   #15
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Thanks for all the comments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brett View Post
Great Job! How much radiation were you exposed to visiting? I notice no one in the pictures is wearing any sort of protection...
Like my fellow Dutchmen, ChrisZwolle, said: it isn't dangerous. The total exposure to radioactive radiation during the whole trip is no more than the amount of radiation you will receive during an (intercontinental) flight. In other words: it's quite safe, although there are some areas like the Red Forest, were the contamination is higher. This is the area were our Geiger counter peaked, and showed a level of radiation of almost 2 rontgen. This is high and a exception, our guide showed us this place while driving through the Red Forest. But this amount lasted only a few seconds and a few meters and dropped very quickly (remember we were driving) so it should be without consequences during the short time we were there. To put these things in perspective: a dose of 500 rontgen received in five hours is lethal.
Most of the contamination can be found in the soil, but some dust and moss show also higher levels of radiation (see picture 24). Therefore it would be wise to avoid the moss, but it's difficult to avoid the dust but as you can see on pic 13, both guys wrapped their trousers so those wouldn't drag through the dust. It is not much, but it wouldn't hurt to take some precautions.
After the visit to to nuclear 30 km zone everybody is being checked. And in this zone, aprox. 3000 people still work. Many of them living in the area, and some working in shifts in which they work, eat and sleep in the place Chernobyl (10 km south of the power plant). The maximum they are allowed to stay in the area is (i believe) 16 days a month.

So, to answer your question: visiting the area is very safe. Go out camping in the Red Forest isn't...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imperfect Ending View Post
Thank you so much for risking your life for the pictures!
I wouldn't be wise to risk my life for some pictures. Visiting the area is relatively safe and can be done without any consequences for your health.

Quote:
Originally Posted by city_thing View Post
I've always wanted to visit Chernobyl. How much was your tour? Can you give me any information about it? I'd love to visit sometime. I find the science and eeriness very interesting.

Brilliant photos.
It is very easy accessible, for example (and do not regard this as spam) i booked my trip via these guys, do not mind the terrible cheap internetsite, this was one of the cheapest i could find and the one with a very quick response. You can find more agencies who can help you, just google around. It isn't cheap, the price depends on the number of people of your group.
Before you go, the agency must have some data like in your passport, and travel info, so the Ukrainian government can check your data and register you as a visitor. Before entering the so called 'zone of Aliennation', a 30 kilometer zone around the powerplant, you must pass a checkpoint. There is a second checkpoint 10 km before the powerplant, and a third one just before Pripyat.
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Last edited by 909; August 18th, 2008 at 04:31 PM.
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Old August 18th, 2008, 04:47 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisZwolle View Post
If you're there for a short period, it isn't dangerous. I heard it can vary from place to place, like some stuff is heavily under radiation, such as abandoned vehicles, but you can walk around without protection.

Remember you're exposed to radiation all the time, there's always a background radiation, and some stuff like older fire alarms also have radiation, and fertilizer too if I remember correctly.
Nonsense. All ionising radiation has the potential to cause double strand DNA breaks which can be incorrectly repaired by a low-fidelity DNA repair mechanism (non-homologous end joining specifically rather than homologous recombination), thus causing potential mutations in coding regions of the DNA - worst of all oncogene activation of the loss of a tumour suppressor gene. You are right in the fact that we are exposed to background radiation, however, you are very wrong in assuming that "limited higher exposure" is totally harmless from a cellular biology point of view. I'm sure that as they're not going around eating vegitation they'll not be adversely affected by the visit though.

Also - most fire alarms with a radioactive source contain an alpha particle emitter which slowly decays, releasing alpha partcles. These particles have a very short range and can be stopped by a couple of centimetres of air. This is why they work well in smoke alarms as the smoke interferes with ionisation from the alpha particle and thus, interrupts the circuit. The radioactive sources used are fine as long as they are kept sealed, however, I don't recommend that you go around and smash up old smoke alarms as alpha particles are highly ionising in nature and thus, the process I described above can take place.

This aside, those pictures are haunting and excellent. I admire you for having the guts to visit.
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Old August 18th, 2008, 06:10 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Svartmetall View Post
Nonsense. All ionising radiation has the potential to cause double strand DNA breaks which can be incorrectly repaired by a low-fidelity DNA repair mechanism (non-homologous end joining specifically rather than homologous recombination), thus causing potential mutations in coding regions of the DNA - worst of all oncogene activation of the loss of a tumour suppressor gene. You are right in the fact that we are exposed to background radiation, however, you are very wrong in assuming that "limited higher exposure" is totally harmless from a cellular biology point of view. I'm sure that as they're not going around eating vegitation they'll not be adversely affected by the visit though.

Also - most fire alarms with a radioactive source contain an alpha particle emitter which slowly decays, releasing alpha partcles. These particles have a very short range and can be stopped by a couple of centimetres of air. This is why they work well in smoke alarms as the smoke interferes with ionisation from the alpha particle and thus, interrupts the circuit. The radioactive sources used are fine as long as they are kept sealed, however, I don't recommend that you go around and smash up old smoke alarms as alpha particles are highly ionising in nature and thus, the process I described above can take place.

This aside, those pictures are haunting and excellent. I admire you for having the guts to visit.
No, he's right. Limited high level exposure is more or less safe (unless the exposure is unusually high or incredibly unlucky). Infact there is a unit (the Gray) which is used to measure absorbed radiation. The intensity of radiation and type of radiation are factored in. In Chernobyl, it will be mostly gamma and neutron radiation - both considerably less dangerous than alpha particles as you point out. So with relatively low absorption, a short period of time should be of no consequence.
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Old August 18th, 2008, 06:31 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PerthSM View Post
No, he's right. Limited high level exposure is more or less safe (unless the exposure is unusually high or incredibly unlucky). Infact there is a unit (the Gray) which is used to measure absorbed radiation. The intensity of radiation and type of radiation are factored in. In Chernobyl, it will be mostly gamma and neutron radiation - both considerably less dangerous than alpha particles as you point out. So with relatively low absorption, a short period of time should be of no consequence.
The traditional unit for personal exposure is actually the Sievert, the SI dose equivilent radiation unit for biological organisms. The Sievert takes into account factors such as the dose (Gray's) along with radiation type and the part of the body irradiated, time, volume and species of the subject. Thus you see it's not quite as simple as just grabbing a geiger counter and measuring the rads (old measure).

As you well know from what you've just said, the effect of radiation depends upon its LET (linear energy transfer) when concerning biological organisms. Though alpha particles and beta particles are high LET, gamma radiation is just as dangerous because of its penetrance. Though only a low LET radiation, gamma can still ionise water which in turn forms free radicals which can cause cellular damage (in particular the DNA DSB). The designation of an alpha particle being a "dangerous" form of radiation is really quite inconsequential as I intimated in my point about being stopped by air - it is unable to penetrate the dead layer of keratinocytes which make up your skin and thus tends to only cause damage if radioactive elements are consumed or internalised.

Not only this, but you're assuming that there are no underlying genetic polymorphisms which may affect the pathway of repair (NHEJ instead of HR) or pre-existing damage to one copy of a TSG or oncogene.

My policy on radiation from a cancer biologist point of view is to treat it with caution and minimise unwanted exposure - even to low LET radiation.

Anyway, sorry to drag this thread off topic and away from your fantastic photos. If anyone else wants to debate radiation exposure with me - just ping me a PM and I'll happily slug it out!

Last edited by Svartmetall; August 18th, 2008 at 06:41 PM.
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Old August 18th, 2008, 08:30 PM   #19
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Stunning pictures. Enjoyed reading about the history of the Duga-3 array along with it Thanks.
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Old August 19th, 2008, 06:45 AM   #20
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Great pictures! Thanks for sharing.

Anyone else here play Call of Duty 4? I'm surprised at how accurately they portray Pripyat, as I recognize quite a few of the pictures from the game.
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