Beginning of a story about town where one can ride with no stoplights, no police, no danger to hit some cage or some dog .

To start our story we must learn a little something about radiation. It is really very simple, and the device we use for measuring radiation levels is called a geiger counter . If you flick it on in Kiev, it will measure about 12-16 microroentgen per hour. In a typical city of Russia and America, it will read 100-12 microroentgen per hour. In the center of many European cities are 20 microR per hour, the radioactivity of the stone.
1,000 microroentgens equal one milliroentgen and 1,000 milliroentgens equal 1 roentgen. So one roentgen is 100,000 times the average radiation of a typical city. A dose of 500 roentgens within 5 hours is fatal to humans. Interestingly, it takes about 2 1/2 times that dosage to kill a chicken and over 100 times that to kill a cockroach.
This sort of radiation level can not be found in Chernobyl now. In thhe first days after explosion, some places around the reactor were emitting 3,000-30,000 roentgens per hour. The firemen who were sent to put out the reactor fire were fried on the spot by gamma radiation. The remains of the reactor were en

ntombed within an enormous steel and concrete sarcophagus, so it is now relatively safe to travel to the area – as long as we do not step off of the roadway...
The map above shows the radiation levels in different parts of the dead zone. The map will soon be replaced with a more comprehensive one that identifies more features. It shows various levels of radiation on asphalt – usually on the middle of road – because at edge of the road it is twice as high. If you step 1 meter off the road it is 4 or 5 times higher. Radiation sits on the soil, on the grass, in apples and mushrooms. It is not retained by asphalt, which makes rides through this area possible.

600 years
On the Friday evening of April 25, 1986, the reactor crew at Chernobyl-4, prepared to run a test the next day to see how long the turbines would keep spinning and producing power if the electrical power supply went off line. This was a dangerous test, but it had been done before. As a part of the preparation, they disabled some critical control systems – including the automatic shutdown safety mechanisms.
Shortly after 1:00 AM on April 26, the flow of coolant water dropped and th

he power began to increase.
At 1:23 AM, the operator moved to shut down the reactor in its low power mode and a domino effect of previous errors caused an sharp power surge, triggering a tremendous steam explosion which blew the 1000 ton cap on the nuclear containment vessel to smithereens.
Some of the 211 control rods melted and then a second explosion, whose cause is still the subject of disagreement among experts, threw out fragments of the burning radioactive fuel core and allowed air to rush in – igniting several tons of graphite insulating blocks.
Once graphite starts to burn, its almost impossible to extinguish. It took 9 days and 5000 tons of sand, boron, dolomite, clay and lead dropped from helicopters to put it out. The radiation was so intense that many of those brave pilots died. Radiation will stay in the Chernobyl area for the next 48.000 years, but humans may begin repopulating the area in about 600 years – give or take three centuries. The experts predict that, by then, the most dangerous elements will have disappeared – or been sufficiently diluted into the rest of the world’s air, soil and water. If our government can somehow find the money and political will power to finance th
he necessary scientific research, perhaps a way will be discovered to neutralize or clean up the contamination sooner. Otherwise, our distant ancestors will have to wait untill the radiation diminishes to a tolerable level. If we use the lowest scientific estimate, that will be 300 years from now..some scientists say it may be as long as 900 year The Communist government that was in power then kept silent about this accident. In Kiev, they forced people to take part in their preciously stupid labor day parade and it was then that ordinary people began hearing the news of the accident from foreign radio stations and relatives of those who died. The real panic began 7-10 days after accident. Those who were exposed to the exceedingly high levels of nuclear radiation in the first 10 days when it was still a state secret, incuding unsuspecting visitors to the area, either died or have serious health problems.

There won’t be many cars on those roads. This place has ill fame and people try not to settle here. The farther we go, the cheaper the land, the less the people and the better the roads.. quite the reverse of everywhere else in the world – and a forecast of things to

o come. In the picture you can see giant egg – which marks the point where civilization as we know it ends – and the Chernobyl ride begins.

The evil dark wind of that day brought 70% of the Chernobyl radiation to Belorussia.. Most of the houses here are made of wood – and it absorbs radiation like a sponge .
Entering Chernobyl area

This is a credential control point, one of two dozen checkpoints that lead into dead zone. Special permission is required to enter the zone of exclusion

This is where they give careless or unlucky visitors a chemical shower.

As you pass through the check point, you feel that you have entered an unreal world. In the dead zone, the silence of the villages, roads, and woods seem to tell something at me..something that I strain to hear..something that attracts and repels me both at the same time. It is divinely eerie .
These are radioactive technics as far as the eye can see. They are a type of army truck. Most of these vehicles were full of troops on that day.

How many people died of radiation? No one knows – not even approximately. The official casualty reports range from 300 to 300,000 and many unofficial sources put the toll over 400,000. It is easier to calculate material loses. It was a crippling economic catastrophe for the region – from which it may never recover.

The fire engines never returned in their garages, and the firemen never returned to their homes. The firemen were the first on the scene, and they thought it was an ordinary fire. No one told them, what they were really dealing with. As a totalitarian government the Soviet Union forced many young soldiers to assist in the cleanup of the Chernobyl accident, apparently without sufficient protective clothing and insufficient explanation of the danger involved.
Over 650,000 liquidators helped in the cleanup of the Chernobyl disaster in the first year. Many of those who worked as liquidators became ill and according to some estimates about 8,000 to 10,000 have died from the radioactive dose they received at the Chornobyl Power Plant. This group apparently includes those who built the containment building over the destroyed reactor No. 4 which is called the SARCOPHAGUS.
Cleanup workers (Liquidators) going to the Chornobyl Plant.

Atomic Plant
Usually, on this leg of the journey, a beeping geiger counter inspires to shift into high gear and streak through the area with great haste. The patch of trees in front of me is called red – or ‘magic” wood. In 1986, this wood glowed red with radiation. They cut them down and buried them under 1 meter of earth. The readings on the asphalt paving is 500 -3000 microroentgens, depending upon where you stand. That is 50 to 300 times the radiation of a normal environment. If I step 10 meters forward, geiger counter will run off the scale. If I walk a few hundred meters towards the reactor, the radiation is 3 roentgens per hour – which is 300,000 times normal. If I was to keep walking all the way to the reactor, I would glow in the dark tonight. Maybe this is why they call it magic wood. It is sort of magical when one walks in with biker’s leather and walks out like a knight in a shining armor.

The plant was closed down for good in 2000. They must build a new sarcophagus soon, because the original one was hastily constructed and is disintegrating.
This town might be an attractive place for tourists. Some tourists companies have been trying to arrange tours in this town, but the first group of tourists found the silence unnerving and downright SPOOKY. And it is. They charged 1200 hryvnas for a 2 hour excursion and after some 15 minutes, they wanted to flee to the outside world. The silence here is deafening.

There are many places that not structurally safe, or have collected pockets of intense radiation. There are places where no one dares to go, not even scientists with protective gear. One such place is the Red Wood forest and another is the Ghost Town Cemetary. The relatives of the people who are buried there can not visit, because in addition to people, much of the radioctive graphite nuclear core is buried there. It is one of the most toxic places on earth.

This is a room with trees growing through a stone floor.

It is safe to be in the open air in Ghost Town. It is inside the houses where the real danger lies. One must be especially careful in houses with open windows facing the Atomic Power Plant. Taking such a walk with no special radiation detecting device is like walking through a minefiled wearing snowshoes. All doors are open to reduce the risk. Through the door is a distant echo of what life was like here.

The park is the most radiaoactive section of town because it is directly in front of the reactor. On the day of the disaster, the North wind brought the first clouds here and it is said that people ran for their lives as they searched for their children in the atomic smoke.. Every step toward the little cars adds 100 microroentgen to my geiger counter reading.

Standing on the roof of the highest building in this empty town brings a feeling of being completely alone in the world – like this whole town is.

They call it a town where time stands still. Maybe it is because the clocks here don’t measure time – they measure radiation levels. There is no phone service. Cellular phones don’t work either.

There are hundreds of little gas masks, a teachers diary and a last note saying that their walk on Saturday has been canceled due to some unforeseen contingency. The remaining photos don’t need any comments – they tell the Ghost Town’s story in a way that no words can

Immediate impact

It is estimated that all of the xenon gas, about half of the iodine and caesium, and at least 5% of the remaining radioactive material in the Chernobyl-4 reactor core was released in the accident. Most of the released material was deposited close by as dust and debris , but the lighter material was carried by wind over the Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and to some extent over Scandinavia and Europe. The main casualties were among the firefighters, including those who attended the initial small fires on the roof of the turbine building. All these were put out in a few hours. The next task was cleaning up the radioactivity at the site so that the remaining three reactors could be restarted, and the damaged reactor shielded more permanently. About 200,000 people (“liquidators”) from all over the USSR were involved in the recovery and clean up during 1986 and 1987. They received high doses of radiation, around 100 millisieverts. Some 20,000 of them received about 250 mSv and a few received 500 mSv. Later, the number of liquidators swelled to over 600,000 but most of these received only low radiation doses. Many children in the surrounding areas were exposed to radiation doses sufficient to lead to thyroid cancers (usually not fatal if diagnosed and treated early). Initial radiation exposure in contaminated areas was due to short-lived iodine-131, later caesium-137 was the main hazard (both are fission products dispersed from the reactor core). On 2-3 May, some 45,000 residents were evacuated from within a 10 km radius of the plant, notably from the plant operators’ town of Pripyat. On 4 May, all those living within a 30 kilometre radius – a further 116 000 people – were evacuated and later relocated. About 1,000 of these have since returned unofficially to live within the contaminated zone. Most of those evacuated received radiation doses of less than 50 mSv, although a few received 100 mSv or more. In the years following the accident a further 210 000 people were resettled into less contaminated areas, and the initial 30 km radius exclusion zone (2800 km2) was modified and extended to cover 4300 square kilometres. This resettlement was due to application of a criterion of 350 mSv projected lifetime radiation dose, though in fact radiation in most of the affected area (apart from half a square kilometre) fell rapidly so that average doses were less than 50% above normal background of 2.5 mSv/yr.

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