Perevozchenko looks down on the enormous steel lid of the reactor and sees the impossible. The control rod and fuel channel caps, which each weigh 350kg are jumping up and down.”
Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Disaster, the first footage taken of the destroyed Reactor 4 building, confirming the scope of the disaster.
Most of the personnel involved in taking this footage, including the helicopter pilots, would get fatal doses of radiation, and the helicopters themselves would later have to be destroyed and their remains buried after it was realized the amount of radiation they absorbed.
Chernobyl liquidators medal
“Your testimony today will not be accepted by the state. It will not be disseminated in the press. It never happened. No. You will live however long you have. But not as a scientist. Not anymore. You keep your title, your office. No duties. No authority. No friends. No one will talk to you. No one will listen to you. Other men, lesser men, will receive credit for the things you have done. Your legacy is now their legacy. You will live long enough to see that.”
Friendly reminder that this almost exactly happened. Legasov was cut out of the Chernobyl story while he was still alive. Things he said and did was credited to either other people, or nameless scientists. For proof, read Chernobyl Notebook, written in 1987 when Legasov was still alive. Then read Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe, written in 2018. It took years to uncover Legasov’s story.
The Chernobyl exclusion zone – Art and Progress
For this photo series, at least for the abandoned places, I have decided to turn the photos’ colors down to transmit the feelings I had when I was on site. But there was one single picture where I could not bring myself to do it. A picture that I had to show in its full vibrant colors.
Inside the post office of Pripyat an incredible piece of art decorates the wall. Protected from the weather it has stayed in good shape for thirty years. It shows Jurij Gagarin, the first human in space. There’s just something about this picture that really gets to me, and I can’t even explain it properly.
The post office, by the way, was not only a place to send and receive letters and parcel. It was also where one went to make a phone call in times when individuals had no phones in their apartments yet.
Another interesting thing in the zone are the murals – several artists have left their works behind on the walls of the abandoned buildings. One of the most interesting series of graffiti shows the animals that can be found throughout the zone. Deer, foxes, horses, wolves, moose and even bears…
Lastly, Pripyat had something that no other Soviet city at the time had. With centralized economy working to government plans, the usual Ukrainian store looked like that: all items were behind a counter, you said what you wanted and it was packaged for you. And how much you could get was decided not by you, but by the government. But in Pripyat, people were supposed to live in the ideal city, in a city that would show the glory of Socialism. So they got a supermarket – one where you could freely take as many items as you want, as long as you could afford them. No limits, no rationing. It was a completely new world for the people of the time.
We came home. I took off all the clothes I’d worn and threw them down the trash chute. I gave my cap to my son. He really wanted it. And he wore it all the time. Two years later they gave him a diagnosis: a tumor of his brain… You can write the rest of this yourself. I don’t want to talk anymore.
Chernobyl (2019) Episode 3 – Open Wide, O Earth: The Miners
“Now you look like the minister of coal.”
Worker & Parasite
Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, the very first footage taken of the remains of the destroyer reactor 4, mere hours after its destruction following a botched reactor restart experiment.
Footage by soviet photographer Igor Fedorovich Kostin (27 December 1936 – 9 June 2015), one of the few first responders to the disaster that survived the exposure to the massive amounts of radiation expelled by the exposed reactor core during the first days of the disaster.
From the 2006 documentary The Battle of Chernobyl.
Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, the very first emergency calls during the moments immediately after the explosion of the Reactor 4.
All of the deployed firefighters would die from radiation poisoning in the following days, since they carried no special safety equipment, believing it was a normal fire.
The first liquidators, the first victims of the worst nuclear disaster in human history.