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So here's my trip to Chernobyl in pictures.
March 6, 2009 6:44 AM   Subscribe


 
Cool. The fact that there is a tourism company essentially specializing in these trips is entirely expected. Ever whatever-her-name-was made a site where she pretended to travel around the site on a motorcycle interest has risen.
posted by Science! at 6:56 AM on March 6, 2009


*ever since
posted by Science! at 6:57 AM on March 6, 2009


Great stuff! I thought we were going to go through the whole motorcycle fake trip thing but the geiger counter in the shots was a nice touch. :)
posted by cavalier at 6:57 AM on March 6, 2009


Cool link. Those pictures of the bumper cars are especially creepy.
posted by nitsuj at 6:58 AM on March 6, 2009


Can anyone explain why plants don't seem to be effected by radiation? I know it's 23 years later, but it seems as if some of the surrounding trees are older than that. It makes sense to me that the shorter the life period, the less chance radiation will prevent a species from thriving (roaches/rats), but that doesn't explain large plants like trees, especially if you consider how much radiation the roots must be exposed to.
posted by ShadowCrash at 7:02 AM on March 6, 2009


This is amazing. Thanks. I really like the pictures from the school.

And I definitely didn't see the dove with an atom in its mouth. I saw the atom, sure, but the dove? What about that looks like a dove? Can we get a diagram or something?
posted by giraffe at 7:08 AM on March 6, 2009


Hang on, my brain just started working again - this guy operates a TOUR through the area? Which means he goes through there? Quite often? Uhrrmn...
posted by cavalier at 7:11 AM on March 6, 2009


Attempt: Radiation causes mutations. Random mutations will generally kill a plant or animal more or less outright. The plants you see are the ones that weren't mutated. In animals, radiation causes cancer (by mutation) but trees don't get cancer. (Right? Although they must undergo cell division....mustn't they?)

I've seen the abandoned wasteland stuff before, so that was no big shock. But this image is kind of freaky. The scene is so rural America, including the "right" shapes for the traffic sign, and then there's this billboard in Russian. Reminds me of Amerika.
posted by DU at 7:13 AM on March 6, 2009


Wow. Having played Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl a few months ago, this was extra weird. I mean, I killed a mutant under that ferris wheel. The game's environments are so faithful that it's slightly creepy seeing them in real life.
posted by EarBucket at 7:17 AM on March 6, 2009




Whoa. If I get to Bucharest, which I intend to do sometime in the next year or two, I may think about taking a side trip to Chernobyl.
posted by kldickson at 7:19 AM on March 6, 2009


Crap, fungus does not at all equal bacteria. I had too many tabs open.
posted by Science! at 7:20 AM on March 6, 2009


A better attempt: Radiation is just one risk posed to a wild population. Herbicide, deforestation and other human impacts can be just as severe if not worse. Here are two articles on the subject from the BBC (I can't find the studies themselves just now)
posted by Popular Ethics at 7:26 AM on March 6, 2009


Aha, once again beaten by Science!
posted by Popular Ethics at 7:26 AM on March 6, 2009


Crap, fungus does not at all equal bacteria. I had too many tabs open.
posted by Science! at 10:20 AM on March 6 [+] [!]


Eponyster-onic!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:30 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pretty sobering.
posted by jon_hansen at 7:31 AM on March 6, 2009


Interesting articles, but I don't see how the existence of additional dangers explains the non-harm of radiation.
posted by DU at 7:39 AM on March 6, 2009


Very moving, for me. Thanks for this post.
posted by ZakDaddy at 7:45 AM on March 6, 2009


Ever [since] whatever-her-name-was made a site where she pretended to travel around the site on a motorcycle interest has risen

Wait, what? Pretended?
posted by roombythelake at 7:46 AM on March 6, 2009


"Its not advisable to sit on these chairs for too long, if you value having working balls."
posted by kirkaracha at 7:47 AM on March 6, 2009


Uh, this isn't the poster's trip, is it?
posted by Ironmouth at 7:52 AM on March 6, 2009


By the poster, do you mean me? No, I just used the first sentence in his post as the title for this one.
posted by milquetoast at 7:57 AM on March 6, 2009


Chernobyl wildlife hase made the blue before:
Fungi are weird
Hulk Bugs
Chernobyl wildlife garden of Eden
posted by ghost of a past number at 8:02 AM on March 6, 2009


My comment above apparently sprouted an extra e - a clear sign of radiation mutation.
posted by ghost of a past number at 8:03 AM on March 6, 2009


Metafilter: Values working balls
posted by Bonzai at 8:03 AM on March 6, 2009


Inside the palace of culture...where some mong stuck his head in my photo.
posted by Sk4n at 8:07 AM on March 6, 2009


I killed a mutant under that ferris wheel.

Pfft. I fended off half the Russian army there.

Very cool pictures, milquetoast.
posted by Rangeboy at 8:09 AM on March 6, 2009


Hope this guy thought to have kids before his big trip to the red forest.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:29 AM on March 6, 2009


Just outside Yuris headquarters is the monument to the firemen who died after the explosion. The monument was erected by the firemen themselves.

Uh...
posted by regicide is good for you at 8:35 AM on March 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


I went to a talk recently by an engineer who used to go to the Chernobyl plant before the accident and has been back repeatedly since, including to the town of Pripiyat, located 1.5 miles from the site, he had a stack of interesting pics. He also said some interesting things about the local plant life, apparently they were all surprised about how the trees soaked up large amounts of radiation, effectively creating much less radioactive zones on the downwind side of woods. So I think it is the case that the trees predate the incident because some of them lived through it, even those at a relatively short distance from the plant.

It may also be of interest that the Ukrainian government is currently constructing what will apparently be the largest movable structure ever built - known as the New Safe Confinement. It will be a shelter that will be built on rails, shaped like a aircraft hanger, and will be built in sections then slid over the top of the current sarcophagus, so they can break down the sarcophagus and clean up the whole site in a sealed environment. There's a youtube animated movie of the planned construction here.

Call of Duty 4 fans have recognised some of the sites from Pripyat, pics at the talk I went to included the Palace of Culture, the swimming pool and the dodgems (apparently the town was just gearing up for the May day holiday when the order to get out was given, so there was a fair in town.) Citizens were given 30 minutes to pack a bag with enough stuff to last them for 3 days.
posted by biffa at 8:37 AM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Here's another gallery from late 2008, including an "illegal" picture. If anybody's interested here's the link to the tour this guy used when he went.
posted by lilkeith07 at 8:41 AM on March 6, 2009


It makes sense to me that the shorter the life period, the less chance radiation will prevent a species from thriving (roaches/rats), but that doesn't explain large plants like trees, especially if you consider how much radiation the roots must be exposed to.

Just speculation, but perhaps the simpler (and more redundant) the organism, the less the effects of radiation can disrupt its functions. Humans have a number of vital and specialized organs which, once damaged by a cancerous growth, cannot be replaced or routed around. But can we say the same of a tree?
posted by kid ichorous at 8:45 AM on March 6, 2009


Things like this make we wish we had grabbed all the Soviet graphic designers after the Cold War, like we did with the Nazi rocket scientists after WWII.
posted by brundlefly at 9:05 AM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


"We" being the USA.

/self-centered American
posted by brundlefly at 9:06 AM on March 6, 2009


Radiation is just one risk posed to a wild population.

This picture struck me because it juxtaposes a Geiger counter and a cigarette butt. The question it poses? Which will kill you more surely?

Because I'm working on CT screening for lung cancer, I've recently been researching the threat of low-dose radiation relative to the risks of smoking. Smoking blows away (pun not intended, but there for the taking) the risk of low-dose radiation (Fig. 7), based on even the most extreme models of radiation-induced cancer risk.

But then, there is some radiation risk from smoking. In fact, it may be the largest source of radiation for the general public.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:08 AM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can anyone explain why plants don't seem to be effected by radiation?

They only act normal...during the day.
posted by sidereal at 9:47 AM on March 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


I wrote a little in last summer's fungus story about how radioactive contamination and exposure does and doesn't affect plants.

The increased activity with the gauge near the ground is consistent with contamination with beta+gamma emitters cesium and strontium, which would act chemically like sodium and calcium. Interesting how much lower the gamma-only doses are, with the gauge held in the air rather than on the ground. The gamma-only doses are a better measure of what the environment is like inside a plant, to the extent that biology stops the actual uptake of the radioactive metals.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 10:23 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Part of this is r vs. K strategy. If a tree produces thousands of acorns are you going to notice the ones that don't sprout due to radiation damage when most of them don't sprout anyway? Of K strategies we're the Kayeiest so we get pretty bent out of shape over 99% infant mortality. If your adult form doesn't even have a digestive tract because your life plan is "get laid, lay eggs, die" you're hardly going to have time to notice that some of your cells are faulty.

Also, for the plants, remember that they are less compartmentalized than animals. Take a chainsaw and cut a branch off a mulberry tree and throw it somewhere moist and shady where there aren't any mulberry trees. Come back in a few years you're likely to have a couple mulberry trees there. So if radiation damages portions of a plant, big deal. It's not like it's going to metastasize, settle in the liver and kill the whole organism.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:57 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


i half-expected these pictures to just be big, white, blurry overexposures.
LOLRADIATION

i saw a documentary just a year or two after the accident where they sent robots into the room under the reactor...i.e. where it melted down to. it was c-crazy. like a huge graphite glob oozing through a hole in the ceiling (solid, though) and studded all over with purple crystal 'flowers' where the uranium was growing out. still, in the long run, better for you than coal-burning plants...
posted by sexyrobot at 12:30 PM on March 6, 2009


DU: Interesting articles, but I don't see how the existence of additional dangers explains the non-harm of radiation.

Not that radiation doesn't harm (the second article mentions increased albinoism in birds for instance), but that it may harm less than having humans around does. That's kind of humbling actually - our settlements are harder on wildlife than gamma rays.
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:09 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


The radar station he mentions is the Duga-3 Russian Woodpecker array (NATO codename "Steel Yard").
"The original Duga-3 site lies within the 30 kilometer Zone of Alienation around the Chernobyl power plant. It appears to have been permanently deactivated, since their continued maintenance did not figure in the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine over the active early warning radars at Mukachevo and Sevastopol. The antenna still stands, however, and has been used by amateurs as a transmission tower (using their own antennas) and has been extensively photographed."
posted by mrbill at 1:54 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


sexyrobot - you wouldn't remember the name of that documentary, would you? I'd be interested to check it out.

Also, does anybody know why the picture lilkeith07 linked to is illegal?
posted by Afroblanco at 2:51 PM on March 6, 2009


These were beautiful, tragic, and stunning. A long time ago my boyfriend and I were walking through an abandoned train station in the crappy rust belt city where I grew up, and there were tiny trees growing through the cracks on the station floor and I remember him saying how it made him feel better, that nature always won. I think nature will win in Chernobyl. Not people, though.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:04 PM on March 6, 2009


Ever [since] whatever-her-name-was made a site where she pretended to travel around the site on a motorcycle interest has risen

Wait, what? Pretended?


She just goes by "Elena" on her site, and she hits all the same spots that this tour apparently did. It's almost like someone took the same tour but decided to spruce it up for the web with a pretty-girl-on-a-motorcycle theme.
posted by Avelwood at 5:58 PM on March 6, 2009


Nice. I was totally fascinated by the amazing streetlights and the eerie graffiti. Mostly the streetlights.
posted by Magnakai at 6:33 PM on March 6, 2009


It may also be of interest that the Ukrainian government is currently constructing what will apparently be the largest movable structure ever built - known as the New Safe Confinement.

I can't wait for the day that somebody takes the tour and gets some shots of that structure finally being built. I see the decay in these photos and all I can think about is the sarcophagus collapsing in a cloud of dust.
posted by dhartung at 10:40 PM on March 6, 2009


After an evening of searching, this blog seems to have the most up to date info on the New Safe Confinement project and general Chernobyl news.
posted by Popular Ethics at 11:18 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here are TON more pictures of Pripyat.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:56 AM on March 7, 2009


I should note that the pictures in the above link show a hell of a lot more than the usual "this was may tour of Chernobyl" slideshow. No idea how they got their access, but it looks like they were pretty much allowed to roam around the site freely.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:58 AM on March 7, 2009


you wouldn't remember the name of that documentary, would you?

i wish! did some looking on youtube, but came up with nada. i'm pretty sure it was on PBS though or possibly 60 minutes. it was pretty in-depth. it might have been a 'one year later' thing...

also that pic is probably illegal because it includes the river...shows an access point to the ter'rists...or where radioactives could get into the water supply...
posted by sexyrobot at 9:50 PM on March 7, 2009


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