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Chernobyl...18 Years Later 971

Posted by michael
from the post-apocalyptic dept.
abysmilliard writes "A young Ukrainian woman has posted a photo journal of her motorcycle rides through Chernobyl and the area surrounding it. Included are pictures of the now-emptied city, maps of current radiation levels, and a discussion of how the area has changed. While the english is quite broken, it's often rather surreal, as well, with quotes like, 'I don't know how sound the silence to those tourists that they can not stand it, but to me after hitting a red line on my bike tacho it sound like all those ghosts cursing 1100cc kawasaki engin.'"
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Chernobyl...18 Years Later

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:08AM (#8482225)
    You don't need to run any lights at night.
  • by The Human Cow (646609) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:10AM (#8482236) Homepage
    "The word CHERNOBYL scares holly bijesus out of people here."
    Holly Bijesus? Is it just me, or would that make a *great* bisexual porn star name?
  • angelfire? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:11AM (#8482240)
    linking to a 10+ page site full of photos on angelfire? yeah, that'll last long...
  • An anglefire site (Score:5, Informative)

    by digitalgimpus (468277) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:11AM (#8482243) Homepage
    Guess how long that will take to /. the bandwidth out of?

    I'm saving a mirror now, if necessary, I can mirror.
    • Re:An anglefire site (Score:5, Informative)

      by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:21AM (#8482309)
      For the record, a free Angelfire site presently gets 1 GB of monthly bandwidth on which to serve up to 20 MB of content. Which means, when /. finishes off this site's bandwidth allowance, this site's gone for the month.

      If somebody were to give this unfortunate person Angelfire's highest "element plan" [lycos.com], it would cost $15 for the setup and $14.95 for the first month, and give her 30 GB of monthly traffic. That might be enough to survive a slashdotting.
  • It's a lesson (Score:4, Interesting)

    by superpulpsicle (533373) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:12AM (#8482249)
    The disaster was a damn good example of bad mix of technology, science and politics. Boy, don't we have plenty of that in the U.S.

  • Gamma World (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:13AM (#8482257) Homepage Journal
    The essay was absolutely amazing. The surreal description is perfect, reminding me of apocalyptic movies of the 80's and describing what I imagined the world looking like in the RPG Gamma World. Abandoned buildings as people left them, houses falling apart, yet seeing scenes of prezwalski looking horses crossing a stream.

    • Re:Gamma World (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:30AM (#8482374) Homepage
      After reading you comment and thinking about it, it reminds me of that little short story. I can't remember quite what book it's in (it's in a book of fiction).

      It's about a little automated house with no one living there. It told about how it would make breakfast, and clean it up with little mechanical sweeper mice, and the house eventually burns down. The house is in a town that is empty because of a nuclear blast and the only "people" left there is a "shadow" of someone left on a wall from the nuclear blast. Interesting and sad story. The place was just as if everyone had suddenly vanished from the face of the Earth. Everything else was left.

      I want to say it was in "A Brave New World" but it could have been a H2G2 book.

    • Re:Gamma World (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BeBoxer (14448) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:38AM (#8482430)
      That's the weird thing about the place. It's considered basically uninhabitable by humans. Yet nature as a whole seems entirely unfazed by the radition and is thriving in the absence of humans.

      On the other hand, it really isn't that weird. The "nature preserve" aspect is only disturbing in relation to the empty roads and buildings. Without those features to provide the desolation aspect, nothing would seem amiss. Plus, nobody is keeping track of the average lifespan of those horses, which is almost certainly below average.

      Still, a fascinating photo-essay either way. And I think it's funny that her Kawasaki probably would have been worth as much as a whole town in that part of the world in 1985.
      • Re:Gamma World (Score:5, Insightful)

        by WuphonsReach (684551) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @05:01AM (#8483656)
        That's the weird thing about the place. It's considered basically uninhabitable by humans. Yet nature as a whole seems entirely unfazed by the radition and is thriving in the absence of humans.

        Yeah, but nature doesn't get all sentimental or up-in-arms if critters are born with birth defects or die early from cancer. As long as the critters live long enough to reproduce at a growing rate, then that's all that's needed.

        Humans are a bit pickier about that pesky "quality of life" issue.
    • by lone_marauder (642787) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:43AM (#8482468)
      Yeah, no doubt, man. A hot chick on a motorcycle cruising through radioactive ruins pursued by marauders has 80's postapocolyptic action flick written all over it.

      By the way, I disclaim any responsibility for marauder activity in that area. As the name suggests, there is only one of me, and I am not there. Thank you.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:14AM (#8482264)
    ... but not all that is invisible and harms is radioactive. Heavy metals such as mercury, PCBs etc, can be seriously nasty. The sheer calous lack of regulation of these pollutants by governments world-wide is unbelievable. Even your fabric-softener can have mercury put in it.

    So while there is this collective phobia and aura surrounding radiation, there isn't around other many other toxic threats. Note the security surrounding nuclear materials, but how easy it was to obtain unbelievably toxic dimethylmercury (until someone killed herself when a droplette momentarily touched her protective glove) until recently.
    • by mangu (126918) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @01:16AM (#8482696)
      The sheer calous lack of regulation of these pollutants by governments world-wide is unbelievable. Even your fabric-softener can have mercury put in it.


      Wow, welcome to the 1940's. Where have you been in this last half century? I'd say the furious over-regulation by governments world-wide is unbelievable. For instance, I now have to recycle the few micro-grams of mercury contained in fluorescent lamps and batteries. Do you know what's the biggest cause of cancer in humans due to chemicals? Salt. Sodium chloride, that is. Do you know what's the biggest cause of cancer due to radiation? Sunshine. Do you know what's the second biggest cause of cancer after tobacco? Obesity. Don't believe my words, ask any oncologist. No, the biggest environmental threat to humans isn't either radiation or chemicals, it's ignorance, stupidity, and paranoia.

    • by theoddball (665938) <theoddball@nOsPAM.gmail.com> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @01:19AM (#8482708)
      Dimethylmercury is scary, scary stuff:

      Dartmouth researcher poisoned by 2 droplets [denison.edu].

      Odd that this happened (semi-recently) at my school, and nobody's ever mentioned it in ANY of the chem classes I've taken...

    • by Hard_Code (49548) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @01:24AM (#8482744)
      No shit. I just recently was informed of a student around this area who, for whatever reason apparently "ate a lot of tuna" with her dog one week, and get this, they are BOTH suffering from mercury POISONING. Now I don't know what the fuck "a lot of tuna" is, maybe they got a whole tuna as a gift or something, but that you can possibly get mercury poisoning from just an amount that you can stuff in your face in a week (and let's assume that's not 24/7 eating tuna, in that case you'd die of your stomach rupturing first), is seriously screwed up.

      Now let's say she ate tuna EVERY meal for a whole week...that adds up to what, 21 meals of tuna? How many tuna sandwiches have you had recently? In 21 weeks will you have consumed enough to otherwise qualify you as "mercury poisoned"?

      I'm glad the general public has such a say in how our food is raised because, yes sir, I loves me that good old American heavy metal poisonin'! I'll fry it up in my recycled radioactive-waste frying pan!
  • one phrase... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flynns (639641) <sean@@@topdoggps...com> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:15AM (#8482273) Homepage Journal
    I read this, and I look at the pictures, and all I can think, numbly, is "...holy shit..."
  • Sad graffiti... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 0m3gaMan (745008) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:16AM (#8482281)
    There's another site out there with pictures of the abandoned buildings. Something about it is incredibly compelling and sad; almost like looking at a modern-day Pompeii. People who were children back when this happened go back there and spray-paint messages to former classmates on the walls of their elementary schools, trying to contact them or just to say they're still still around.

    I also saw on a :60 Minutes segment a few years ago that the gov't pipes music into various parts of the city, where apparently there are still some people working--this is to keep them from going insane from the silence.
  • What is the scale? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by craenor (623901) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:16AM (#8482282) Homepage
    She shows a nice map of the radiation levels, but without showing the scale it doesn't mean jack. She has the norm listed as 12-18.
    I am guessing that she means millirem per hour, but I honestly have no idea. Anyone know?
  • by BWJones (18351) * on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:19AM (#8482298) Homepage Journal
    This comment in the essay: This is highest building in town and in April 26-27, 1986 after reactor exploaded, people gathered on the roof of this building to watch a beautiful shining that rised above APP. They didn't know this was shining of radiation. they learned it on next day when evacuation began reminded me of talks I had with some of my patients some years ago that either lived in southern Utah and Nevada, or were in the military. Whole families would gather on high mountains to watch the pretty lights from the atomic bombs being tested in the open air and I had one old army guy tell me that soldiers who were gathered at the exercises, if they were not issued goggles, were told to look away and cover your eyes with your hands. When the bomb went off, you could actually see the bones in your hands from all the X-rays that were emitted from the bomb.

    Amazingly scary.

    • by Mipmap (569611) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:27AM (#8482358)

      When the bomb went off, you could actually see the bones in your hands from all the X-rays that were emitted from the bomb.

      How exactly does this work? When have human eyes been capable of seeing the x-ray portion of the electromagnetic spectrum? Or, is there some grain of truth in this, in terms of the visible light being so intense that it's possible to see vague impression of bones within your hand? I suspect the latter.

    • by cybercuzco (100904) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:31AM (#8482380) Homepage Journal
      When the bomb went off, you could actually see the bones in your hands from all the X-rays that were emitted from the bomb. True, but not for the Reason you stated. I dont care how bright the light is, you cant see X-Rays with your eyes. however, with a sufficiently bright light your hand becomes translucent and you can see the outline of your bones. Try this: With a very powerful flashlight (like a Maglite) go into a dark room and let your eyes adjust for a minute or two. Then hold your hand so the palm completely covers the flashlight part, dont let any light escape. Turn the flashlight on and you should be able to make out the outline of your bones, if the light is powerful enough. But you still cant see X-rays.
    • by deglr6328 (150198) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:49AM (#8482504)
      "This is highest building in town and in April 26-27, 1986 after reactor exploaded, people gathered on the roof of this building to watch a beautiful shining that rised above APP. They didn't know this was shining of radiation."

      This makes me wonder exactly what those people saw. It obviously wouldn't be a bright flash like a nuclear bomb since it wasn't a nuclear explosion, it was a steam explosion with a tremendous amount of aerosolized radioisotope contamination. So it's a good bet that if this story is true they were actually looking at a blue glowing steam/dust cloud with the glow caused by CERENKOV RADIATION [umr.edu] in the air!! To actually see Cerenkov radiation in the air would mean that the radiation in that initial rising cloud must have been unbelieveably intense, and they didn't even know the danger of the situation......horrifying.
      • by Muhammar (659468) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @01:46AM (#8482866)
        The observed shining was caused by white-hot burning graphite.

        Cherenkov radiation is not observed in air (you need particles with mass traveling with speed higher than the speed of light in given medium , and the optical density of air is low (close to vacuum), the particles would have to travel at speeds near to c - which are difficult to obtain because of relativistic effects. (You can get that from accelerators, but not from fission)
        You can see Cherenkov typicaly in water - the blue shine around immersed fuel rods or intense radioisotope source.

        There is similar-looking bluish shine/flash around extremely strong sources, like criticality accident with Pu, U, or in nuclear explosion (the mushroom has bluish envelope). This shine is caused by intense ionisation of air molecules by radiation, mostly X-ray. The recombination of ions produces excited states whis give away the surpluss of energy by emission in UV/vis , which also appears bluis white.
  • Facinating (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:20AM (#8482303) Homepage
    The site is quite facinating. In a way Chernobyl is the largest time capsule in the world. Amazing to see that you could just go into homes and offices and see EXACTLY what life was like there in 1986. If it wasn't for the plants and animals and such, things would be almost completely identicle. It would be very cool if some archiologists could get some NASA space suits or something like that (to protect them from the radiation) to go in and photograph all those places and things.

    The MOST interesting thing in the article to me though was the "deafening silence" that is mentioned. The author said that many companies have investigaed doing things like 2 hour tours but the tourists complain and want to go home after 15 minutes because it's so quite it's like being deaf. I wouldn't think that it would be so bad (go to wheat feild in the middle of the US and it's silent too), but I guess it's the combination of all the buildings and normal city sights (with the exception of the fact that there are no people) and the silence that makes it so eerie and spooky.

    I bet it's spooky as hell there.

    • Re:Facinating (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AmiNTT (539586) * on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:33AM (#8482398) Homepage
      Not only is it a time capsule, it is a great chance to watch how nature reclaims the land and how the wildlife adapts - obviously all of the animals haven't died. I wonder if there are any scientists watching for radiation caused progressive mutations?

      I've been in a few places in Algonquin park [algonquinpark.on.ca] that 75 years ago were there used to be towns, hotels and whatnot. If you aren't keeping your eyes open and looking for it, you will miss the signs.

      Now obviously, this isn't going to be the case here, but it will still be interesting to see what can be learned - for example, how are the roads holding up? With almost no wear and tear, the area could serve as an excellent testbed for environmental effects on road surfaces (hot and cold damage, etc).

  • Mirror (Score:4, Informative)

    by pr00f (457508) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:20AM (#8482304) Homepage
    http://unbolted.llarian.net/chern/

    Mirror is the site gets overloaded or bandwidth exceeds limit (which can happen with angelfire).
  • There was a joke told in Hungary (and presumably other Soviet bloc countries) after they'd been listening to Voice of America report on the disaster for days, but getting no local mention of it at all until about a week after the event.

    Q: Why do we celebrate the October Revolution on November 7?
    A: Because that is when TASS (Soviet news agency) saw fit to report it.

  • Favourite Quote (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dodger73 (654030) <opiesche&yahoo,com> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:24AM (#8482330) Journal
    "marauders in radiation poluted area are not just a regular marauders, they don't steal stuff for themselves. There were cases of radiactive tv sets and other stuff being sold on city second hand markets and then police shot 7 or 8 of them and it helped"

    Now, does that sound like the Soviet Russia from a bad movie, or what?
  • Pompei (Score:5, Informative)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:24AM (#8482332) Homepage
    Her comparison (on page 15) of the area to Pompei mirrored my own impressions from her site. Spooky.

    (She - apparently by mistake - skipped page 16, which you can access by modifying the URL manually.)

  • by titaniam (635291) * <slashdot@drpa.us> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:26AM (#8482347) Homepage Journal
    She mentions that the radiation exposure in Kiev during the first few days was equivalent to about a year's worth of radiation at Chernobyl now. The bastards did not inform the populace until the wind blew into Europe and radiation alarms started going off, igniting international alarm. My wife, a child at the time, was belatedly rushed out of town along with all the children in Kiev a week later. I can't prove a link, but the fact is my wife had cancer surgery just last week. I'm sure that coal and gas are worse for the environment, and I support nuclear energy as a cleaner alternative, but a freak accident combined with a stupid reaction of a government made matters much worse than they should have been. People will be suffering due to Chernobyl for decades and centuries to come.
  • Hidden page (Score:5, Informative)

    by bgeer (543504) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:27AM (#8482352)
    There is another page of pictures [angelfire.com] that you won't see clicking on the links, she has page 15 going directly to 17 by accident. This page shows the swimming pool.
  • by anzha (138288) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:31AM (#8482384) Homepage Journal

    I've been to Ukraine 3 times in the past 2 years: my gf is of Ukrainian extraction. Chernobyl is a name to conjure demons with there. Even more so than in the West. What's even scarier is that the Ukrainian government's denial over the state that it is in. They still are running at least a couple of the reactors and they are not being terribly maintained. The Russians came out stating that the buildings that the reactors are in are about to collapse...yet the Ukrainian government is unwilling to shut the place down.

    Expect a sequel there, folks, and it's gonna be just as ugly if not worse. To make matters even more horrifying, based on the behavior of the Ukrainian government, the people are going to be informed through western sources long before, but far too late even so, that anything wrong is happening there when it does.

    Note I say when, not if. I really mean it too.

    • by BrainInAJar (584756) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @01:07AM (#8482639)
      Chernobyl Reactor 2 was shut down in 1991 after a fire, Reactor 1 was shut down in '96 to scam money out of the EU, and reactor 3 (the last one standing) was shut down permanantly in December of 2000.

      However, the cement structure encasing reactor 4 (the one that went boom) is starting to show signs of wear and about 10% of it is cracked.

      Scientific types are warning about structural failure happening sooner rather than later. The real issue here is repairing that, because when it comes tumbling down we're going to be in a world of trouble again... and what with the no-soviet union anymore, good luck convincing anyone to go to ground 0 and clean it up (rather than forcing them to do it at gunpoint.)
  • I realize this might be slightly off-topic, since I don't think this article really discusses the any of the dangers/merits (or lack thereof) of nuclear power in the first place. However, I know that all the same, some people are going to try to bring it up, so before anyone starts trolling about how dangerous nuclear power is, I just thought I'd point out:

    1) Chernobyl was based on very old technology. Nuclear power is much safer today.

    2) France gets >80% of its power from nuclear sources. Nuclear power is one of the cleanest sources of energy in the world. (I have nothing against fossil fuels, either--at the moment NOTHING has proven as economical. But I do think ultimately, we will have to find alternatives, and nuclear power is certainly a viable option.)

    3) It is my opinion that the worst part of Chernobyl was the way the communist regime tried to keep it a secret, until they found out that it was just so big they simply couldn't keep it a secret anymore. Sure, many other governments in the world (and I am NOT naming any ones in particular) have also been forced to fess up to things later, but that is NOT an excuse. The Russian government was truly evil, and I will not retract that statement, as long as I live.
  • An irony (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rffmna (734875) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:38AM (#8482426) Homepage
    Many people think the Chernobyl area is just like a desert. It's true, there are no people, but there ARE animals. Researches have found rats living there. When they tested those rats, which are living healthily, the scientists found that DNA of rats changed as fast as it had in last 20 million years. That's right, the radiation caused mutations (or evolution) in 20 years, at rate equal to 20 million years.
    The rats aren't mutilated or anything, they just happen to adapt.
  • I Have to say (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SomeOtherGuy (179082) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:54AM (#8482537) Journal
    That this was the most eye opening thing I have seen linked on /. in a long time. Really makes all the SCO and Ipod stuff seem kinda small. I mean that was one of the most surreal things I have experienced in a long time.
  • Wow. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mrseigen (518390) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @12:55AM (#8482548) Homepage Journal
    This site is amazing; the town looks just like any other town anywhere else in the world, but nothing is there.

    The abandoned ferris wheel and barges gave me a serious case of the willies.
  • by Derling Whirvish (636322) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @01:26AM (#8482750) Journal
    Here [gunsnet.net] is a site with many more pictures of the military vehicle graveyard there.
  • I have mirrored it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Vilim (615798) <ryan.jabberwock@ca> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @01:33AM (#8482784) Homepage
    Chances are, because it is on an Angelfire page, it will go down within the next 45 seconds. In anycase I have mirrored it at

    http://ryans.northernwatercolour.com/chernobyl

    I also included page 16 which she mistakenly skipped in the linking, it shows a swimming pool.
  • by azav (469988) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @01:48AM (#8482879) Homepage Journal
    There is something sad and beautiful about being to look into a land that has been poisoned and shut down from the other side of the world.

    It is eerie that a beautiful young woman would be our guide. Eerie that she would chronicle this deadened scene for us to view while enjoying the freedom it gives her, well aware of the danger and of those who died and still suffer the effects of the worst nuclear disaster the world has ever known.

    As I slouch back in my chair, well aware of the life around me in this chilly San Francisco evening, it becomes clear that sometimes the internet offers us too much.

    Safe passage Lena.

  • by cdn-programmer (468978) <terrNO@SPAMterralogic.net> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:08AM (#8483287)

    While not wanting to diminish the size of this catastrophie, it is nevertheless very important to actually look at the numbers and to put things into perspective.

    Please refer to the papers from the United Nations studies on this. They can be found here: UN website on the Chernobyl Disaster [un.org]

    Starting with paragraph 1.26 we find a discussion. In paragraph 1.28 we find that there were some 2000 cases of thyroid cancer attributed to the radiation (iodine). However, thyroid cancer can be treated and there is no real death rate associated with the thyroid cancers.

    Next we find that the anticipated development of leukimias has not occured. In paragraph 1.36 we find this quote: unexpected appearance of early childhood thyroid cancer, the unexpected absence of leukaemia stemming from the accident.

    In paragraph 1.38 we see that there is a iodine deficiency problem in the population and that addressing this problem in a timely fashion would no doubt have made a considerable difference.

    Starting with paragraph 2.01 on page 30, we have a history of the event itself. In paragraph 2.03 I131 is discussed. This isotope has a half life of 8.05 days and were the population given an ample supply of non-radioactive iodine - through the use of simple iodized table salt - then the radioactive version would not have been picked up.

    It is really unfortunate that iodine pills could not have been distributed faster!

    On page 56 we find more telling information. 28 highly exposed individuals died within 4 months of the accident (see box 4.2). In addition to the end of 1998, 11 others died.

    in paragraph 4.18 we have more discussion of the thyroid cancers, and the esitmation is made that the total number could be as high as 8,000.

    In the end, while this certainly was a major disaster with an impact on innocent people that should not be underestimated, we are still left with the facts that the media overestimated the impact and the death rate by many orders of magnitude.

    In fact some of the pictures clearly demonstrate this. If one looks at the flora and the fauna in the pictures we see groups of wild animals happily running along totally oblivious to the radiation.

    These animals have a faster metabolic rate than humans and thus are not as radiation hardy as we are. Yet they are clearly thriving and the world they are living in, and rearing their offspring can only be described as very beautiful.

    Yes the radiation is there and yes it should not be scoffed at. But the pictures clearly show that animal life is not impacted all that much. Those horses look pretty healthy and pretty happy to me!

  • I was close... (Score:5, Informative)

    by drgonzo59 (747139) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:23AM (#8483350)
    I lived not that far from Cernobyl. I was 8 at the time. When it happened it was so downplayed that nobody outside that small area realized the impact, until much later. It was on the evening news and it was a 5 minute thing, my dad was a little worried but said it's probably something minor. They showed a cloud of smoke comming from the place and that's all, then other daily news followed. I also remember later, my mom saying how that year many of her plants outside had died, don't know if it is related or not. The worst is when the government had asked for volunteers to help clean-up the mess and promised appartments for those who sign up. They didn't say that when they come home to those new appartments, they won't have that time much to enjoy them. There were rumours how people with heavy doses where "cooked" that the skin and meat was comming of their bones and they couldn't even feel that.
  • Distributed Mirror (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kalak (260968) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @07:53AM (#8484091) Homepage Journal
    Instead of just karma whore with a wget, I made a listing for the Distributed Mirror Project [wolffelaar.nl] of the site. I added the mirrors listed here (that I could connect to), and they are listed on the DMP page for this site [wolffelaar.nl]

    This way I'm Karma whoring for doing some real work for this wonderful site she made, and oh yeah. /. will get something after it uses her bandwidth up (unless someone had graciously upgraded her account, in which case mod me to oblivion - I've got karma to burn.)
  • by $criptah (467422) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @11:25AM (#8484770) Homepage

    My uncle was a member of one of the first rescue teams that were sent to Chernobyl after the disaster. This might be slightly off topic, but if you think that the pictures of the empty city are disturbing, take a look at people who were there after the tragic event.

    I hate a lot of things about my former country, the Soviet Union, and its leaders. One of the things that I hated the most was the fact that people were never told the truth. In May of 1986 my uncle was told that he had to go to Chernobyl to help patch things up. Since he was a memeber of an elite task team that was a part of chemical forces, a special unit within the Soviet Army, he had no other options. He went there in May and he spent some quality time there. His major task was to drive tons of cement to a helicopter that would drop it off on the damaged reactor.

    The not-so-funny thing was that nobody who was in my uncle's shoes knew what was going on there. The superior officers, had to tweak radiation meters down so nobody could find out the real level of radiation. People did not have proper protection, tools to work with; moreover, the Soviet leaders did try to play things down a notch. Afterall, how could a superpower have a major disaster?

    Out of all of my uncle's rescue team, only a dozen or so people are alive now. All of them are disabled. My uncle has problems with his eyes and due to this fact he had to quit his job: he was a professional photographer. The Ukranian government pays him a small pension, not enough to buy food for a week. His immune system got reduced down to 60% of what he used to have. Still, he's better than his son. My cousin's system is 40% of the normal level. I remember reading a newspaper about a woman who had to buy a bottle of vodka every day. She did it because her husband could not surive through pain without it. Just as my uncle, he was in Chernobyl trying to fix the Soviet problem without exposing it to the rest of the world. That guy was lucky. His kids had been born before he went to Chernobyl. You won't believe how many stories I've heard when people just wanted to die without pain and suffering.

    Finally, here is a surprise for you. Chernobyl is not the only empty city. In fact, if you want to see more of them, you should travel to southern Belarus. See, due to the winds and the rain that happened right after the disaster, most of the radiation that escaped in Chernobyl ended up miles away in the neighboring state. In fact, Belarus recieved more damage than the Ukraine due to the wind pattern for that day. Most of the winds blew from the Ukraine straight into my motherland and the damage was done. I was lucky. Although I was in the rain that day, most of the radiation passed around my town. However, many towns received a solid amount of radiated water but the government did not do anything until it was late. As I said above, the government did everything it could to cover up the problem.

    We were told to burn our clothing and take a shower. That is it. That was the f*cking Soviet solution to the problem. Months later dozens of small towns were evacuated. People left leaving everything behind in hopes that they would return. Return my ass. The only people who returned were either looters or bums who scored nice houses where they could live. Years later, after the Soviet regime had collapsed, some reporters were providing us with information places that were emptied out. Most of these places are still there. They are a real time machine. If you go there, you'll see pretty much everything as it was in late 80's. Pictures of those places are distrubing, but not as bad as pictures of kids with cancer or disabilities due to the Chernobyl disaster. As for me, I am afraid of having a child myself. Who knows what got inside of me during that f*cking rain... All I know is that some of my friends started to develop problems already.

    Have a nice day.

The relative importance of files depends on their cost in terms of the human effort needed to regenerate them. -- T.A. Dolotta

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