This post is the continuation of the route Mystic Chernobyl, which is divided into two parts. The first post (Mystic Chernobyl) covers Pripyat, entering in the Exclusion Zone and Kopachi. This second post covers the Duga radar, the power plant and Chernobyl village.
All photos used in this post can be browsed in large size in the post Mystic Chernobyl – Gallery in the section Galleries. If you are interested in purchasing one of the photos, the author maintains his portfolio in his website: gustavoliveira.se.
Mystic Chernobyl – Part 2
The Duga radar (Дуга), also known as Duga-3 or Chernobyl-2, is an OTH (Over The Horizon) radar array complex built in the 70’s and was in operation until 1989. It is located within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and its purpose was to detect and track intercontinental ballistic missiles that could eventually come from the United States in the heights of the cold war and give the soviets enough time to respond. As the name says, its over the horizon properties meant that it could send and receive signals from over the horizon line of sight (over the earth’s curvature). How was it done? First by its huge proportions: An array of 150 meters in height by 700 meters of extension; Second by transmitting over 10 Megawatts of power in the frequency range of 10Hz, thus generating very long wave lengths (aprox. 30000 Km) that would surpass the Earth’s curvature. This produced obviously a radio noise that could be heard almost anywhere in the world (10 Hz – 10 oscillations per second). Duga was then also known by the name “Russian Woodpecker”.
As mentioned earlier the complex was also a village (Chernobyl-2) which hosted buildings with control rooms filled with computers to process the signals; apartment buildings; schools; hospitals; kindergarten; sports-halls and so on. All to make the lives of those working and living there as convenient as possible (and keep it secret as well).
Even after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and only until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 this place was held in total secrecy and the world could only speculate its existence. In the following pictures we will see what is left not only of the radar itself, but also its hosting village.
And this is where it all happened. At 1:26AM, 26th of April 1986 a sequence of miscarried tests would culminate with the explosion of the reactor number 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (ChNPP). The area today is still maintained by scientists / engineers, and safeguarded by the military. Taking pictures of the reactor 4 and its surroundings is very limited. In the photos: Reactor 4 from distance (covered by the sarcophagus), unfinished reactors 5 and 6 and their respective cooling towers and a radioactive hot-spot (measured by a geiger counter – the safe level is 0.016 miliserviets/hour).
A Chernobyl Village
In this last part of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone we visit a village, one of the 120 evacuated settlements, about 15 Km Northwest from Pripyat located near the Ivankivs’kyi district. Despite its close distance with the major city of the Exclusion Zone, it takes more than one hour to get there from Pripyat due to poor road conditions. Giant trees have taken over the asphalt making the access more difficult and therefore less explored nowadays. This village differs from the others visited (i.e. Zhalyssia and Kopachi) in the sense it is much more preserved and with more of the original belongings of those who had to run away after the disaster. This is the last part of the trip but far from being the least emotional.