|Reactor #4 and a radiation meter|
|Tattered school books in an abandoned school|
|Platform Diving Boards at the public swimming pool|
This platform diving board was especially interesting to me. Did you know that this public swimming pool located in Pripyat was in use until 1996? Actually, Reactor #1 (just around the corner from Reactor #4) was in use until 2001. I can't believe that people still worked in the immediate area of Reactor #4, and still spent time relaxing that this pool.
The city was built in 1970 to home the workers of the nuclear reactors and their families. I am sure it must have been a lot of fun to come to this amusement park before the reactor went haywire.
|The Famous Ferris Wheel|
We continued our tour around the city and I found this bit of graffiti. There were so many looters after the city was evacuated. There is not so much graffiti littering the walls of what was once such a proud city.
|Memorial to the Firefighters|
I feel so bad for the firefighters who were first sent in to put out the reactor's flames. Can you imagine showing up with all of your gear, putting water over the flames, only to realize that this is unlike any fire you have ever seen. Water does nothing; the flames keep burning. All 28 firefighters died shortly thereafter of ARS (Acute Radiation Syndrome). The specific plan that was laid out by the officials to stop the spread of the radiation was tedious. It involved many steps. They started by pouring lead and sand bags (yes, sand bags) on to the gaping hole that was constantly spewing poisonous gas. They later realized another huge problem: if the hot molten radiation lava would continue to burn down into the ground below the reactor and touch the water found there, another even larger explosion would surely follow. To stop the follow of lava down, 600,000 "volunteers" sporting nothing more than a paint mask were ordered to dig a tunnel leading beneath the reactor. Because they realized that one would get ARS from prolonged exposure, everyone would take 20 minute shifts. The amount of radiation in the air was 15,000 more than the average humans yearly allotment. After that tunnel was completed and the path leading to the water was built, it was decided that a sarcophagus would need to be built surrounding the reactor. Radioactive solids would have to be removed from the roof first. Robots but after only a few minutes, their computers would short circuit. People were once again sent to the scene, only allowed to work a matter of seconds before being rushed back down. Meanwhile, decontamination teams were sent to spray down buildings; cut down trees and bushes and bury them in concrete. It was a sickening process, and I will admit I do not even remember ever last bit of their plan. Many people lost their lives, or suffered for the rest of their lives. Without them, Europe would have continued to have been plagued with this invisible enemy.
I am still very emotional and passionate about my experience last week in Ukraine. Although incredibly depressing and grisly, I am so glad I had the chance to see the city of Pripyat and Chernobyl. Not only has it made me even more appreciative of my health and life in the United States, but also I feel like I am one step closer to figuring out what I should do with my life.