Archive for August, 2011

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Inside Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant 2011, Part IV: Switchyard Control Room

August 11, 2011

Its reactors have been out of service for years, but Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant’s vast electrical switchyard still buzzes with some of the highest voltages on the European continent.  It’s a distribution hub that channels hundreds of megawatts generated at other plants to consumers in northern Ukraine and southern Belarus.  The bustling control room for the switchyard is sited between the Unit 1 and Unit 2 reactors along the deaerator corridor.  The men who work there not only control the flow of juice to parts distant, but also are responsible for maintaining the power plant’s grid connection and backup Diesel generators: power is essential for cooling thousands of spent fuel assemblies.

Click any photo below for a larger version with my description; click again for a full-size file.

For this summer’s other photos from ChNPP, see Part I, Part II, and Part III.

To compare and contrast facilities at Chernobyl with those at an operational RBMK-1000 plant, please see this recent photodiary featuring the Kursk NPP (the 14th photo shows one of the switchyard control rooms there).

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Inside Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant 2011, Part III: Dosimetry Control Room

August 9, 2011

With a decade-plus lead on the rest of the RBMK fleet in confronting the uncertainties of the decommissioning process, which involves fuel movements and the continuing generation of radioactive wastes, Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant must continue to remain particularly vigilant on matters of radiation safety.  There is a well-maintained underground bunker at the ABK-1 administrative building that serves as a modern emergency operations center, for example.  This year we visited the Phase I dosimetry control room as part of our tour, where a dosimetrist monitors radiation levels and aerosol levels in the rooms of the Unit 1 and Unit 2 complex, and monitors discharge of radioactivity from the operational VT-1 ventilation stack.  The dosimetry control room is accessed from the +10-meter deaerator corridor, between Unit 1 and Unit 2 reactor buildings.

Click any photo below for a larger version with my description; click again for a full-size file.

For this summer’s other photos from ChNPP, see this post and this post.

To compare and contrast facilities at Chernobyl with those at an operational RBMK-1000 plant, please see jencha’s wonderful recent photodiary from the Kursk NPP (the 12th photo shows the dosimetry control room there with obviously more modern equipment than ChNPP).

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Inside Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant 2011, Part II: Deaerator Corridor and Unit 1 Control Room

August 8, 2011

More interior photographs from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, this selection focusing on highlights of the Unit 1 control room and the building’s perhaps most distinguishing interior feature, its 600-meter-long “Gold Corridor.” Right-click any photo and select “open in new window” (or equivalent) for a larger version with my caption.

For this summer’s photos of the Unit 3 end of the power plant, see this post.

Our photos from ChNPP last year are displayed at this site.

The floor plan below is compiled from an official plant safety document and is meant to help illustrate the geography of the power plant on the +10-meter elevation, near Units 1-2.

+10-meter floor plan, Phase I, Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

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Inside Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant 2011, Part I: Unit 3 and V Block

August 8, 2011

I just returned from another trip to Chernobyl. We visited some parts of the power plant that we didn’t get to see on last year’s trip, but—as I’m sure my readers can understand—one day at the station wasn’t enough and I’m left pining for more! (I’m particularly lusting after a certain pachyderm appendage, if you catch my drift.) Anyway, without further ado, here’s a gallery of select images from the Phase II end of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant—that is, from the Unit 3 reactor building and the Unit 3-4 ventilation building (in which is located a memorial to Valery Khodemchuk, the young engineer whose remains have never been recovered from the Unit 4 north main circulation pump engine hall). Click on any image for a larger version with my descriptive comments (and click again for the full-sized photograph).

I’m deeply indebted to Mr. Igor Gramotkin, General Director of ChNPP, and Ms. Irina Kovbich of ChNPP’s Information Department, for permission to visit, and a most fascinating tour of this unique facility.

Watch a short video of our trip to the Khodemchuk memorial:

To get a bearing on the station layout and the path we took within it, please see the floor plan at bottom, depicting the station’s +10/+12.5-meter elevation, compiled from an official plant safety document.  My comments in the photos / video make reference to specific locations visible on this map.

Floor plan of ChNPP Phase II, +10/+12.5-meter elevation

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