I have been extremely slothful in attending to my blog, and if anyone still reads it, I apologize and thank you for your patience! I’m attempting to catch up for the last few years in my spare time, posting the content and photos I’ve intended to publish more punctually but somehow haven’t found the time to do yet. The following images were taken at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in September of 2015 (with a couple from 2013, another trip I somehow managed not to document on my blog). Amazing progress has been made on the New Safe Confinement.
Condition of the Unit 4 control room at Chernobyl in late 2015. A Desk (reactor control point) where I am standing; P Desk (balance of plant) in the middle; and T Desk (turbogenerator controls) at the far side of the photo.
My hand points to the location of the AZ-5 shutdown switch on the A Desk in Unit 4 control room. On April 26, 1986, this position was occupied by an operator named Leonid Toptunov. The operation of the AZ-5 switch following a turbine test set in motion the reactor’s destruction.
Reactor core cartogram in the Unit 4 control room. Numerous lamp covers are missing now, probably taken as souvenirs by visitors and workers over the years.
Power indicator for the No. 8 turbogenerator in Unit 4 control room at Chernobyl. This turbogenerator was being “run down” on the night of the accident, as engineers were testing the ability of plant equipment to continue operating from this inertial energy source. The test itself was successful, but the attempt to shut down the reactor afterward led to disaster.
Control rod servo-indicator in the Unit 4 control room at Chernobyl. This is the rod indicator for Channel 40-37, reading in 0-8 meters insertion depth. This control rod, like most, descended from above the core. (A small fraction were inserted from below.) The reading is meaningless now, the servo-indicator having been decoupled from the drive mechanism in the reactor hall. However, on the night of the accident, it probably last read between 1 and 2 meters insertion when the explosion happened. The further entry of the rods was blocked by thermal-mechanical damage as the core overheated.
The hottest spot we found in the Unit 4 control room at Chernobyl was on the south wall of the Deaerator Building behind the panels, where we measured about 30 mR/hr (35000 CPM) from gamma radiation with an energy-compensated Geiger probe. The red marker pinpoints our location on north-south axis 51 (near the west end of the old control room).
My group on the +10m stairwell landing at the west end of the Deaerator Building, preparing to enter the Unit 4 control room.
The south Main Circulation Pump engine hall in Reactor 3 at Chernobyl. A replacement bearing assembly is in the foreground.
This Ludlum 26 Geiger counter is reading its maximum value from loose contamination on a valve housing in the Units 3-4 ventilation building. Significant particulate contamination is present throughout even nominally “clean” areas in the power station today.
The Unit 2 control room at Chernobyl. This reactor also met its end in an accident; a generator fire in October 1991 destroyed TG-4 and caused damage to all main and backup feedwater pumps. The reactor was shut down and cooled with the aid of fire pumps, and it has been offline ever since.
Corridor 418 at axis “I”, looking north toward the Khodemchuk memorial. The concrete wall on the left here blocks a small entrance into the destroyed Unit 4 reactor building.
State of the New Safe Confinement at Chernobyl in September of 2015. The massive arch will slide over Units 3 and 4 at the power plant, seen in the background.
September 2015 view of the east side of the New Safe Confinement arch.
Dump truck on the New Safe Confinement construction site.
Workers underneath the vast arch of the New Safe Confinement at Chernobyl look toward the power plant. The striped ventilation chimney over Units 3 and 4 is not the original, but a much smaller temporary replacement. The remains of the original are being stored in the turbine hall.
An engineer explains the hydraulic traction system that will lift and move the New Safe Confinement arch structure into place over Units 3-4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
Fire Station No. 2 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, 2015. This fire station’s crew was first on the scene of the 1986 accident–and many of the firemen died. The station remains staffed and in service, although the hose tower is too contaminated for use and the apron in front of the garage has been repaved to cover contaminated surfaces.
A Ukrainian fireman and an American fireman stand beside a Soviet-era fire truck remaining in service at Fire Station No. 2, Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
Main Circulation Pump engine hall in Unit 5, Chernobyl. The pumps were never installed, and gaping holes remain in the floor where they were to be placed.
A fortuitous late-afternoon beam of sunlight illuminates the dark interior of the Reactor 5 Central Hall, Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Units 5 and 6 were close to completion at the time of the Unit 4 accident in 1986, but were scrapped afterward. The abandoned structure is dark and very dangerous inside.