Friday, April 02, 2004

Ghost Town

Take a trip with Elena on her Kawasaki motorcycle, into the heart of a Ghost Town - that is near Chernobyl : which means wormwood - the site of the world's worst nuclear accident which took place in 1986. Official figures say at least 300,000 people died. Elena's photo-journal is courtesy of her father's occupation as a nuclear research scientist. She gives insight not only into the facts of the accident itself, but the society that produced it. The eerie photos of an interrupted life are stunning. She shows an abandoned high-rise apartment building, and describes the people standing on the roof-top, looking at a "beautiful shining" on the power plant - the shining of radiation.

There are 27 chapters - the last pages are of the kindergarten, untouched since the sudden evacuation.

Here's a snip --go look at the photographs:
Most people had to leave everything, from photos of their grandparents to cars. Their clothes, cash and documents has been changed by state authorities. This is incredible, people lived, had homes, country houses, garages, motorcyles, cars, money, friends and relatives, people had their life, each in own niche and then in a matter of hours this world fall in pieces and everything goes to dogs and after few hours trip with some army vehicle one stands under some shower, washing away radiation and then step in a new life, naked with no home, no friends, no money, no past and with very doubtful future.
The 1960's -1970's were an era of great nuclear enthusiasm. With such slogans as "atom is our friend", they were building atomic plants here, there and everywhere and then in the night of 25 to 26 April 1986 someone pushed a wrong button and launched the biggest nuclear catastrophe in history... The causes of the accident are still described as a fateful combination of human error and imperfect technology.
In keeping with a long tradition of soviet justice, they put imprisoned all the people who worked on that shift - regardless of their guilt..... a man who tried to stop the chain reaction as a last attempt to save the plant and was sentenced to 14 years in prison, he died 3 weeks after the accident.

In theory, radiation will stay in the Chernobyl area for the next 48.000 years, but in reality, humans may begin repopulating the area in about 600 years - plus/minus three centuries. The experts predict that by then the most dangerous elements will have dissapeared - or been sufficiently diluted into the rest of the world's air, soil and water.

If our government can somehow find the money and political willpower to finance scientific research, perhaps there will be someway discovered to neutralise or clean up this area sooner, otherwise we will have to wait this 300 years untill radiation will vanish by itself. That's if we use the lowest scientific estimate of 300 years......some scientists say it may be as long as 900 years. People often accuse me of being an optimist.

at Elena's Chernobyl Journal
Thanks, David

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