Chernobyl Chills

March 13, 2008


If you grew up in the 80s or have had a good history teacher, you have heard about the terrible tragedy that happened on April 26, 1986– the nuclear disaster at the power plant in Chernobyl, in Russia. I remember that news reports were very slow to leak out. At first, the Soviets downplayed the disaster. After a few weeks (if I remember correctly), the Soviets finally admitted a tragic nuclear power plant accident that killed hundreds of people and poisoned a large area of the Ukraine. This was disastrous for the Ukranians, already struggling with food shortages and economic recession. Wikipedia says:

On April 26, 1986, the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, exploded at 01:23 AM local time. The workers were performing an experiment with the reactor’s safety systems during which the computer-controlled safety systems were disabled.

Problems occurred during the tests: The reactor did not receive enough coolant, had built up too much heat in the core and had fully withdrawn control rods, all of which contributed to unstable and unpredictable reactor operation. A reboot of the computer systems failed to regain control of the reaction. When the control rods were manually reinserted in an attempt to regain control of the unstable reactor, there was a sudden increase in reactivity, caused by the design of the RBMK reactor and its control rods, and an uncontrollable runaway reaction occurred.

The reactor produced tremendous amounts of steam, eventually causing a steam break/explosion, which destroyed part of the reactor. After the explosion, graphite fires broke out, due to the high temperatures of the reactor and the graphite’s exposure to oxygen. Radioactive debris were flung several miles, and smoke containing radioactive contaminants from the burning graphite traveled as far as Belarus.

Creative Commons License photo credit: skippy13

Creative Commons License photo credit: coolz0rcoolz0r

Look at the photo below. The road is all eaten up! How did that happen?


Want to know something freaky? The name “Chernobyl” is said to mean “Wormwood” in Russian. Many have pointed to Revelation in the Bible where it says:

And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;

And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

Rev. 8:10, 11

Two very good websites I’ve seen that have good narrative and photos are Kidd of Speed (an excellent website) and Pripyat. The Chernobyl accident reminds us not to become too complacent and arrogant with our own technology. It just isn’t worth it.

3 Responses to “Chernobyl Chills”

  1. Mark Says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    I may be wrong, but I am almost positive that the road itself was not damaged by the radiation. Trees in the nearby “Red Forest” were definitely damaged/killed by the radiation (and later buried), but I doubt pavement would have been damaged.

    I personally visited the Chernobyl area for two days in June 2006 with my friend Sasha (in your first photo on the left, Yuri, who was my guide, is on the right), a former resident of Pripyat. We toured the Chernobyl Plant (including the Reactor 4 control room), several of the abandoned villages, and Pripyat. I have posted a photo journal of my trip at:

    My Journey to Chernobyl: 20 Years After the Disaster

  2. Rebecca Says:

    OMG Mark, I just love your website! Thanks for the link!

    Thanks for clearing up the pavement burning thing. Do you happen to know how the pavement got to be so beat up? It is both amazing and sad to see the devastation of such a beautiful area and of people’s lives.

    Thanks for commenting. I’m greatly enjoying your blog.

  3. Mark Says:

    Thank you for your comments, Rebecca. I started the blog on Blogger, but moved it to my own site in January. Now I just need to find some time to add extra content besides the blog (which was the whole reason for having my own site).

    Not that I am an expert, bu knowing the Chernobyl Plant, most likely it is just a road for construction vehicles, though it could have been built to provide easier access for firetrucks and other vehicles used in the cleanup. Another possibility is to get equipment to the reactor to build the Sarcophagus.

    If you are really interested in Chernobyl, you should check out – I am an editor for their English site and forum. Most of the good information is in the Russian forums, but a good online translator, such as IM Translator can give you a good idea of what is being discussed. Besides interested people from around the world, the forum also includes participants who are former Pripyat residents, former liquidators and current Chernobyl Plant employees. The forum is at (you’ll easily recognize the English-language section šŸ™‚ )