Old bee hive. Bees flew away.
I always wondered what became of the cats and dogs and all the other animals that people kept in their villages. Cattle have all been slaughtered... cats returned to the wild and their offspring now live in the woods.
This village is called "White Coast". White Coast is close to main road, and some people still live here.
When I tell that people still live in some village, it normally means that only two to five people are left. Any village with 20-30 people still living there is, by Chernobyl standards, a megapolis.
Grave of unknown soldier of Great Patriotic War, in unknown village, in Chernobyl.
Realm of Pluto
Compared with Plutonium-239, the other chemical elements stands in the same relation as the kings on the stage to the king in real life, for it is Plutonium that will reign for thousands of years. It is extremely toxic and highly chemically reactive, half-life of Plutonium is 24,000 years.
Fortunately Chernobyl was Uranium reactor, all Plutonium that present in the area is a product of Uranium, how much depends on the age of the reactor. Some say, it would still be a small amount, but we don't really need much. By extrapolation, 1 lb (less then half kilogram) of plutonium, universally disposed, would be enough to kill every living human being on the earth.
Plutonium is used as a fuel for atomic bombs or as fuel for "fast-breeder reactors", it is appropriately named after Pluto, god of the dead and ruler of the underworld.
Some of villages are heavily poisoned. The radiation here is even higher than it is near the reactor site.
If we take a Geiger counter reading on the road, then one on the grass and compare the two readings, the grass is 8.5 times more than the asphalt, because radiation becomes concentrated in living organisms. The source of this radiation is Americium.
Initially, things were not too bad here. This area was poisoned with Plutonium-241 and a strange quirk of this element is that it is not very radioactive at first. It waits quietly for 14.4 years and then decays into components that include Americium-241 which produces powerful gamma rays, real cannon balls compared to the "bird-shot" particle radiation of the original Plutonium.
Movies showing today and movies coming soon were listed on the chalkboard at the club. The next coming attraction will be four centuries.
There will be no more lessons in this school classroom, either. The only lesson taught here now is that the physical half-life of Americium-241, the daughter of Plutonium-241 is more then 400 years.
Our ancestors in the distant future will still be living with the consequences of this decay cycle, when our bones are dust.
Photos from unofficial sources.
Farmers in some polluted villages report of calves being born with four horns, of piglets with eyes the size of watermelons.
I don't know how reliable this info is, but if I happen to pass through those villages, I will make sure the batteries in my camera are fully charged.
The most tragic part of this story is kids of Chernobyl.
There are lot of such photos appear in a papers and shown on tv. Some say, they are kids of Chernobyl, others say, we had such kids before accident, they might be kids of drug takers or alcoholics which are plentyful here.
We have lack of information about human casualties, officials deny any. Lack of true information breeds rumors, mistrust and panic.
I believe, it shall be a subject for scientific research and not for speculations. Either they are kids of Chernobyl or not, they are poor kids, whose lives hardly worth living.
Quiet town Poleskoye
At the end of our journey we'll visit the town, which was the administrative center for the region called Polissia.. now, the capital of WOLVES LAND.
Here is town soviet building.
During Soviet rule, if someone wanted to build a house they had to keep strict standards. Only well established people, with connections, could build a nonstandard (bigger) house. For 70 years the communist party tried to make all people socially equal, but they failed. Some houses are still larger than others.
Chernobyl equalized all in one day and now houses of common people stand in one line with houses of a party bosses.
Those were homes of simple people.
From this house left only chimney and the fridge.
Poleskoye downtown looks like after nuclear bombardment, like a cross of Stalingrad 1943 with Hiroshima 1945
Riding here is a slalom between trees growing from asphalt and opened sewer hatches.
This used to be a children's toys and clothing store.
This is my dad checking radiation level in this store. He is retired now, but still interested in environmental issues.
Like many, he believes that people could live here once more. Poleskoye is cleaner than other places, with the average radiation level in town being under 20 microroentgen per hour. In a few places it will still jump up to 50 microroentgen per hour. Someone traveling in summer must double those levels because in summer it is higher everywhere.
Sometimes I just hang out with my dad in some wasteland. The Geiger counter he uses was made back in 1986. After Chernobyl disaster there was a shortage of radiation detecting devices and, in a panic, authorities began to hastily produce devices with scale of only 100 microroentgen. Those Geiger counters were completely useless, because in Chernobyl the radiation levels were hundreds of times higher than that - way off the scale. In those days, the level of radiation in my home, in Kiev was about 1000 microroentgen an hour... only now, after 20 years, are those old devices finally becoming usable.
Authorities tried to breath a new life and save this town. They removed asphalt and built a new roads.
Tore down some buildings and built new hospitals and schools.
Even removed water pipes and built a new church..
Those measures reduced the radiation level, but not enough to allow the town to be inhabited..
It appears that contaminated places all doomed.., sooner or later people will leave them all.
Poleskoye is an ancient place and can be found on old maps under name of Mogilne - which in Ukrainian means "by grave". It because the Grand Duke of Kiev Ihor was killed and buried here in 945 AD.
Since then town beared many names, it survived the invasion of the Mongol hordes in the 13th century, the great famine of 1933, the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, and then slowly died from the lethal dose of poisoning it received on the Chernobyl night of April 26, 1986.
The town's residents struggled to keep it alive, and in 1991 twelve thousand people still lived here. But when the clock in the main tower clock stopped in 1999, it entered the death throes when the last 1000 residents left.
Now, it has finally fulfilled the destiny of it's ancient name.
Trees grow on the roofs. Maybe it is natures's way of marking a place turned upside down.
No way to break through the old Jewish cemetery.
Plowed earth tells that the wild animals already here.
There is something really sad about this town, for thousand years people lived here, Great Minds discussed ideas, average people discussed events, Small Minds talked about others... no voice is heard here now, wild boars stake out their homes, wolves survey the desolate territory, of a town built and destroyed by man, an abandoned domain that is theirs now..
We are leaving Polesskoye and heading home. Radiation here is the same as at Grand Central station in New York, where radioactivity of the stone rise the level up to 50 microR/hr.
Excitement of riding a motorcycle through the Wolves Land can not be compared with riding a car. On a car, you just a tourist. On motorbike, you are savage, the abuser, the part of a wild life.
Usually, when they talk about the dead zone, they talk about area that is 30 kms around reactor.
What about this towns and villages? They are 60 kms from reactor.
The Wolves Land is bigger than many think and it keeps on growing. Now days, it spread on 300 kms from South to North and on 100 kms from East on West.
Of course, folks are still living in various places, but you won't find a young and prosperious people with happy faces. They are mostly elderly people who want to spend the rest of their lives in their old homeplace... Some places are clean and safe to live in, but the infrastructure of the region has collapsed and there are no jobs and nothing to attract young people anymore. The region is dying away.
The map below shows the total territory that Chernobyl poisoned with radiation.
here are two wings of the Wolves Land. So far in my reports of "Ghost Town" and "Land of the "Wolves" we have visited only the southern wing which is located in Ukraine and Belorussia.
The northern wing is located in Belorussia and Russia. It is huge and depressing. May be I will tell about this land some day.