April 26 is the anniversary of one of the most terrible technogenic disasters in the history of mankind - the Chornobyl accident. The station was named after the city, 15 km from which it was built. But Chornobyl, whose name has now become synonymous with trouble, rarely is a topic of media reports. 112.ua continues to travel through the cities and towns of Ukraine, and this time we went to the territory of the 30-kilometer exclusion zone to see the life of the city 31 years after the disaster.
In Chornobyl there is no city hall, registry offices, children's playgrounds. For thirty-one years the city has not heard child's laughter - the entry into the territory of the exclusion zone to persons under 18 is prohibited. The permanent population of the city is self-settlers (102 people) and shift workers - employees of organizations of the exclusion zone (2,733 people). They live in Chornobyl for 15 days, and for another 15 days, they go home, as they say, to the "big earth". In the State Agency that manages the zone, they told that this mode of operation is justified from the point of view of the standards developed by doctors in the 90's: within 15 days, the organism can recover from staying in the zone of increased ionizing radiation. The city is used by the administration of the exclusion zone immediately after the 1986 accident. Then, they say, it was much more dangerous here than now.
The radiation situation in the exclusion zone is analyzed not by the parameters of different types of radiation, but by the concentration of radionuclides in the ground. In the exclusion zone, it is formed by such elements: Cesium 137, Strontium 90, Plutonium (isotopes 238, 239, 240, Americium 241.
The average salary for the employees of the exclusion zone is 7,5 thousand UAH. Until 2017, they also received a monthly surcharge of 150% of the minimum wage. Since 2017, they receive 150% of the subsistence minimum. It turns out about 10 thousand UAH for one person.
The state provides employees with personal protective equipment, overalls and special footwear. In Chornobyl, almost everything, men and women, are dressed in camouflage, army boots are on their feet. They put on usual clothes only before leaving. Employees are provided with a free place in the dormitory and preventive meals (three times a day). Among the benefits is a shorter working day (36 hours a week). Previously, there was also the right to a preferential pension, but it was canceled in 2016.
It is said that dosimetrists might come to all employees working in the zone from time to time. Shoe soles, clothes, floor in the office are monitored. If earlier such cases were 50-60 per year, now it reached 5-6 per year. This measurements are conducted by Ecocenter agency. Monitoring of the radiation situation is the main task of the organization, in which 302 employees work.
In "Ecocenter" they show me the central console where the video is coming from all the surveillance cameras installed in the zone. Employees of the center display a map of the radiation situation on the monitor. This is the visualization of the operation of an automatic radiation monitoring system. It consists of 39 equivalent dose rate sensors that stand throughout the exclusion zone. Once per hour they transmit information to the server. In emergency mode, the data will be delivered every few minutes. It is planned to put into operation a few dozen sensors that will cover not only the zone, but also the nearest villages to it.
The overall assessment of the radiation situation in the exclusion zone is based on radiation monitoring data. These are air measurements (such vacuum cleaners, from which once in five days the filter is removed and on the basis of which the radiation background is calculated). Measurements are made in underground waters, ground. We take samples of vegetation, biological species - fish, shells, algae.
In case of fire there is a mobile installation for measurements (such a mobile vacuum cleaner).
According to the map, the highest radiation contamination indices in the area of the Chernobyl NPP industrial site are up to 1 mR / h, at sites in the "tenth zone" range from 20 to 400 microR / h, in Prypyat - 200 microR / h.
The radiation background varies depending on the time of year. In winter, when the earth is covered with snow, the zone is much cleaner. In summer, especially in the dry season, when dust rises, the level of radiation also rises.
In the zone, there are employees from Ivankiv and Polisky districts. There are a lot of people from Kyiv.
One of the main enterprises of the exclusion zone is the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant (2,441 employees). On its territory there is an object "Shelter", which covers the destroyed fourth power unit. Employees of Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant do not live there. Most of them are from the nearby town Slavutych, they come to work by train.
According to official data, a year after the accident, in 1987, 1.2 thousand people returned to the exclusion zone. Most of them left housing provided to them in connection with the evacuation.
At that time, the Chernobyl District, executive authorities and local councils had already been liquidated. Residents were outside the influence of local government. infrastructure was partially evacuated from the settlements. It was necessary to re-establish trade, medical, transport, social services, the civil registration system, and tell them in the center. They say that the problems were solved by the enterprises of the exclusion zone and Ivankiv Regional State Administration at their own discretion, without any legal basis.
Now the situation, of course, is different, everything has already been regulated and adjusted. But there were very few people left - only 187 people. Most of them (102 people) live in Chornobyl. The rest are scattered throughout the villages. They say that self-travelers are mostly women.
We went to the cemetery. There is a memorial in memory of the Jewish population shot during the Second World War. Then thousands of Jewish townsfolk suffered from the Nazis' hands.
The self-settlers cultivate vegetable gardens, grow potatoes, carrots. Employees of Ecocenter regularly take samples from them, make measurements. Check the water in the well.
In the exclusion zone, a number of products of vegetable and animal origin cannot be used in connection with the excess of the permissible level of cesium and strontium in them. In mushrooms, for example, amount of cesium-137 is 152 times larger, and strontium is 6 times, there are 8 times more cesium in meat of wild animals, and 1.5 times more in strontium. In potato, there are 3 times more cesium, and 10 times more strontium. In vegetables, on average, the amount of cesium is 6 times greater, and strontium - 180 times. In fruits, the excess is 1.5 and 5 times, respectively, and in milk - in 2 and 3 times. But already no one from the self-settlers keeps cattle.
1.2 thousand species of plants were recorded on the territory of the exclusion zone (including 19 species listed in the Red Book), 409 species of animals (including 54 species from the Red Book). In the forests of the exclusion zone, rare birds are observed: black stork, goldeneye, osprey, serpent, large and small spotted eagle, gray crane, scaffold, scarecrow, and gray shroud. Ecocenter employee shows us the feather of the rare bird of the white-tailed eagle.
In the exclusion zone, there is a river otter, badger, lynx, Przewalski’s horses, bison, wolves, foxes, moose, goats.
Within the framework of studies, fish were caught in a reservoir-cooler near the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. But even among the famous giants-catfishes, which grow more than human growth, mutations are not fixed. Catfishes grow to such a large extent, because no one catches them.
The dose of radiation that you received during one day stay in Chernobyl is approximately equal to the dose that you could get during the flight from Kyiv to Berlin.