Hot summer in Chernobyl
The author of these notes APN photo correspondent for the Ukrainian SSR Igor Kostin. From April to December 1986, he covered the progress of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Photomaterial J. Kostin, sdelanny them in hazardous conditions of high-dose rates, entered into the official record of the Government Commission of the USSR. His series "The tragedy of Chernobyl" was awarded in the "World Press Photos" in Amsterdam, the highest international award "Golden Eye" to "Interpressphoto" in Baghdad, a gold medal, a semi-Chila Grand Prix at the competition in the GDR and the main prize of the Union Remembering all what happened then, I ask myself, I would go to all this, knowing then what I know now. Should we look for an answer to these questions?
In late April 1986, after the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, I flew in a helicopter to the destroyed fourth block. Those who are supposed to know about this flight, did not know. I persuaded my friends to take the pilots on board.
- Not afraid?
Frankly, I'm not really imagine what awaits us, never thought about the fact that such an x-ray exposure. The fear came later.
I take three cameras, the required number of film was taken in a helicopter. Fly.
That's Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Visible tall chimney, the building block of the fourth ... Where? Despite the roar of propellers, I feel deathly silence at the bottom. The voice of someone from the crew members' three hundred and fifty two hundred and fifty ... ... a hundred and fifty ... "These are the X-rays, which were already beginning to talk around the world. But why start? They say vengeance. The monstrous speculation in the Western press, thousands of victims, mass graves, unpredictable consequences ... Our press keep quiet.
Paul helicopter covered with lead. Portholes battened down. On the starboard side, the collapse of the fourth reactor. Scary black mouth. Voice Pilot: "Before the reactor at 50 meters, 250 X-rays," Why is it so black this fall? Soot? But then I was not thinking about it. I frantically removed by opening the window. It was stupid. A few minutes later the camera stuffed with electronics, refused. After planting them away from me. Something, however, was able to wash. But that was much later.
After development, it turned out that the film is marred. Marred almost all, except for the part color negatives. All material Black and white and color slides radiation processed before me.
Climbing into the helicopter, I felt like a hunter pursuing prey. Now I understand that the victim feels, followed by an invisible, inaudible and therefore even more terrible enemy.
May 5 is already quite officially, together with other accredited journalists again going to Chernobyl. All remain outside the 30-kilometer zone where evacuees gathered, concentrated technique specialists.
First impressions are quite unusual. Where have I seen it? To the cinema? Or five years old when the war started? .. The endless columns of cars. Cow in a truck, some belongings, buses with people. Evacuation.
My questions are not answered. And they could not answer. No one knew where the allowances are put on and who is engaged in press photographers. But there was no confusion. There was panic, confusion, even though the machine, later called ALP-elimination of the consequences of the accident, the car -This is just beginning to unwind. Nevertheless, it managed to make it so that each played exactly defined task.
The truck driver, General of the Army, the Minister, mason were dressed alike, talked to each other on a completely equal, and even people who were known to us, too, were Neot guishable from one another - each was wearing a respirator. Standard mask, similar to the pig's snout and soon replaced with "petals" - a much more sophisticated protection, -after which the face was no more diaper rash. In that terrible summer because of the heat around the mouth and nose in people formed almost yazvy- respirators did not remove the clock.
I photographed thirteen kilometers from the fourth block. I photographed and drivers and controllers, Concrete tankers and armored personnel carriers, of course, health physicists, whereas the most famous, surrounded by a halo of some mystery. They have seen and measured what was subtly and imperceptibly. However, not so imperceptibly. I felt that the air here is unusual, with a strange metallic taste. And all the while tickle in the throat.
For a long time in the area, I did not stay. You could type "extra" dose. I came for a day or two, then went to Kiev, again returned. If at first had to sleep and eat anywhere, then everything will work out pretty quickly. There were the familiar management of traffic police of the Ministry of Interior. The ones who recently filmed at the crossroads of the city, the consoles and in the offices. They somehow sheltered me, and gave me the same clothes worn by themselves: white suits, reminiscent of pajamas, beanies. My own clothes by that time everything was not suitable. Is that something to catch the pop-lyat dosimeters.
I gradually became its Chernobyl. I was given a bed, put on rations, and, most importantly, provide the necessary information. I photographed a lot, mainly the deactivation process. As special machines doused the house and the street with a solution resembling the kind soapy water. We engaged in this war, which by the time of the Chernobyl became much.
And yet I knew that my place is not here. The main events took place there, where one after another huge flying military helicopters, loaded to capacity with sand, lead, barium, all that is delivered at full speed and flew back into the black mouth of the ruined reactor. On the helipad something incredible happened: the engines rumbled continuously scurrying huge trucks, helicopters took off, landed, took off again - and so on without end.
I was terribly jealous of the pilots, who flew to the reactor, my profession demanded my presence, eyewitness accounts have not consoled. But to take the car instead of the required 80 kilograms of sand or lead nobody wants reporter nobody wanted.
In the end, the Air Force command gave me permission, gene-Ral Antoshkin later Hero of the Soviet Union, said: "Okay, allow" At the same moment it learned on the heliport. No documents, no pieces of paper with signatures while Chernobyl was not. People forget that such bureaucracy.
The relationship with each other was sincere and kind and eager to help in any moment. And one oral order to solve complex problems, far more important than flying correspondent to the fourth unit.
The Chernobyl disaster bring out the best in us - the capacity for compassion, self-sacrifice, the belief that someone else's grief does not happen.
After nine minutes the powerful military helicopter was already a parallel course with a helicopter working in the area of the fourth unit, which produced decontamination unit and the roof area of the Chernobyl AES.S that day, I made more than 40 flights over the reactor. I shot all the stages of liquidation of the accident and disposal of the fourth unit in the sarcophagus.
It was a time of hard work. In Chernobyl, I was shooting, was carrying the film in Kiev, where the material being processed, transferred to Moscow and, I confess, was not even aware of his speed, he saw in the "Times" and "Stern" shots that did vetoy continuous race with constantly passing time.
Made not satisfied. No matter how hard to help me, and pilots and their commanders, they could not turn the helicopter in the set. I needed a fourth block, and I decided to get there.
Gone daring raids to places where "light" we felt that the radiation is not dangerous at home, but here is the enemy-an insidious enemy. It arose in unexpected places, where seemingly nothing serious. And quietly doing its job. They came to the attention of the Sixth Moscow hospital, where there were firemen, and not only they, and where soon have to lie to me.
Do not add courage tightly zadraenny armored personnel carrier, which brought me to the fourth unit. And the bunker, where he worked as the headquarters, are not amused. Struck by a huge number of devices and suddenly a lot of people, the military and "partisan". So called civilian, gathered in Chernobyl from all over the country. They were usually highly trained specialists who know what risk, and took risks. They have joined the so-called "watch", which lasted from 2 to 20 minutes. Then the detachment returned to the bunker where, before entering the restroom or in the room where he worked headquarters, crossing flooded with ankle-deep water lobby water poured everywhere and always. All mylos, clean and so sparkling clean. Any dirt in the literal sense of the word turned around "dirt" that the language of health physicists meant increased radiation background.
There were shooting interesting, though far more dangerous. Erect walls of the sarcophagus, laid the trench, assorted debris, here was not easy, and remote-controlled machines. All this is continuously running in the same frenetic pace, from which it was impossible to give radiation-drove.
But again, I did not give a thought: it's all wrong! Important further. More specifically say- above, where the artist works surrounded by the legends "roof cats."
To these "cats" and I had to get through.
When the explosion occurred, the wreckage of the reactor, radioactive material literally covered the roof of the neighboring, the third reactor. There could be no question of the accident without in order not to remove the most dangerous "dirt". And there, on the roof of the third block, he could see the destroyed reactor, the place to which slowly and surely approaching the design of the future sarcophagus. While still low.
At the headquarters, located in the administrative displaced in buil-of NPP, to dispose of a person whose position signified an unheard abbreviation dig for Chernobyl clean-up workers. This meant: the deputy chief engineer of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the aftermath of the accident. The name of this person Yuri Samoilenko, now he is a Hero of Socialist Labor, and if we knew about it, he came from Smolensk, where he worked on there the NPP-perhaps, and all. Details of past life were somehow irrelevant. In submission Sa moylenko was the same group of "roof cats", and according to the documents, a group of health physicists reconnaissance of the USSR Ministry of Atomic Energy. It was led by Alex Sandro Yurchenko. To name but still OD-name: Gennady Dmitrov- head of the DCO, individual monitoring. Friendship with these people, with their companions, each of which is worthy of eternal glory and gratitude, I am proud and I will be proud of for life.
"Cats" listened to my request to take me back to where I was able to stay in the mouth of the destroyed reactor. After hearing flatly refused, and so that it was impossible to argue. "For the sake of your Photog-rafy, 'said they, We're not going to get extra doses»
Again I urged. In the end, after "cats" have to do some work on the roof, let them do, and I'll be there to do their job.
And what does the next? Where it is unremarkable in appearance a piece of graphite and "shines" with a force incomparable with anything that has irradiate me during this time?
The main release of the fourth unit lay on the roof of the third. From there to the mouth of the exploded reactor had to reset the pieces of graphite, some metal debris, trash, which in normal circumstances would be to collect a few hours. We went up to the attic of the third block. There have already been punched and reserved special lead glass observation holes made by specialists Institute of Kurchatova.Pervye frames were shot through them.
But it was not! I had to climb onto the roof, but this time Yurchenko refused categorically.
Again, persuasion, argument!
Of course, the scouts evil. Of course, they still need to get up to where I wanted to. However, in the hands of the instruments were a hazard warning, and I - I was fond of the camera, taschivshaya me to collapse. And yet, I think they are more worried about me-ilis than about getting their doses. The fact is that as soon as the dose reaches a certain limit, the man goes on vacation, which lasted a long time and could be delayed as long as the return will not make sense. These people could not accept the idea that the most important thing in the area will be done without them.
But we're going to the roof, and not have to think about what will happen tomorrow.
I put on the chest lead shirtfront. Then, a protective suit. At the head of the cap, in which the top-hood, closes his forehead and shoulders. They took ten pairs of gloves. Respiratory "petal" Special boots of lead seals. Cameras put in a lead box.
From the attic went on flimsy metal ladder to the roof of the third block. I prepared the camera. Gennady Dmitrov again ordered not to touch anything metal. Yurchenko stood at the entrance to the attic and loudly counting the seconds. When the score was 20, I had to rush headlong back. That was enough not only to remove what I had in mind, but also to be noted that there are even more interesting story.
Having stated as emphatically as it summarizes what he thinks about me and my mental faculties, Yurchenko gave me a few more seconds. But when he returned, I asked to borrow more.
I shot at the very collapse of the fourth unit. My eyes appeared as something that had no one ever sees.
Radiation lighted almost everything that I shot, but this time I was ready for it, and in the laboratory still got the picture. The man at the collapse of the reactor of such irrefutable evidence that the situation is under control, it is normalized, the reporter could only dream of. I was there and did not do this picture.
A few days later, I clearly Islands went to Chernobyl, made his way back to his "cats" on the roof, and Sasha Yurchenko took a meter from the collapse of the fourth unit.
Everything changed in the attic of the third block. The roof was no longer empty. Here the work was in full swing. He commanded by Major General Tarakanov. Its position is different from that of the soldiers whom he had ordered only one circumstance. Soldiers in groups of eight on the siren in advance spent maneuvering jumped on the roof, special equipment seized previously designated for each chip and throwing it into the mouth of the reactor, to where he flew. After that, the whole operation took 40 seconds soldiers received thanks to the team, a cash prize and dismissal. The general remained the same.
Robots specially purchased from famous western firms were embossed with electronics and inactive. Radiation disabling them.
I also worked sorokasekundnuyu shift. I went to the ninth, took what he wanted, was thanks to the team, however, without a premium, and transfer to the reserve, and after the change of the general Tarakanov stated my request command: make panning roof that would greatly facilitate the work of the soldiers as could be clearer distribute tasks. The pictures must have been all the fragments to be destroyed.
I climbed to the roof again. At 20.00 at the command was already lying on the table of the famous panorama roof.
Today, those events remind me of photographs awarded many international awards, due to the modest forms of on-staff for the accident and even memories. I see, as if it were yesterday, the person "roof cats," I hear the roar of helicopters, I see those who oppose his home, a garden, and with a modest belongings in the basket evacuated beyond the thirty-kilometer zone ... I think: is this all happen? And again, because it was all just an accident.
Chernobyl today. Next & gt; & gt;