Our second destination is the environmental research station near the reactors. Apparently, after the disaster, one of the nearby buildings was used as a lab to test the spread of radioactives and to measure whether the water and soil was too polluted. The answer was, "YES" so they shut down and moved on, leaving the lab behind. It's some kind of administrative building that, when they set it up as a research lab, they coated all the floors with heavy plastic to make them easier to rinse down. It's extremely creepy. There are many unsettling things there.
(Specimen jar? Use a mayonnaise bottle. Make sure the mayonnaise is all gone, though...)
In one room there appears to have been a lab devoted to measuring the radiologic uptake of fish. It's full of glass bottles of fish in formalin (or maybe they're too radioactive to decay?)
(They're not screaming. Fish can't scream. But they would, if they could)
I know I'm reading a lot into the scene but, to me, the place reeks of desperation and
despair. I wonder if the guys who were measuring this were really scientists who knew
what they were doing, or if they were just government drones going through the
gestures. And, either way, which would be worse? For someone who knew what
they were looking at, watching the radiation measurements jump down the river
must have been nauseating. Sometimes knowledge makes a wound more
(The first thing I saw near the reactor that really scared me)
There was a small room in the back of the facility that looked like it had been ignored
by explorers. The door was jammed shut and I unjammed it with a couple of thumps
from my boot. There were many handwritten log-books willy nilly on the floor and a
pile of paper bags full of dirt, labelled and dated. I immediately imagined they must
be soil scrapings from the area, measured for radiation - and that some of them might
be quite hot.
(Not hot at all, compared to everything else outside of the room)
Behind the facility was a set of barns that had obviously been used to store sample livestock: chickens and fish.
(Water sampling facility. The rear of the building was full of huge bathtub-like tanks for fish)
The columns in the stands are all beautiful hand-made glass. They'd make wonderful light fixtures or something, except that they're in Chernobyl.
(Chernobyl fish hatchery)
(Fish enclosures) (Google Map)
I saw no sign of fish in the water, but there was a large convocation of cormorants or loons - some kind of fishing birds - so I had to assume there's interesting food for them deeper in the lake and rivers. They have no competition from humans.
Our next stop is the cooling towers, so we leave the research facility and load back up into the van.
(Logbook, research facility)