Pripyat: Ghost City Chronicles

If you are at all interested in Chernobyl and Pripyat, you have to take some time to watch this fascinating new documentary, "Pripyat: Ghost City Chronicles". I noticed a few factual errors, but overall, this film is excellent. It includes:

  1. Discussions in Pripyat with Alexander Esaulov - the author of the new book I posted about earlier this week.
  2. Some pre-accident film footage from Pripyat I have not previously seen
  3. Footage of marauders stealing radiators out of Pripyat (this footage was originally shot by administrators from Pripyat.com)
  4. Footage with my friend and former Pripyat resident Alexander (Sasha) Sirota
  5. Footage with another friend and founder of Pripyat.com, Vladislav Vivitsky
Note:  This film is approximately 26 minutes in length and has a commercial in the middle.

UPDATE (4/26/2008): It has come to my attention that there are no factual errors in this film - this statement was made due to a misunderstanding on my part.  Please see my update post for more details.


7 Comments

The following claim made in the film is not true:

"It is clear that radiation has permanently damaged health of thousands of people".

It has certainly permanently damaged the health of those who died (115?) Many people, particularly children, had thyroid cancer, but that can be operated on and does not result in any permanent damage. Other than that to my knoweldge there was no statistically significant increase in the rates of deseases linked to radiation.

Stress related to the accident, evacuation, working to deal with the accident and living in the area may have been a larger problem than radiation itself.

The doctor's claim about the most advanced medicine and saving people is rubbish. All they needed to do was to give people iodine tablets.

Graffiti is supurb, particularly the girl pushing the elevator button.

shlemazl - I have a friend who is a former resident of Pripyat. As a result of receiving a large dose of radiation from the Chernobyl accident, she spends quite a bit of time each year receiving treatments in a Ukrainian polyclinic. Her energy levels are almost always extremely low, making it difficult for her to do much of anything during the day. Yes, she does have good days when she is capable of some activity, but those days do not happen often. She has many friends from Pripyat that are also suffering from substantial health issues.

The reason people can claim radiation from Chernobyl is not the cause of these illnesses is because it is difficult, if not impossible, to scientifically prove the source. That does not mean Chernobyl was not the cause - only that it cannot be proven beyond a doubt.

Mark:

My 9-year old son has a friend. He has been diagnosed with leukemia. I hope he will be alright, but he will have to undergo an awful lot of treatment.

My neibour has just been diagnosed with a breast cancer; they have to do more tests to determine which type and how serious it is.

Sadly, people get sick everywhere. In the developed world cancer is the number 1 killer of people...

Anyway, what is it that your friend has? You see, radiation does not cause headaches, diabeathies, "weaknesses" or blood pressure; not even certain types of leukemia, but I have personally spoken to people who claimed otherwise.

It's not surprising. People need a reason for their misfortune. In the old times they blamed spirits and gods. These days they blame radiation... Particularly so if they lived near Chernobyl.

Well, stress might have caused some of these problems and thus Chernobyl might have been responsible - indirectly. However for those diseases that are actually caused by radiation we have statistical facts. There was no statistically significant increase in occurancies of such diseases compared to the other areas of the former USSR.

Dear Shlemazl (nice nick, have to admit)

You're right in the respect that there are no statistic or official records of any significant changes in nation's health. But that's why, as Mark said, because it has been impossible to scientifically determine the extent at which the radiation could have damaged people's health.

I'll tell you one sad story i encountered during my work with the Chernobyl evacuees. I met a woman of about 60 years of age, a former resident of Pripyat. She is condemned by having a cancer, her husband died a couple of years ago and all of her 3 children, 2 0f whom were born in Pripyat, suffer from various diseases.

But. Her youngest 19-year old daughter..and if you count you'll probably realize that she's younger than the Chernobyl blast..had recently an inoperable brain tumor discovered. The doctor told them that it was unclear how long she would live.

If you watched "The Chernobyl Heart" you would know of "statistically significant increase in the rates of deseases linked to radiation". I've been to Belarus and have seen the horrors of their maternity homes. And there have never been anything like that prior to 1986. Who or what else is there those mothers should shift the blame on?
And thus i feel you're being wrong in your judgments of the Chernobyl aftermath.

And, by the way, Leonenko's claim about advanced healthcare is true. Not only because i tend to beleive people who wont lie to me unless they're paid for it, but also because he's not the only person who told me it was like that in Pripyat. And, btw, iodine pills wouldnt have saved people practically burnt by radiation inside the plant. Nothing would.

Hope you enjoyed my report though.

RT Reporter - Thank you for stopping by and providing your insights.

Shlemazl - I do not know the specific illness or illnesses that my friend has. She has never mentioned her actual diagnosis and I never felt it was my business to ask. All I can tell you is that she was an active, healthy person prior to being exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl disaster. Today, she has difficulty performing the simplest tasks and spends quite a bit of time in polyclinics for treatment. Either radiation from Chernobyl affected her health (and that of others), or it is one heck of an amazing coincidence that so many people that lived in the same area are affected by catastrophic health issues.

I will agree that there is little to no scientific evidence supporting the theory that Chernobyl radiation is the source of these people's health problems. However, that does not mean their claims are false, just that they are not scientifically supported at this time.

You can point to scientific studies indicating that Chernobyl's radiation could not possibly be the cause of these people's health issues, but I can find other studies that conclude even the lowest doses of radiation can cause health problems (much lower doses than what residents of Pripyat and other Chernobyl-affected areas received). I respect your opinions, but I think we will have to agree to disagree on this issue.

Gentlemen:

I agree to disagree. We all agree that it was a disaster. The accident created an uninhabitable region; lots of people had to be relocated, lost their posessions, suffered psycological damage which may have lead to other things.

Also the ~100 + people that died from the radiation sickness did die from radiation and there were many cases of thyroid cancer (100% preventable by iodine tablets and 100% curable).

However it is false that "there are no statistic or official records of any significant changes in nation's health. But that's why, as Mark said, because it has been impossible to scientifically determine the extent at which the radiation could have damaged people's health."

There are excellent records of the "nations health". Good stastical data are available and have been analyzed. It is just that they do not show what you want them to show.

Anecdotal evidence from individuals is not valid. Just go to a cancer ward in Toronto or Ottawa to see "horrors" (although the conditions are admittingly better).

And by the way... I have also been to areas around Gomel, and to Chernobyl and to Pripyat and to Slavutich and spoken to a bunch of "liquidators". Most had something that they blamed on radiation (e.g. headaches, although some were in good health by normal standards).

And I hosted "Chernobyl children" from Belarus. They were poor and disadvantaged kids alright (although not all). Some did not know how to clean their teeth. Yet adults who claimed that joint problems that one of these kids was having were caused by the accident were either liars or - more often - nice people talking from ignorance.

These were the adults who told kids that by spending 1 month in the west "radiation would leave their bodies". They were smoking in a small room full of kids while they were telling that.

In fact this scaremongering creates very real tragedies. I've met quite a few old people in the Gomel region whose family wouldn't visit them because of "radiation" fear.

Mark has been attempting to be civil; I will not. Shlemazl's comments are just stupid! Why did those kindly Commissars pull everyone out of all the surrounding cities and villages within a radius of about 100 miles, to give them a free vacation?

Shlemazl, you are either a shill for the nuclear industry or an idiot.