Recently in Pripyat Category

Destination Truth's Ghosts of Chernobyl episode finally aired on SyFy last night. I think the only good thing I can say is it was interesting to see Pripyat at night, though it seemed they only spent time in the hospital complex, the cultural center and amusement park. The thermal image of the ferris wheel was also pretty cool.

However, there was a bit of misinformation and redirection in the segment. Since I know the Chernobyl area pretty well, it was easy to identify misinformation and see how their editing took scenes out of chronological order. For instance, there is no "5 km checkpoint." The Dytyatky Checkpoint is at the southern entrance to the 30 km Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The Leliv Checkpoint is located 10 km from the Chernobyl Plant. What Josh Gates said was the 5 km checkpoint is at the entrance to Pripyat, which is 2-3 km from the Chernobyl Plant.

Editing took viewers from the Pripyat Checkpoint directly into the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant parking lot where visitors can see a close up of the Sarcophagus covering Reactor 4 (the visitor's center is also located at this parking lot). In reality, they would have visited the Chernobyl Plant several minutes after passing the Leliv Checkpoint, not the Pripyat Checkpoint.

The Thyroid Shield additive and radiation protection suits were definite overkill. The group was way too concerned about their radiation exposure. They did not seem to be in any areas of Pripyat that are known to have higher levels of contamination.

There is absolutely no way their cumulative dose of radiation reached a dangerous limit in that short amount of time. I personally know people who spend a lot more time in Pripyat, including in areas with higher levels of radiation and they have never had a problem ... and never wore radiation protection suits. Either someone manually set off the alarm or they set their dosimeter to sound its alarm at a very low level, just for effect.

As far as their evidence, my first reaction to the thermal footage with the shape in the window was a reflection, which was later verified by Jason and Grant from Ghost Hunters. I also question the other thermal footage that was referred to as a "great piece of evidence." The Destination Truth crew may have all been in radiation suits, but the shape could have been one of their cameramen or it could have been their guide Yuri. Despite what they implied, there is no way they would have been left completely alone in Pripyat without a guide.

They also got all excited about the small light in the cultural center (second floor of the building). As Jason and Grant mentioned, it could have been an animal. Wild dogs are known to wander the streets of Pripyat. If they did any research on the city, they would also know that thieves have been looting Pripyat for more than 20 years and continue to do so today. Could it have been a looter's flashlight?

The EVP session was also a joke. Construction of Pripyat began in 1970, so it was a young city that was only populated during Soviet times. Why the hell would you ask questions of spirits in the English language? In this location, do you really think someone is going to be able to understand a question in English and respond in English?

Lastly, Jael's freak out when she was "touched" reminded me of a scene with a wrestler on one of Ghost Hunter's live Halloween specials. It was too much of an overreaction to be real. The Destination Truth group is supposed to be there searching for the paranormal. If every little thing is going to scare you, why would you go on such investigations?

Overall, I found the Ghosts of Chernobyl episode to be a disappointment. For me, it revealed major issues with the Destination Truth show - issues that were previously suspected, but now seem more true than ever. These people are supposed to be professionals, yet whenever they see anything suspicious, they jump to the immediate conclusion they experienced something paranormal. Josh Gates has worked with Jason and Grant from Ghost Hunters and should be quite familiar with their approach, where if something is experienced, you investigate and try to disprove it.

I guess I should end with what I thought was a fascinating and appropriate quote from Josh Gates at the end of the episode's second segment: "Panic is a powerful agent of  imagination." I think Gates and his crew proved that tonight in the Chernobyl segment, where the destination was not the truth.

Destination Truth is a weekly television series on cable's SyFy channel that follows paranormal researcher Josh Gates around the world as he investigates claims of the supernatural. The next episode, scheduled to air on Wednesday, September 30, includes a ghost hunting investigation into the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The Ghosts of Chernobyl segment will include a quick review of the evidence with Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson from the popular SyFy series Ghost Hunters.

When viewing the episode's promo video (see below), it looks like they received permission to spend the night in Pripyat. This is confirmed when watching the minute and a half sneak peak clip (see below) on the Destination Truth website. I don't know how they managed to get that permission - it must be the power of television ... and the power of money. I'm sure they paid a hefty fee for the privilege.

So, what can we expect to see? In the sneak peak video, Gates says they are investigating claims of Pripyat being haunted. I've heard some people report feelings of being watched when walking past the city's hospital complex, but that's about it. If there really are ghosts or anything paranormal in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, I think they would most likely be around the Chernobyl Plant instead of in Pripyat.

Having watched some previous Destination Truth episodes, I think it's a safe bet that we'll see Gates and his crew overreact to something they find or encounter during their investigation. In the sneak peak video, you can see Gates getting into a panic about their geiger counter reading being too high within a room and having to immediately leave. I'm sure it's nothing more than an attempt to make viewers think they are in a truly dangerous situation. In reality, I doubt they encountered extremely high radiation levels. There's no way the Zone Administration would allow them to spend any length of time in a truly dangerous area.

After watching the sneak peak video, I'm wondering how much misinformation is going to be included in the Ghosts of Chernobyl episode. In the sneak peak, Gates refers to Pripyat as the home of the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor, specifically saying the Chernobyl Reactor is inside Pripyat. As most of us know, Pripyat used to be home to the Chernobyl Plant workers, not the plant itself, which is located approximately 3 km south of the city limits. I'll admit it's a small detail, but still a basic fact.

As worrisome as it sounds, this episode may be worth watching for no other reason than to see video footage of Pripyat at night (they use infrared cameras). This is the first time anyone has been allowed to film in Pripyat at night, so it could be interesting. When watching the episode, don't believe for a minute they were left alone in Pripyat without having a guide with them. The guide may not be seen on camera, but there's no way they were allowed to spend a full night in Pripyat completely unsupervised.

I'll write more next week after watching the complete episode.

My commentary on the Ghosts of Chernobyl episode is now online

Promo Video



Here is the episode sneak peak:

Video: New Pripyat Footage from 2009

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My friend Sergey has posted a new video filmed earlier this year in Pripyat. The 4 minute clip covers some well-known scenes such as the public swimming pool "Azure", and the amusement park, but also reveals some artwork or places not typically seen in photos or videos:



Sergey's Chernobyl Zone website has more detailed information about Pripyat, both then and now (this information is in English).

Chernobyl Book - The Pripyat Syndrome

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Pripyat Syndrome Book CoverA new book titled "The Pripyat Syndrome" officially went on sale April 26, the 23rd anniversary of the accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. "The Pripyat Syndrome" has been 15 years in the making and is written by my friend Lyubov Sirota, a poet and former Pripyat resident. The book examines developments in Pripyat on April 26-27, 1986, the evacuation and the lives and fates of Pripyat's residents and Lyubov's friends and relatives.

This should be a fascinating read, however it is only available in Ukraine and Russia in the Russian language. Once I get my copy and am able to translate it, I'll pass along some details.

Surprises in Pripyat

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Semihody CemeteryAs often as my friends in Kyiv visit the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and specifically Pripyat, I find myself amazed when they come across something “new.”

In early January 2009, a group of Pripyat.com administrators traveled to Pripyat to work on their “Photos of Your Home” project. “Photos of Your Home” was developed as an opportunity for former Pripyat residents to see pictures of their former homes/apartments. Requests are posted in the forum and eventually site administrators photograph the apartments and post the results online.

During the latest excursion, my friends Yevgen and Sasha were covering the oldest part of the city, near the shops, hostels and hospital on Friendship of the People’s Street and Street of Enthusiasts.

As they walked amongst the buildings, Sasha remembered something from his childhood - they were afraid of playing there in the evening because of the cemetery. Yes, there is a cemetery within the city limits of Pripyat. Yevgen has been in this area more than three times and did not remember seeing a cemetery there. Hidden from sight by thick vegetation in the summer, the cemetery is easily visible during the cold white winter.

In fact, this is the old Semihody cemetery. The village of Semihody was mostly destroyed to make room for the construction of Pripyat. Apparently the city builders constructed one of the microdistricts completely around the cemetery.

Approximately 10 buildings from Semihody still exist, situated just north of Pripyat.

You can read about this interesting find on Yevgen’s website, Lost Places. The entry is entitled “Pripyat. Winter Fairy Tales

In case you were wondering, yes, Pripyat did have its own cemetery. It is located south of the city in a more highly contaminated area closer to the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant.

Photo © Kranz - www.lost.co.ua

English Language “Virtual Pripyat” Website

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Back in February, I wrote about a new project associated with Pripyat.com called “Virtual Pripyat”, a site that acts as an address book/directory of Pripyat and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Last spring I helped translate parts of the site into English and am pleased to say that, even though it is still a work-in-progress, the English-language version of "Virtual Pripyat" is now available (as you can see in the above screen shot). Note: you will see some Russian interspersed with the English.

English is currently limited to parts of the Pripyat and Chernobyl town directories, but it is a good start. Check it out when you get a chance - you may learn a little bit more about Pripyat or other towns/villages in the Zone. There are also a lot of great photos from both before and after the accident.

Aerial Views of Chernobyl Zone/Pripyat

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Chernobyl Plant AerialPripyat Aerial












On August 20, 2008, some of my friends from Pripyat.com took an MI-2 helicopter ride over the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. They took photos of Pripyat, Chernobyl town, the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant, the Pripyat cargo port, the Yanov railway station, animals and the military town Chernobyl-2.

The above photos are low-res copies from Pripyat.com. You can view all the photos in their original size on the Pripyat.com website,


Lyubov Sirota Recites "Radiophobia"

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Below is a video of the poem "Radiophobia" by my friend Lyubov Sirota (it is in Russian). The video contains fragments of Rolland Sergienko's 1988 film "Threshold."

Iraqi Scientists Trained in Pripyat

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In June 2008, three Texas Tech professors and their graduate students trained 27 Iraqi scientists about processes needed to clean up radioactive debris. The training took place in the abandoned city of Pripyat, Ukraine.

The Iraqis need to learn cleaning techniques to deal with the decontamination of their country’s repeatedly bombed Al Tuwaitha nuclear complex and at least nine other nuclear sites.

Well, that’s an interesting use of Pripyat - train Iraqis on radiation clean up techniques in a city that officials have failed to completely decontaminate over the last 23 years. If nothing else, the Iraqis learned what some of their cities may look like in the near future.

New Chernobyl Video Report - June 2008

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I found an interesting new report about Chernobyl, this one is from AlJazeera News. The report is titled "It happened in ... Chernobyl - 23 Jun 08" and covers the events and aftermath of the 1986 nuclear disaster.

This report is unique because it contains new interviews with new insights. I think it is definitely worth a look.

Part 1 (10:41)



Part 2 (11:32)