Sunday, November 30, 2014

No, you still don't want to be anywhere near Chernobyl


"There was something serene, yet highly disturbing about this place," writes Danny Cooke in describing this drone-shot video he posted of the mostly abandoned city of Pripyat, which is closer to the crippled Chernobyl nuclear power plant than the mostly abandoned city of Chernobyl is.

by Ken

The date was April 26, 1986, and the event we know as "the Chernobyl disaster" remains, as Wikipedia puts it, "the worst nuclear power plant accident in history in terms of cost and casualties." (The closest challenger to date is the Fukushima disaster of 2011.)

The above video was posted by British freelance filmmaker, director, and editor Danny Cooke, who explains, "Earlier this year I had the opportunity to visit Chernobyl whilst working for CBS News on a 60 Minutes episode which aired on Nov. 23, 2014," with correspondent Bob Simon, produced by Michael Gavshon and David Levine. (The full report, he notes, can be viewed on the CBS News webstie.)

Cooke goes on to write:
Chernobyl is one of the most interesting and dangerous places I've been. The nuclear disaster, which happened in 1986; the year after I was born, had an effect on so many people, including my family when we lived in Italy. The nuclear dust clouds swept westward towards us. The Italian police went round and threw away all the local produce and my mother rushed out to purchase as much tinned milk as possible to feed me, her infant son.

It caused so much distress hundreds of miles away, so I can't imagine how terrifying it would have been for the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens who were forced to evacuate.

During my stay, I met so many amazing people, one of whom was my guide Yevgen, also known as a 'Stalker'. We spent the week together exploring Chernobyl and the nearby abandoned city of Pripyat. There was something serene, yet highly disturbing about this place. Time has stood still and there are memories of past happenings floating around us.

Armed with a camera and a dosimeter geiger counter I explored...
Follow me on twitter @dannycooke

Soundtrack 'Promise land' by Hannah Miller - licensed on

Shot using DJI Phantom 2 GoPro3+ and Canon 7D


CBS News's Bob Simon reports "Chernobyl: The Disaster That Never Ended," produced by Michael Gavshon and David Levine, on the November 23 edition of 60 Minutes.

Here's the introduction to the report from the complete script posted on the linked CBS News webpage:
Some tragedies never end. Ask people to name a nuclear disaster and most will probably point to Fukushima in Japan three years ago. The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in Ukraine was 30 years ago, but the crisis is still with us today. That's because radiation virtually never dies. After the explosion in 1986, the Soviets built a primitive sarcophagus, a tomb to cover the stricken reactor. But it wasn't meant to last very long and it hasn't. Engineers say there is still enough radioactive material in there to cause widespread contamination. For the last five years a massive project has been underway to seal the reactor permanently. But the undertaking is three quarters of a billion dollars short and the completion date has been delayed repeatedly. Thirty years later, Chernobyl's crippled reactor still has the power to kill.

It's called the Zone and getting into it is crossing a border into one of the most contaminated places on Earth. The 20-mile no man's land was evacuated nearly 30 years ago. Drive to the center of the Zone today and you'll see a massive structure that appears to rise out of nowhere. It's an engineering effort the likes of which the world has never seen. With funds from over 40 different countries, 1,400 workers are building a giant arch to cover the damaged reactor like a casserole. It will be taller than the Statue of Liberty and wider than Yankee Stadium -- the largest movable structure on Earth. Nicholas Caille is overseeing the arch's construction. . . .


DJI describes its Phantom 2 "Quadcopter" drone as "lightweight, easy to carry" -- it measures roughly 11.4 x 11.4 x 7.1 inches and weighs a kilogram (a little under 2ΒΌ pounds, presumably not including its assorted accessories).

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