Posts Tagged ‘Chernobyl’

So its that time! Time to look at communication, specifically an old over-the-horizon radar system called the Duga from the former Soviet Union (Russia/Ukraine for the purposes of this article.) Over The Horizon (OTH) or Beyond The Horizon (BTH) are radar systems for long range use. Most were used in the 1950’s and 1960’s because they were early warning systems, just think about the Cold War and the idea of it being a necessity; the ones I am looking at here are the Duga system but they were used all over the world and still are, if modern reports online are correct. I am no expert so correct me where you can if I get things wrong.

The system operated from July 1976 up until December 1989, there were two deployed in Chernobyl and Chernihiv. Chernobyl is in the Ukraine and Chernihiv is Siberian. They were powerful and appeared without warning, sounding like a repetitive tapping on 10Hz, they became nicknamed by the listeners as the Russian Woodpecker.

They seemed to pop up pretty randomly and could interrupt legitimate broadcasting and all variations of stations. Complaints were sent in about them but I can’t imagine it being easy to prevent them. Some of the radio and television users began including blockers in the circuit to try and filter out interruption.

The first type of Duga was built in the Ukraine and did successfully detect rocket launchers from 2,500 kilometres. With its success they worked on the larger project. The first signal was picked up in 1976 and amatuer radio users gave it the name woodpecker, some people had reported it as early as 1963. Regardless of the date the Russian Woodpecker was traced back to the Soviet Union. The sources were found in Kiev, Minsk, Chernobyl, Gomel and Chernihiv but eventually narrowed down through speculation has been made that there was more than one transmitter. Wireless World, 1977 muses that along with the OTH system the Russians might be trying to utilise radar returns or another source that worked along side it, or around two or more spots.

I wondered if this was plausible or were we just putting more technical knowledge to that in retrospect or are we accepting that NATO might not have been entirely accurate? The NATO name for DUGA-1 is quoted as STEEL YARD, some sources also use STEELWORK. It is officially recorded name may well be different but not disclosed for security purposes.

Some points of interest are that they realised when listening that it was not used as a form of jamming because Moscow and pro-Soviet Stations were also caught by it, so it couldn’t be reliable enough for that. The signal used three repetition rates of 10Hz, 16Hz and 20Hz, but the most common was 10. They used a fairly wide bandwidth, usually 40Khz.

An attempt to stop the signals causing interruptions came along, one of the ways was tor try and use signals at the same pulsing rate, people formed a club called The Russian Woodpecker Hunting Club. The transmissions slowed down in the 1980’s by 1989 they had disappeared. This slow down and eventual end does coincide with the Cold War closing down, the official end being 8th December 1971 when the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Another factor in the close would be a further advancement in early warning systems, satellite systems are far more advanced and less likely to be affected by adverse weather.

The original Duga system was experimental and it lies outside of the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine. It was restored in 2002 after it was badly damaged by fire. As of October 2013 there is a possibility to visit the Ukrainian site via tour operators for Chernobyl who know how to get the correct paperwork.

For those who like modern reference here are some ways the Duga has been imported into modern media.

If, like me, you enjoy games like Metro Last Light or S.T.A.L.K.E.R then you may already know this… Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is a heavy feature in S.T.A.L.K.E.R and specifically around the nuclear accident. The Duga array is in Clear Sky after the main campaign game. It is in the fictional city of Limansk-13 you can see it and visit it in game. The ‘Brain Scorcher’, a military installation, is inspired by the idea that Duga-1 was used for mind-control.

Call of Duty:Black Ops the map ‘Grid’ is placed in Pripyat and the array can be seen in game there too.

A documentary by Chad Garcia looks into the Chernobyl disaster and the potential links to the structure. The documentary interviews people directly involved in the building and operation of the installation.

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Previous blog about the site.

1986 saw one of the worst nuclear disasters to date, the Chernobyl reactor disaster, 31 died on the day but over 500,000 people were involved and the long-term effects continue to be recorded and monitored. Witnesses who have visited the area believe that the spirits of those who died there still roam the area.

1986 is within living history for me, I was 6 but it wasn’t until I grew older I recognised the historical importance of this event. The tragedy is fascinating on both a historical and scientific level, but are also quite terrifying.

At the start of April 1986 people living and working at the power plant began to witness strange events. Sightings of a large black bird, or bird-like creature, and even a headless man with large black wings and red eyes began to be reported. It was later given the name ‘The Blackbird of Chernobyl’.

Witnesses had nightmares, threatening calls and some claimed first hand encounters with the creature. The strange happenings were reported and increased until the morning of 26th April, 1986, when reactor number four exploded.

The explosion sent a nuclear fall out of frightening proportions that drifted over the Western Soviet Union, Eastern and Western Europe, Ireland, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom and even eastern North America. All of this took a scarily short period of 48 hours. It was 400 times the level of Hiroshima and the meltdown left fires and further explosions at the direct sight. After the awful events, and further deaths of those trying to stop the radiating fall-outs, there were no further sightings of the Blackbird.

It has been likened to the Mothman, a West Virginian phenomena linked to the collapse of the Silver Bridge, previously this had occurred in 1968 and after no sightings of the creature were made either.

Pripyat town is now abandoned by living human residents but its regarded as haunted, people have reported that they have seen apparitions and shadows at the windows of the city hospital.

Andrei Kharsukhov, a nuclear physicist from the university of Bufffalo visited the site in 1997. He was at reactor fours sarcophagus but was unable to enter thanks to the radiation. Even though no one was inside he could hear the sounds of someone screaming for help, they were shouting about a fire inside. He rushed to inform someone only to be told that he was the first person into the control room for three years, if someone had gone inside before that an alarm would have been tripped.

Later in the evening they were eating dinner outside an old building, a flood light turned on in the room of the installation but no one was inside. It was like a power surge and just as someone went to say it, the light switched itself back off.

The stories of the paranormal at Chernobyl will not be ones that are easy to investigate, the continuous risks of the environment and the need for constant assessment should outweigh any ghost hunting trips. It is also worth considering that respect should be given to those are living victims of this terrible occurrence.

So for a Halloween treat I decided to hire a random film from On Demand. Flicking through I spotted it, expecting the usual cheesy rubber monster or bad CGI but at least it was going to be something new to waste some time on.

I didn’t really have a clue about what the plot was, I’ll try not to spoil anything in this review but I apologise if I inadvertently should. Basically the premise is that a bunch of
teens end up taking a somewhat dodgy tour around Pripyat, the nuclear plant explosion is well known so a quick youtube search will give you amply footage (or check my previous blog for more details about it).

For one reason or another, the tourists and their guide go via an alternative entrance to the area. They find themselves bypassing a rather freaky looking fish on the side of the contaminated river and then land in the town. The history the guide gives is brief but pretty much a quick bite size low-down to tell you how it ended up abandoned. Pripyat footage is stunning in this; I thought the location was a great one including a scene where the Reactor in the background is pointed out from a window in a block of flats. There was a little jumpy bit at the river with the fish but it’s not until things start to go wrong that it kicks into real “life” suspense.

Now I know a lot of people love to give massive criticism to the influx of these types of horrors but firstly, it’s not done in that overused Blair Witch/Cloverfield style.  Personally however I have to say I liked Cloverfield too, but the camera angles are mixed and the lighting used in what I thought was a clever approach of claustrophobia and strange noises. To begin with it looked like it was nature fighting back, dogs in the area scavenging a rather fun section with a bear and then it started to kick into live going very wrong for everyone involved.

My plus points on the film? Okay the fact you don’t see stupidly created models that make it all too fake, no arbitrary bloody scenes of gore that meant nothing in the face of the fears they were supposed to be enacting. The scenes with the dark lighting and the confusion from their actors when they are without a guide and the slow decline of health of the party all made it feel very scary. (I was alone with the lights out too, go me!)

The downsides? Well I guess some parts of the acting weren’t too strong as I didn’t really get too attached to the characters or their stories. The dark shots got a bit annoying at times as they were pretty dark, I am sure I could adjust the settings on my TV but that would have made the other scenes too bright. The ending felt a little bit rushed but I guess the counter argument to that would be that it was meant to be that way due to the events of the story.

Overall I think I’d watch it again if it came up and I wouldn’t put this down as a bad movie, and yes I have seen some terrible ones. I think if you like that type of film you’ll probably enjoy it like I did but if you are already looking at it from a downside you’ll just pick holes and flaws with it. My opinion for a mark out of 5 would be 4/5 purely because when I watched it on my own I did jump a couple of times and the things chasing them were far more realistic than a rubber costumed robot.

This is a city in the area, which is part of the Exclusion Zone. It was the administrative centre of Chernobyl Raion since 1932. I’m going to go over the details only briefly but it’s certainly one for the pages as it’s another abandoned place of interest.

In 1986 the city was evacuated due to a disaster at it’s Nuclear Power Plant 14.5km to it’s north-northwest. The cuty was not the residence of the of the power plant workers but nearby Pryptiat was built for them. After the accident the Chernobyl Raion administration was moved to nearby Ivankiv Raion.

The city is mostly inhabited, but a small number of people reside there with homes that state “Owner of this house lives here”. Workers on watch and administrations personnel are the only things close to long term residents outside of that. The city housed 14000 residents before the evacuation; nearly Skavutych was the specifically built area for
those evacuated.

First mentioned in 1193 Chernobyl has lain in the hands of Lithuania (13th Century), Polen (1569) The Russian Empire (1793) and has had a long history of border changes  mostly due to the political climate of its geography. Since the 1880’s it has seen many changed and in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union it remained part of the
Ukraine, now an independent nation. As of 2012 a small number of people remain in the area refusing to leave their native city.

April 26th 1986 Reactor #4 exploded, it happened at 1.23am and nearby  residents in Pripyat were asleep. Two workers were instantly killed and 40 hours later the residents of Pripyat were told to evacuate. Many never returned, many of the residents had already suffered varying degrees of radiation poisoning.

(CRDP) Chernobyl Recovery and Development Project was launched in 2003 by the United Nations Development Program. The program was based on the report initiated in Feb 2002. CRDP work s in the four most affected areas.

Photo’s Link here