1986, the Island
Cooling towers of the Chernobyl NPP Phase III

Cryptic definitions were typical for the Soviet Union, either by security reasons or by ingrained bureaucratic practices. The ministry, responsible for the nuclear industry, operated under an ambiguous title «Ministry of Medium Machine Building». On May 20, 1986, by the order №211 of the mentioned Ministry has been created an organization for the construction of the Shelter Object — the Sarcophagus. It received the name «Department of construction №605» («УС-605»).

In our archive, we have few printed pictures, made by one of the workers of this organization in the second half of 1986. After some restoration, they reveal various details — all in all, this is what the history of Chernobyl about. But for some details you should, paraphrasing a famous saying, «read between the pixels». Here is one.

So, the cooling towers, based on a patch of land, nicknamed The Island. It is enclosed by the exhaust channel on one side and the cooling pond on another. This area was designated for the Phase III of the Chernobyl NPP with its Units V and VI. As the cooling pond has a certain limited cooling efficiency, a further expansion of units would have made it ineffective, thus, the decision to use the cooling towers was made.

Those who have been to the Zone will recognize this road — even although nowadays this view is obscured by the trees, the landscape did not change globally. To the left from the photographer is a cooling reservoir, to the right — yet not blocked road to the fish farm, in front — a large paved area in front of the towers with few KAMAZ dump trucks standing. There are also few washing trucks — these were widely used for dust suppression.

The construction of the towers went hardly; even in the latest pre-disaster issue of the Pripyat’s newspaper (April 25th) there is a small article about systematic problems with the delivery of construction materials that causes construction delays:

«We require attention»

Cooling towers are structures designed to cool water coming from a reactor. With the commissioning of the next, 5th power unit, the cooling tower No. 1 will replac the cooling pond for the upcoming "millionaire". Today the teams of the brigades of Vasily Alexandrovich Turyak and Grigory Mikhailovich Samchuk are working on the construction of the facility. Brigades work on a shift basis. Both teams came to the construction of the Phase III of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant from the Rivne nuclear power plant. The residents of Rivne have considerable experience in the construction of these unique facilities: at present, four similar cooling towers are operating at the Rivne NPP, the construction of the 5th and 6th ones is intensively underway. Cooling towers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant are newcomers.

A considerable amount of work has already been completed on cooling tower No. 1: the shell of the facility is 60% completed, the sprinkler is 25% ready (the facility is being supervised by Energovysotspetsstroy).

The foreman of the 1st cooling tower Valery Ivanovich Stotsky tells:

— The builders are obliged to make the cooling tower for the launch of the next power unit. However, we do not have guarantees for the rhythmic supply of concrete, reinforcement (the supplier is the ChNPP construction department). Due to the lack of grade 500 cement with mineral additives, the teams for two weeks (from March 27 to April 11) were forced to carry out auxiliary work instead of the main one.

Antiseptic parts, galvanized metal products (washers, nails, studs, nuts) are also absent on the object. And we need them now. Hence the lag behind the work schedule. During the 1st quarter, only the planned 100 cubic meters of prefabricated reinforced concrete were not assembled along with the sprinkler due to its shortage to the object.

Carrying out the erection of the shell of the exhaust tower, the complex teams of V.A.Turik and G.M. Samchuk are naturally interested in both production and earnings.

I would like to believe that the ITC equipment department, the administration of the ChNPP construction management will pay due attention to the object.

L. Slobodchik

As we see, one tower was completed to roughly 60%, while the second was in a very early stage, as it appeared later — forever.

However, in this picture, inside the large tower still stands a crane, and a ring mold for concrete monolith is intact.

The area close to the towers is a makeshift burial of the scrapped radioactive waste — maybe, those who walked by nearby rails noticed, how hilly the terrain is. Note a crane on the very right edge of the picture — likely, it is exactly that mobile crane which rusty remains now rest in the bushes near the rails. Not so far from it, there is an unfinished hill with a submerged pile of metal with remains of red and white paint. On a close inspection, it appeared to be a RAF ambulance van, flattened by an engineering tank.

In many cases, such burials were not properly documented — as it was that harsh situation, that often there was no time for this. Maybe, this is not the case, but better not to roam apart from trails there.

Somewhere farther, behind that crane, in the grove rests a small cemetery of Nagortsy village. It was abandoned twice — first when the cooling pond was created in the 1970-s, and the village was flooded, and second time — when the Chernobyl disaster happened.

It is interesting to imagine, how The Island would look if the plans would be completed — probably, it would be a massive open area with minimal vegetation and numerous, numerous structures. Although there are cracks in its supports, being sturdy and balanced, a monolith of the tower will last very long — being a relic of a future that never happened.



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