History of a Certain Photographic Film

Have you ever found a treasure trove? You know, or at least a small treasure? Well, if nothing else, have you received a parcel not having known what was inside a box? If yes, then you will understand the feelings described below.

During one of the days in 1979-80, when the erection of Ventilation Stack VT-2 common for the third and fourth (not existed at that time) Chornobyl NPP Units was coming to the end, Aleksandr Shubovsiy, who was working within a combined installation crew in a company named “Spetsenergomontazh”, arranged with the colleagues a small photo session on his own “Vilia”. A black-and-white film “Svema” with 36 photographs and 65 units. They had their pictures taken. The author processed the film and put it on a wardrobe without printing until the nearest occasion. The occasion somehow did not happen, while in February 1986 Aleksandr hit the road for a side work to Yakutia. And there he was caught by news about the accident. A year later, when the builder was managed to get into his looted flat in the evacuated Pripyat, he discovered an untouched package with films. He brought them home and… forgot for almost 30 years…

There are not many photographs of pre-accidental period in the ChNPP photo archive. Until the largest radiation accident in the world, the Chornobyl NPP – workdays which are interesting to no one: grey buildings, pipes, cranes, all that are needed only for official arrangement. What else to take? That is why when almost 40-years’ old films, the printed photographs which no one and never have seen before, were brought to the ChNPP press-service, small local delight occupied the office. A small town Slavutich was kept on toes in attempts to find a film scanner to digitize the images and... Everything worked out!

Members of a combined crew. All equipped with safety harnesses, chains and hooks for working at heights. One of the workers, supposedly, holds a walky-talky for communication with a crane operator.

Ventilation Stack (VT-2) dimensions in comparison with a man. The photo captures the view of a workmen's shelter situating on the roof of Power Unit 3.

VT–2 height — more than 150 meters — it is 40-storeyed house. At the moment of pictures’ taking a crew was working at mark 74. Lunch was lifted by a crane directly onto the roof in order not to make forced marches once again up and down the stairs to a canteen (“Romashka” or “Fialka”) and back.

Pannikins with soup, second course, pasties, milk… taken from a metal thermos.

High riggers. At the rear the photo captures a view of a hoisting drum locating opposite to Power Unit 2 and discharging fuel into a container car.

Lifting by a ladder to VT-2.

Welding at height.

Mobile boatswain's chair for works outside the main site.

The Stack was constructed section by section. Total 154 meters were lifted over a period of two months.

Remarkable photograph. Power Unit 3. Taken from the place where the forth Unit would be constructed in the nearest time. Meanwhile at the place of Unit 4 is located… a garage. To the right – an unfinished Turbine Hall common for all four ChNPP Units.

An unidentified hipster in stylish glasses and on a motor scooter Tula.

Against all H&S rules. At height with a cigarette but without any safety.

Builders. It looks like a crane hook blocks a view to a juvenile Pripyat.

A welder is cutting metal.

Builders. At the rear you can see dark buildings of Power Units 2 and 1, and further – a water body – a cooling pond.

Erotic scene above a reactor.

Author of the photographs — Aleksandr Shubovsiy.

Many thanks to a Chief Foreman of Solid Radioactive Waste Pre-Processing Unit Aleksandr Shubovsiy — for photographic films, to an Engineer of Chemical Shop Aleksandr Panchenko ­— for activity, to a certain trump Engineer of Management Information and Control System of SE Facilities Support Department ­— for a useful device.