October 4, 2009

DT: Chernobyl

by Oubliette

If places of mass tragedy truly generate paranormal happenings, Chernobyl should prove to be fertile ground indeed.  This terrible event conjures up our worst nightmare–a nuclear accident and the devastating results that follow in its wake. Human error as well as lax safety practices resulted in a Level 7 (Major Accident) on the International Nuclear Effect Scale in the Ukraine on April 25, 1986.  The inhabitants of Chernobyl and the city of Prypiat had no inkling of the horrors that, in an instant, were to be visited upon them.  The plume of radioactive fallout from this event (4 times the size as that released by the bombing of Hiroshima) drifted westward across Europe, reaching as far as Ireland.

Indeed, many sightings of apparitions are being reported in the Exclusion Zone, a 30 kilometer radius immediately surrounding the nuclear power plant.  Some of these are said to resemble people who had died in this tragic event. In order to check on these reports, the Destination Truth team for the first time includes fallout radiation protection suits along with their usual gear as they head out towards what is arguably one of the most dangerous places on the planet.

As can be expected, anyone entering the Exclusion Zone has to endure close inspection of themselves and their baggage. Given the type of equipment the DT team was bringing to the site, one would expect that even more attention would be paid to their belongings, and such indeed proved to be the case.

This immediately became apparent after their arrival at the airport just outside Kiev, as their baggage arrives in quite a sorry state.  Apparently every little item was removed and examined, as we see opened suitcases and their contents emerging onto the retrieval belt.  Josh tries to inject a bit of humor into this situation, but it is apparent he is understandably not too pleased.  In fact, one may notice that throughout this investigation, his attempts to maintain a comedic demeanor often failed to conceal the worry and nervousness that he must have felt about investigating in an area filled with dangerous radiation.

As we’ve come to expect, the DT Mobile is a real mystery machine (this one looks in better shape than my car), but at least it gets them to Kiev, where we have one of the lighter moments in this particular show.  The military aspect of the old Soviet Union is still apparent as Josh jokingly remarks about the numerous tanks and weapons they have come upon.  A monument which resembles Gabe provokes a funny dialogue between him and Josh.  Apparently the DT cameraman is world-famous!

Checkpoint #1 sets the tone as the team’s papers are thoroughly checked by authorities who can restrict or even deny them the ability to proceed further.  A soldier, Yuri Tartarchuk, is assigned to accompany them and provides equipment that would give warning if radioactivity reached a dangerous level.  A reading of 10.0 microsieverts would necessitate leaving the area ASAP.  (A microsievert is a measurement of the biological effect of radiation levels, as opposed to measuring the levels on physical objects).  They are supplied with dosimeter devices, which will beep a warning if the level of radiation is becoming too high for safety.  While inspecting a tank, a meter begins to indicate a reading high enough to cause everyone to quickly leave the area. This is going to be one dangerous investigation.

It’s off to a cafeteria that exists to provide food to the few workers in the area.  We learn that every building in the Zone contains a scanner that each person has to pass through in order to assure that he or she is not contaminated.  Though Josh makes light of this device, it again emphasizes the real threat of possible exposure to unsafe levels of radiation.

Josh announces that the Chernobyl cafeteria is #1 on his list of places of “where not to eat”, especially since the meal is accompanied by the addition of the liquid antidote,Thyro-shield (potassium iodide solution-in this case blueberry flavored).  This is intended to provide protection for the thyroid gland in the event of possible radiation exposure.  Very comforting indeed, as is the food, which they agree tastes like the “inside of a microwave”.  I did notice that Jael is eating borscht, a beet soup that I was often served as a child.  (Note: it’s not that bad.  I could even go for some right now…).

Upon leaving, the DT crew meets up with Natalie Gertsmann, a patrol officer who claims to have experienced something unusual the previous night in the desolate hospital near the power plant.  Strangely, Yuri refuses to translate their conversation (I‘m still wondering why-he does say something like “I don‘t need to do this“), so a helpful driver volunteers in his stead.  Natalie described the spirit as round in shape and hovering near the top of a room.  Next they speak to Valentina Vodraba, who was in the 4th grade at the time of the disaster.  She has seen entities whom she described as “unformed”, with no recognizable features.  She instructs them to investigate places children would have occupied when the accident occurred.  This suggestion would later prove to be very productive–and frightening.

After passing through the 2nd checkpoint, the landscape becomes hauntingly eerie and desolate.  “Ghost City” perhaps best describes this chilling look at what a nuclear disaster can produce.  The last checkpoint also poses no problems, but Josh does note that the team has already spent some of their allotted time and this will of necessity shorten their investigation.  So it’s off to Chernobyl and whatever may await them.

Suddenly reactor #4 comes into view.  Knowing what occurred on that day in 1986, it is a chilling site–a lone grey finger pointing up at a darkening sky.  It is  time to don the Hazmat suits.  Josh, Jael and Gabe head off to the hospital where Natalie had seen the strange shape.  As usual Sharra and Bischa set up and remain at base camp in the town square.  This time I’m sure they don’t envy the others as they head off to begin the investigation.

Josh constantly monitors the radiation levels; Jael remarks that the hospital “creeps her out”, but who wouldn’t feel unnerved in that environment?  Josh’s FLIR begins to act up, shutting off and then turning back on.  They enter a surgery; it is truly eerie to see everything left as it was when the alarm was given to evacuate.  A register of patients and dates is particularly unsettling, as it is a reminder of just how quickly people needed to evacuate the premises.

Entering a pediatric area, it is here that Josh sees a human figure just outside the glass of the window.  Rex mentions that it is probably just a reflection, and I would agree with that interpretation.  It is at this point that the battery in Jael’s equipment inexplicably goes dead.   She is especially puzzled as a fresh one had been inserted just before the investigation began.  But as we’ve seen, claims of battery drainage has become a common occurrence associated with paranormal investigations.

As they ascend the stairs, there suddenly appears a thermal image of a human shape directly behind Jael.  The radiation meter begins to spike to dangerous levels, and Josh wisely leads them away from the area.   He wonders if the two events-an apparent apparition and high radiation spikes-are somehow interconnected.  This will not be the first time that this occurs.

Back at base camp, Josh outlines their next move.  Rex comes along to monitor the FLIR and to set up a trap camera.  An EVP session will be attempted as well.  After setting out once again, they come upon what can only be called the amusement park from hell.  The contrast between a place that was once a source of fun and joy now looks like a scene straight out of the Twilight Zone.  It represents the almost otherworldliness that is Prypiat.

Jael sees what she believes is a figure in one of the ferris wheel cars.  A check of the radiation level of the car indicates that it is quite high, prompting Josh to tell everyone to step back.  He again notes that there seems to be a link between unusual events and high radiation levels.  This is an interesting correlation that may have some validity and certainly deserves more study.

Next Rex sees a small light on the FLIR, although it quickly disappears.  This draws them into the building across the way to investigate.  The particular room in question contains desks and a piano, whose wires Jael strums.  Upon leaving the room, they suddenly hear the piano again and rush back to check on it.  This could have been caused by tension in the wires, but given the context in which it was heard, it is easy to see how it could be interpreted as possibly paranormal.

They enter a classroom and the EMF meter begins to register huge spikes.  Jael feels very uncomfortable as a sense of coldness permeates the area.  As the high readings continue, Josh sees a large black mass behind Jael, though nothing appears on the FLIR.  After an object, perhaps a bottle, moves in the room, it is decided to begin the EVP session.

Once again questions are asked in English.  I hate to repeat this, but it would not take that much of an effort to learn key questions in the native language, even if written down on paper.  This would add not only more believability to the session but also may produce better results.

Be that as it may, no sooner had Josh begun then Jael suddenly feels something pull on her hand, and she reacts quite dramatically to this subjective experience.  This event is accompanied by the beeper indicating that the radiation is climbing to dangerous levels.  For safety’s sake, the team cuts off the investigation. Given the amount of activity in the classroom, it is unfortunate that they had to terminate the first ever night time investigation of this fascinating and deadly place.

Back in the States, it is now time to consult the “experts“, Jason and Grant.  As always, I must interject that I would rather have seen this evidence taken to scientists who have expertise in the audio and video fields.  It would also be more appropriate that someone more familiar with the effects of radioactivity both on humans and instruments was consulted. This is a new frontier as far as this type of investigating is concerned, but we must go along for the ride courtesy of SyFy.

This time Jay and Grant do a decent job with most of what they are shown.  The small light captured by Rex is deemed to have been an animal.  The figure in the glass appears to likely be a reflection of one of the team.  But the other capture of what appears to be a human form is more problematic.  My first thought was that, as in Egypt, someone was sent along to keep an eye on these “visitors”.  However, it is true that this is a place with areas of high radioactivity, and it does not appear that the shape is wearing the necessary protective gear.  Frankly, I have to put a question mark on that piece of evidence for a variety of reasons.

In conclusion, it is difficult to give concise analysis of this evidence.  It was apparent throughout that Josh and company were affected by what they saw and experienced.  The thought of being in such a dangerous environment may have had a bearing on their psychological state.  IF no one had been observing them, then I find the second image impressive.  A return trip in the daytime might have provided a more concise answer.

All in all, I found this to be a fascinating segment.  To see the remains of that tragic day–to enter into the heart of darkness–was worth watching of and by itself.  This is a look into the dark side of nuclear power, and how easily our world can change in an instant, whether by human mistake or pressing that one button that could alter our lives forever.

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Comments on DT: Chernobyl »

October 5, 2009

Learjet @ 4:11 am

Thanks for the review Oubliette. I don't normally watch DT but you made this one sound interesting.

Oubliette @ 8:59 am

Thanks Learjet. As I wrote in another post, DT can inspire people to research more into a subject matter. I learned a lot while writing this review, and it has rebooted my interest in Chernobyl.

I do find that sometimes the dangers to Josh are exaggerated for TV's sake, but they are real dangers nonetheless. And can you imagine GH or GHI investigating this place? What a mess they would make of it as well as being able to cope with the inspectors, etc. (well, maybe GHI wouldn't do too badly as far as coping with the situation and the people as they seemed more cosmopolitan).

Patrick @ 9:16 am

I thought the second FLIR image was also a reflection. They had just walked through french doors, one was still closed and had glass in it.

The Doctor @ 12:41 pm

"However, it is true that this is a place with areas of high radioactivity, and it does not appear that the shape is wearing the necessary protective gear. "

From my link in the other thread it shows that the guides have no problem giving tours without protective gear. The visit to the amusement park is one example.

GoogleEarth for Ferris wheel – 51°24'30.23"N 30° 3'20.39"E

Prettry funny that Jay says "who knows what you're up against?" but Grant has to chime in that radiation would not effect the equipment, like he's shown us any kind of proof that ghosts DO effect equipment.

Getting kind of tired of these " foremost experts in their field " preceeding evey statement with " some people think .." or "a lot of the theories out there are …"

You'ld think that an expert would at least be able to say " I think " or "It's MY opinion that …"

Learjet @ 4:45 pm

The guides will probably all end up with cancer in a few years without protective gear. Sometimes when the danger is invisible some people just don't care.

Nosfer @ 4:50 pm

It's in Grant's best interests to downplay ANY sort of things that might effect equipment like, oh, I don't now, K-IIs!

Learjet @ 5:58 pm

Yeah well we all know about K-II's Lol.

What I don't know about is the Trifield Natural meter. Unfortunately in the scene where they show the meter they don't zoom out wide enough to see what setting it's on. Could be on battery test for all we know! /jk And there's just something about being so close to Russia with all their military secrets, that we really don't know if some military transmission / radiation / evil experiments could be activating the meter.


In the interests of skeptical analysis I've finally decided to order a Trifield Natural meter (model 1) to experiment with. I've wanted a magnetometer and electrostatic meter for a while now, especially after that "conversation" scene with Ashley on GHI. It was either the Trifield or the Ramsey but the Ramsey has calibration issues from what I've read so the Trifield is it. Should be interesting!

The Doctor @ 6:38 pm

Learjet – "The guides will probably all end up with cancer in a few years without protective gear. "

According to the guy who gave them the counter a reading of 10 microsieverts means to leave as soon as possible.
According to British Airways longhaul aircraft flight ( like L.A. – Kiev ) gives you 5 microsieverts/hr http://www.britishairways.com/travel/healthcosmic/public/en_gb

So it appears that Josh and Co. received more total exposure on their flights, then they would have gotten spending the entire time there without any protection at " Dude, Run ! " exposure level.

Learjet @ 7:10 pm

That's interesting. Thanks for the link. I guess dosimeters won't be handed out on flights any time soon.

So I guess where they went they could easily have done without the suits.

bill kelly @ 11:50 pm

just an fyi, supposedly, no matter where a person lived or what language they spoke, you can communicate in english and the dead will understand you. so i have read.

and is it me or is jael getting more like ryder? at 1st she was really brave no matter what but lately she jumps at everything.

October 6, 2009

alicat @ 8:03 am

bill kelly,

When someone who has actually died and come back to life has written such a book or told me so personally, will I ever believe you can communicate with the dead in any language and they will understand you, let alone communicate with anyone at all. Until then, no way, now how does anyone have that knowledge no matter how "brilliant" they think they are or because they simply wrote it in a book. Sorry.

I do agree with you about Jael. However, since we don't know the sequence of filming it's hard to tell if her reactions are because they are the first episodes to be filmed and she's not seasoned yet or if it's just a compilation of events that have made her develop these reactions.

The Doctor @ 10:12 am

"However, since we don't know the sequence of filming …"

Exactly … but I have noticed that lately they are leaving out the " We packed up and flew 18 hours to outer bongolia".

I think we all realize that they do a few adventures when they are in an area and don't fly back home each time. Hopefully the leaving out of this minor fiction is a response to our skepticism.

"Reality" shows should not be trying to con us, after all, do they want us to believe that Josh would actually take mupliple trips from L.A. to Warwick, R.I. for 60 seconds of Jay and Grant ?

alicat @ 10:28 am

@ The Doctor,

Agree with you 100% and I'm happy to see they have re-worked the multiple trip script as well.

Nosfer @ 10:29 am

@bill kelly: I've read a lot of things, too. Some of them may even be true.

Kinda surprised they would leave out anything travel-related, what a missed opportunity to plug Orbitz again! :)

nicole @ 3:22 pm

What happened to the days when Josh took his evidence to professionals with knowledge in video and audio? I hate that TAPS is plugged in every episode. They are hardly "experts" on the subject matter.

Learjet @ 3:38 pm

I have this theory, (here we go) that Josh will quit DT and take the place of one of the GH team members, possibly Stango if they find a permanent spot on GH Academy. That's why he's sucking up to J&G every second episode as well as going along on hunts with them.

As for the Star Trek afterlife universal language translator… It was someone on GH or GHI mentioned this theory. Can't remember who now. Barry? Steve?

TasCat @ 4:25 pm


"bill kelly,

When someone who has actually died and come back to life has written such a book or told me so personally, will I ever believe you can communicate with the dead in any language and they will understand you, let alone communicate with anyone at all. Until then, no way, now how does anyone have that knowledge no matter how "brilliant" they think they are or because they simply wrote it in a book. Sorry."

Ahh, there's the skeptic I'd grown to miss, welcome back! But then, how could you believe such a person, since it was a "personal experience". We have all the people who saw the light, but didn't enter…but most try to say that's the brain's last gasp. So I guess you would have to hold hands with a person, cross over, come back….no wait, there's Jason & Grant. ;)

alicat @ 4:30 pm


Good theory. Steve is now on Twitter and apparently someone brought up the question of his leaving GH for GHA. Right now I believe they only got the green light for 6 episodes (maybe 8?) and have already done casting for those episodes. He's assuring those asking as to his status that he's staying with GH. Now all this is subject to change I'm sure depending on the GHA schedule if they get picked up for additional episodes. As far as DT, I'm thinking Josh will stay put. He took over the reins from the original producers so the show is basically his "baby" now. I have one major concern and that is, if Steve and Tango leave, we may see Joe Chin and perhaps Britt stepping in to finish the series since these two show up more than most.

EDIT: Thanks Tascat! That's a personal experience I definitely don't want to share. LOL! Yes, there is always J & G!

Nosfer @ 4:35 pm

Alicat…"I have one major concern and that is, if Steve and Tango leave, we may see Joe Chin and perhaps Britt stepping in to finish the series since these two show up more than most."

I think I can add one more concern…Mr Loaf is apparently doing the Halloween "Live" so that's two appearances under his belt. Hope he doesn't move in to fill their shoes!

alicat @ 5:04 pm

Oh no! Forgot about good friend "Mr. Loaf". This could get interesting. Maybe they should change that Syfy poll from the scariest episodes on Halloween to who should replace Steve & Tango if GHA succeeds and gets picked up for a full season or two. Although some will say it's like jumping off a sinking ship, I think it could possibly the best career move for both of them although they might not realize it at the time. And, despite everything that has been said about these two, I wish them well.

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