The Pripyat Café on the banks of the
harbor is one of the popular places for
tourists to visit in the abandoned city,
but few people know about the
activities that took place there on April
26th, 1986 in the first few hours after
the reactor was destroyed.
Secretary of Pripyat Komsomol Town Committee Aneliia Romanivna Perkovska recalls: “By 16:00 on Saturday, April 26th, members of the Government Commission in Pripyat began proposing the idea of loading sand onto helicopters and scattering it over the crippled reactor. The debates about this activity lasted for a few hours as members discussed if sand alone would be adequate or if lead should be added as well. It was a well-known fact that the sand on the banks of the river was of a very fine quality and unadulterated. Finally it was determined that sand from the banks of the river near Café Pripyat would be loaded into sacks to be dropped on the reactor. 150 shovels and young men were dispatched, along with a truck loaded with empty sacks. Soon enough bags were filled that they ran out of rope to tie the sacks with, so they found some red material that had been saved for use at festivals and began tearing it into straps to use to close the sacks. The men worked throughout the evening and the night, loading one sack full of sand after another, until they were exhausted and were allowed to go home and get some sleep. The next time you visit the café and gaze upon the beautiful stained glass art, remember not only how it would have been for the people that came to enjoy coffee and read or to watch children swimming and playing with sailboats in the harbor – but also remember those who spent long hours on a warm spring night toiling with shovels to load sand into bags to dump on the reactor.’’
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