The Duga over-the-horizon-radar is widely known and many Chernobyl tourists visit this place at their day tours in the zone. What is less known, is the huge computer center connected to the radar where thousand people worked with processing all the information Duga received.
The military town around the huge radar was called Chernobyl-2. Chernobyl-2 is most famous for the huge structure of the Duga radar, but even more thrilling to me, is the abandoned data center. And without the data center and the facilities around the radar, it shouldn’t work properly.
So, let’s go inside the heart of all the data and early warning signs collected from the Western powers. Worth to mention is that Chernobyl-2 only was the first processing unit of the received radar signals. Most of the data was sent to Lyubech-1 which was another town 60 kilometers away connected with the Duga project.
Founded in 1972 (first in use probably in 1976), this was planned to be home for around 1000 people including the worker’s families. Chernobyl-2 had everything you can expect from a small town such as a shop, medical clinic, school and so on.
Chernobyl-2 is located 9,7 kilometers from the Chernobyl power plant, which made it easy to provide the facility with that huge amount of electricity needed. Rumors says that the radar facility costed twice as much money to build as the Chernobyl power plant.
When the Duga (which means “bow” in Russian) was in duty, the Soviet Union tried to hide its existence. Of course, it was hard to hide this huge construction and also the emitted radio waves it produced, but at least on maps. this place didn’t exist.
Such a big place like this also needed a bus stop. Due to the fact that the Duga facility was presented on maps as a children’s summer camp, also the bus stop was later decorated with a bear with the origin of the 1980’s Summer Olympics in Moscow.
Also when foreign people started to visit the Chernobyl zone after the disaster, the existence of the Duga was not a thing to talk about. The first journalist that entered the zone asked about the large construction seen high above the trees and got the answer:
– It’s an unfinished hotel, the guide said.
If you try to google “Chernobyl-2”, not much information not already mentioned here will show up. Some rumors about the radar, but nothing about the daily life or the workers in the computer facility. Why?
Only one person, the former commander of the radar facility, Volodymyr Musiyets, has given some first-hand information from Chernobyl-2, but not plenty. He confirms the use of the radar, and also what he did the following day after the Chernobyl disaster.
The function of the Duga radar in Chernobyl ended on 26 April 1986 at 01:23:40 when reactor 4 in Chernobyl power plant exploded. The power was cut off and due to some sources, lots of electronic devices in Chernobyl-2 took damage. In August 1988, Chernobyl-2 was closed and abandoned forever and the Duga project seized to exist.