Story - NOMINEE: pierpaolo mittica
Photo © pierpaolo mittica
The radioactive and rusty gold of Chernobyl
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Inside the zone tons of metals lie abandoned, but over the years all this rusty gold has not gone unnoticed, and more or less illegally was recycled and continues to be also today. Tons of metal leave the area each month. Since 2007, the Ukrainian government has legalized the recycling of radioactive metals with the blasting method.
Victor is the foreman of one of the three workshops involved in the recycling process of radioactive metals and works in the exclusion zone since 2002. The workshop is a huge warehouse where 12 men clean and recycle radioactive metals. His company recycles about 30 tons of metal a year.
The metals come from all over the area, in this period mainly by the railroad tracks, and the reactor number 1. But they also come from the port of Chernobyl where some sunk ships lie, and soon from the unfinished reactors number 5 and 6.
The recycling method consists first of all in a strong blasting of the metal that effectively reduces the contamination at zero level. Once a complete decontamination is achieved the metal is ready to be sold, usually to Ukrainian company but also to foreign companies with 30% of the price less compared to the market price.
In recent years, according to official estimates, about 40 thousand tons of metals were exported. Currently it is considered that still 1 million tonnes remain inside the zone with a value of one billion dollars.
The working conditions of metallists are terrible, safety equipment, although it is mandatory, virtually does not exist. Only a few of them use it. most of them wander all day amid radioactive clouds created by the blasting process, breathing radioactive particles. But the fact of using or not the protections is a personal choice. A mixture of fatalism, popular beliefs and difficulties to wear the protective mask during the entire work shift. But the internal contamination is now the most dangerous aspect to the health of workers.
During the weekend Victor returns home to his family. He lives nearby, other workers are less fortunate, their families live far away, so they could go home only once a month.
Victor lives in Kovalinka, a small contaminated village located 5 kilometers from the exclusion zone, together with his wife Nadezhda and three children Valeri, 16 years, Victoria 3 years and Alexander one year.
the salary for a recycler is about 8000 grivnie per month (about € 280), the average salary in Kiev is 5000 grivnie (about 180 euro), That’s why Victor works as a metallist, to give to his family a better life.
Dr. Pierpaolo Mittica, Italian humanist photographer, is an award - winning photographer based in Venice (Italy). He received the Masters Program at CRAF diploma in conservation, technique and history of photography in 1990, studying with Charles – Henri Favrod, Naomi Rosenblum and Walter Rosenblum, who is his spiritual father in photography. His photographs were exhibited in all Europe, United States and China, and published in Italian and international newspapers and magazines among them: l'Espresso, Alias del Manifesto, Vogue Italia, Repubblica, Panorama, Il Sole 24 ore, Oggi, Le Scienze, Photomagazine, Daylight Magazine, Days Japan International, Asahi Shinbum, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Wired, Asian Geo.
In 2006 the work “Chernobyl the hidden legacy” was selected by the Chernobyl National Museum of Kiev (Ukraine) for the official exhibition for the twentieth anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.
Auer collection, Hermance (Switzerland)
Favrod collection, Saint Prex (Switzerland)
Rosenblum collection, New York (USA)
Fratelli Alinari Museum, Florence (Italy)
Chernobyl National Museum, Kiev (The Ukraine)
Fotografiska Museum, Stockholm (Sweden)
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (USA).
“The Balkans, from Bosnia to Kosovo”, Interattiva, Italy 2000
“Chernobyl la herencia oculta”, Ellago ediciones, Spain 2006
“Chernobyl the hidden legacy”, Trolley LTD, Great Britain 2007
"Cip is not Afraid", CRO - CRAF, Italy 2010
"Chernobyl 20 years after", Kashiwa Shobo, Japan 2011
"Ashes/Ceneri" Stories of a photojournalist, Comune di Pordenone (Italy) introduction Luis Sepulveda, forewords Naomi Rosenblum, Charles-Henri Favrod, Angelo Bertani
2006 FVG Award
2009 Winner "EIUC Photography Competition 2009" Visualizing Democracy
2010 Official selection winner for the “Paducah Photo '10 exhibition” at the Yeiser Art Center (USA)
2010 Pictures of the Year International: "Chernobyl The hidden legacy" book finalist in the category "best photography book”
2010 Honorable mention “Daylight/CDS Photo Awards”
2010 Second Place "Photo Aid Contest 2010"
2010 Honorable Mention “The Robert Cornelius Awards 2010”
2010 Highly commended “Digital Photographer of the Year 2010”
2010 Highly commended “Environmental Photographer of the Year 2010”
2010 Highly commended “FCCT/OnAsia PHOTO CONTEST 2010”
2010 Second Place and 2 Gold Awards "European Professional Photographer of the Year Awards 2010" Reportage category
2010 finalist “Worldwide Photography Gala Awards 2010”
2010 finalist “FEP European Photo Book Awards 2010”
2010 Honorable mention “IPA International Photography Awards” category: “Editorial feature story”
2010 Honorable mention “PX3 Aftermarth” category “photojournalism/feature stories”
2011 finalist “KL International Photo Awards 2011”
2011 official selection winner for the “Paducah Photo '11 exhibition” at the Yeiser Art Center (USA)
2011 Honorable mention “WPGA Black & White Competition” category “editorial Photojournalism”
2011 Third Prize "6th Annual Black and White Spider Awards 2011"
2011 Gold medal in the category "book documentary" and Silver medal in the category "press feature story" at "PX3 prix de la photographie Paris 2011"
2011 Honorable Mention "IPA International Photography Awards 2011" category "Photo Essay and Feature Story"
3rd place "IPA International Photography Awards 2011" category"Book Documentary Pro"
2011 Silver Award "FEP European Professional Photographer of the Year 2011" reportage category
2011 Winner "WPGA Editorial Awards 2011"
2011 Honorable Mention "CIDPA Canadian International Digital Photography Awards 2011"
2011 Honorable mention “WPGA Pollux Awards 2011” category Humanitarian documentary
2011 Winner "Outdoor Photographer of the year 2011" Category "On the Streets"
2011 3 bronze Awards "Open Competition 2011 International Loupe Awards" category "photojournalism" and "People and Portrait"
2012 Second place "Eco Arts Awards 2012"
2012 Winner "NYPH'12 New York Photo Festival Invitational"
2012 Winner of the official selection "Paducah Photo '12 exhibition" at the Yeiser Art Center (USA)
2012 Third Prize "Photo Annual Awards 2012" category "motions series"
2012 Honorable Mention "7th Annual Black and White Spider Awards 2012" category photojournalism
2012 Honorable Mention "PX3 Prix de la Photographie 2012" category "Book documentary"
2012 Honorable Mention "IPA International Photography Awards 2012" category "photo essay and feature story"
2012 Second place single image and portfolio "FotoWeekDC International Awards Competition" category "Photojournalism/social documentary"
2012 Silver Award "International Loupe Awards 2012" category photojournalism
2012 Silver Award and Bronze Award "FEP European Professional Photographer of the Year Awards 2012" reportage category
2013 Special Prize by Juries “Days Japan international Photojournalism Awards”
2013 Honorable mention "Fotovisura Grant 2013"
2013 Honorable mention "Photo Annual Awards 2013"
2013 Finalist "Eugene Smith Grant 2013"
2013 Honorable Mention "PX3 Prix de la Photographie 2013"
2014 Honorable Mention "ND Awards 2014"
2014 First place gold star award "ND Awards 2014"
2014 Public Prize "Days Japan International Photojournalism Awards 2014"
2014 Honorable Mention "Photo Annual Awards"
2014 Second Place and Honorable Mention "Moscow International Foto Awards"
2014 Finaist "Leica Oskar Barnack Awards"
2014 Honorable Mention "PX3 Prix de la Photographie 2014"
2014 Finalist "Pictures of the Year international" category Environmental Vision Award
2015 Finalist "Pictures of the Year international" category best photography book award
2015 Honorable Mention "SIPA Awards"
2015 Finalist "Travel Photographer of the year 2015"
2016 Honorable mention "SDN visual stories exploring global themes"
2016 Finalist POY Pictures of the year international, category "Environmental Vision Award"