Elephant´s foot in Chernobyl

  • 12/11/2018
  • Martin

Maybe you didn't hear about it and you are wondering what is doing an elephant's foot in Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Well, obviously, it's not an elephant's foot, but a melted core of destroyed Reactor #4 which resembles its shape.

Much can be said about the photo above. The words "haunting", "eerie" and "strange" certainly come to mind at first glance. Of course, to anybody unaware of what ‘Corium’ ( is, this does indeed appear to be some melted iron or something like that. In fact, it is the most radioactive place in the whole world. Why? As Wikipedia is saying, Corium is (also called fuel containing material (FCM) or lava-like fuel containing material (LFCM)) is the lava-like mixture of fissile material created in a nuclear reactor's core during a nuclear meltdown. It consists of nuclear fuel, fission products, control rods, structural materials from the affected parts of the reactor, products of their chemical reaction with air, water and steam, and, in the event that the reactor vessel is breached, molten concrete from the floor of the reactor room.

So as you can see, these things are an actually non-living monster, which can kill you within minutes if you'll be standing next to it for a few minutes. Even on this photo, which was taken 10 years after the Chernobyl incident, the radiation would have been extremely dangerous. 

Elephant´s foot in Chernobyl

So how was this mass of Corium formed?

During the nuclear explosion of Chernobyl, radioactive plumes rose high above the plant, poisoning the area. The rods liquefied below, melting through the reactor vessel to form Corium. After the nuclear fires were finally controlled, workers scrambled to contain the invisible dangers of the Chernobyl core. After six months of investigation, researchers discovered the Elephant’s Foot. In this incident, the Corium resembles the shape of an elephant’s foot, hence the name. Today, it still radiates heat and death, and is therefore still very dangerous. Fortunately, it is sealed under the New Safe Confinement, so visiting the Chernobyl Power Plant and working near the new sarcophagus is safe. 

From this huge, insane lump of Corium we truly see some of the devastating effects of radioactive material at its prime. Artur Korneyev, the worker in header photo, is miraculously still alive. This man entered this room more times than anybody else, thus he would have been more exposed to the huge amounts of radiation than anybody else in history.

Interesting fact: The photo itself was most likely a ‘selfie’, judging by the fact that all other photos were taken by Artur and many other may not have been daring enough to go inside. It really is remarkable that he went right up to the most toxic substance there is, numerous times by himself!

can you visit the elephant's foot

Although it is extremely dangerous and due to security impossible to see the Elephant's foot with your own eyes, it is possible to get inside the Chernobyl power plant. During your 3-hour excursion, you will see the powerplant from inside including the "golden corridor", control room of reactor #3 (which looks exactly like the damaged one in reactor. #4), evacuation center and much more. Oh, and for more courageous adventurers we have a time-limited opportunity to see the New Safe Confinement from inside. Well, that's a truly interesting excursion! If you are interested in this tour, contact us via e-mail on [[email protected]]