I'm really attracted to dark places under the ground level. And I've grown a beard. And I love a good ale. And digging for precious stones. And forging weapons.. I might have a dwarven blood somewhere down my my family tree, I've got to have a serious word with my mother next time I see her.
Anyway, I was obsessed with this basement for some time now. It's not as bad as it seems at first, I was mostly worried about the powder, I really wouldn't like to disturb and breath in any of it. It's hard to tell what that thing really is, there are plenty of theories about it but no real explanation from what I could find. It if has the contents claimed by some people who say they tested it (cesium, plutonium, strontium etc), then it might be ground graphite parts of the reactor control rods. Why is it there, who left it and why? Crazy Ruskies had plenty of secrets..
The radiation level is quite high, I measured about 1000-1500uSv/h, for comparison it's showing background level of 0.12 in my house, that's over 10,000 times less.. Standing close to those boxes for would give a human body a recommended civilian annual dose in an hour or two, depending where you live, however some medical tests can be worse, a chest x-ray gives an exposure of around 1000uSv, CT scans few times that much. I think I'll be fine as long as I haven't inhaled or swallowed any of that stuff. I could only measure gamma radiation without taking my geiger counter out of a bag and fiddling with it, so combined with alpha and beta it's much higher for sure. Considering all this I should be fine after just few minutes so close, at least I hope so.
I left behind the waders, gloves, lab coat and mask filters, washed my gear with wet wipes, rinsed the mask with some water and packed tightly, then rinsed it again back in the hotel. Better safe than sorry. And at the end we decontaminated ourselves with some home-made chestnut vodka.