My signature is on the acts of commissioning the Chernobyl nuclear power plant
My signature is on the acts of commissioning the Chernobyl nuclear power plant

From the memoirs of engineer Boris Vasilchenko:

“… In 1972-1985, I, as a state labor safety inspector, supervised the construction and operation of the ChNPP. Moreover, I was a member of the state commission for the putting into operation the nuclear power plant. My signature is on the commissioning certificates. It was a grandiose construction: 19 contractors, 18,000 builders, 4,500 workers of the ChNPP operating personnel.

The city of Pripyat had tens of thousands of people, exemplary landscaping, impeccable social infrastructure: a park, swimming pools, a house of culture, a hotel, shops, canteens, medical services, and administrative buildings. There were practically no criminal offenses in the city. People who had behind them “imprisonment” in Pripyat did not hire anywhere. So, why did the terrible tragedy take place in Pripyat?

The position of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine was decisive

Why did they choose the construction site for the next new nuclear power plant 120 km from Kiev? In fairness, we should note that the Academy of Sciences had a lot of complaints about the choice of the location for the future construction. Some representatives of the Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR were categorically against the idea about the construction of nuclear power plant in Ukraine at all. As an alternative site for construction, they proposed to consider sites suitable for the selection criteria in the Belarusian USSR. However, Moscow had already made the decision. Several hundred hectares of land were promptly allocated. And in 1968, the construction began!

We must pay tribute. The authorities selected the personnel worthy. First of all, the head of the construction department, the head of a team of thousands of builders and a number of subcontracting organizations, later a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR, a hero of Socialist Labor, Vasily Trofimovich Kizima. From early in the morning, he walked around the construction sites. He carried out the “operative” with knowledge of the matter at 8 p.m..

It happened. The object is being concreted. It is a continuous process. As a rule, it began in the morning and ended late at night. Kizima says to the head of the site, Vladimir Pavlovich Tokarenko: “Volodya, you will be present at the site until the concreting process is over. When you finish concreting, call me at home, report back. And only then, I will let you go from work.” So, they worked on construction. There were a lot of worn out things. By 1977, four units of 1000 MW each had become built, and the station started working.

The result of a rotten empire

Perhaps, the ChNPP would have worked to this day, as similar nuclear power plants work in other cities. However, the CPSU intervened, which urgently needed indicators. Moreover, it is no secret that there was a lack of nuclear specialists among the operating personnel of the ChNPP.

One of the few such specialists was the chief engineer of the Chernobyl NPP, an engineer-physicist by education, Vyacheslav Pavlovich Akinfiev. But because of the bureaucratic nomenclature in 1984, the city committee of the Communist Party, represented by the first secretary A.S. Gamanyuk, ruled not to trust Akinfiev. Another chief engineer, incompetent in this matter, replaced him. Then experiments began at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and, as a result, an inevitable tragedy.

“How could such experiments be done with this type of reactor! I warned them! ” – Vyacheslav Pavlovich Akinfiev was indignant after what happened.

The former deputy director of the Chernobyl NPP P. Voloshko, later the mayor of Pripyat, said: “If Slava Akinfiev had not been fired, if he had stayed in place, and if the Communist Party had not intervened, there would have been no accident!”

There was another reason

After the accident, the director of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant Viktor Bryukhanov, among others, was accused of almost all mortal sins. It happened because he was the chief official responsible for the fact that the experiment carried out at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on the night of the accident took place in general. Deservedly or not, rightly or not – to this day, this issue causes debate. And then, in 1987, a year after the accident, the results of the work of the commission of inquiry were needed. The investigation had dragged on so much.

But before transferring the case to the prosecutor’s office, it was necessary to expel Bryukhanov from the Communist Party. The communists in the USSR were untouchable for the judiciary. The Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee considered the case. Mikhail Gorbachev chaired it. Bryukhanov, using his last strength, convincingly argued that the main cause of the accident was the design of the reactor. He said that no one even theoretically knew that it could explode.

“… The reactor is like a car, which has an accelerator instead of a brake,” Viktor Petrovich said at a Politburo meeting. “And when you drive such a car to an intersection and put on the brakes to stop abruptly, instead of that, it picks up speed with lightning speed and carries you to an inevitable disaster…”

It seemed that then Bryukhanov convincingly proved his case. However, the court took into account the arguments of Academician Aleksandrov, the scientific leader of the project for the creation of the RBMK reactor. He insisted solely on the negligence of the ChNPP management in relation to discipline at the station. He shifted all the blame to the maintenance personnel. By that time, the authorities had already assigned the roles of the perpetrators. The authorities expelled Bryukhanov from the party. Later, “the most humane trial in the world” took place.

Reference: The court “appointed” guilty in the accident on April 26, 1986, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant:

  • the Director of the Chernobyl NPP Viktor Bryukhanov, sentenced to 10 years in prison,
  • the chief engineer of the station Nikolai Fomin, sentenced to 10 years in prison,
  • the Deputy Chief Engineer of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Anatoly Dyatlov, sentenced to 10 years in prison,
  • the head of the reactor shop No. 2 Aleksey Kovalenko, sentenced to 3 years in prison,
  • an Inspector of the State Atomic Energy Supervision Yuri Laushkin, sentenced to 2 years in prison,
  • station shift chief Boris Rogozhkin sentenced to 5 years in prison,

Over time, three persons – Laushkin, Kovalenko, Dyatlov – died. Bruchanov, being a disabled person of the 2nd group, lives in Kiev. He is 84 years old. Fomin and Rogozhkin left for permanent residence in Russia, their fate is unknown to us. There were criminal cases against the head of the shift of the 4th unit, Alexander Akimov, and the senior engineer for reactor control, Leonid Toptunov. However, they stopped due to the death of these persons in the line of duty.

I’m a person who knows about the problems of the Chernobyl NPP not from rumors and not from outsiders. So, I have every reason to believe that very decent and qualified people worked at the ChNPP. They worked there from the very beginning of the construction of the nuclear power plant, and up to the accident.

And even if we assume that the operating personnel made some errors during the experiment, this does not give the right to blame only these people for the accident. I am convinced that they were appointed. The guilty were needed and the choice fell on them. To the greatest regret, each of them paid for that tragic watch at the ChNPP on April 26, 1986, either with his own life or health.”