A hydrothermal explosion occurred at the 4th power unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on Saturday, April 26, 1986. It happened at 1:24 a.m. The disaster was the result of an experiment that started at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on April 25. Its essence was to experimentally check how much electricity the turbine generator is capable of producing in idle mode.
There are many versions. For example, why such a test had to be carried out. Moreover, for what purpose the authorities accelerated it to the next anniversary of May Day if the authorities were sure of a positive outcome. However, expectations did not justify themselves. The experiment became a global man-made disaster of a planetary scale.
The explosions led to the destruction of the reactor in the building of the 4th unit of the ChNPP. In addition, it provoked the release of a large amount of radioactive substances into the environment. High-level lava flows of molten fuel and graphite penetrated into the room at the bottom of the reactor.
192 tons of nuclear fuel, uranium dioxide, were in the reactor of the 4-th unit. According to various estimates, from 5% to 30% of half-life products were thrown into the air during the first 10 days. These were mainly radioactive iodine, strontium, plutonium and other isotopes. Taking into account the decay, the total fallout of radioactive substances amounted to more than 50 million curies.
A destructive blast wave lifted a lot of radioactive isotopes from the furnace of the exploding reactor to a height of more than a kilometer. Falling a few hundred meters later, these transuranic elements sentenced everyone around to death.
The radiation cloud that arose over the Chernobyl nuclear power plant moved north under the influence of the wind. It covered the entire Ukrainian Polesie, some regions of Belarus and Russia. Soon, radioactive releases were found in Sweden and Finland, and later in Poland, Germany, France, and further around the world. They depended on the direction of the wind.
Ukraine had 12 affected regions. More than 50 thousand km2 in 74 regions contain decay products of radioactive substances. There are 2294 settlements in this area. In general, there are more than 3.2 million people affected by the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine. This number includes about a million children.
Chernobyl: hour by hour
On April 26, 1986, at 1:30 am, units of the fire protection of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the city of Pripyat arrived at the site of the disaster. They were under the command of Lieutenants V. Kibenko and V. Pravik. These units began to fight the fire that broke out on the roof in the room near the destroyed reactor.
This made it possible to prevent the spread of the fire towards the 3rd power unit. Soon, firefighters arrived from Chernobyl, Kiev and other regions. In fact, everyone who was the first to join the fight against the fire received deadly doses of radiation. It became fatal for the lives of most rescuers.
The main open fires at the 4th power unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant were localized by 8:00 a.m. on April 26. They solved the main task to cut off the paths for the spread of fire to the rest of the ChNPP. The extinguishing of other objects affected by the explosion at the station continued further, for two weeks. It included the help of helicopters. Firefighters completely extinguished the fire only closer to May 10.
There were about 200 service personnel at the station at the time of the accident. Nine of them received burns of varying degrees. One died in the hospital. And three were in the hospital in a critical condition. One of them, Valery Khodemchuk, died at the moment of the explosion. In a word, the fourth power unit of the ChNPP became forever for him both a grave and a memory.
A total of 108 people were taken to the hospital for examination, including 20 firemen. 26 people with objective signs of severe radiation sickness were sent on a special flight to Moscow to a radiological clinic on the night of April 27.
On Saturday, April 26, 1986, at 9:30 a.m., information about the explosion at the 4th power unit of the ChNPP was transferred to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine.
On the same day, at 1:15 p.m., the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine Shcherbitsky rechecked and signed all information about the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. He sent it to the Central Committee of the CPSU.
Work at the Chernobyl NPP was stopped due to an emergency on April 27, 1986, on Sunday. They involved the forces and means of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the KGB, the Civil Defense, the Soviet Army, and others to eliminate the consequences of the accident and ensure the protection of public order.
1,390 buses from Kiev and the Kiev region had to carry out the evacuation of Pripyat residents. In addition, they created a reserve of 195 buses, 3 trains and 2 river ships. In accordance with the decision of the government commission, the evacuation of 44,460 residents of Pripyat began on April 27 at 2:00 p.m. It took place in an orderly manner and finished at 6:00 p.m.
The radiotelegraph agency of Ukraine transmitted a TASS message prepared by Moscow on Monday, April 28, 1986. It reported that an accident had occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. In addition, it contained information about the damaged reactor. On Tuesday, April 29, 1986, RATAU transmitted a second, more detailed message on behalf of the allied government. It was already about the leakage of radioactive substances, the first victims, the evacuation of the Pripyat residents and nearby settlements.
On Tuesday, April 29, the Soviet Ukraine magazine published official information on the third page . In particular, it spoke about the damage to the 4th power unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and about measures taken to eliminate the consequences of the accident. Also, it reported about providing assistance to the injured, about the creation of a Government Commission. On April 30, the commission under the leadership of Boris Shcherbina gave the first summary information about the tragedy at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant:
“The Chernobyl accident occurred in one of the premises of the 4th power unit and led to the destruction of a part of the structures of the reactor building, its damage and leakage of radioactive substances. We shut down the other three power units. They are serviceable and belong to operational reserve.
We have taken priority measures to eliminate the consequences of the accident. We have stabilized the radiation situation at the power plant and the surrounding area. The victims are provided with the necessary medical assistance. “
Don’t put any obstacles on foreigners
Moscow. April 30, 1986. Ambassadors of foreign countries began to arrive at the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They wanted to clarify the circumstances of the tragedy at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The meeting at the Foreign Ministry with foreign missions and diplomatic services of foreign countries lasted more than two hours.
May 1. The USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended the Union and republican ministries and departments, through which foreign citizens were in the USSR, to conduct explanatory work among them with the following content. Firstly, they had to convince foreigners that the consequences of the accident do not pose a danger to their health. Secondly, it was safe to their further stay in the USSR.
Therefore, it was necessary to convince them that there were not even the slightest risk factors. This meant that there were no grounds for their early departure from the USSR. However, with regard to those foreigners who insisted on leaving, it was recommended not to put any obstacles on them.
Undercover agents should behave as delicately as possible in relation to foreign citizens and in no way submit to possible provocations on their part.
Only on May 14, 1986, the leadership of the USSR officially announced the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to the whole world. By that time, not only Europe recorded Chernobyl uranium dioxide in the form of radioactive decay products, but also African countries and China.
Nothing hindered or prevented its movement. There was and is not such a person, who could stop the wind-driven radioactive clouds all over the planet.