History teaches only that teaches nothing, as many say. The history of the Chernobyl disaster is no exception to this sad rule.
Much has already been said that the authorities in the USSR tried to do everything possible and impossible to hide first the fact of the accident, and subsequently its real consequences immediately after the accident in 1986. Of course, this could not be done, even taking into account the existing means of disseminating information then.
It would seem that it is a real life lesson, but no. Chernobyl continued to remain in the so-called zone of information control after the accident, everything that happened at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was immersed in a kind of information vacuum. Chernobyl was considered not the place of a terrible catastrophe, with the consequences of which thousands of liquidators are fighting with titanic labor, but the territory of some kind of everyday mass socialist competition.
At least, this impression is formed from reading newspaper publications of those years. And one can find information about numerous emergency situations that occurred at the nuclear power plant sites in those years only in the KGB declassified materials.
Attempts to hide the fact of the accident
Intensive preparations were underway for the launch of 1 and 2 power units and renewal of electricity generation, simultaneously with the liquidation of the consequences of the accident, in July-September 1986, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
The prolonged stay of the first two power units in the stopped position, the effect of radiation exposure and decontaminants required a thorough audit and diagnostic check of all the main and auxiliary equipment, as well as automation systems, repair and the entire necessary set of technical examinations.
The scope of work on the preparation and commissioning of the first and second power units was determined by the Program for the comprehensive testing and commissioning of the 1-st and 2-nd Chernobyl power units and met all the requirements for launching newly commissioned power units. The specific tasks of launching the first two Chernobyl power units were to verify the effectiveness of the implementation of measures to verify the safety of nuclear power plants with RBMK.
The goal of measures to increase safety, primarily, was to reduce the steam effect of reactivity and increase the speed of emergency protection. 50% of the rods were introduced into the reactor core at a position of 1.4 m according to the instructions to achieve these goals, taking into account the specifics of the reactor, before the direct start-up, the number of shortened absorbers was increased to 32, and their movement was limited to an interval from 1.2 to 3.5 – according to the technical specification.
Additional absorbers were installed instead of a part of the TVZ in the process of direct physical start-up. The operational reactivity margin during reactor operation was set at 43-48 rods. The formed initial loading of the first power unit was 1648 fuel assemblies, of which: 124 were new, 30 – additional absorbers and 14 technological channels with water.
The first power unit was connected to the power system on October 1, 1986, at 4.47 p.m. Of course, it was not without fanfare and victorious press coverage. And only a few knew outside the territory of the Chernobyl industrial site that the first power unit was stopped in emergency order thirteen days later.
From the information message of the KGB of the Ukrainian SSR to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine about an unscheduled shutdown of the Chernobyl power unit № 1 dated 10/14/1986:
“On October 13, 1986, an unscheduled shutdown of the first power unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was made in connection with the detection of a leak in the valve body DU-800 of the bypass pipeline of the multiple forced circulation loop of the reactor. A leak was identified during a routine inspection of the piping system. By its nature, experts suggest the presence of a needle fistula in the place of welding of the flange of the valve body connector.
The specified valve was manufactured by the Aleksinsky Chemical Plant of the USSR Ministry of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Tula Region. Representatives of the manufacturer were called to eliminate the causes of leaks and resolve the issue of repair. According to experts, repair work would last at least 10 days. The situation at the station is controlled by the operational group of the KGB of the Ukrainian SSR”.
Of course, the mass media of the USSR were silent about this fact of an emergency stop of the first Chernobyl power unit. They did not consider it necessary once again to excite the public, including international.