The Chernobyl nuclear power plant: history in excerpts: they built, built, and have finally built
The Chernobyl nuclear power plant: history in excerpts: they built, built, and have finally built

Reference: The Chernobyl NPP named after Lenin is a stopped nuclear power plant near the city of Pripyat in the Kiev region, which operated from 1977 to 2000. The construction of the station began in 1970. The first unit was launched in 1977. The nuclear power plant is located 2 km from the city of Pripyat, built primarily for its employees. So, the name of the nuclear power plant has associations with the city of Chernobyl, the then regional center of this area. By 1986, the ChNPP had been the most powerful nuclear power plant in the European part of the USSR.

An extract from the notice of the head of the KGB of the Kiev region, V. Fesenko. On technical violations during the construction of the ChNPP:

“1973. It becomes clear from the materials received by the UKGB department of the Ukrainian SSR that there are cases of violation of technical standards at the construction of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. So, deep cracks were found on the walls of the foundation during concrete work on the block “G” after removing the formwork. This was due to insufficient compaction when laying the concrete. Eliminating the flaw required a significant investment of working time.”

“A discrepancy between the installed fittings and the design took place at the beginning of 1973, during the drainage water removal. This significantly reduced the strength of the structure. At the same time, there were some changes to the executive diagram, reflecting the false position of the valve. In early April of this year, we revealed that the installed fittings did not correspond to the designed ones. So, there are multiple cases of poor-quality welding of reinforcement joints.”

An excerpt from the report of the head of the Pripyat department of the Ukrainian SSR KGB in Kiev and the Kiev region, Lieutenant Colonel Y. Nikolaev. On the emergency at the 3rd and 4th power units of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant:

“1984. According to the data of the agent “Yurko”, we know that the destruction of the bearing and enclosing structures of the premises of the reactor compartment occurs at the elevations of 35.5, 39.0, 43.0 meters of the 3rd power unit of the ChNPP. Furthermore, there are cracks in the floor slabs. Moreover, we may observe displacements of hinged reinforced concrete and expanded clay panels. The site management is indifferent to these comments. Also, there were no measures to eliminate technical malfunctions of the enclosing structures.”

The station is encircled

An extract from the message of the KGB of the USSR about the explosion of the 4th power unit of the ChNPP:

On April 26 this year, at 1:25 a.m., an explosion occurred in the building of the 4th power unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. A chain reaction following the testing of the turbine generator caused this problem. A fire broke out in the reactor room, which spread to the roof of the 3rd power unit. As a result, the explosion destroyed the dome of the roof of the fourth reactor and the turbine hall. At the time of the accident, there were 17 workers in the room. 9 were in hospital. 4 were in critical condition in intensive care. We localized the fire. The radiation level on the territory of the nuclear power plant is 20-25 microroentgens. The 3rd power unit was shut down due to the accident. The 1st and 2nd power units are operating normally. So, the station is encircled.

An excerpt from the report of the head of the 6th department of the KGB:

“The government commission has made a decision to evacuate two state farms and one collective farm from the 10-kilometer zone around Chernobyl. According to the decision, Chernobyl had to be evacuated only at night from 3 to 4 May. At the same time, the level of radioactivity in the zone is 100-150 roentgens per hour, and in Chernobyl – 35 micro roentgens per hour.”

An extract from a note by academician Valery Legasov:

“When we drove up to the station, the sky really impressed us. A crimson glow was visible even in the distance, 8-10 km before the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Before the arrival of the government commission on April 26, no one had a conscious plan for liquidation and rescue actions. The commission had to do everything. Physicists anticipated that the dynamics of events would deteriorate. So, they insisted on mandatory evacuation. The doctors supported the physicists … Boris Shcherbina, believing our forecasts, decided to evacuate people… “

From the certificate of the 6th department of the KGB:

“May 8, 1986. In order to prepare the demonstration for May 1, students of Kiev schools were given festive costumes, in which they rehearsed the program. Schools had to hand over these in the period from 5 to 8 May. However, clothing has a fairly high radiation background. The information did not go beyond the directorate of educational institutions. Schools intend to donate costumes to the Palace of Pioneers. Their decontamination is a vital thing.”

A complex of undercover and operational measures

An excerpt from the information regarding the stay in Kiev of the correspondent Stephen Strasser and Dr. Robert Gale from the USA:

“June 4, 1986. A complex of KGB measures was carried out in relation to the journalist S.Strasser, who was collecting information about the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. The purpose of the work was to prevent the release of defamatory information. We took measures to limit his actions and reduce his activity. 34 employees, working on this operation, did their best to ensure that “the foreigner did not receive basic information from Soviet citizens.” They also carried out a complex of undercover and operational measures in relation to the American Dr.Gale. He had a big interest to the number of people affected by radiation sickness, the number of evacuees, technical details regarding the accident and measures to eliminate it.”

An excerpt from the memoirs of an eyewitness to the events, Nina Solovieva:

“My family and I lived in Chernobyl, 15 kilometers from the station. On the morning of April 26, on the way to work, I passed the regional police department. I heard that something happened at the nuclear power plant. Then, no one knew the real threat. It was alarmed that the radio and telephone communications were completely turned off. In addition, there was no information about the accident. We were completely unaware of what happened at the ChNPP. Two days later, they began to evacuate the children.”

We sent our two sons to my husband’s parents to the Kharkov region. I and my husband remained in Chernobyl until May 5. I prepared food for the liquidators. The husband, along with other workers, loaded sand into parachutes, which helicopters delivered to the station to extinguish the fire. But the nature frightened us the most. Trees almost immediately turned yellow. Even the grass and weeds turned brown. Besides, we had a sore throat. A general evacuation of the population began in early May. The local authorities told us that we can return in 3-4 days. So, we only need to take documents and money with us. Then, we didn’t know that we were leaving our homes forever”.

Hoarse voices, red faces and disappearing bees

An excerpt from the memoirs of an eyewitness to the events, Peter Gursky:

“On May 19, 1986, I had to go on a business trip to Rostov-on-Don. Suddenly, the duty officer called at 2 a.m. and announced an urgent collection of all drivers. In addition, the director announced to us about the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. It turned out that there was an urgent need for volunteers, who could help in eliminating the consequences of the accident. No one then fully understood what exactly happened there. However, many of us agreed. Upon arrival in Vyshgorod, we were immediately assigned to different sections of the 30-kilometer zone. So, our first priority was the evacuation of the victims of the accident and the transportation of goods. On the way, I noticed the columns of buses.”

“The territory was empty. It`s a disturbing sight. I felt like I was on another planet. They had to work in special protective overalls. However, the radiation still slipped through them. Hoarse voices and red faces are the hallmark of all liquidators. Besides, the radioactive particles deposited on the skin and vocal cords, causing burns. But after so many years, I have never regretted that I was there. I take pride that I made my small contribution to the elimination of the disaster. Because if we are not the citizens of our country, then who will take care of it?”

An excerpt from the book by Svetlana Aleksievich “Chernobyl Prayer”:

“I went out into the garden in the morning and noticed that something was wrong. I was missing some familiar sound. Not a single bee. I couldn`t hear a single bee! What? And on the second day they didn’t fly out. And on the third. Then we were told that there was an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and it was nearby. However, we did not know anything for a long time. The bees knew, but we didn’t …”

An extract from the memoirs of an eyewitness to the events, Lyudmila Kovalenko:

“We learned about the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, standing in our own garden. As you know, villagers spend all day in the garden. The station is 30 kilometers from us. The people returning from their shift told us hastily about what had happened. Two young guys told me and my neighbor: “Women, run from the garden. A nuclear reactor exploded in Pripyat.” It turned out that there was a lot of radiation in the ground, and digging in it is dangerous to health.”

An excerpt from a memorandum to the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR on the problems of eliminating the consequences of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

“January 22, 1987. The experts continue to concern about unresolved issues. Scientists associate them with the design flaws of the RBMK reactors, as well as the subsequent decommissioning of the Chernobyl NPP. Scientists believe that the number of people exposed to radiation, the radiation doses they received, and the scale of radioactive contamination are significantly underestimated. They do not correspond to the real situation after the disaster. According to the calculations of a group of scientists, the zone of dangerous contamination after the accident is about 450-500 kilometers. The critically dangerous one is about 120-130 kilometers. More than 4.5 million inhabitants of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia could have been exposed to radiation exceeding the permissible standards”.