Spring was blooming, filled with the smells of new life. No one knew that it would forever be inscribed in the history of our people in black letters. On the night of April 25-26, 1986, the world was shocked by one of the worst technological disasters in the history of mankind, the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. This accident demonstrated the terrible power of the “peaceful atom”.
An explosion occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant at 1 a.m., as a result of which the 4th power unit of the nuclear power plant was completely destroyed. The result was the release of radioactive substances into the environment. The active stage of the accident lasted ten days. Emissions of radionuclides from a damaged reactor of several million curies per day did not stop until May 6, 1986.
On April 26, Pripyat was waiting for a really warm, spring day. People knew what happened at night at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, but without details. Moreover, they did not even suspect the consequences then. It was a day off and everyone was busy with their daily activities. Anxiety began to envelop the city towards evening. On April 27, in the middle of the day, the city authorities announced the evacuation by radio. 50 thousand people left the city with almost no clothes. The population of Chernobyl, Pripyat and the nearest settlements were taken out by 1,100 buses in a column.
People left their homes and all that was allowed to take with them were only ID and food for several days. The territory within a radius of 30 km from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was declared unsuitable for human life, radioactively dangerous, thereby gaining the status of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
Chernobyl: events, facts, consequences
04/26, 01:23 a.m. – The moment of the accident, the explosion and destruction of the reactor.
04/26, 01:30–06:30 a.m. – Extinguishing numerous fires.
04/26 – The pumps supplying water to the reactor were stopped. The lower indicators of all blocks are filled with radioactive water.
04/26, 03:00 p.m. – Specialists determine the real volume of the consequences of the disaster.
04/26 – Night meeting of the Government Commission, where it was decided:
- to completely stop the 1-st and the 2-nd Chernobyl power units,
- to transfer to a subcritical state the power unit affected by the fire;
- to evacuate the entire population from the 30 km zone and start casting chemical materials and mixtures into the destroyed reactor to contain the accident.
04/27, 10:00 a.m. – Dropping of various materials from helicopters into the reactor mouth began.
04/27 – Boron carbide is discharged into the reactor at night.
05/01 – It was decided to start cooling the reactor with nitrogen to prevent burning of the bottom of the reactor and the ingress of radioactive waste into the ground.
05/02 – Approximately 5,000 tons of materials were dumped by the end of the day.
05/03-04 – At night, three volunteers opened the shutters to drain the water from the bubbler pool of the 4th block.
05/05 – A nitrogen supply system was installed during the day.
05/06 1:00 p.m. – Gaseous nitrogen began to flow to the second floor of the bubbler pool, but the cooling torture was unsuccessful.
05/06 – Emission intensity decreased threefold. The end of the active stage.
05/10 – Finally, all the fires have been extinguished.
Today, Chernobyl for us is:
- millions of people affected by the disaster and its consequences,
- almost 10 percent of the area exposed to direct radiation damage,
- 160 thousand people from 129 settlements who had to leave their homes and move to other cities.
Many works have already been written and will be written about the accident itself and the consequences. But today, you will find almost nothing in the literature about the fates of ordinary people who were covered by an ominous cloud of radioactive fallout. Those who were in the center of events eliminated the consequences of that terrible catastrophe are fewer such heroes every year.
Most of the victims recall the days of elimination with mental pain, which lasts a long 34 years. Their memories are not much different from each other, but they are absolutely identical in some ways. All the participants received a summons from the military registration and enlistment office and, having arrived there, heard the same phrase: “You are heading to Chernobyl.”
Some were embarrassed by this news, others did not worry about the upcoming Chernobyl shift. The liquidators of the Chernobyl disaster did not know what awaited them, but, despite this, they went to fulfill their duty to help and save other people. What thoughts then flashed through their minds? Not everyone remembers today…
Radiation immediately made itself felt: someone felt a sharp headache, some – a metallic taste in his mouth, and someone at first did not have any symptoms at all.
Upon arrival in the disaster area, people were immediately sent to a specific place of work. Schools and kindergartens became the premises where you could relax and regain strength for the next day. Life was quite ordinary. Because of opportunities, people themselves tried to create favorable conditions for their stay.
No one complained about food. Fruit and meat given daily. The dangerous work of the liquidators then could not be fully appreciated. Everyone made a significant contribution to eliminating the consequences of a large-scale catastrophe. There were no superfluous. Each person was valuable: from the cook to the signalman, from the nurse to the driver, from the liquidator working on clearing graphite to the policeman on duty at the checkpoint.
There was practically no protection against radiation. They were given ordinary clothes, gauze dressings, and lead vests in especially dangerous areas. They tried to change clothes every day. A shower was mandatory at the end of the shift, after which there was a total radiation check, from nails to hair.
Today, the liquidators of the catastrophe who survived in a terrible radiation hell are in every possible way to keep in touch, communicate with each other. The tragic spring of 1986 united many destinies. The scale of the consequences of the accident covered almost the entire globe. Victims are not only people who directly experienced the bitterness of the loss of loved ones, faced with lifelong health problems, became disabled, but we are contemporaries of the 21st century.
The Chernobyl disaster is a point of no return, calling on all mankind to be vigilant. It makes us think again and again that scientific and technological progress not only helps modern man to achieve the greatest goals on the path of civilized development, but also requires finding the mechanisms that should become for the planet and its inhabitants a guarantee of security.