On December 14, 1986, the construction of the sarcophagus over the destroyed 4th Chernobyl power unit was officially completed, which allowed the launch of the 1st and 2nd reactors of the nuclear power plant. On this day, starting in 2006, the liquidators of the consequences of the Chernobyl accident were honored in Ukraine.
The radiation dose received during construction work killed many liquidators. Some of them died shortly after the accident, some became disabled, the rest continue to balance between life and death.
I ended up at the Chernobyl Zone in the service
“… The Ministry created a task force, which was sent to ensure the protection of public order in the Chernobyl zone. I worked in the police then, that’s why I ended up at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the service. It was August-September 1986. We needed to ensure that there were no looters, because the export of radioactive property was strictly prohibited. Personally, I was preparing information about what was happening in the Zone, sending summary information to the Ministry of the Interior.
I stayed in the zone for about a month, from August 8 to September 9. 1986 was the saddest period of my life. There were practically no civilians in the Zone, and there was no longer any life as such. There was some kind of continuous alarm and constant work of hundreds of people to eliminate the consequences of the accident. Workers, military men, builders, everyone who went to work every day and did what was necessary are real heroes. I am convinced of this, ” Stepan Mikhailovich shared.
The wife does not have a thyroid gland now, the average son also has problems with the thyroid gland.
But Vladimir Shakhrai lived with his family in the Chernobyl zone at the time of the accident. His hometown of Khoiniki in the Gomel region, where he returned from the army, he began to work as a tractor driver, is located only 70 kilometers from Chernobyl. He was 30 years old at the time of the accident, his wife was pregnant – were expecting a third child.
“When the explosion occurred, they did not tell us anything. And on May 1 and 9, we went to the parade. Then the wife was pregnant for the third time. She felt dizzy, constantly and very threw up. I asked her if she must have eaten something wrong. It was creepy. I was very scared for her then. After some time, I had the same symptoms: vomiting literally choked. They started giving us vodka at work.
I ask: “… Why should I drink vodka? After all, I’ll ride a tractor, God forbid, the police may stop it.” And they say to me: “Don’t worry, you just need it.” It was only later, somewhere on May 11, when we were told that the Chernobyl reactor exploded, and before that everyone was silent … “
When we learned about the accident, my wife and children were urgently sent to Vitebsk. She gave birth to a son there on July 20, and I stayed at home on the farm, and I visited them with a transfer every Sunday.
I got the status of a liquidator in 1986. Then, we were sent from the collective farm to cut a red forest, because all the leaves on the trees were yellow at first from radiation, and then the forest just started to burn. There were 40 of us. We were cutting trees for two and a half months. I don’t know where they were sent then. We worked our shift and did not go there anymore.
The next 4 subsequent years I lived with my family in Khoiniki, and then, when everyone began to relocate in 1990, we left there. It was possible to choose Russia, Ukraine or Moldova, but the wife’s sister lived in Khmelnitsky, and we moved to her.
Since then, we have been living in Ukraine. My wife does not have a thyroid gland right now. The middle son also has problems with the thyroid gland, and he is forced to constantly take medications so that the disease does not develop,” Vladimir Nikolaevich said.
We stepped in the radiation puddles and rejoiced like children
An epidemiologist Lyudmila Bulka has health problems. The woman has a severe form of thyroid disease – Hashimoto’s disease. She received it as a result of radiation exposure for 17 days in the Chernobyl zone.
“… In July 1986, I worked in the sanitary and epidemiological station. Then, there were 15 of us who were sent to the Chernobyl zone to replace a group of colleagues from Poltava,” Lyudmila Nikolaevna said. We checked everything for radiation, so that people were given healthy food in the canteens, that the water was clean, that no epidemic happened – after all, the same rodents and cockroaches could also spread radiation. They worked and lived in Chernobyl itself.
I was 36 years old then. I did not have a single damaged tooth, and now I am a disabled person of the second group. I lay in Kiev at the Radiological Institute and in endocrinology. It is impossible to cure me, as a result of irradiation I have a chronic Hashimoto’s disease.
I remember how, upon arrival in Chernobyl, we ran out of the bus at night, and not seeing anything under our feet, stepped into streams and puddles of water, thinking that it was rainy, but in fact, it was formed from washing off with a deactivating solution of buildings and roads. Nobody could have suggested on that first Chernobyl night that this was only the beginning of all health problems – we stepped in radiation puddles and rejoiced like children.
“The head physician opened our eyes only in the morning, saying that there was no rain here and there will be no in the near future.”
Such different fates within the framework of one at all tragedy. One story that unites thousands of protagonists, not just literary, but real, from our common reality.