From the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant suffered every fifth citizen of the Byelorussian SSR — 2.2 million people. It’s more than the population of present-day Minsk. 30 years after the tragedy written hundreds of books and articles. Movies were also. But American TV series “Chernobyl” has shocked not only Americans, but us, all this time we live with the effects of radiation. When the first emotions from the episode subsided, we gathered facts about Chernobyl that everyone should know Belarusian.
What was Chernobyl?
Chernobyl is in Northern Ukraine, 12 km from the border with Belarus. In 1986, it is a major energy hub with a capacity of 4000 MW. The first unit was launched in 1977 and later in 1978, 1981 and 1983. Until 1986 there was one serious accident in 1982 there was a gap of technological channel in the first block, to eliminate the consequences it took three months. Before the explosion on the Chernobyl incident occurred less than the average at other nuclear stations of the country. At the time of the accident Chernobyl nuclear power plant along with Leningrad and Kursk was the most powerful in the USSR. Electricity generation in recent time before the accident was approximately 28 billion kWh per year, which is only slightly inferior to the Leningrad NPP.
Chernobyl had about 4 thousand people. Mostly workers with families lived in the city of Pripyat, founded in 1970. Along with the residential neighborhoods here built a Palace of culture, cinema, hotels, hospitals and clinics, libraries, schools, kindergartens and technical schools. In the city lived about 45 thousand people, from them 16 thousand children. The median age was 26 years.
Why the explosion occurred?
On the night of 26 April 1986 at the 4th unit of the station conducted tests of the turbogenerator. It was planned to stop the reactor, to measure the generator indicators to see whether there is enough inertia of the rotor to some time continued generation of electricity in the case that suddenly shuts down the reactor. The emergency cooling system was disabled planning. However, safely shutting down the reactor failed. 1 hour 23 minutes a night at power plant explosion.
There are two versions of what happened: improper design of the RBMK-1000 reactor and the human factor.
Photo: Alexander found its, TUT.BY
The government Commission responsible for the accident was named Director of the nuclear power plant, Viktor Bryukhanov and chief engineer Nikolai Fomin, Deputy chief engineer Anatoly Dyatlov, who “made serious errors in the plant operation and does not provide security”. What were violations of the personnel? Testing any cost, despite changing the state of the reactor; the output from a working process protections that could stop the reactor before it got dangerous mode; the silence of the leadership of the station, the extent of the problem in the first days after the accident. Director Bryukhanov insists that no experiment was not, was the planned work, required systems checks before repair. Like other employees, he believes that the accident led the imperfection of the reactor.
In 1991 the Commission of the state, having studied the materials, I came to the conclusion that “started because of the actions of operating personnel of the Chernobyl accident is catastrophic due to poor reactor design”. So, for arguments about violations of the staff added that the reactor did not meet safety standards and had a dangerous design features. 20 years after the accident, chief designer of RBMK-1000 reactor Yuri Cherkesov in an interview with the Monthly magazine of atomic energy of Russia actually acknowledged the negative characteristics of the reactor and that this was known before the tragedy, but the designer also pointed out a coincidence.
What happened after the explosion?
The explosion of reactor 4-th unit was completely destroyed. Also was destroyed the walls and ceiling of the turbine hall, started a fire. The atmosphere received a huge amount of radioactive substances.
The first liquidators of the accident were 21 Pripyat fire, they arrived at the station six minutes after the explosion. Means of protection, they only had canvas robe, gloves, helmet. After hours of work in a monstrous radiation they were taken to the hospital in an unconscious state. In the morning the first group affected by strong radiation among the employees of the station and firefighters were evacuated to Moscow.
To extinguish the fire, was committed 1,800 sorties on helicopters. At the burning reactor dropped 5000 tons of materials — the compound of boron, dolomite, sand, clay, lead.
How many people were involved in liquidation of consequences if they knew about the danger?
More than 600 thousand people participated in liquidation of consequences of the Chernobyl accident. In the accident area were represented radiation monitoring service, jingoism, civil defense, Rosgidromet, the Ministry of health.
The majority of liquidators were simple reservists who are called to help eliminate or officers of the troops of radiation, chemical and biological protection. Soldiers of elimination was the most — to 340 thousand people.
The armed forces were not sufficiently equipped with equipment for work in conditions of high radioactive contamination. Reliable information about the danger the people were not. Often the liquidators worked in ordinary clothes, the only protection served as lead plates with a thickness of 2-4 mm and a simple respirators, top wore rubber aprons. Not even enough dosimeters.
According to the world health organization, the number of deaths among the liquidators is estimated at 4 thousand people (those who have already died, and those who may die in the future from the consequences of the accident).
The authorities were notified about the crash, including residents of regions remote from the scene of the accident?
The agitating point in the House of culture in Pripyat. Photo: Alexander found its, TUT.BY
April 26 in the city of Pripyat, two kilometers from the exploded reactor, outdoors played 16 weddings. And in Ukraine, in Belarus and in Russia, people were enjoying the first Sunny days, not even knowing about the disaster. Late in the evening of 28 April, two days after the blast, news Agency TASS reports a brief message: “the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident. One of the reactors was damaged. Measures to eliminate the consequences of the incident. The victims received the necessary assistance. A government Commission to investigate the incident”.
That recalls the days of the Ukrainian journalist, the author of the book “Chernobyl. Top secret” Alla Yaroshinskaya, which became in 1989 the people’s Deputy of the USSR:
— That in the Soviet Union exploded nuclear power plant, we learned from foreign votes… on may 1, in Zhytomyr, Kiev and other cities of Belarus, Russia, the Baltic States, millions of people took to the festive demonstration. It was very hot. Children in traditional costumes, breathing radioactive fumes, danced on the main street of the Ukrainian capital. At the podium, welcoming the marchers, stood members of the Ukrainian Politburo and members of the government… Despite the fact that officially, no reports of the explosion was not, in the near from the Chernobyl cities every day growing panic. Nobody knew what happened, rumors spread the most incredible. In pharmacies of iodine disappeared. Many people, believing that the way to protect yourself from radiation, pure drinking iodine, burning of the throat and intestines. People were buying tickets in either direction. 10 days later the Minister of health of the Ukrainian SSR gave valuable advice: close the window and wipe his feet with a wet cloth, going in the house. To do wet cleaning of the apartment. That’s the whole radiation prevention.
From the order of the Third chief Directorate of the Ministry of health of the USSR of July 27, 1986, “On strengthening the regime of secrecy in the performance of works on liquidation of consequences of the Chernobyl accident”: item 4 — to classify information about the accident, section 8 — to classify information about treatment outcomes, item 9 is to classify information on the degree of radioactive defeat of the personnel participating in liquidation of consequences of the Chernobyl accident.
The authorities concealed the truth about the accident and the impact on health, controlled the press, it was recommended not to focus on the negative consequences, and to write more about the dedication and solidarity of the Soviet people during liquidation of consequences. In the transcripts of the Supreme Council in 1986, almost no mention about the accident and the consequences for nature and people. Deputies, as before, discuss the personnel policy, the increase in livestock, provision of enterprises with raw materials if there was no disaster. The state program of liquidation of consequences of accident on Chernobyl was adopted four years after the tragedy, 1990-1995
The correspondent of “Izvestia” in Belarus Nikolai Matukovsky in July 1986, in a telegram to the chief editor reported: “the Radiation situation became quite complicated. In many districts of the Mogilev region discovered radioactive contamination, the level of which is significantly above the level of the areas about which we wrote. All the medical canons of the people in these areas is associated with great risk to his life. I have the impression that our comrades lost and do not know what to do, the more relevant the Moscow court does not want to believe what had happened. Tell You this is by telex, because all telephone conversations on the subject are categorically prohibited”.
Infected meat was distributed throughout the country. Of the secret Protocol signed by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers Nikolai Ryzhkov: “the use of meat produced in some areas of the Byelorussian SSR, the Ukrainian SSR and the RSFSR” — to consider it expedient to establish the state reserve meat with a high content of radioactive substances in storage, and also be procured in the current year. In order to prevent a large total of accumulation of radioactive substances in humans from eating contaminated food, the Ministry of health recommends a maximum spread of contaminated meat in the country and use it for the production of sausages, canned foods and meat products in the ratio of one to ten with normal meat. Infected meat from Belarus and Ukraine, according to the document, should be taken out to Russia (but not Moscow), Moldova, Kazakhstan, the republics of Transcaucasia, Baltic and Central Asia.
As they resettled people from the affected regions and what kind of compensation did they get?
Evacuated Pripyat. The 2013. Photo: Reuters
April 27, a few hours from the city of Pripyat was evacuated the entire population. According to eyewitnesses, people thought leaving their homes only for a few days, in many homes was the refrigerator full of food.
After the accident was established exclusion zone, which consists of three controlled areas — a special zone (site station), a 10-kilometer and 30-kilometer zone.
In Belarus until 5 may evacuated all the population which lived in the 30-kilometer zone. The evacuation of Holeckova, of the Bragin, Narovlya districts (the most victims) was completed on 7 may. There’s a secret Protocol, according to which the authorities are not allowed to relocate the inhabitants of Bragin, citing the fact that the situation stabiliziruemost, and pregnant women and children already evacuated. The people took with them only the most necessary furniture, appliances, livestock — all remained in the “zone”.
With the affected areas have settled out of 138 thousand people, 75% of them — residents of Gomel region. 200 thousand left ourselves. On an area of 194 thousand hectares, created in the exclusion zone, most of which were later transformed into the Polessky radiation-ecological reserve. Here is the third of the “Chernobyl legacy”, which went to Belarus after the accident at the nuclear power plant: 30% of cesium, another 70% of the strontium, and 97% plutonium. The objective of these areas — not to let the radiation continue.
For immigrants in other settlements for a year and a half was built about 10 thousand apartments. People were all over Belarus. The sum of the costs associated with the creation of zones of exclusion and resettlement — 1 billion 835 million Soviet rubles. The total amount of payments (monthly and salary increment) — 546 million Soviet rubles.
What are the consequences of the accident and why the explosion at Chernobyl is considered the largest accident in the history of nuclear energy?
Chernobyl in 2016. Photo: Alexander found its, TUT.BY
The explosion at Chernobyl is considered the largest nuclear accident because of the consequences that came about after the tragedy. The explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant suffered every fifth citizen of Belarus — more than 2.2 million people, of which 800 thousand are children.
“All of Belarus was breathing radioactive iodine, consuming it with food for 80 days before its collapse. In the North of Belarus, the iodine concentration in the air exceeds the permissible level in a thousand times”, — told in 1990 at a meeting of the UN representative of the Institute of radiation medicine, Ministry of health of the BSSR Nikolay GRES. Within a few months iodine-131 collapsed, however, this has led to thyroid cancer, especially in children.
“70% of the Chernobyl radionuclides fell on our country, occupied the third part of the territory, — told in 1990 at the UN, Minister of foreign Affairs of the Byelorussian SSR Petr Kravchenko. — A fifth of the population became a victim of Chernobyl, the hostages delayed harmful effects of radiation. In the affected areas eight-fold increased disease anemia 10 times — chronic diseases nasopharynx, twice — congenital malformations in newborns”.
66% of the territory of Belarus, the levels of soil contamination with caesium-137 exceeded 10 kBq/m2. Strontium-90 fell on Belarus more locally. The levels of soil contamination with this radionuclide is above 5.5 kBq/m2 (0,15 CI/km2) was detected in 10% of the territory of the Republic. 2% of the country contaminated with transuranic elements (plutonium-238, 239, 240 (238, 239, 240Pu).
Suffered 18% of all of the most productive agricultural land of Belarus, the entire area of the basin of the Pripyat river, which was one of the major milk and meat producing resources of the country. 20% of the forest was in the area of long-term operation of the source of radiation.
The total damage caused to Belarus by the Chernobyl catastrophe, estimated at 235 billion dollars (including the elimination of the consequences).
Anyone punished for what happened?
In 1987 the court held in the case of the Chernobyl accident. Guilty recognized six employees of the station Director, Viktor Bryukhanov, and the chief engineer Nikolai Fomin, and his Deputy, Anatoly Dyatlov, chief of the reactor Department, Alexander Kovalenko, the head of the shift Boris Rogozhkin, Gosatomnadzor inspector Yuri Laushkin.
Fomin before the process tried to kill himself, smashed glasses and a shard cut his wrists. Woodpeckers was discharged from the hospital shortly before the court for a long time treated nezazhivayuschie the wounds on his legs resulting from the accident.
The court issued the sentence with just such terms, as requested by the Prosecutor: to Bryukhanov, Fomin and Dyatlov — 10 years of imprisonment, Rogozhkin — 5 years, Kovalenko 3 years, Laushkina — 2 years. Sentence not subject to appeal. The case materials were classified.
Director Viktor Bryukhanov served five years and was released early due to acute radiation sickness. He insists that the accident resulting in inadequate reactor. The same position of the engineer Dyatlov, after an early release (he interceded academician Andrei Sakharov) wrote the book “Chernobyl: how it happened”.
Today on the site of the explosion and how many years will it take to crash left a trace?
Photo: Dmitry Brushko, TUT.BY
In 1995, the programme was signed between the closure of the station. The original concrete sarcophagus that was built after the accident, fell into disrepair. With EU support, built a new steel sarcophagus, which is located inside the destroyed reactor and the old shelter. Complete removal of plants is not expected until 2065.
The city of Pripyat remains abandoned. Even with the reduction of radiation out of the question to return to life, is not: high pollution of soil and water. The exclusion zone is also prohibited, there are the “squatters”, but in order to legally enter even on a tour, you need special permission.
After the explosion in the external environment just got more radioactive cesium and strontium. Half-life, they have about 30 years about every 30 years, their activity falls two times, but it’s not the only problem. When breaks plutonium-241, in the contaminated territories produces americium-241. According to radiotoxicity, it is close to the plutonium isotopes. 100 years after the Chernobyl accident, in 2086, the total activity of the soil in the contaminated areas of Belarus will be 2,4 times higher than in the initial post-accident period. The decrease in alpha activity americium from soil to a level of 3.7 kBq/m2 is expected only after 2400 years.
If today there was a similar accident, for example, abroad, how would know about it people?
To hide such an accident virtually impossible. Even in 1986 the first country officially registered the first evidence of the Chernobyl disaster, was Sweden: it was recorded there for the first time the content of radioactive neptunium-239 in the atmosphere. Began to receive information from other European countries, the Soviet authorities were forced to respond — to answer questions, to accept international assistance, including specialists. Each country monitors the radiation environment, not only within our state but also in the region.
In Belarus there are no operating nuclear power plants, nuclear power plant in Ostrovets has not started yet. However, near our country there are four nuclear power plants: Ignalina nuclear power plant (4 km from the border), Chernobyl (12 km), the Rivne nuclear power plant (65 km), Smolensk NPP (75 km). In 2001 he created an automated system of monitoring the radiation situation in the NPP control area of the adjacent States. The system was designed for monitoring the radiation situation in real time, measurements of dose rate of gamma radiation and transmission of data together with meteorological parameters in the control points and response centers. In normal mode, the indicators are updated every 10 minutes, in an emergency, every minute. Data goes to a Local response center which provides collection and processing of data, as well as the transfer to the Republican level.
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