On April 26, 1986 there was an explosion in reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Mijail Gorbachev later admitted that the accident that occurred that night was probably the true cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The physicists knew that the reactor had a defect, but the personnel was not informed of this or of what could happen as a result. The tragedy was a result of many mistakes that came into play.
At first no one understood clearly the extent of what had happened. Phones rang and experts ran out towards the plant to find out what could be done. Someone reported that the level of radiation was extremely high, but those in charge found it hard to believe, even though he was a specialist. One man admits that the amounts he heard were beyond his comprehension and so he chose to doubt.
Egos were high and many were more interested in protecting those egos than in sounding the alarm. It’s not entirely their faults, though. Many of the managers had taken the job without a full understanding of all the details.
A long period on low power had left the reactor dangerously unstable and it became a nuclear bomb. Everything began to explode and those who were able to escape the slabs of cement falling like dominos still suffered the effects of the radiation. Workers stayed and tried to perform their duties diligently, they knew what to do, but they lost their lives while trying to keep the disaster from spreading and causing even more damage.
First responders fought relentlessly to put out the fire, but when they were done, their faces were blue and they were vomiting. They had gone too close to the epicenter and as a result contracted acute radiation illness.
Then somebody decided that what had happened should be kept a secret in order to avoid panic. So life went on as usual in Pripyat, a model Soviet city that had been built especially for workers at the plant.
However, some hours later the Director was arrested and blamed for not approving the command to evacuate immediately. Thirty-six hours after the explosion the order to evacuate was finally given. Citizens were assured that it was temporary; they were lied to. Find out more about this historical disaster and its consequences now.