The lies, the ignorance, and the brutality of this monumental moment are overwhelmingly horrific. The only positive side is the inspiration for the dedication of the women and men who have boldly fought the tragedy. Nursing workers and doctors, fire services, and technicians have all came to the scene without any precaution and have been poisoned with the infectious radioactive virus.
‘Counting the Lives’ was the terminology of the Soviet Union officials. Calculate cruelly and precisely how many people might expect to die as a result of a specific operation. Mathematics was as easy as the mission was tough. The lives of three people outbalanced the lives of other folks. “Shock is much worse than radiation,” Alexander Akimov said.
Over the previous days, Soviet military helicopters had been flying over the exposed reactor, whose roof had been blown off so it resembled a half-shut eye, one whose pupil glowed blue and was emitting devastating doses of radiation. Below them was the graphite ‘moderator,’ 2500 tons of radioactive material, which was ablaze and, if unregulated, would continue to burn during the next 90 days, would release more radioactive material into the air with every passing hour. The damaged re0r of going into water-filled rooms below. These consequences could easily lead to one more radioactive explosion and destroy the whole city, poisoning water supplies for eternity.
This significant and necessary activity was carried out by three volunteers, also named ‘Chernobyl Divers.’ These three men had to fit themselves in the diving-gear and swim through the flooded tunnels of the basement to the gate door, turning it open to let the trapped water to pour out. It was labeled a ‘suicide mission’ because the radiation was deadly.
Before the Chernobyl tragedy, workers at the power station had been persuaded of the security of nuclear energy and, as far as they learned, there was only one major incident in the Soviet Union. In reality, there were 14 of them, all of which had been kept under wraps, so as not to harm the reputation of the communist building. At that time the fact was hidden that the actual trigger of this disaster was control rods with graphite edges, which had lead to power surges that resulted in explosions.
In the first few minutes after the initial explosion, the Geiger-Muller counters in the central control room were stuck at 3.6 – a safe reading. However, they were only designed to go up to 3.6! The actual reading was 15,000!
Akimov and Toptunov were eager to save the situation, but they didn’t see the full scape of the event. Because of a wrong assumption, they were subjected to the radiation for a while Both would die a torturous death from radiation poisoning. Later, in hospital, Akimov tried to stand up and the skin fell off his leg like a sock.
The first fire brigade was totally in the dark as they had no idea about the dangers. Fighting the fire for several hours, they all were exposed to the deadly radiation that caused an extremely sharp pain in the chest. The exposure to such radiation levels caused dizziness, hacking coughing, sickness, etc. By the 6th day, when the soviet government asked three men to volunteer, they were all well aware of the dangers. The was a group of men that knew about the risks in case of a failure. We can see a scale of corruption, too. Although success was doubtful, their relatives agreed to kept silent for promised money.
Three volunteers: Alexei Ananenko, an engineer who knew the position of the pumps, Valeri Bezpalov, a teammate who also worked at the power station, and Boris Baranov, who never dived into the water, was a hero of the Soviet army whose job was to illuminate their path underwater. The team completed their operation overcoming all the obstacles. However, they all spent a long time in a radioactive zone. All three came back to the ground, suffering from serious radiation exposure, but were happy to see coworkers being filled with excitement at the news of accessible valves.
The next day, the team drained out 20,000 tons of contaminated water and prevented a thermal explosion. Having been exposed to lethal doses of radiation 15 Sv (15,000 roentgen), all survived. The first one of the three divers died of a heart attack in 2005, others are still alive, one even working still in the industry.
A.Ananenko, V.Bezpalov, and B. Baranov are the real and yet unsung heroes who prevented the world’s most deadly accident and saved Europe.
The tragic side of the story is that this is not just an imagination of a mind but based on truth. You can walk back through history, imagine a world after the nuclear war and see it yourself in chernobyl exclusion zone tour.