Amazing un-seen photos from the Chernobyl disaster (Page 4)
Valeriy Khodemchuk, seen here on the left, was in the south-side pump room and was killed instantly when it was destroyed by the explosion.
This is the first photograph ever taken of the accident, and the only photo that survives from the morning of the accident. Igor Kostin was a photographer from Kiev who became world famous for his images of the the clean-up operation. The image is very noisy because the radiation was destroying the film in his camera. Of all the shots he took on that flight, this is the only one that wasn’t ruined.
This is a wonderful diagram illustrating just how intense the radioactivity was after the accident.
This model from the plant’s own visitor centre shows how the internal structure of the building now looked.
The plant’s own firemen immediately rushed into action. The explosion had started fires all over the site, which threatened to destroy the nearby Unit 3. These brave souls climbed onto the roof overlooking the destroyed reactor and fought fires for hours as the radiation destroyed their bodies.
This isn’t a photograph, but it is a very accurate recreation of the building that morning. You can clearly see the upper biological shield has been completely dislodged and is resting at a sharp angle.
Bryukhanov, in a panic, repeatedly told his superiors in Moscow that the accident was only minor and that the reactor was still intact.
The smoke is a mixture of incredibly radioactive particles venting into the atmosphere. This cloud would spread radioactivity across Europe.
The outside world remained ignorant of the accident at Chernobyl until the morning of Monday the 28th of April, when a sensor detected elevated radiation levels on engineer Cliff Robinson as he arrived for work at Sweden’s Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant, over 1,000 kilometers away.
Following the news, global media had a fit and made wild assumptions about the accident. In fact, only 2 men had died at the time when these were published.
A special government commission consisting of Party officials and scientists were on their way to assess the situation, and would arrive over the following 24 hours. The leader of this commission was this man, Boris Shcherbina, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR – a relatively unknown politician, since Moscow thought this was a minor accident at this point.
The most prominent scientific member of the commission was 49 year old Academician Valerii Legasov, seen on the left. Legasov held a Doctorate in Chemistry and was something of a prodigy, having enjoyed an unprecedented rise within Soviet scientific circles to become the First Deputy-Director of the prestigious I. V. Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy who designed the technology in the RBMK-1000. Even though he was not a specialist in nuclear reactors, he was a highly intelligent, experienced and influential figure, both within the Communist Party and the global scientific community at the time.
Their most pressing concern was that the reactor core could be still undergoing nuclear fission, and could get so hot that it would melt its way through the entire structure of the building and into the earth below, which may could have triggered a second, far more massive explosion. It was Legasov who suggested using helicopters to drop sand mixed with boronic acid to neutralize the reaction.
Here you can see how much material was dropped by the fleet of helicopters. Unfortunately, almost all of it completely missed its target, and what little did reach the reactor only served to cut off the cooling heat-exchange between the core and the atmosphere. The core temperature increased. During the operation, one of the helicopters crashed.
[caption width="600" caption="Here's a video of the mentioned crash"][embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuNtgYtF4FI[/embed][/caption]
Miners were brought in to dig a 150 meter tunnel underneath Unit 4, where a special refrigeration device would be installed below the building, in an attempt to cool the core. They worked 24 hours a day and achieved their goal in a month, but many of them later died from exposure, and their refrigeration device was never used – the core cooled down by itself.