• Chernobyl is a town near Kiev, better known for the nuclear power station which exploded in April 1986.

The accident at Reactor Four

"The temperature inside the reactor rose to 4,650 degrees centigrade—not quite as hot as the surface of the sun."

  • A test and flawed systems caused a chain reaction that destroyed one of the four reactors at the power station.
  • "Only ten square kilometers of the zone would ever be truly decontaminated."

Cause of the accident

  • According to B-Midnight in Chernobyl's investigation of the evidence, Chernobyl was a result of a cocktail of situations, from the political and economic to the social. The accident was not the result of a single cause but the culmination of design flaws, economic corner cutting, impossible deadlines, unrealistic performance expectations, and final operation.
  • Operators took the fall. The fatal design flaws were covered up.

Impact of the accident

  • B-Midnight in Chernobyl argues that Chernobyl was one of the factors in the end of the USSR. "For the final rulers of the USSR, the most destructive forces unleashed by the explosion of Reactor Number Four were not radiological but political and economic". The radiation spreading across Europe made a complete cover-up impossible and forced Gorbachev's openness on even the most conservative Politburo members.
  • Both the Soviets and the UN attributed some additional cancers to the disaster but according to B-Midnight in Chernobyl, the majority of disease in the fallout zones was attributed to psychological factors (Soviet 'radiophobia') or anything but radiation.
  • "For the first time, Soviet scientists admitted that 17.5 million people, including 2.5 million children under seven, had lived in the most seriously contaminated areas of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia at the time of the disaster. Of these, 696,000 had been examined by Soviet medical authorities by the end of 1986. Yet the official tally of deaths ascribed to the disaster to date remained the same as that announced the previous year: 31."
  • Complete clean up was impossible as radionuclides cannot be destroyed and the environment itself had become a source of Radiation, undoing previous clean up efforts.