An unimaginable accident occurred on April 26, 1986, when several explosions destroyed Chernobyl’s reactor No. 4, where hundreds of firefighters and staff tried to stop the fire that had been burning for 10 days and sent big radiation around. Over 50 reactor and emergency workers died immediately from the radiation.
In addition to workers and emergency responders, some photographers who came to photograph horrific scenes and the heroism of the people who fought with fire, and helped others, also risked their lives.
In order to stop the fire from the helicopter, sand and boron were released on the reactor debris, because the sand stopped the fire and additional releases of radioactive material, boron was to prevent additional nuclear reactions. A few weeks later, the area was covered with a concrete structure called a “sarcophagus” to prevent further spread of radiation.
To prevent further spread of radiation, the Soviet Union cut down and buried a square mile of pine forest near the plant. There were 3 more reactors that were subsequently restarted, but soon after they were shut down forever. The responsible persons presented their initial accident report to an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in Vienna, in August 1986.
Immediately after the accident, authorities closed the area within 30 kilometers (18 miles) of the power plant, for all but members of staff who dealt with damage assessment, and who worked with undamaged reactors.
In 1986, 115,000 people were evacuated from the area, while another 220,000 were evacuated in the following years.
1. This photo shows how Liquidators clean the roof of the No. 3 reactor. Initially, West German, Japanese, and Russian robots were used for the job, but they could not cope with that level of radiation, so the authorities had to use people for the job. In some parts, people could only stay for 40 seconds, because during that time they reached the maximum authorized dose a human being should receive in his entire life.
2. This photo was taken in May 1986, this is an aerial view of the damaged Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
3. It is known that most of the liquidators were reservists ages 35 to 40, and these were people who were called to assist with the cleanup operations or those currently in military service in chemical-protection units. At that time, the army did not have clothes that could protect them from this amount of radiation, so they had to cobble together their own clothing, made of lead sheets and measuring two to four millimeters thick. The sheets were cut to size to make aprons to be worn under cotton workwear, and the most important thing was to protect the spine and spinal cord.