On the 26th of April, 1986, at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the 4th reactor exploded and radioactive materials was released into the air. Actually, there were two explosions, the first destroyed the cooling system and the second the radioactive core. However, it could have been even worse. The radioactive cloud at first went west but then turned north to Scandinavia.
Ten days after the first explosion, another major threat was reported at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant: an emergency pool was about to explode, which was being used by the firefighters to douse the flames. The type of material used in the nuclear reactor to control the fusion was graphite rather than water which is used in today’s reactors. Therefore, it could burn and had to be extinguished.
In the burning reactor, clay, sand and boron were delivered by helicopters, to try and extinguish the fire. The end result was a lava-like substance that grew around the reactor core, slowly burned and almost reached the water below it. If that would have happened, the resulting vapour would have caused a massive explosion and also radioactive rainfall.
A great part of Europe would have turned into a radioactive desert!
The only way to get rid of this water was to open the gates and drain the pool. To drain the pool, workers dove into the heavily contaminated radioactive water. The sacrificial lambs who would undertake this task were almost certain to die.
Three men applied: Valeri Bezpalov, Alexei Ananenko and Boris Baranov, all of the workers at the Chernobyl power plant. They were well aware of the dangers and they were equipped with basic diving gear and a lamp to find the valves. The divers somehow managed to find the right valve and opened the gates, allowing the water to drain, and then returned the water’s surface.
Twenty thousand tons of water flowed out. Later reports confirmed that without this dive, there would have clearly been a massive explosion. Valeri and Alexei died within two weeks in a Moscow hospital and soon thereafter Boris did as well. Prior to Alexei’s death, he even gave an interview on television.
They were buried in a specially sealed coffin due to the high radioactivity levels in their bodies. As a memorial to all the victims of this horrible disaster, April 26this commemorated across Europe.
Based on an article by Index.hu
By Kristóf Kocs