On the anniversary of Chornobyl tragedy, we recall those liquidators who died first.
Such “kamikazes” were during the Chornobyl accident in 1986, and during the tragedy that happened 25 years later at the Japanese station “Fukushima-1.”
Some of them were at the stations during the accidents; someone came to the very epicenter of extinguishing fires and coped with the consequences.
Most likely, they understood (or tried not to think) that the chances of survival were minimal. But someone needed to start a fight, thus giving a chance to save more lives.
“Kamikaze” at the Chornobyl NPP
The first liquidators were station staff. They were engaged in shutting down equipment, dismantling blockages, eliminating hotbeds of fire on equipment, and other work directly in the reactor and machine rooms and other areas of the emergency unit.
The number of victims of the accident reached 31 people. Of these, one died directly during the explosion, another died immediately after the accident from multiple injuries.
The direct victims of the accident were senior operator of the main circulating pumps at the reactor’s production unit No. 2 Valeriy Hodemchuk and automation systems engineer Volodymyr Shashenok.
The other 20 died a few weeks later. Only a few employees, who were there on the night of the accident, managed to survive:
- Anatoliy Dyatlov, deputy maintenance engineer;
- Razim Davletbayev, deputy head of turbine department No. 2;
- Yuriy Tregub, head of the shift unit № 4;
- workers of the 4th power unit Yuriy Korneev, Hennadiy Rusanovsky, Borys Stolyarchuk, Olexandr Yuvchenko;
About 40 firefighters under the leadership of major Leonid Telyatnikov, police officers, and station workers were the first liquidators. Six firefighters died within a few weeks of radiation burns and acute radiation sickness.
The military pilot of the 1st class Mykola Antoshkin in the first ten days directly supervised the actions of the personnel to close the reactor. He personally flew over the area of the reactor, thus receiving a large dose of radiation.
Many liquidators were awarded posthumously. A list of them could be found here. When you look, pay attention to the dates of death. Almost all of them died a few weeks after the accident.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster occurred on March 11, 2011, as a result of the strongest earthquake in the history of the country and the subsequent tsunami. The Fukushima disaster was the most significant nuclear incident since the Chornobyl disaster and the second disaster to be given the Level 7 event classification of the International Nuclear Event Scale.
The liquidators of the accident were often called “kamikaze” or “nuclear samurai.”
These people almost did not communicate with the media or with their relatives. According to the testimony of the journalists, they were well aware that they would be subjected to high doses of radiation and were doomed to death.
Who were these people? Some were station workers; while the others have lost their loved ones during the tsunami.
Living conditions were very difficult. They ate mostly canned food and ate very little.
To liquidators used special protective suits, helmets, and gloves. Every day, workers were given a new suit to avoid the accumulation of radiation on clothes.
In total, 500-600 people worked in the emergency complex. Almost all of them stayed overnight right on its territory, slept on sheets of lead. There was no place to wash, therefore alcohol wipes were used.
Those who received a significant dose of radiation were exempted from work at the station.
The media got letters from some of the “nuclear samurai.”
Here is the text of one of the letters:
“This is (name removed) from the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant. I saw you several times at various events. I was glad to receive a letter from you. I wrote in the hope that many people would understand the situation at the accident site.
I was encouraged by the support message from (name removed). Although our struggle is still in full swing, and realizing that we are supported by a person like (name removed) is a relief for us. I just would like people to understand that there are a lot of people at nuclear power plants who are struggling with an accident in harsh circumstances. This is all I want.
Crying is useless. If we were in hell, then all we can do is to crawl towards heaven. Please be alert and remember the hidden power of nuclear energy. I will definitely ensure that we provide the restoration of work.
I would like to ask you to continue to support us. Thank you very much.”