Grado de dificultad: 3 (por el idioma, y porque se trata de un peligro mortal e invisible)

Columnista: Roberto

An incomplete telling

When I first heard about the HBO mini serie “ChernobyI”, I thought it was a documental and was very eager to see it.

I just finished watching it and I am disappointed. It was just a film with actors. Here is the trailer:

There is so many things we want to know about this key event of the twentieth century. They are not there either.

Well, it was not all that bad, there are some interesting moments: like when they describe the process of energy generation with a RBMK reactor, at the end (which is scary).

There is a clever post in The New Yorker, that lists several of its good and bad sides:

Let me add some more:

The scientists described in it seem to be working in almost garages, with no decent tools: very hard to believe, especially knowing the obsession USSR had about scientific progress.

Choosing to represent all of them through a single character, Ulana Khomyuk is somehow unfair to the many scientists that risked their reputation, career and even life.

The whole eastern scientist community took part in that fight.

There is another statement that bothered me much: says the serie, people from Pripyat were described as completely unaware of what was happening…

People living close to a nuclear plant and not being concerned, come on! And Pripyat was built initially for the nuclear plant employees.

The truth is far more stunning: when the infamous reactor 4 exploded, people understood instantly what was happening. Even so, they didn’t hesitate to run to fight the disaster.

What they didn’t know was the extend of the danger they were facing (how could they). Their admirable behavior is almost absent from the serie.

On the other end, the serie insists upon the huge amount of resources (human and equipment) that were allowed to the fight, which has been well documented.

So, Russians were the heroes and the Ukrainians only there to die. OK, then!

But let us be fair: a lot of Russians (I mean basic dudes) actually gave away their health and lives to clean this disaster.

The Atlantic published a nice set of true photos taken at Chernobyl, that show it:

One example:



Mikhail Gorbachev said that the Chernobyl catastrophe was a key element that ended the Soviet Union regime. Ironically, he was a progressist who was managing to change it.

As everyone knows, Ukrainians and Russians not like each other very much today, and there is nothing that Mr Putin can do about it (not that he didn’t try).

Unsurprisingly, Chernobyl is a trending theme right now. This is one of the good efects of this new commercial hit.

And, of course, the spotlight is put on the French case. The french Atomic Agency is known to have concealed information on the level of contamination when the contamination cloud arrived there:

There is a good reason for that: France is mainly powered by nuclear plants, as we reported in a former article (in Spanish):

They meet increasing troubles to justify the technology.

This time, again, they get out to do some damage control, even succeeding in having published reinsuring articles like the following (in French):

A clever piece (the “comments” on it are also very juicy), that shows how precisely they know they are wrong, but don’t care.

The real prohibited zone

The event occurred on April 26th 1986, 33 year ago, triggering a “short term evacuation”. The broadcasted message was the following (extracted from Wikipedia page).

For the attention of the residents of Pripyat! The City Council informs you that due to the accident at Chernobyl Power Station in the city of Pripyat the radioactive conditions in the vicinity are deteriorating. The Communist Party, its officials and the armed forces are taking necessary steps to combat this. Nevertheless, with the view to keep people as safe and healthy as possible, the children being top priority, we need to temporarily evacuate the citizens in the nearest towns of Kiev region. For these reasons, starting from 27 April 1986, 14:00 each apartment block will be able to have a bus at its disposal, supervised by the police and the city officials. It is highly advisable to take your documents, some vital personal belongings and a certain amount of food, just in case, with you. The senior executives of public and industrial facilities of the city has decided on the list of employees needed to stay in Pripyat to maintain these facilities in a good working order. All the houses will be guarded by the police during the evacuation period. Comrades, leaving your residences temporarily please make sure you have turned off the lights, electrical equipment and water and shut the windows. Please keep calm and orderly in the process of this short-term evacuation”.

Nature claimed back a space were a whole city was. It is now a forest:

The animals are back in this wild habitat:

Note: the area is still contaminated and will remain so for decades (or centuries, depending on the “officially acceptable” level of radiation).

Yep, nuclear contamination will last for a long while.