In Ukraine, the man who was the director of Chernobyl nuclear power plant died during the biggest atomic disaster in history. Viktor Bryuchanov died at the age of 85.
Bryuchanov, who was involved in the Chernobyl power plant from construction, was at home when a call was made in the middle of the night on 26 April 1986 that something had gone wrong. A simulated emergency had ended up in a real disaster and the reactor had exploded. The director tried to call the team leader, but no one answered at Reactor 4.
Earlier, we took this look back at the devastating nuclear disaster:
Bryuchanov drove to the complex by a service bus. Thats where it started to challenge him how serious the situation really was. “When I passed Reactor 4, I saw that the top part was gone. I realized there had been an explosion.” He didnt dare to think that a meltdown had taken place as well.
“My father returned home after 24 hours and it seemed like he had aged 15 years,” his son told us in a VRT documentary about the disaster last year. Bryuchanov, according to his own say, was exposed to 50 times the permitted amount of radiation.
Although the plant had been hit by an unprecedented nuclear disaster, the Soviet authorities initially tried to keep developments secret for fear of loss of vision. The first indication that something went wrong was the increased radioactivity measured in the West.
only a week and a half after the disaster that the Soviet Union, which Ukraine belonged at the time, gave a press conference on the disaster. At that time, the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people from the region had already begun. The “alienation zone” with a radius of 30 kilometres around the factory still applies.
thirty people died shortly after the disaster: two people died due to the explosion, the rest quickly died of radiation sickness. In the decades since, an unprecedented number of others died from the effects of radioactivity.
5 years of forced labour
Bryuchanov was one of five people convicted of his role in the disaster, he received ten years of forced labor and was expelled from the party. He was released after the fall of the Soviet Union, when he had served five years.
In later years he admitted that staff had made mistakes, but also insisted that design errors in the plant had been covered up. “A web of lies has made the search for the real causes more difficult,” he once said. “If the reactors emergency system was installed normally, there would never have been an accident.”