By Piers Paul Read
On twenty sixth April 1986 the nuclear reactor of the fourth unit of the V.I. Lenin power-station at Chernobyl exploded. It used to be a disaster of ancient proportions - many thousands suffered, and endured to endure, from the implications. To chronicle this catastrophe and its aftermath, Piers Paul learn interviewed the engineers and operators who have been accomplishing the fateful try out at the evening of twenty fifth April; he talked to the director of the power-station, serving a ten-year sentence for negligence; and he went to the hitherto top-secret institutes as soon as run via Beria's Ministry for Medium laptop construction - the Kurchatov Institute, Moscow's health facility No 6, and the once-closed urban of Obninsk. during this account, learn takes good thing about the declassification of nuclear details within the former Soviet Union and the loosening of tongues that the failure of the coup in 1991. He additionally won entry to the trial transcripts, the protocol of the hitherto mystery scientific fee, and different exclusive stories. the result's not just the tale of the disaster, but in addition a parable approximately totalitarianism and its cave in.
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Extra info for Ablaze: Story of Chernobyl
It seemed much more sensible to provide for the shortfall in energy by a rapid expansion of nuclear power. It was for this reason that the full authority of the Central Committee and the Soviet government came down on the side of Alexandrov. Dollezhal’s article, which some had seen as the beginning of a debate, turned out to be a flash in the pan. No further criticisms were published; Alexandrov, assisted by Legasov, made sure that the journal Atomenergo rejected any articles that dealt with the question of safety.
To marshal the resources for such a huge undertaking, Stalin appointed as overall director of the atom bomb project the Georgian chief of his secret police, the NKVD, Lavrenty Beria. The terror inspired by his NKVD would ensure the project’s secrecy and concentrate the minds of those called upon to provide the resources. Beria also controlled many of the resources himself – the uranium mines worked by prisoners, and the huge network of gulags where many of the best physicists were to be found. In the terrible purges of the 1930s, when anyone with a bourgeois background was a potential enemy of the people and professionals in the tens of thousands were incarcerated on any pretext whatsoever – a chance remark, an unfortunate friendship or the anonymous denunciation of an envious colleague – many eminent physicists had been arrested and transported to labour camps in Siberia.
Equally significant is the effect of Chernobyl on our attitude towards nuclear power. Confidence was already shaken by the accident at Three Mile Island, after which no new nuclear power stations have been commissioned in the United States. In the wake of Chernobyl, some forty reactors in the Soviet Union that were either in operation, under construction or about to be built were closed, cancelled or converted to thermal power. In Austria, a brand-new nuclear power station was mothballed, its cost paid by public subscription.