Heroes of History - Chernorbyl

Hidden champions of Chernobyl

I would guess that you may be surprised that I have written an article relating to the events surrounding Chernobyl when I have only just done a show on the subject on Haunted Histories? But this subject matter has moved me to the extent that I feel that these men’s names needed to become better known – even if that is only to those who read this blog.

Most people have heard of Chernobyl as its effects were wide reaching and caused ripples in areas further afield than just Europe. Pripyat is a place that urban explorers long to reconnoitre, its legend as a nuclear ghost town and one that is frozen in time with its Ferris wheel, dodgem cars and abandoned swimming pool all iconic images ingrained in human conscious.

My show with Beth Darlington did touch on the events which led up to possibly the worst nuclear disaster in living history, but nobody mentions the men (and women) who were prepared to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. The Roof rats – as they were known – who went up to the destroyed reactor 4’s roof to sweep in the radioactive material into the gaping hole ready for the giant sarcophagus to be placed over it – those roof rats were doing something that even the most ingenious robotic devices could not and were absorbing levels of radioactivity that would cause terminal radiation poisoning with 5 minutes or less. The reactor workers who stayed on straight after the explosion despite knowing they were taking on board killer levels of radiation. The Fire fighters who again, didn’t consider their own safety but merely wanting to stop anything worse happening. The Doctor who rushed over from the hospital at Pripyat to help those who had already started to show the horrific symptoms of radiation poisoning.

That’s only a few of them, there were hundreds of thousands who risked their lives but there are three, who possibly saved Europe from nuclear disaster and rendering the whole continent uninhabitable.

Ten days after the initial explosion, the powers that be realised that the water cooling system had failed and a pool of water was amassing underneath the reactor. The concern was that a substance known as Corium – imagine radioactive lava - had formed from the melting graphite, nuclear fuel and molten concrete and was seeping through to this body of water. The only solution was to drain the pools as if the lava did drop into them, it could cause a resulting nuclear explosion of 3 to 5 megatons – Hiroshima was around 15 kilotons – to do this, somebody had to go into a pitch black badly damaged basement beneath a molten reactor core that was burning down towards them to manually turn the valves.

This job fell down to Alexei Ananenko, Valeri Bezpalov and Boris Baranov and the three men achieved their goal, they opened the valve, which drained the water and managed to avert a nuclear disaster of potentially cataclysmic proportions.

It’s always been believed that the three brave men died a few weeks after from severe radiation poisoning, a fact which most would not be surprised about considering how

close they were to the leaking reactor and the fact they spent some time wading through radioactive water. However, a book by Andrew Leatherbarrow called “1:23:40 The incredible true story of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster” proves this to be false, instead finding that Ananenko was still alive and working in the nuclear industry, Bezpalov still alive and Baranov only having passed away in 2005 from a heart attack.

Now if any of you are nuclear physicists, nuclear engineers or any type of nuclear fission expert I apologise for any scientific errors, the purpose of this was to highlight the suicidal missions that many of those went on to save us from annihilation and their complete lack of attention seeking after the event, so much so that they were happy for the general public to believe they had perished to enable them to carry on with their lives.

Brave men indeed, but it makes me wonder why their names aren’t more well known? Is it because of the secrecy surrounding the former Soviet Union? Is it that people have forgotten about Chernobyl? Or is it because these brave souls were never part of a reality tv show like Big Love Jungle Island or something that nobody really cares?

Well I care, and I thank them with all of my being for the sacrifice they were willing to make to save the world.

Please listen to the podcast on Haunted Histories regarding this amazing location https://www.spreaker.com/user/parasearchuk/haunted...

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