April 27th – The evacuation of Pripyat begins. Residents are told to only being essentials as the evacuation will be temporary – they are told they will be able to return in three days. No announcement is made to the global community or within the greater Soviet Union.

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ANNA

There was no sign.

Sometimes, your palm itches and you know to get ready. But today, no signs.

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April 28th – Workers at Forsmark Nuclear Power plant in Sweden notice radioactive particles on their clothing, testing revealed that the particles were not from the Swedish plant. This was the first sign of a serious nuclear problem in the Soviet Union.

– Later that day the first reports out of the Soviet Union arrive. They state there has been an accident at the Chernobyl Power Plant and there are casualties. A committee is formed to investigate.

April 29th – The accident is reported in German news.

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VASILY

It look less than a week for Chornobyl to become a problem for the entire world.

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May 5th – Evacuations conclude for the 30-km zone around Chernobyl. 130,000 people have been evacuated over this 10 day period.

– Firefighters are finally successful in putting out the remaining fires. This brings a reduction in the amount of radiation being released.

May 8th – Workers conclude the work of pumping out radioactive water from the drain pool in the reactor. Over the course of this operation they removed 20,000 metric tons of highly radioactive water. Two of the three men involved later died of radiation sickness.

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A SOLITARY HUMAN VOICE

The skin on his arms and legs began to crack. Covered in blisters. When he turns his head, clumps of hair remain on his pillow. I try to joke about it. “It’s handy, you won’t have to carry a comb.”

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May 23rd – A government committee orders that iodine be distributed to those who may have been exposed. This late after exposure, however, iodine treatments are completely ineffective as any radiation would have already accumulated in the thyroid glands.

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VASILY

We must immediately give prophylactic iodine treatment to the population and move out everyone living close to the station.

STEPANOV

Had a phone call. From the Kremlin. From Gorbachev. Something about not starting a panic in Belarussia. The West is making too much of it already.

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November 15th – A concrete ‘sarcophagus’ is created to enclose the still radioactive reactor.

December 22nd – The Soviet government announces that the sarcophagus now enclosing the reactor was only designed for a lifespan of 20 – 30 years.