This was posted on the original blog in 2007.

I am posting this because:

(a) I need a break from the next play I am writing

(b) I am going to develop the character of Stepanov further for the next Draft of Chronicle of the Future

(c) the bbc site is very extensive

1986: Soviets admit nuclear accident

The Soviet Union has acknowledged there has been an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. The report, from the official news agency, Tass, said there had been casualties but gave no details of numbers. It said aid was being sent to the injured.

The report said that one of the reactors had been damaged in the accident, but gave no further details beyond saying that measures were being taken to “eliminate the consequences of the accident”. It also claimed the accident was the first at a Soviet power station.

The report was the first confirmation of a major nuclear catastrophe since monitoring stations in Sweden, Finland and Norway began reporting sudden high discharges of radioactivity in the atmosphere two days ago.

Meltdown

The accident is believed to be the most serious in the history of nuclear power, worse even than that at the Three-Mile Island power station in the United States in 1979, when there was some release of radioactivity but nobody was injured.

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant, just north of Kiev, consists of four nuclear reactors, known as light-water cooled, graphite-moderated reactors – a type hardly used outside the Soviet Union.

Nuclear experts say the levels of radioactivity recorded indicate that the nuclear core of the damaged reactor may have melted down.

Full-scale alert

The number of casualties, both immediately and in the future, from radiation sickness, is expected to be high, although the exact number may never be known. It is not believed, however, that there is any risk to the health of anyone outside the Soviet Union.

The discharge of radioactivity was so great that by the time the fallout reached Sweden, 1,000 miles away, it was still powerful enough to register twice the natural level of radioactivity in the atmosphere.

The sudden jump in radioactivity levels was enough to prompt a full-scale alert in Sweden, which initially believed the accident had happened at its own nuclear power station, on the Baltic coast. The evacuation of 600 workers had been ordered before experts realised that the source of the radioactivity must have been within the Soviet Union.