Nearly 5,000 sq km of Bulgarian territory are exposed to the same radiation pollution as the most severely affected areas in Belarus after the Chernobyl explosion – with 37-185 becquerel / sq m. This happened 35 years ago during the most sinister nuclear accident – the one at the Lenin nuclear power plant. It is officially recognized as the worst accident in the history of nuclear energy. Along with the Fukushima I accident in 2011, it is one of two level 7 events on the scale of international nuclear events.

Residents of the worst-hit city of Pripyat were only informed of the incident the next day. Their evacuation began by bus at 2:00 pm on April 27th.

The authorities officially denounced the accident two days after the incident, through a laconic 20-second television message, which read: “There has been an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, one of the reactors is damaged.

The consequences of the accident have been eliminated. Assistance will be provided to those affected and a commission of inquiry has been set up. ”

In Bulgaria, the news officially arrives much later. Thus unsuspecting children and young people were exposed to radioactive rains in dozens of cities during the May Day demonstrations.

Ten days after the accident, a forbidden zone was established within a radius of 30 km around the plant and from it the evacuation of the population began. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian party leadership is deeply concerned about the accident, but not about people’s health, but about the implementation of the electricity production plan.

Despite all attempts to cover up and minimize the incident, the then Soviet government suffered severe economic losses that led to a severe economic and political crisis.

Handling the accident and preventing a second explosion cost the USSR $ 18 billion in less than six months.

More than 600,000 reservists, military and civilians are working to shut down the reactor and avoid a second explosion, rather than avoiding infecting the Pripyat River, reducing radioactive dust, limiting the spread of radiation to animals, building a bypass wall and much more. . During the reclamation work, remote-controlled machines were used to remove the most radioactive residues. However, this equipment was damaged due to the difficult conditions. The most radioactive waste must be cleaned with military shovels and heavy protective equipment.

Thus, in order not to endanger their health, those responsible for reclamation could only work 40 seconds on the roof of the plant and only once. However, due to the lack of sufficient manpower, they all performed this role at least 5-6 times.

The direct victims of the accident were 213 people – firefighters and rescuers, hospitalized immediately after the accident. 31 of them died mainly from acute radiation sickness. A total of 135,000 people were evacuated from the crash site, including 45,000 from the nearby city of Pripyat. Many others were indirectly affected by radiation, the effects of which on health and the environment became evident after years. Much of the radioactive dust fell at high altitudes (such as the Alps). Due to the high concentration of radiation around the plant after the accident, the forest in the area turned red and died. That is why it is called “Red Forest”. The animals living in the forest also died or stopped reproducing.

The high level of pollution is due to the lack of an additional reactor safety circuit which was not built to save money. In this way the radioactive contamination spreads into the atmosphere. The concrete sarcophagus built after the accident plays the role of a protective contour and has an expected life span of 30 years. In November 2017, a new sarcophagus called Arco was completed, which is located on the old concrete shell. This new sarcophagus is expected to last 100 years.

The accident at the 4th reactor of the Lenin Nuclear Power Plant on April 26, 1986 was caused by an error during an exercise. An accident in the Ukrainian power grid was simulated, in which the reactor and its management do not receive power from neighboring power plants.


Improving public knowledge about the role of Civil Society Organizations

The project “Improving public knowledge about the role of Civil Society Organizations” shall be implemented with the financial support of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway under the EEA Financial Mechanism. The main goal of the project is to improve citizens’ awareness of the role of non-governmental organizations in society. This material is established with the financial support of the Active Citizens Fund of Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area. The whole responsibility for the content of the document is held by the Public Environmental Center for Sustainable Development and under no circumstances can this material be considered to reflect the official opinion of the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and the Active Citizens Fund of Bulgaria.