After the nuclear accident occurred a radioactive mess had to be cleared up.
Over all 800.000 people attended in this process. First just the plant staff and the fire fighters. Later, also soldier and workers.
134 of them were so heavily contaminated that they were suffering from radiation sickness.
The estimated number of deaths over the years lays around 2.200 people.
None of the liquidators was informed about the radioactivity they were exposed to especially not the fire fighters.
They didn’t wear any protection clothes due to the fact that the emergency caller was just informed about a simple fire. Not about the reactor core being open.
One task besides putting off the fire in the liquidation process was to tidy up the roof of reactor building number 3.
First the army/ government/ scientists sent robots on the roof which should have cleaned up.
They were operating for a couple of moments but then started to fail due to the high level of radiation.
This was the reason why the responsible sent humans on the roof. They were collecting the radioactive debris and threw them back into the ruin of reactor number 4.
The workers were just allowed to stay 45 seconds on this roof due to the radiation levels being extremely high and lethal. The only protection they had was a lead shield/ vest, a gas mask and gloves.
But the dangerous work had to be done on the basis of another explosion being possible. The fall-out of this third explosion would have made the biggest parts of middle and eastern Europe being uninhabitable.
Now the most important part in the liquidation process:
3 brave man had to dive under the plant because its basement was mostly flooded.
They were called the “suicide squad “.
Just one man who was available by that time knew the location to release the collected water. One of the plant engineers named Alexei Ananenko.
Alongside with Valeri Bezpalov and Boris Baranow, was carrying out the order.
They had the chance to refuse the mission but they „luckily“ didn’t do so.
Those 3 men released the valve in time. With doing so they saved the world from a disaster that would have been exponential.
By the time all three men surfaced under the reactor, they were showing signs of radiation poisoning.
The possibility would have been big, if they failed, that reactor number 3,2 and 1 also would explode under the eruption of a new explosion from reactor number 4.
The last task of the liquidation process was the following:
Miners were recruited to dig a tunnel underneath reactor number 4 within just a couple of weeks.
If the reactor core would have melted to the cooling water or ground water located underneath the reactor it would have contaminated the ground water for the whole region surrounded.
The miners did as well wear protective clothes. But they were avoiding to wear it caused by the heat underneath the reactor.
Most of them didn’t wear shirts. Just pants, gloves, a hat and a mouth cover.
When the tunnel was finished it was filled with concrete.
All liquidators which died within a few weeks were buried in lead coffins which were covered by concrete to not expose too much radiation coming from their bodies to the environment.
Source of all pictures on this side: google.com