viernes, 27 de diciembre de 2013

“Liquidator”, much more than a colloquial term

The liquidator word appeared as a colloquialism. However, soon it acquired content, being the exact word engraved in Soviet medals and badges that were given to people involved in the liquidation of the disaster. It must be said that it was a diverse workforce. This post will abound in the scope to be given to the term ‘liquidador’ from the scrutiny -not exhaustive- of the roles who participated in the infernal liquidation of Chernobyl and its collateral effects.

Nuclear Emergency… working all together
The management of the Chernobyl nuclear emergency involved many jobs with different levels of responsibility. The first to confront the reality without a clear awareness of the seriousness and depth of the accident were the technicians working in the reactors, led by Anatoly Dyatlov.
When they got to knowledge that the catastrophe was imminent and unstoppable, the plant staff was seconded by firefighters and the brigades of civil defense of the Soviet Armed Forces, who worked intensively in removing contaminating materials and deactivation of the reactor itself.
Also offered a helping hand the internal brigades and police in charge of security, access control and evacuation of the civilian people from the population centers closest to the plant (since then Prypiat is a ghost town).

Likewise, the Soviet air force and civil aviation took part in the assistance running critical flight operations with helicopters, transportation and monitoring of radioactive contamination.
The emergence also attracted many civilians with scientific training, engineers and industrial and construction workers. Carriers also did their work by providing supplies and staff mobility, in addition to make it possible the evacuation of Prypiat in record time, which at the time of the accident, had a population of around 50,000.
A team of coal miners built a huge barrier to protect the aquifer beneath the damaged reactor from contamination.
Finally, were involved in the Chernobyl nuclear chaos the professionals of the mass media, who provided information on the field, or those photographers who took snapshots of that gruesome operations theater and of the liquidators themselves while were performing their lethal operations.
Carcinogenicity rate of Liquidators was calculated as four times higher than that of the rest of population. The drip of deaths, ceaseless.

Collateral damage and casualties
In the houses of the exclusion area the health personnel –civilians and military- played their role. They were helped by legions of female-cleaners whose mission was to eliminate food left in the houses evacuated to prevent an epidemic outbreak of unseen proportions. One detail not minor was the need for a few squadrons concentrating in the extermination of all domestic animals, left behind in abandoned homes on the run for a sinister exodus.

“Never again”
The lesson of the catastrophe impels the Western society to proclaim a ‘Never again’, thanking the liquidators their self-denying sacrifice. There were thousands of anonymous and heroic workers, and a few who escaped to anonymity. Among these, the deputy Volodymyr Pravik, head of a fire brigade, has been one of the most popular and also an immediate victim of the disaster.
Better luck had Anatoly Stepanovich Dyatlov, nuclear technician who supervised the reactor 4 test the fateful day of the accident. He was accused of “criminal bad management of potentially explosive industry” and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, of which he served just 5. He wrote the book “Chernobyl. How it happened” in which he proclaims that deficiencies in plant design, maintenance conditions, along with obsolete technology, were the main causes of the accident instead of staff’s human errors. Dyatlov received a radiation dose of 550 rem (5.5 sievert). He died of heart failure in 1995.

Read Spanish version