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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Chernobyl 1.3: The Reasons

The reason that Chernobyl happened is, as in most catastrophes, actually many interlocking reasons.  Had any of them not been in play, the explosion likely wouldn't have occurred.  You can read all about them, for starters, on Wikipedia, if you're interested.  Tonight on Chernobyl 1.3 Ulana Khomyuk begins to explore them.   As is always the case with these complex, cascading causes, nothing makes sense or seems possible at first as the cause of the accident.   And in Khomyuk's case, it's not helped either by two of the three main managers dying after her initial interview with them, and the third unwilling to talk to her, at least at present.

The greater truth is that, whatever the causes, splitting the atom is just not a safe way to generate energy.   That's why Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima all happened for different reasons.  It's not that almost anything can go with generation of energy from fission.  It's that there are so many parts that have to be operating, if not perfectly, at least within margins of error, that sooner or later something will go wrong, at a very wrong time, or an external event like an earthquake will set in motion that cascade of destructive events, as happened at Fukushima.

The ensuing tragedy extends to all sorts of loss of human life, including heroes who knowingly sacrifice their lives to stave off a greater disaster.  That was well shown tonight with the Soviet miners who had to shed their clothes, it was so hot, to stop the concrete floor from melting.  The lack of clothes didn't really matter, as Legasov has to admit, because the clothes offered no protection against the deadly radiation.  This made a grim and harrowing counterpoint to Lyudmilla Ignatenko not only seeing but hugging her stricken husband Vasily in the Moscow hospital.   Her love for her husband was so strong that she what was not only willing to put her own life in jeopardy, but that of their unborn baby.   Exposure to radiation and its horrors scrambles every human equation.

This mini-series is not easy to watch, to say the least.  But it is vitally important for everyone to see.

See also: Chernobyl 1.1: The Errors of Arrogance ... Chernobyl 1.2: The Horror Movie


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