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Chernobyl nuclear accident

Chernobyl Nuclear Accident, 1986

The disastrous meltdown in the 4th reactor of the Chernobyl (Chornobyl) Atomic Electrical Station occurred on April 26th, 1986. This collection contains Ukrainian and national KGB reports, Communist Party directives, and Ukrainian Academy of Science measurements which discuss technical issues with the plant, details of the accident, and emergency responses across the republic. It shows that updates from the construction site and first few years of plant operation were dire as early as the 1970s. The collection also demonstrates that the government failed to inform the public of the true scope of radiation damage for years after the accident. Adam Higgonbotham, author of Midnight in Chernobyl, introduces parts of the collection in an essay for Sources & Methods. See also the Digital Archive collection on Ukrainian Nuclear History.

Chernobyl nuclear accident

Popular Documents

April 27, 1986

Untitled notice on levels of radiation in Chernobyl NPP and steps taken in response

The document refers to the level of radiation in the area affected and the measures undertaken for planned evacuations.

May 3, 1986

Deputy Head of the 6th Department of the KGB Administration Lieut. Col. Aksenov, 'Notice of Emergency Incident'

This note explains the processes of localizing the effects of the accident, lead deposits in the area, and the evacuation of collective farms and the city of Chernobyl.

May 8, 1986

Notice: Information from Places of Evacuation

Two weeks after the accident, an unnamed KGB officer from the Ukrainian SSR reports on the situation in evacuation sites, the sentiment of local people, the situation in transportation hubs and at key industrial facilities in Kyiv, as well as about the measures taken to prevent foreign journalists from gathering information about the case.

April 2, 1973

Memo Report from the Head of the KGB Administration under the Ukr. SSR Council of Ministers for Kiev Oblast, Fesenko, to Comrade Tsybulko V.M., First Secretary of the Kiev Oblast Committee of the CP of Ukraine

This document discusses the violation of technical rules of reinforcement and concrete work in the construction of the Chernobyl plant, concluding that these deficiencies will diminish the quality of the energy output.

May 20, 1983

Colonel A.I. Samoilov, Head of the 3rd Department of the 6th Service of the KGB Administration of the USSR for the City of Moscow, 'Information about Several Problems in the Use of Atomic Energy Stations in the USSR'

This document discusses weaknesses in the technical designs of nuclear power plants in the USSR and their potential consequences, concluding that the Leningrad, Kursk, and Chernobyl plants are extremely dangerous.