Chernobyl remains worst nuclear accident in history

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Dr. T. Douglas Reilly

The 1986 accident that destroyed Unit-4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station in Ukraine was indeed the worst nuclear accident at that time. The effort of the station staff to extinguish the fire caused by the fuel meltdown was truly heroic.

I saw satellite photos of the burning reactor in a colloquium at LANL shortly after the explosion and fire occurred. Two workers in Unit-4 died from physical injuries caused by the explosion; 28 workers and firemen died from acute radiation doses after flying in helicopters over the reactor to drop sand and fire retardant chemicals.

These volunteers were told beforehand that the time over the fire was only a few seconds and that there was a high probability they might receive a lethal dose. They were awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union posthumously.

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