On April 26, 1988, Valery Legasov records himself condemning Anatoly Dyatlov for the Chernobyl disaster and Dyatlov’s light ...read more On April 26, 1988, Valery Legasov records himself condemning Anatoly Dyatlov for the Chernobyl disaster and Dyatlov’s light prison sentence. After hiding the tapes outside his home, Legasov hangs himself. Two years and one minute earlier, in Pripyat, firefighter Vasily Ignatenko and his pregnant wife Lyudmilla witness the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploding. At the plant, Dyatlov ignores his subordinates Akimov, Toptunov, and others as they assess the damage and realize one of the nuclear reactor cores is exposed, burning, and cannot be manually shut down. Responding to the fire at the plant, Vasily sees another firefighter pick up a block of nuclear graphite debris and rapidly suffer radiation burns on his hand. Viktor Bryukhanov and Nikolai Fomin receive a report from Dyatlov, but faulty information and overconfidence in the RBMK reactor design lead Dyatlov and the Pripyat executive committee to under-report the incident. Dyatlov falls ill from ARS, and Sitnikov, reporting the true severity of the incident, is sent to the roof for confirmation and exposed to lethal doses of radiation. On orders from Mikhail Gorbachev, Legasov is instructed by Boris Shcherbina to supervise the Chernobyl committee. show less
Seven hours after the explosion, Ulana Khomyuk discovers a spike in radiation levels in Minsk. She deduces an incident has ...read more Seven hours after the explosion, Ulana Khomyuk discovers a spike in radiation levels in Minsk. She deduces an incident has occurred at Chernobyl, and when her concerns are dismissed by the Central Committee, she heads to Chernobyl herself. At Pripyat’s overloaded hospital, Lyudmilla finds that Vasily has been evacuated to Moscow with other ARS patients. In Moscow, Legasov explains to Gorbachev that the situation is more serious than reported, and is sent to Chernobyl with a skeptical Scherbina. From a helicopter, Legasov points out graphite debris and a blue glow from ionizing radiation, indicating the core is exposed. Convinced, Shcherbina confronts Bryukhanov and Fomin, who accuse Legasov of misinformation, but General Vladimir Pikalov uses a high-range dosimeter to prove the high radiation levels. Legasov instructs the military to suppress the fire with sand and boron, which proves risky. As news of the incident spreads, Pripyat is finally evacuated. Khomyuk arrives and warns Legasov and Shcherbina about the risk of a bigger steam explosion from contact between corium and water pooling in the basement underneath the reactor. Legasov asks Gorbachev to order a lethal mission to drain the water, and Alexei Ananenko, Valeri Bezpalov, and Boris Baranov volunteer. show less
The basement is successfully drained, but a nuclear meltdown has begun and threatens to contaminate the groundwater. Shcherbina ...read more The basement is successfully drained, but a nuclear meltdown has begun and threatens to contaminate the groundwater. Shcherbina and Legasov convince Gorbachev that a heat exchanger is needed under the plant, for which Mikhail Shchadov recruits Tula coal miners, led by Glukhov, to excavate a tunnel in extremely adverse conditions. Shcherbina warns Legasov that they are under KGB surveillance. Legasov sends Khomyuk to a Moscow hospital, where she finds Dyatlov uncooperative but learns from dying Toptunov and Akimov that the plant exploded after Akimov pressed the shutdown button, a scenario thought impossible. Bribing her way into the hospital and lying about her pregnancy, Lyudmilla is allowed to visit Vasily but disobeys orders, staying longer and touching her husband. Following Vasily's death, Khomyuk finds Lyudmilla; aware of Lyudmilla's pregnancy, she threatens to report everything to the committee and is arrested by KGB spies, but is released on Legasov's insistence. As Shcherbina and Legasov report their decontamination plans requiring the mass mobilization of liquidators to the Central Executive Committee, Lyudmilla stands among other relatives of ARS victims as Vasily, sealed in a zinc casket, is buried in concrete at a mass grave. show less
An old woman refuses to evacuate the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, declaring she did not flee previous threats; a soldier forces her ...read more An old woman refuses to evacuate the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, declaring she did not flee previous threats; a soldier forces her to leave by killing her cow. Chernobyl liquidator commander General Nikolai Tarakanov deploys Lunokhod programme rovers to clear the plant's roof for the sarcophagus. After a West German police robot fails on the most irradiated level, Tarakanov is forced to send his men to clear it by hand. Civilian draftee Pavel is paired with Soviet–Afghan War veteran Bacho to patrol the Zone, shooting abandoned animals due to radioactive contamination. Khomyuk investigates the Moscow archives and confronts Dyatlov, who knows the government is not interested in the truth. Meeting away from KGB bugs, Shcherbina and Legasov inform Khomyuk they must testify as experts in the trial of Dyatlov, Bryukhanov, and Fomin, and Legasov will address the International Atomic Energy Agency. Khomyuk reveals an article about an identical incident at the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant in 1975, suppressed by the KGB, and tells them Lyudmilla gave birth to a girl who soon died from radiation poisoning. Khomyuk urges Legasov to tell the IAEA the complete truth, while Shcherbina urges caution to avoid government retaliation. show less
Valery Legasov, Boris Shcherbina and Ulana Khomyuk risk their lives and reputations to expose the truth about Chernobyl.