The Chernobyl disaster is one of the greatest nuclear catastrophes that humanity has ever had to face. But even in such an event of colossal loss, there were heroes, as there always are. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, killing an estimated 4,000 people. But if it weren’t for 3 men, that death count would have been higher. A lot higher! Potentially even in the millions.
There was a fire directly underneath the damaged reactor that was causing the reactor to sink, which, if left unfixed, would soon cause the reactor to collapse into a room below, filled with water. If this were to happen, a huge steam explosion would have ensued, spewing radiation, flattening the land, poisoning 30 million people’s drinking water, and leaving Northern Ukraine uninhabitable for centuries.
On the first night, two men, unfortunately not the most skilled, attempted to fix it. They thought they knew what to do and spent hours pumping radioactive water, whilst submerged waist deep in it. They wished to open a closed valve. Sadly, their theory was incorrect, and their act of heroism went all in vain. Both died soon after. Five days later, the problem had still not been solved. A group of soldiers were briefed on the stakes, and told what would happen, should the inevitable occur. They were also told that if they volunteered, their families would be handsomely rewarded and taken care of.
Three men volunteered. Alexei Ananenko, an engineer who knew the location of the valves that did need to be opened, and two soldiers, Valeri Bezpalov and Boris Baranov. They suited up, and, determined to save their country, departed on their mission! They knew it was suicide, and there were far better ways to attempt suicide than this one, but they also knew what was at stake. The men swam into the radioactive water and were off.
A little while later, all three emerged! They were suffering from severe radiation poisoning but had successfully opened the valves! Had this not been done, then an explosion wouldn’t have been a possibility, but a certainty! Some of the water had already been drained, and this led to lower levels of radiation. All three men lived to tell the tale, and in the process, saved 30,000,000 people! Even in the most tragic moments, one can truly find a ray of inspiration and heroism that probably needs more appreciation than it received.