Ural federal university: In the Exclusion Zone: 35 Years of the Chernobyl Tragedy

On April 26, 1986, 35 years ago, the Chernobyl tragedy occurred, the consequences of which are still being felt today. Students and teachers of the Department of Physics of the Ural Polytechnic Institute (now Ural Federal University) were also sent to the liquidation.

First Unit

On May 5, 10 days after the accident, the then Head of the Department of Physical Methods and Quality Control Devices Vsevolod Kortov received a phone call from the Deputy Director of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, graduate of UPI V. Zakharov. Zakharov asked for help in finding dosimetrist staff. At that time they started to form a team to eliminate consequences of the accident. At the end of June, a plane with 25 recruits took off in Kiev and left for the exclusion zone. Igor Antsygin, a second-year graduate student of the Physics Department, was appointed commander and Kortov was appointed supervisor.

The Sverdlovsk unit was in the area for 38 days and was engaged in dosimetric control of the houses in Pripyat. In mid-summer, the townspeople, driven out of their homes with only their documents, were allowed to pick up their belongings.

“When you go into an apartment with family members and say that they can’t take this thing out, you turn into an enemy for them. There were threats, insults, pleas, and attempts to negotiate. It was psychologically difficult for the students,” said Igor Antsygin.

At the secondary control, the squad already had the support of the police. However, if even there the subject was not passed, a second wave of insults and threats began. We had to chop things with an axe right on the border if they did not pass the control.

The Second Unit

In summer 1987, the second group of 21 students of the Physics Department went to the exclusion zone. It consisted of members of the Faculty of Physics and Technology, “supervising” the rest of the students. Among them were Sergei Bazhukov, Vyacheslav Grigoryev, Alexei Kudashev, and Vladimir Ivanov. Before this, the guys were briefed on the work in the restricted area.

In addition, the military were also sent. For example, Alexander Schmidt, a leading engineer of the cyclotron laboratory at PTI, was sent to the exclusion zone as a chemist by military profession.

“We were drafted there for 180 days, but in fact people stayed there much less – they were quickly gaining dose. We went there in the second half of 1987. First, we were drafted to Zlatoust – there was a depot to replenish the military district’s tent city around Chernobyl. We ended up in the Odessa district – it was on the border of the 30-kilometer zone, near the village of Starye Sokoly,” said Alexander Schmidt.

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