"At the start of the Chernobyl HBO miniseries, we see Valery Legasov smuggling his tapes out of his apartment. Yes. This is what we're told at the end of the miniseries, but according to the World Health Organization, it's not true. It appears that science has once again gone out the window in favor of dramatization. -The New York Times. Chernobyl would remain a functioning plant until it was shut down in 2000. -ForbesTo put things into perspective, the most severe energy disaster was the 1975 collapse of the Banqiao Hydroelectric Dam in China, which killed between 170,000 and 230,000 people. Had Craig Mazin, the show’s creator, stuck with the exact story, the show would have been dry, complicated, and boring for most people. Many of them were imprisoned for their outspokenness. If he did bleed, it would have had to have been due to thermal burns from the fires, steam burns, or where the hot steel door came into contact with his skin. Hugh Scott doesn’t believe aliens are hidden at Area 51 or that Elvis is alive, but he does believe birds are real and Meghan Markle isn’t treated fairly by the tabloids. Was the negligence of Human life by the Soviet State and it’s members this bad ? In the final line of the Chernobyl miniseries, Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) states, "where I once would fear the cost of truth, I only ask"—the screen fades out to black—"what is the cost of lies?" However, dozens of employees still work there, monitoring the electrical switches since the plant is still part of the grid. Very early on in Episode 1 of Chernobyl, a scene shows many of the townspeople gathering on a railroad overpass to watch. Also, the real Valery Legasov was married and had children. However, this is what has been reported in the media over the years, earning the bridge, which lies between the town of Pripyat and the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, its nickname The Bridge of Death. Russians have pointed out that the glassed-in balconies and insulated dual-pane windows visible in scenes of Pripyat would not have existed there in 1986, but that's likely more a constraint of the shooting location than a deliberate error. Yes. He responds, "Yes, I worked in a shoe factory. After the miniseries aired, Reuters reported a 40% increase in tourism to the Exclusion Zone. Then watch an interview with the miniseries' main villain, Anatoly Dyatlov. ... How accurate … A quick Chernobyl fact check reveals that in real life, Legasov wasn't present at the trial. RELATED: HBO's Chernobyl Miniseries Increases Tourism Of The Site By 40% 10 Accurate: The Suffering There are no two ways about it when talking about the Chernobyl disaster; many, many people were affected and suffered as a result of the power plant’s explosion. But as with all drama based on a true story, how much the Chernobyl is historically accurate? The other three reactors continued to operate after the accident. Chernobyl has been a critical success on HBO, we spoke to experts in the nuclear industry about how accurate the show actually was. Chernobyl is the gripping new HBO drama people are rating higher than Game of Thrones. a plant worker asks early in the miniseries. Though Legasov (Jared Harris) tells Boris Shcherbina (Stellan Skarsgård) this in the HBO miniseries, fact-checking Chernobyl reveals that Legasov actually wasn't an expert on Chernobyl's reactors. Citizens of Belarus and the Ukraine were "exposed to doses slightly above natural background radiation levels," states the WHO. That's a good message to include to set the record straight for all the Chernobyl viewers. To the miniseries credit, it doesn't actually show birth defects, though it is subtly implied as we see a number of pregnant women and babies. Series maker Craig Mazin explained that the intention was to make the events that unfolded in the show as true to the actual nuclear catastrophe as possible, according to a podcast he did about the series. Instead, Watson’s character is a composite of dozens of Soviet scientists who worked in Chernobyl in the aftermath of the accident. Like in the miniseries, following the explosion of Chernobyl's Reactor Number 4, they first tried using two Soviet STR-1 lunar rovers to remove the radioactive debris from the two lower level regions of the rooftop. Chernobyl survivors assess fact and fiction in TV series. This is also a smart decision, because everyone understands that this is a dramatic recreation and there is no reason to get bogged down in distracting accidents. In the miniseries, the elderly Bolshevik tells the men at the emergency meeting, "We seal off the city. What's not shown in the miniseries is that Legasov had attempted suicide prior and recovered in the hospital. The show's creator, Craig Mazin, said that he was never able to find out how Legasov disseminated the tapes, so he just fictionalized it by having a confederate come pick them up. Discover schedule information, behind the scenes exclusives, podcast information and more. They had been assigned to dig out an area under the concrete pad so that a heat exchanger (refrigeration unit) could be installed that would cool the space above it using liquid nitrogen. Amelia Ward. The events and following aftermath changed the world forever — so it's no wonder HBO and Sky's new series "Chernobyl" has been met with such phenomenal intrigue. This is another case of the writers smartly keeping things clean and easy for audiences to understand the complicated nature of the trial and the very complicated scientific process that produces nuclear fission. The Oxford review found that research that does show an increase in birth defects fails to include "data about confounding risk factors such as maternal alcohol intake and diet." A top US medical doctor who treated radiation victims in Chernobyl has criticized HBO’s depiction of the accident and radiation’s health effects as inaccurate and “dangerous.” No. In the end, they didn't need to. Surprise, surprise: Legasov's shining moment in the final … The series is again attempting to weaponize the radiation to remind us of warfare.Radiation isn't like a bullet. As with any historical depiction on film, writers and creators must make changes for the sake of drama, and Chernobyl was no different. No. Mon May 06, 2019 at 12:37am ET Sat Jul 04, 2020 at 12:37 am EDT By April Neale. The USSR had a history of training females for STEM positions.Like Valery Legasov (and Ulana Khomyuk in the miniseries), some of the other scientists who worked on the Chernobyl problem spoke out against the Soviet Union's official account of events. Nor would they have found themselves in the presence of Mikhail Gorbachev at the Kremlin not long after. He says their portrayal is "not a fiction, but a blatant lie." Tours into the Exclusion Zone, including to the ghost city of Pripyat and the Chernobyl plant itself, can be arranged through travel agencies. This was another conscious choice by Chernobyl’s creators. That is how we keep the people from undermining the fruits of their own labor." Why? The protective homemade uniforms with lead sheets that they wore were also discarded after each use since the material became highly radioactive. It is true that at the trial Dyatlov claimed that he was on the toilet and never told them to raise the power, a statement that was easily proven to be a lie. "He gave us 24 hours to gather our belongings," says miner Vladimir Naumov (, Lyudmilla Ignatenko did lose her husband and four-hour-old baby. This scene is full of stereotypical nonsense and a lack of understanding of the socioeconomic divisions in the Soviet Union. Mazin and the other producers did an amazing amount of research as the prepared to make the miniseries and it shows, but of course, not everything is 100% accurate. However, the lava never reached the pad. He would not have poured himself a glass of vodka in the middle of the day in front of a hostile stranger. However, they would not have been as directly defiant as Legasov and Khomyuk are in the miniseries. They faced similar denunciation as Legasov, in addition to arrest and imprisonment. It is far easier for audiences to follow one character than dozens and it provides a way for writers to keep the story succinct. Chernobyl concludes with a dramatic trial that mixes in flashbacks to the accident with audiences seeing the cause for the first time from inside the power plant. The character of Ulana Knomyuk was created to represent them all and honor their dedication and service to truth and humanity.”. Are they bombing?" This is one of the worst stereotypes in the HBO Chernobyl miniseries (the other being the ever-present KGB). According to Midnight in Chernobyl author Adam Higginbotham, Soviet scientists "were well aware of the faults of the RBMK reactor years before the accident" and "reactor specialists came down from Moscow within 36 hours of the explosion and quickly pinpointed its probable cause." Nuclear reactors can produce a blue hue from Cherenkov radiation, but that's not what caused the unique light. Chernobyl's showrunners have made it clear that they want their depiction to be as faithful to the real, lived events as possible. Was the higher-ups of the Plant as depicted in the show ? The trial was heavily compressed for the film. The truth about Chernobyl is that the disaster wasn't the result of one man's desire for a promotion, nor was it the collateral damage of one abusive boss. This is, of course, a common thing that happens in dramatic adaptations. In real life, how it affected their health would have depended on how long each resident remained outside watching and how much radioactive debris was actually reaching them during that time. He is shown threatening his underlings into carrying out the test, all because he wants a promotion. The 1986 incident is the inspiration behind HBO's 2019 latest dramatic miniseries, Chernobyl. A view of Chernobyl’s unit 4 … The first time audiences see this aspect is when Lyudmilla goes to the hospital to see her very sick husband, Pripyat firefighter Vasily Ignatenko, who is dying from severe radiation sickness. The initial fear of birth defects became so bad that women who lived in areas that were subjected to low levels of Chernobyl radiation terminated 100,000 to 200,000 pregnancies in a panic. Contain the spread of misinformation. Was the negligence of Human life by the Soviet State and it’s members this bad ? So, in the least, we know that they were cordial with one another, but we don't know anything more about a potential friendship. "I need someone to explain to me how it is at all okay to live on the east coast when this is the situation." They were nothing like that," says former Chernobyl engineer Oleksiy Breus of the historical accuracy surrounding the show's three main antagonists. If it were, we'd all be dead since we're constantly being shot by radiation bullets from cosmic rays that strike the Earth from outer space. The miners were essentially preventing a possibility that never happened. "I could see the ruins of the reactor. The miniseries also exaggerates the delayed response and the denial of the Soviet government. They're covered in a cloud of radioactive ash and dust that is blowing their way. The exposure to limited amounts of elevated radiation during the tours is considered safe. Natasha Yuvchenko, wife of Chernobyl engineer Alexander Yuvchenko (the man who held the steel door open), says that for many years people literally ran away from them, afraid of being contaminated (The Guardian).In addition, those who were exposed to elevated radiation outside the vicinity of Chernobyl were four times more likely to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. What's not shown in the miniseries is that Nikolai Fomin had a mental breakdown before the trial and he attempted to kill himself. This is a gross exaggeration. Author Andrew Leatherbarrow, who spent five years researching the disaster for his book. You can hear his own account of the events in this Anatoly Dyatlov interview. He was 51. The miniseries relies heavily on the stereotypical notion that the Soviet state used the fear of being shot (or executed in other ways) as a persuasive tool. No. He’s been writing about music, movies, and celebrities for most of his adult life after realizing stocking shelves in a paper warehouse in college wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Roughly 300,000 people were displaced from their homes. A fireman picked up a piece of graphite that had come from the core of Chernobyl's Reactor Number 4 when it exploded. 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No. It was named Slavutych. It's possible that the bleeding may be foreshadowing the severe radiation burns that over time gnawed away at the flesh on his hip, calf, left shoulder and left arm, the areas of his body that had come into contact with the door. Lucy Davies visited … Ad – content continues below ... but factually accurate. Chernobyl engineer Oleksiy Breus commented on the show's portrayal of the miners working completely in the buff, saying, "They took off their clothes, but not like it was shown in the film, not right down to nothing" (BBC). The Chernobyl true story exposes the fact that Donald Sumpter's character, Zharkov, is fictional. If he had worked at a shoe factory, he didn't work on the factory floor. A short time later, they watch as a helicopter assigned to drop a mixture of sand, clay and boron heads over the reactor. The HBO miniseries Chernobyl, which recently wrapped up its five-episode run, has been met with widespread acclaim and praise from critics and viewers. She recalls the harrowing experience in Svetlana Alexievich's Nobel Prize winning book. -Business Insider. In April 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics becomes one of the world's worst man-made catastrophes. -Chernobyl PodcastWith this perhaps being the biggest deviation from the Chernobyl true story, it's evident that Legasov wasn't the martyr figure that the miniseries makes him out to be. As depicted in this footage of the Chernobyl helicopter crash, the chopper's blades struck a chain that was hanging from a construction crane. In the HBO miniseries, Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) testifies at the trial and places part of the blame on the Soviet state's "cheap" nuclear reactors. Upon the conclusion of their 1987 trial, Victor Bryukhanov, Anatoly Dyatlov and Nikolai Fomin were sentenced to 10 years in a labor camp. There is no strong evidence that Chernobyl led to an elevation in birth defects. Finally, the Chernobyl Podcast features creator Craig Mazin talking about the fact vs. fiction in the show. For example, Alexander Yuvchenko, the man who props open the door to the reactor hall in the HBO miniseries, begins to bleed excessively in patches on his body. It was completely destroyed and there was a cloud of smoke coming from it. Soviet and Ukrainian records are notoriously poor and no one really knows how many people were affected by the radiation emitted during the accident, nor are there accurate studies showing the long-term effects, but there is significant evidence that the fallout has not been as deadly as it was anticipated to be, and it’s highly unlikely that everyone on the bridge was fatally affected. We're told this by Jared Harris's character, scientist Valery Legasov, who says that radiation is like "a bullet" and Chernobyl is like "three trillion bullets in the air, water and food... that won't stop firing for 50,000 years." No. In addition, this was during the time of Gorbachev's Anti-Alcohol Campaign, when alcohol was sometimes not even found at weddings, let alone consumed at work by a party official. Most of the artistic liberties taken by Chernobyl’s creators were cleaned up and explained in the epilogue, but this urban legend remained. In reality, once all the radioactive clothing he was wearing was removed and his skin was washed, there is no serious radiation threat to those around them. -BBCTo a large degree, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster was the result of a rotting political system composed of mostly pliant men and women, who ignored precautions and blew up a reactor because they were more concerned about adhering to a system based on lies and deceit, than they were about protecting the people. -The Guardian. In the wake of widespread cancellations after the Game Of Thrones finale, HBO has immediately proved that it still is going to putting out great content. He addressed his grievances over its handling, including the accusation that Soviet security had prevented plant operators from knowing about earlier accidents with RBMK reactors. All health and epidemiological studies have concluded that long-term mental health effects led to far more health issues and deaths outside the immediate area than radiation ever did. It is another feather in HBO’s cap and further proving the channel's claim that “it’s not TV, it’s HBO" with its TV shows. That miniseries will likely never be made. The final trial was very different in real life. The nurses and doctors are adamant about her not seeing her husband for fear that she could be affected by the radiation. A 1988 Soviet decree prohibited doctors from listing radiation as a cause of death or sickness. "Only one was mandatory. Chernobyl, a 5-part series on HBO with 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, will have its season finale tonight at 9 p.m. Fomin was released early for mental health reasons and spent time in a hospital. How did the cast and creators make history come alive? No, and thankfully, the miniseries clarifies this in its epilogue. Chernobyl is a fantastic miniseries and it won’t be a surprise if it cleans up at the Emmy Awards in September. According to the show's writer and creator, Craig Mazin, this actually happened. People with radiation sickness are quarantined to protect the sick themselves, due to their severely weakened immune system, not to protect those that are not poisoned by the radiation. Although the rovers worked for a total of around 10 hours, they ultimately succumbed to radiation exposure and failed. He concluded that Chernobyl was the "apotheosis of all that was wrong in the management of the national economy and had been so for many decades. Rather than worry about the actors using accents that could be poorly done or hard to understand, they decided to just use the natural accents of the actors, for the most part. The miniseries puts much of the blame on the actions of one man, Chernobyl Deputy Chief Engineer Anatoly Dyatlov. He would have worked in an office at the factory. -The New Yorker. And now I'm in charge." Yes. So far, the miniseries has been pretty darn accurate. This would reduce the heat of the "lava" and prevent it from burning through the concrete pad and entering the water table. In answering how accurate is Chernobyl, we learned that while the HBO miniseries makes it seem like more than a couple workers and firefighters were killed immediately, page 66 of the official United Nations report reveals that there were only two Chernobyl deaths in the first several hours of the explosion and neither of them succumbed to radiation. The United Nations report attributes 31 deaths directly to the disaster. It is now known as “The Bridge of Death.” The so-called Bridge Of Death has been a popular tourism spot, especially since the show aired, but the story is likely just an urban legend. We're told at the end that Boris Shcherbina died at age 70 on August 22, 1990, four years and four months after he arrived at Chernobyl. This is quite common in everything from Shakespeare productions to modern productions like Chernobyl. 24. At the end of Episode 5, in the epilogue, the show states “Of the people who watched from the railway bridge, it has been reported that none survived. "Is it war? Was the higher-ups of the Plant as depicted in the show ? Add to that the 100,000 to 200,000 terminated pregnancies that were largely the result of fear (rather than fact), and the sensationalism in both Hollywood and the media becomes far more troubling.Turning nuclear power into a horror movie villain might terrify audiences and make for good entertainment, but it's far from the Chernobyl true story. -The New York Times, There is little evidence that scientist Valery Legasov and the chairman of the Chernobyl commission, Boris Shcherbina, developed a close friendship. Legasov had been working as head of the laboratory at the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy. Yes. Archived. Russian journalist Alexander Kots, who is well-informed on the disaster, says that the miners working in the buff while tunneling under the reactor is fiction.In researching the true story behind the Chernobyl miniseries, we learned that the miners' work was for nothing. It's true that Legasov dictated his memoirs about the disaster into a recording machine. "Their characters are distorted and misrepresented, as if they were villains. Vladimir Naumov, who was part of the mining crew, says that some of the miners took off their shirts (The Heroes of Chernobyl). This included the aptly named "egg baskets", or codpieces.A total of 3,828 biorobots worked to clear the radioactive debris off of Chernobyl's roof. The reality of nuclear disasters is that radiation is hard to trace, detect, and predict, and the damage it does is often unseen. Author Michael Shellenberger, the president of Environmental Progress who also writes about energy and the environment for publications like The New York Times and Forbes, says that nuclear disasters like Chernobyl are fictionalized because in reality they kill a relatively small number of people when compared to other man-made disasters. Just how people have blamed vaccines for autism simply because the vaccine had been given at some point prior to a child being diagnosed, Chernobyl has similarly at times been blamed for birth defects.The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission's report concluded, "The available evidence does not show any effect on the number of adverse pregnancy outcomes, delivery complications, stillbirths or overall health of children among the families living in the most contaminated areas." No. The show does make it clear at the end of Episode 5, in the epilogue, that the character is a composite, saying: “(Valery) Legasov was aided by dozens of scientists who worked tirelessly alongside him at Chernobyl. Fans of the show took to Twitter to express similar fears, with some Googling the closest nuclear power plants. Their scenes together are entirely imagined, and the part they played in the response to the disaster was reworked and amplified to keep the plot moving along. No. Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) later makes references to the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed a combined total of 129,000–226,000 people. The official website for Chernobyl, the Emmy and Golden Globe winning miniseries on HBO. HBO’s “Chernobyl” mini-series is so vividly drab, I almost smell cement particles in my living room. Posted by 1 year ago. From the production to the writing to the acting, it is unquestionably a great watch. None of the men served a complete sentence, in part due to health reasons. -RT NewsIn the miniseries, we see a biorobot stumble as he's coming in from the rooftop. More on that later. And cut the phone lines. A Soviet scientist would not have traveled to Chernobyl uninvited or took it upon themselves to investigate the accident. HBO’s Chernobyl Review: A gripping true story that feels like a horror film. In addition to not being at the trial, he never raised his voice at Gorbachev, nor did he openly challenge the top brass of the KGB. After the Soviet Union finally acknowledged the potentially fatal design flaws in the RBMK reactors, the remaining reactors were retrofitted to help ensure that a disaster like Chernobyl would never happen again. Before building began, the area was covered in two meters of uncontaminated soil. Similar films like 1979's The China Syndrome helped to fuel paranoia over the safety of nuclear energy, which contributed to the halting of the construction of nuclear power plants and the burning of more fossil fuels instead.Since nuclear power is an abundant, low-carbon source of energy, studies have calculated that 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths to date have been prevented as a result of using nuclear energy. The firefighters also reportedly complained of tasting metal as they battled the fire. Side-By-Side Footage Of Chernobyl Shows How Accurate The Series Is. Built in 1970 to house the workers of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Soviet authorities ordered the city be evacuated 36 hours after the test on Chernobyl's Reactor Number 4 went awry, causing the reactor to explode. By using a character that audiences were already familiar with to explain what happened in a very basic way, it was much easier to digest the information. Even the miniseries' writer and creator, Craig Mazin, said that there were varying accounts of how many articles of clothing actually came off, in addition to the number of miners who took off clothing. This isn't to say that Chernobyl deaths weren't tragic, not to mention the health consequences, but in reality, nuclear accidents haven't been all that deadly.The Chernobyl miniseries attempts to arouse our fears, in part by playing on the fact that nuclear disasters remind us of nuclear bombs. In the miniseries, Pripyat residents gather on the bridge, which is roughly a kilometer away from the plant, to watch the clouds of smoke and rays of blue ionizing light beaming into the sky. Most notably, Jared Harris’ character, Valery Legasov, was not actually at the trial and did not present the damning evidence that convicted the men responsible for the failed test that caused the explosion and meltdown. How accurate is the Chernobyl miniseries on HBO to the actual events ? The chance of the groundwater being contaminated was too great to not carry out the project. Close. However, it is likely that the number is significantly less than the HBO miniseries would have us believe.In people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, 20,000 have been documented as developing thyroid cancer (some due to drinking milk contaminated with radioactive iodine). Summary executions were not common in the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin in 1953. However, we must keep in mind that the evidence was possibly limited due to the fact that the Soviet government had prohibited doctors from reporting similar diagnoses.Yet, a 1987 UCLA study and a 2017 Oxford University review also found "no convincing evidence of increased risk of birth defects from exposure to radiation in contaminated areas." Chernobyl on HBO and Sky Atlantic is extremely historically accurate. But some volunteered to go twice or even three times," says General Nikolai Tarakanov, portrayed by Ralph Ineson in the HBO show. Our fact check confirmed that the real Valery Legasov hung himself on April 26, 1988, two years after the Chernobyl disaster (his body was found by his son on the 27th). Almost every event that happens in the miniseries actually happened in real life. An estimated 700 tons of radioactive graphite had been blown around the plant during the explosion. No. Organizations like Greenpeace place the number much higher (93,000), but their estimates are arguably elevated for political reasons. After watching the first responders is historically accurate is `` not a,., he did n't need to death or sickness in its epilogue miniseries ( the other three reactors continued operate... A bullet house the workers Chernobyl on HBO and Sky Atlantic is historically... 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