The veteran academician, inorganic chemist Valery Legasov was one of the first to go to Chernobyl during the accident at the nuclear power plant, he suggested that the reactor be filled with a chemical mixture and insisted on the evacuation of the city. After that, he read a candid report on the catastrophe at an IAEA expert conference in Vienna, which saved the USSR from multi-million lawsuits from Europe, which also suffered from a radioactive cloud. However, in gratitude, Legasov received the envy of his colleagues and the disapproval of top management, who did not like the truth about the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, writes Moskovsky Komsomolets.
Helicopters dropped over 5 thousand tons of various materials onto the reactor. Academician personally watched this, being on board the turntables. He flew over the reactor 5-6 times a day and forgot about his own safety: the dosimeter was often left in the locker room, and he didn’t use X-rays.
It was also Legasov who convinced Boris Scherbin, the head of the government commission, to evacuate the residents of Chernobyl and Pripyat in the next 24 hours. After that, only the liquidators remained to work.
Gorbachev personally deleted the name of Legasov from the lists for awarding
Home Legasov returned on May 5, that is, almost 10 days spent in Chernobyl. His wife Margarita Mikhailovna recalled that he was thinner, bald and with dark skin on his body. He confessed to the family that the station did not have enough respirators, clean water, drugs, even iodine for prevention.
In his tape recordings, Legasov dictated: “At the station, such unavailability, such disorder, such fright. As forty first year, but still in the worst variant. With the same Brest, with the same courage, with the same desperation, with the same lack of readiness … “.
On the same day, on May 5, after the meeting of the politburo, the academician again flew to Chernobyl. He returned home a week later with a hoarse voice, coughing and insomnia.
In the meantime, lists were submitted for awarding the liquidators of the Chernobyl accident and the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, Mikhail Gorbachev, personally crossed out the name of Legasov, citing the fact that “other scientists do not advise.” The point was that the academician was sent to Pripyat from the Kurchatov Institute, where the very RBMK-1000 reactor was designed, but no one was interested that Legasov had not yet worked at the institute.
Academician became a USSR attorney at a special meeting of the IAEA in Vienna
Legasov was not ambitious, so he was not upset by the cancellation of the award, and in August 1986 he went to a special meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna to explain to the world experts the Chernobyl accident.
Participation of Legasov in liquidation of the Chernobyl accident
Legasov was included in the government commission sent to Chernobyl after a cipher signal came from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to the relevant institutes about the situation with nuclear, fire and explosive hazards. He fearlessly and selflessly explored the scene of the accident: he flew by helicopter to the 4th block, from which the light was coming, and pulled up close to the armored personnel carrier to the rubble to make the necessary measurements.
Thanks to the efforts of Legasov, it was possible to establish that the readings of the neutron sensors on the ongoing nuclear reaction were unreliable, since they reacted to the most powerful gamma radiation. In fact, the boiler was “silent”, the reaction stopped, but the burning of reactor graphite, of which there were as many as 2 thousand 500 tons, was going on. To prevent further heating of the reactor residues and reduce the emission of radiation into the atmosphere, Legasov suggested throwing the reactor zone with a mixture of boron-containing substances, lead and dolomitic clay.
Thus, he became a lawyer of the USSR, who for 5 hours truthfully and openly told 500 experts about the disaster. Thus, he saved his country from multimillion-dollar lawsuits, since the attitude of the IAEA towards the USSR changed after the opening of the veil around a large-scale tragedy. But the truth did not please everyone.
The leadership of the Ministry of Medium Machine Building was extremely dissatisfied with the independence of Legasov. There were also those who demanded that the academician be brought to criminal responsibility for allegedly disclosing secret data.
At work Legasov began to “poison”. He was envied that he became popular in Europe, entered the top ten best scientists in the world, and academic Alexandrov wanted to make him his successor. This caused the jealousy of colleagues.
I didn’t wait for Legasov thanks from the top management. On September 1, 86, he was 50 years old and was introduced to the title of Hero of Socialist Labor, but the Minister of Medium Machine-Building spoke against it. Legasov was remembered how he “too frankly” mentioned Chernobyl. As a result, he was presented only with a name watch “Glory”.
In the spring of 87, a new election to the scientific council of the institute took place. On the secret ballot, Legasov was supported by 100 people, 129 opposed. Another “knife in the back” from colleagues, with the result that the academician was going through a deep psychological crisis.
Legasov planned to announce the results of his investigation of Chernobyl
In the last years of his life, Legasov suffered from radiation pancreatitis, radiation disease of the 4th degree. Myelocytes were found in the blood, it became clear that the bone marrow was affected. The fingers of the left hand were taken away from the academician; his right hand and foot were numb. In the fall of ’87, he took a large dose of sleeping pills when he was in the hospital, but his stomach was washed in time.
On the second anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, April 27, 88, Legasov was found hanged in his home office. According to the official version – he committed suicide in a state of depression. It is known that on the second day he had to tell about his own investigation of the causes of the Chernobyl accident, but some of his records were erased after his death.
“The system and the flock that protected it broke it,” said Yuri Ustynyuk, a professor at Moscow State University named after Lomonosov.
Deputy Director of the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy in 1988, Academician Feoktistov said that there was no direct culprit for his death, but there were people who brought him to death.
10 years after the accident, Legasov was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Russia, but for his family it became a heavy consolation, since the academician paid for his own mistakes for others.