As HBO and Sky’s series dramatising the events which lead up to and occurred after the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, interest in the real-life events has been peaking.
Now, Sky are set to air a brand new documentary about the Chernobyl disaster, including interviews with people who were involved in the tragedy.
33 years after the event, those who were involved in the incident have seen a huge increase in demand to hear their stories, largely thanks to HBO/Sky Atlantic’s Chernobyl.
Sky’s new documentary, titled The Real Chernobyl, will feature these stories, to bring ‘the untold true story’ of what really happened on April 26, 1986.
One such story is that of Oleksiy Breus, a control room operator at the plant, who travelled to work the morning after the disaster without any knowledge of what had happened just a few hours earlier.
He told Sky News:
It looked like it would be a mass grave. I was sure that the whole [night] shift had died there.
At the moment of explosion I was in Pripyat, in my flat. I was sleeping tightly, I didn’t hear, I didn’t see anything. In the morning I was to go to work, and so I did. I knew nothing about the disaster, I just got on a bus and went to work.
As I was coming close to the station, I saw from the bus that the block was destroyed. I always say that my hair stood on its end when I saw that.
I didn’t understand why me and other workers were brought there. But it turned out that there was still much work to be done.
Me and my co-workers got off the bus and tried to enter the territory of the fourth block as we were supposed to. There was a guard wearing a rubber-coated army suit who had orders not to let anyone in. Finally they agreed.
The guarding sergeant gave each of us a pill of potassium iodide. I took it immediately. It was a special medicine made to protect the thyroid gland from radiation. All my life I remember him with gratitude.
Oleksiy remembers how he was told to find those on site who’d been injured by fire, debris, hot water, steam and radiation, and to take them to medical personnel.
He compared that day to a video game, ‘in which the gamer goes through various perils that await him at every step,’ such as – besides radiation – fires, slabs of falling concrete, risk of electrocution and hot water burns.
Check out the trailer for the hit Chernobyl below:
Oleksiy’s story is just one of many to be told in the new documentary, detailing the harrowing truth behind the tragic nuclear disaster.
Aleksandr Syrota, for example, used to live in Pripyat and was 10 years old when the reactor exploded. He believes people didn’t initially understand the scope of what had happened, particularly when it came to radiation poisoning and the government’s ‘indifference’ towards handling the situation.
The Real Chernobyl airs on Sky Atlantic on Tuesday 18 June at 9pm, and Sky News on Wednesday 19 June at 9pm.
Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.