Chernobyl Worker Speaks Up In Wake Of Hit TV Series

This Chernobyl disaster survivor who was forced to work right next to the nuclear reactor during the clean-up has shared his story in the wake of the acclaimed TV show starring Brit actor Jared Harris.

Oleksandr Zahorodnyuk, who has see eight of his 30 colleagues die since the Chernobyl disaster took place in April 1986 near the city of Pripyat in the former Ukrainian SSR, worked at the power plant as a lorry driver.

He was helping to construct the Khmelnitskiy Nuclear Power Plant when the government ordered workers from other plants to help with the Chernobyl clean-up process following the disaster.

Credit: CEN/Infobae
Alexander Zahorodnyuk, survivor of Chernobyl during interview shows his documentation

Along with 29 colleagues, Oleksandr arrived at Chernobyl on 1st September 1986 and for the first 30 days they used only gloves and a face mask to protect themselves from the radiation.

He claims that he, and thousands of other workers, spent large parts of the working day just 150 metres (493 feet) from where the reactor exploded.

After his month at the plant, Oleksandr said that he started to suffer kidney problems and eventually decided to live in Argentina – a move which he says “saved my life”.

From his home in Merlo in the eastern Argentine capital Buenos Aires, he told local media that he slept in an abandoned school during his time at the Ukrainian disaster site.

He said: “I was not scared, but I felt bad. There was no smell in the air, the radiation was in the dust.”

During the first fortnight, he drove an armoured vehicle around but was working “150 metres from that huge hole” during the second two weeks.

He said: “When I arrived I could feel something in my head, I do not know how to explain it. Discomfort. A weird sensation.”

Oleksandr said that he suffered with frequent headaches and was diagnosed with kidney problems, adding: “Out of the 30 who went there, eight are not with us anymore.

“They were all younger than me. The truth is, they all died because of that reactor.”

Following an agreement between the Argentine government headed by Carlos Menem and the Ukrainian authorities, Oleksandr moved to South America in 1998 due to his worsening health.

He said: “I started to get better there. Today, I don’t get headaches anymore and I feel fine.”

Oleksandr added: “Argentina is a virgin country with clean air and lots of open plains. I came here for the nature.

“Living here has saved me.”

The critically-acclaimed historical series ‘Chernobyl’ concluded earlier this month and dramatised the shocking events of April 1986 and the aftermath.

It featured a star-studded cast that included British actors Jared Harris, Paul Ritter and Emily Watson.

To find out more about the author, editor or agency that supplied this story – please click below.
Story By: Ana LacasaSub-EditorJoseph Golder, Agency: Central European News

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