Deaths due to the Chernobyl disaster
The Chernobyl disaster, considered the worst nuclear disaster in history, occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, then part of the Soviet Union, now in Ukraine. From 1986 onward, the total death toll of the disaster has lacked consensus; as peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet and other sources have noted, it remains contested most extremely among a wide range of anti-nuclear lay groups.
While there is consensus that a total of approximately 30 men died from immediate blast trauma and acute radiation syndrome (ARS) in the seconds to months after the disaster, respectively, with 60 in total in the decades hence, inclusive of later radiation induced cancer, there is considerable debate concerning the accurate number of projected deaths due to the disaster's long-term health effects, with long-term death estimates ranging from up to 4,000 (per the 2005 and 2006 conclusions of a joint consortium of the United Nations) for the most exposed people of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.
This no-threshold epidemiology problem is not unique to Chernobyl, and similarly hinders attempts to estimate low level radon pollution, air pollution and natural sunlight exposures. Determining the elevated risk or total number of deaths from very low doses is completely subjective, and while much higher values would be detectable, lower values are outside the statistical significant reach of empirical science and are expected to remain unknowable.
Differing direct, short-term death toll countsEdit
Initially, the Soviet Union's toll of deaths directly caused by the Chernobyl disaster included only the two Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant workers killed in the immediate aftermath of the explosion of the plant's reactor. However, by late 1986, Soviet officials updated the official count to 31, reflecting the deaths of 29 additional plant workers and first responders in the months after the accident. In the decades since the accident, many former Soviet officials and some Western sources had also determined a total of 31 direct casualties.
In 2006, persistent allegations were made that the official figure of 31 direct deaths omits other confirmed trauma and ARS deaths from the same period. In response, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) revisited the issue, and cited additional deaths from trauma or ARS directly attributable to the disaster, such as a physician and a journalist who had arrived at the plant shortly after the reactor explosion, and a helicopter crew of Chernobyl liquidators who died in their attempt to pour a decontaminating acetate mixture on the plant in October 1986. Thus, the accident's immediate death toll was raised to 54, with estimates from other groups ranging from 49 to 59. Several United Nations agencies have since adopted UNSCEAR's 54 figure as the official tally of short-term deaths directly attributable to the Chernobyl disaster.
For their part, some surviving evacuees of regions now included in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and the Polesie State Radioecological Reserve argue that the official toll of the accident's direct casualties excludes trauma and ARS deaths that they themselves claim to have witnessed in the weeks and months after the reactor explosion. In response, constituent agencies of the United Nations—including the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Chernobyl Forum—discount such evacuee claims as misinformation, 'urban legends,' or radiophobia.
2005 and 2006 UN reports debateEdit
In August 1986—at the first international conference on the Chernobyl disaster—the IAEA established but did not make official a figure of 4,000 deaths as the total number of projected deaths caused by the accident over the long term. In 2005 and 2006, a joint group of the United Nations and the governments of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia—acknowledging the ongoing scientific, medical, social scientific, and public questioning of the accident's death toll that had emerged over the then-20 years since the disaster—worked to establish international consensus on the effects of the accident via a series of reports that collated 20 years of research to make official previous UN, IAEA, and World Health Organization (WHO) estimates of a total 4,000 deaths due to disaster-related illnesses in "the higher-exposed Chernobyl populations".
However—as an April 2006 special report in the peer-reviewed, scientific journal Nature detailed in response—the accuracy and precision of this United Nations-led joint group's projected death toll of 4,000 were immediately contested, with several of the very scientists, physicians, and biomedical consortia whose work the joint group had cited alleging publicly that the joint group had either misrepresented their work or interpreted it out of context. (For example, the full report had estimated another 5,000 deaths among 6.8 million people living farther from the accident, which was not mentioned in the press release.)
Others have also found fault with the United Nations-led joint group's findings in the years since their initial publication, arguing that the 4,000 figure is too low—including the Union of Concerned Scientists; surviving Chernobyl liquidators; evacuees of Chernobyl, Pripyat, and other areas now included in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and the Polesie State Radioecological Reserve; environmental groups like Greenpeace; and several of the Ukrainian and Belarussian scientists and physicians who have studied and treated relocated evacuees and liquidators over the decades since the accident.
The uncertain and contested mortality rate of the Chernobyl liquidators is a major factor in the lack of consensus on the Chernobyl disaster's accurate death toll. Following the disaster itself, the Soviet Union organized an effort to stabilize and seal off the reactor area, still awash in radiation, using the efforts of an estimated 600,000[Notes 1] "liquidators" recruited or conscripted from all over the Soviet Union.
Since the 1990s—when the declassification of selected liquidator records prompted some direct participants to speak publicly—some with direct involvement in the liquidators' cleanup efforts have asserted that several thousand liquidators died as a result of the cleanup. Other organizations claim that total liquidator deaths as a result of the cleanup operation may number at least 6,000.
The National Commission for Radiation Protection of Ukraine disputed the 6,000 estimate as much too high, maintaining that a Chernobyl-cleanup-related death toll of 6,000 would outstrip confirmed liquidator deaths from all other causes—including old age and car crashes—during the period in question. In contrast, representatives of Kiev's National Research Centre for Radiation Medicine, the Union of Chernobyl Liquidators, and the WHO's Radiation Protection Programme argue that both the perilous conditions in which the liquidators worked and the secrecy with which the Soviet Union shrouded the highly-classified disaster cleanup efforts not only preclude dismissing a liquidator death toll of 6,000, but also indicate that the 6,000 estimate might be too low.
For their part, some surviving Chernobyl liquidators have argued publicly since the declassification of additional records in the early 2000s that official records and bureaucratic assessments do not reflect the full scope of liquidators' claims of disaster-related deaths. Examples of such claims include the comments of surviving liquidators in the Prix Italia-winning 2006 documentary, The Battle of Chernobyl, as well as Valeriy Starodumov's comments in the 2011, Ukrainian documentary Chornobyl.3828, which chronicles Starodumov's, and other liquidators' work and posits its long-term effects on their lives and health.
Issues related to identifying and tracking long-latency diseases have presented another stumbling block to reaching consensus on deaths beyond the immediate fatalities directly attributable to the initial reactor explosion and subsequent ARS. In the years since the accident, delayed, post-disaster deaths due to solid cancers, leukemia, and other long-latency diseases that might be attributable to the accident's release of radioactive debris have remained an ongoing concern. However, the streamlined standards, methods, and sustained research efforts needed to pinpoint, track, and tally such long-latency disease deaths have remained lacking—resulting in gaps in data and divergent estimates. (There is consensus for only one form of long-term physiological effect: thyroid cancer in those who consumed radioactive iodine as children. Of those in the exposed cohort who have developed thyroid cancers, the proportion of cancers attributable to the Chernobyl incident is estimated to be between 7% and 50%.)
Addressing long-latency diseases in a widely cited 2008 report, the IAEA reaffirmed its August 1986 conclusion—initially reached at the first international conference on the accident (an event closed to the press and citizen observers) and made official in 2005 and 2006—of a projected 4,000 premature deaths as a result of the disaster. The IAEA based this 4,000 figure on its estimate of a 3% increase in cancers in the regions surrounding the plant, first adopting it at the 1986 conference after rejecting the finding of 40,000 projected deaths that Valery Legasov—inorganic chemist and a lead investigator of the Soviet Union's official Chernobyl disaster commission—had estimated based upon his team's research.
Yet in the five years immediately following the 1986 accident, Ukrainian officials and scientists[who?] confirmed a regional cancer rate increase of well over 5% in adults[unreliable medical source?] and 90% in the region's children.[unreliable medical source?] In compensation and payout legal terms, by 2005, the Ukrainian government was providing survivors' benefits to 19,000 families "owing to the loss of a breadwinner whose death was deemed to possibly related to the Chernobyl accident;" by 2019, this figure had risen to 35,000 families. By 2016, some Ukrainian and Belarussian physicians charged with treating large numbers of former liquidators in the decades since the accident were calling for more comprehensive studies and urging that the IAEA's estimated toll of disaster-related deaths from long-latency diseases be revised upwards, claiming that their own data indicates a former liquidator death rate of several thousand per year as a result of diseases related to the disaster.
The use of differing, contested methods to identify and tally deaths—including anticipated deaths due to long-latency diseases—has also contributed to the wide range of estimates of the Chernobyl disaster's death toll. As former IAEA head Hans Blix has recalled in interviews, such disagreement over various tabulation methods and the divergent death tolls that they yield has been a mainstay of efforts to estimate the disaster's total fatalities since international authorities' first attempts to establish a consensus death toll.
Indeed, at the August 1986 meeting of the first international conference on the disaster, the IAEA scaled down from 40,000 to 4,000 the projected disaster-related deaths estimate of Valery Legasov—inorganic chemist and a lead investigator of the Soviet Union's official commission—after objecting to Legasov's use of a statistical model based on radiation data from the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (It is this 4,000 figure from the 1986 conference's methodological debate that the IAEA cited as its rough estimate for 20 years before joining other United Nations agencies in 2005 and 2006 to make 4,000 the UN's official estimate of disaster-related deaths.) Similarly, some theoretical estimates of the disaster's deaths are disputed on the grounds that they rely upon contested models such as the linear no-threshold model (LNT) or hormesis in order to compare the disaster's estimated cancer rates to background rates of cancer.
Yet even estimated death tolls that have acknowledged and attempted to mitigate for such methodological debates have yielded a body of divergent estimates—including the Union of Concerned Scientists' 2011, LNT-model-based conclusion of 27,000 deaths due to the accident; the death toll of 93,000 to 200,000 that Greenpeace has posited since 2006; and Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment (published in 2007 by Russian affiliates of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, but without NYAS' explicit approval),[Notes 2] which estimates 985,000 premature deaths as a result of the radioactivity the accident released.
Surviving evacuees' accountsEdit
Since 1986, officials have tended to discount as inaccurate, inexpert opinion the claims of some surviving Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and Polesie State Radioecological Reserve evacuees that their own observations of deaths attributable to the disaster are not reflected in official records and tallies. For example, authorities have long dismissed as 'urban legend' some Pripyat evacuees' claims of high death rates among fellow citizens who gathered on a railway bridge—the so-called 'Bridge of Death'—to watch the exploded reactor's blazing fire and glowing, electric blue column of ionized air in the midst of visible nuclear fallout on the night of the accident. This was later revealed to indeed be an urban legend.
Indeed, some authorities have argued that post-disaster psychological trauma—sometimes characterized as Radiophobia or labeled a mental aspect of the collection of post-accident symptoms that some physicians term 'Chernobyl Syndrome'—has led some former residents of the region surrounding the plant to attribute deaths to the accident based on anecdotal evidence alone. In this vein, the Chernobyl Forum, the World Nuclear Association (WNA), and other groups posit an increase in psychological problems among those exposed to the disaster's radiation, due in part to poor communication of radiation's effects, disruption to their way of life, and trauma surrounding the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
In response, some former residents of the region that now comprises the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and Polesie State Radioecological Reserve—including Lyubov Sirota, a Ukrainian poet and Pripyat evacuee, in her 1995, Chernobyl Poems verse, "Radiophobia," and her 2013 memoir, The Pripyat Syndrome—decry such questioning of survivors' psychology and discernment as efforts to dismiss and de-legitimize both evacuees' claimed long-term experience of the disaster's lethal impacts and evacuees' allegations of the accident's tangible, ongoing effects upon their physical health. In her 1988 poem, "They Did Not Register Us (To Vasily Deomidovich Dubodel)," Sirota addressed what she considers the failure of local and international authorities to recognize the disaster-related, long-latency disease deaths of Chernobyl Exclusion Zone evacuees and to reach consensus about how best to tally and study these deaths. She wrote:
|“||They did not register us / and our deaths / were not linked to the accident. / ... / They wrote us off as / lingering stress, / cunning genetic disorders. ... / [T]housands of 'competent' functionaries / count our 'souls' in percentages. ... / They wrote us off. / ...||”|
Still more controversially, some surviving Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and Polesie State Radioecological Reserve evacuees take particular issue with the longstanding position of constituent United Nations agencies to discount as misinformation, 'urban legend', or Radiophobia the claims of some evacuees that during the weeks and months directly after the accident, they witnessed more immediate disaster-related deaths due to trauma and radiation sickness that they argue are not reflected in the official record. For example, Nikolai Kalugin—an evacuee from a village now included in Belarus' Polesie State Radioecological Reserve—claimed to Newsweek in May 2019 that his daughter died in the weeks after the accident as the result of what he maintains were unrecorded local cases of radiation sickness:
|“||They brought a little coffin. ... It was small, like the box for a large doll. I want to bear witness: my daughter died from Chernobyl. And they want us to forget about it.||”|
For their part, the United Nations and some prominent Chernobyl disaster scholars continue to discount as mistaken or Radiophobic such evacuee claims of additional, short-term, direct deaths due to accident-attributable trauma or radiation sickness not counted in the official tallies of the accident's death toll.
Official list of direct deathsEdit
The 31 persons listed in the table below are those whose deaths the Soviet Union included in its official roster—released in the latter half of 1986—of casualties directly attributable to the disaster.[Notes 3]
|Table: Known Deaths due to Trauma and Radiation Sickness|
|Name (Eng/Rus): Last, First, Patronym[Notes 4]
||Date and place of birth||Date and place of death||Cause of death/injury||Occupation||Description||Official Recognition|
|Akimov, Aleksandr Fyodorovich
Акимов, Александр Фёдорович
|1953-05-06, Novosibirsk||1986-05-10, Moscow||ARS; burns on 100% of body, estimated 15 grays (1,500 rad) dose.||Unit #4 Shift leader||A senior reactor operator, at the controls in the control room at the time of the explosion; received fatal dose during attempts to restart feedwater flow into the reactor.||Ukraine's Order For Courage of third degree|
|Baranov, Anatoly Ivanovich
Баранов, Анатолий Иванович
|1953-06-13, Tsyurupynsk, Kherson, Ukrainian SSR||1986-05-20, Moscow||ARS||Senior electrical engineer||Managed generators during emergency, preventing fire spread through the generator hall.||Ukraine's Order For Courage of third degree; Soviet Union's Order of the October Revolution|
|Brazhnik, Vyacheslav Stepanovych
Бражник, Вячеслав Степанович
|1957-05-03, Atbasar, Tselinograd, Kazakh SSR||1986-05-14||ARS||Senior turbine machinist operator||In the turbine hall at the moment of explosion. Received fatal dose (over 1000 rad) during firefighting and stabilizing the turbine hall, died in Moscow hospital. Irradiated by a piece of fuel lodged on a nearby transformer of turbogenerator 7 during manual opening of the turbine emergency oil drain valves.||Ukraine's Order For Courage of third degree; Soviet Union's Order of the Badge of Honor.|
|Degtyarenko, Viktor Mykhaylovych
Дегтяренко, Виктор Михайлович
|1954-08-10, Ryazan, Russian SFSR||1986-05-19, Moscow||ARS||Reactor operator||Close to the pumps at the moment of explosion. face scalded by steam or hot water.||Ukraine's Order For Courage of third degree; Soviet Union's Order of the Badge of Honor.|
|Ignatenko, Vasily Ivanovych
Игнатенко, Василий Иванович
|1961-03-13, Sperizhe, Gomel, Byelorussian SSR||1986-05-13, Moscow||ARS||Squad commander, 6th Paramilitary Fire/Rescue Unit, Pripyat, Kiev||Chief Sergeant, first crew on the reactor roof. Received fatal dose during attempt to extinguish the roof and the reactor core fire.||Hero of Ukraine with Order of the Gold Star; Cross for Courage; The Soviet Union's Order of the Red Banner.|
|Ivanenko, Yekaterina Alexandrovna
Иваненко, Екатерина Александровна
|1932-09-11, Nezhihov, Gomel, Byelorussian SSR||1986-05-26, Moscow||ARS||Security guard||Guarded a gate opposite to the Block 4, stayed on duty for the entire night until morning.||Soviet Union's Order of the Red Banner.|
|Khodemchuk, Valery Ilyich
Ходемчук, Валерий Ильич
|1951-03-24, Krapyvnya, Ivankov, Kyiv, Ukrainian SSR||1986-04-26, Chernobyl NPP||unknown, likely explosion trauma||Senior operator, Main circulating pump, reactor 4||Stationed in the southern main circulating pumps engine room, likely killed immediately; body never found, likely buried under the wreckage of the steam separator drums. Has a memorial sign in the Reactor 4 building.||Ukraine's Order For Courage of third degree.|
|Kibenok, Viktor Mykolayovych
Кибенок, Виктор Николаевич
|1963-02-17, Sirohozskoho, Kherson, Ukrainian SSR||1986-05-11, Moscow||ARS||Head guard, 6th Paramilitary Fire/Rescue Unit, Pripyat, Kiev||Lieutenant, leader of the second unit, fighting fires in the reactor department, separator room, and the central hall.||Soviet Union's Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin, by decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on September 25, 1986.|
|Konoval, Yuriy Ivanovych
Коновал, Юрий Иванович
|1942-01-01, Ust-Pier, Altai ASSR||1986-05-28, Moscow||ARS||Electrician||Managed machinery and fought fires in the 4th and 5th block.||Ukraine's Order For Courage of third degree; Soviet Union's Badge of Honor.|
|Kudryavtsev, Aleksandr Gennadiyevych
Кудрявцев, Александр Геннадиевич
|1957-12-11, Kirov, Russian SSR||1986-05-14, Moscow||ARS||Reactor control chief engineer candidate||Present in the control room at the moment of explosion; received fatal dose of radiation during attempt to manually lower the control rods as he looked directly to the open reactor core.||Ukraine's Order For Courage of third degree.|
|Kurguz, Anatoly Kharlampiyovych
Кургуз, Анатолий Харлампиевич
|1957-06-12, Unechskoho, Bryansk, Russian SSR||1986-05-12, Moscow||ARS||Senior reactor operator, central hall||Scalded by radioactive steam entering his control room at the epicenter of the explosion, he helped rescue personnel; his colleague, Oleg Genrikh, survived.||USSR's Order of Lenin; Ukraine's Cross for Courage.|
|Lelechenko, Aleksandr Grigoryevich
Лелеченко, Александр Григорьевич
|1938-07-26, Lubensky, Poltava, Ukrainian SSR||1986-05-07, Kiev, Ukrainian SSR||ARS, 25 Gy (2,500 rad)||Deputy chief of the electrical shop||Former Leningrad power plant electrical shop shift leader at the central control room with Kukhar; at the moment of explosion just arrived to the block 4 control room; in order to spare his younger colleagues of radiation exposure, he went through radioactive water and debris three times to switch off the electrolyzers and the feed of hydrogen to the generators, then tried to supply voltage to the feedwater pumps.||USSR's Order of Lenin, the title of Hero of Ukraine on awarding of the Order of the Gold Star; Ukraine's Cross for Courage.|
|Lopatyuk, Viktor Ivanovich
Лопатюк, Виктор Иванович
|1960-08-22, Lilov, Kyiv, Ukrainian SSR||1986-05-17, Moscow||ARS||Electrician||Received a fatal dose while switching off the electrolyzer.||USSR's Order of Lenin; Ukraine's Cross for Courage.|
|Luzganova, Klavdia Ivanovna
Лузганова, Клавдия Ивановна
|1927-05-09||1986-07-31, Moscow||ARS, estimated 6 grays (600 rad) exposure||Security guard||Guarded the construction site of the spent fuel storage building about 200 meters from Block 4.||Soviet Union's Order of the Red Banner.|
|Novyk, Aleksandr Vasylyovych
Новик, Александр Васильевич
|1961-08-11, Dubrovytsky, Rivne, Ukrainian SSR||1986-07-26, Moscow||ARS||Turbine equipment machinist-inspector||Received fatal dose (over 10 grays (1,000 rad)) during firefighting and stabilizing the turbine hall. Irradiated by a piece of fuel lodged on a nearby transformer of the turbo-generator 7 during attempts to call the control room.||Ukraine's Order For Courage of third degree|
|Orlov, Ivan Lukych
Орлов, Иван Лукич
|1945-01-10||1986-05-13||ARS||Physicist||Received fatal dose during attempts to restart feedwater flow into the reactor.|
|Perchuk, Kostyantyn Grigorovich
Перчук, Константин Григорьевич
|1952-11-23, Magadan, Kolyma, Russian SSR||1986-05-20, Moscow||ARS||Turbine operator, senior engineer||In the turbine hall at the moment of explosion; received fatal dose (over 10 grays (1,000 rad)) during firefighting and stabilizing the turbine hall. Irradiated by a piece of fuel lodged on a nearby transformer of the turbo-generator 7 during manual opening of the turbine emergency oil drain valves.||Ukraine's Order For Courage of third degree;|
|Perevozchenko, Valery Ivanovich
Перевозченко, Валерий Иванович
|1947-05-06, Starodub, Bryansk, Russian SSR||1986-06-13, Moscow||ARS||foreman, reactor section||Received fatal dose of radiation during attempt to locate and rescue Khodemchuk and others, and manually lower the control rods; together with Kudryavtsev and Proskuryakov he looked directly to the open reactor core, suffering radiation burns on side and back. Made extra efforts to save fellow crew.||Ukraine's Order For Courage of third degree.|
|Popov, Georgi Illiaronovich
Попов, Георгий Илларионович
|1940-02-21||1986-06-13||ARS||Employee of the Kharkiv "Turboatom" plant (a NPP subcontractor)||Vibration specialist, mobile truck-based laboratory at Turbine 8; assisted in holding the turbine room fires in check.|
|Pravik, Vladimir Pavlovych
Правик, Владимир Павлович
|1962-06-13, Chernobyl, Kiev, Ukrainian SSR||1986-05-11, Moscow||ARS||Head Guard, 2nd Paramilitary Fire Brigade, Chernobyl NPP||Lieutenant, leader of the first crew on the reactor roof, repeatedly visited the reactor and the roof of Unit C at Level 71 to supervise the firefighting; received fatal dose during attempt to extinguish the roof and the reactor core. His eyes are said to have been turned from brown to blue by the intensity of the radiation.||Named a Hero of the Soviet Union with the awarding of the Order of Lenin, by decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on September 25, 1986.|
|Proskuryakov, Viktor Vasilyevich
Проскуряков, Виктор Васильович
|1955-04-09, Svobodnyj, Amur, Russian SSR||1986-05-17, Moscow||ARS||Reactor Control Chief Engineer candidate||Present in the control room at the moment of explosion; received fatal dose of radiation during attempt to manually lower the control rods as he looked directly onto the open reactor core and suffered 100% radiation burns.||Ukraine's Order For Courage of third degree; Soviet Union's Order of Courage.|
|Savenkov, Vladimir Ivanovych
Савенков, Владимир Иванович
|1958-02-15||1986-05-21||ARS||Employee of the Kharkiv "Turboatom" plant (a NPP subcontractor)||Vibration specialist, mobile truck-based laboratory at Turbine 8; first one to become sick; buried in Kharkiv in a lead coffin.|
|Shapovalov, Anatoliy Ivanovych
Шаповалов, Анатолий Иванович
|1941-04-06, Kirovograd, Ukrainian SSR||1986-05-19, Moscow||ARS||Electrician||Fought fires and managed electrical equipment.||Ukraine's Order For Courage of third degree; USSR's Order of Friendship of Peoples.|
|Shashenok, Vladimir Nikolaevich
Шашенок, Владимир Николаевич
|1951-04-21, Schucha Dam, Chernihiv, Ukrainian SSR||1986-04-26, Pripyat||thermal and radiation burns, trauma||Employee of the "Atomenergonaladka" (Chernobyl startup and adjustment company, a NPP subcontractor), adjuster of automatic systems||Stationed in Room 604, found unconscious and pinned down under a fallen beam, with broken spine, broken ribs, deep thermal and radiation burns. He died in the hospital without regaining consciousness.||Ukraine's Order For Courage of third degree; USSR's Order of Courage.|
|Sitnikov, Anatoly Andreyevich
Ситников, Анатолий Андреевич
|1940-01-20, Voskresenka, Primorye, Russian SSR||1986-05-30, Moscow||ARS||Deputy chief operational engineer, physicist||Received fatal dose (about 1,500 roentgen), mostly to the head after being sent by Nikolai Fomin to survey the reactor hall and peek at the reactor from the roof of Unit C.||USSR's Order of Lenin; Ukraine's Cross for Courage.|
|Telyatnikov, Leonid Petrovich
Телятников, Леонид Петрович
|1951-01-25, Vvedenka, Kustanai, Kazakh SSR||2004-12-02, Kyiv||died of cancer 18 years after receiving an estimated 4 grays (400 rad) dose.||Head of the 2nd Paramilitary Fire Brigade, Chernobyl NPP||Chief of the power plant fire department. Coordinated all fire fighting efforts. After Chernobyl, he stayed with the Soviet internal force, and later the Ukraine internal forces, retired a general in 1995.||Hero of the Soviet Union with the awarding the Order of Lenin by decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on September 25, 1986; Ukraine's Cross for Courage.|
|Tishura, Vladimir Ivanovych
Тишура, Владимир Иванович
|1959-12-15, North Station, Leningrad, Russian SSR||1986-05-10, Moscow||ARS||Senior firefighter, 6th Paramilitary Fire/Rescue Unit, Pripyat, Kiev||Sergeant, Kibenok's unit, fighting fires in the reactor department, separator room, and the central hall.||Hero of Ukraine on awarding the Order of the Gold Star; Ukraine's Cross for Courage; USSR's Order of Red Banner.|
|Titenok, Nikolai Ivanovych
Титенок, Николай Иванович
|1962-12-05, Mykolaivka, Kyiv, Ukrainian SSR||1986-05-16, Moscow||external and internal radiation burns, blistered heart||Firefighter, 6th Paramilitary Fire/Rescue Unit, Pripyat, Kiev||Chief Sergeant, Kibenok's unit, fighting fires in the reactor department, separator room, and the central hall; received fatal dose during attempt to extinguish the roof and the reactor core.||Hero of Ukraine on awarding the Order of the Gold Star; Ukraine's Cross for Courage; USSR's Order of Red Banner.|
|Toptunov, Leonid Fedorovych
Топтунов, Леонид Федорович
|1960-08-16, Mykolaivka, Burinskiy, Sumy, Russian SSR||1986-05-14, Moscow||ARS||Senior reactor control chief engineer||In the control room at the reactor control panel at the moment of explosion, with Akimov; received fatal dose during attempts to restart feedwater flow into the reactor.||Ukraine's Order For Courage of the third degree.|
|Vashchuk, Nikolai Vasilievich
Ващук, Николай Васильевич
|1959-06-05, Haicheng, Zhitomir, Ukrainian SSR||1986-05-14, Moscow||ARS||Squad commander, 6th Paramilitary Fire/Rescue Unit, Pripyat, Kiev||A sergeant in Kibenok's unit, he fought fires in the reactor department, separator room, and the central hall.||Hero of Ukraine with the Order of the Gold Star.|
|Vershynin, Yuriy Anatoliyovych
Вершинин, Юрий Анатольевич
|1959-05-22, Zuyevskaya, Kirov, Russian SSR||1986-07-21, Moscow||ARS||Turbine equipment machinist-inspector||In the turbine hall at the moment of explosion; received over 10 Gy (1,000 rad) dose during firefighting and stabilizing the turbine hall. Irradiated by a piece of fuel lodged on a nearby transformer of the turbogenerator 7 during attempts to call the control room.||Ukraine's Order For Courage of third degree; Soviet Union's Order of the Badge of Honor.|
- According to the World Health Organization, the Soviet Union issued 600,000 certificates to Chernobyl liquidators, making 600,000 the most oft-cited tally of their total numbers. However, other tallies—including published figures of 240,000, 350,000, 500,000, 750,000, and 800,000 total liquidators—often appear in secondary-source accounts of the post-disaster cleanup campaign.
- From "Statement on Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences volume entitled Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment": "[The] Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences volume Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment ... does not present new, unpublished work, nor is it a work commissioned by the NYA. The expressed views of the authors, or by advocacy groups or individuals with specific opinions about the Annals Chernobyl volume, are their own. Although the NYAS believes it has a responsibility to provide open forums for discussion of scientific questions, the Academy has no intent to influence legislation by providing such forums. The Academy is committed to publishing content deemed scientifically valid by the general scientific community, from whom the Academy carefully monitors feedback."
- Some groups, including the UNSCEAR, posit slightly higher direct death tallies of 49, 54, or 59. (See § Differing direct, short-term death toll counts.)
- The disaster relief operation, as well as the whole work of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, was directly supervised by the Soviet government using exclusively Russian language. Directly translated into wide English use, respective names and terms may differ from their local Ukrainian or Belarusian spelling/pronunciation. Names use eastern European naming conventions.
- Parfitt, Tom (April 26, 2006). "Opinion remains divided over Chernobyl's true toll". The Lancet. pp. 1305–1306. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
- "The impact of Chernobyl's nuclear disaster 33 years later". PBS NewsHour Weekend. April 21, 2019. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
- Wellerstein, Alex (April 26, 2016). "The Battles of Chernobyl". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
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