Deaths due to the Chernobyl disaster
The Chernobyl disaster (Ukrainian: Чорнобильська катастрофа, Chornobylʹsʹka katastrofa, Chernobyl accident) was considered as one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. It 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. The scientific consensus on the effects of the disaster has been developed by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). In peer-reviewed publications UNSCEAR has identified 49 immediate deaths from trauma, acute radiation poisoning, a helicopter crash, and from an original group of about 6,000 cases of thyroid cancers in the affected area.
During mid-1986 the official Soviet death toll rose from 2 to 31. Following the disaster itself, the USSR organized an effort to stabilize and shore up the reactor area, still awash in radiation, using the efforts of more than 600,000 “liquidators” recruited from all over the USSR. Some organizations claim that deaths as a result of the immediate aftermath and the cleanup operation may number at least 6,000, but that exceeds the number of workers believed, by the National Commission for Radiation Protection of Ukraine, to have died from all causes (including, for example, old age and traffic accidents). The UNSCEAR report cites only evidence for thyroid cancers among children and teens (adults are more resistant to radiogenic thyroid disease caused by iodine-131 poisoning) and some small amount of leukemia and eye cataracts among the most irradiated of the workers; no evidence for hard cancers has been found, despite waiting beyond the elapse of the usual ten year latency period. For further information on the indirect health implications, see Chernobyl disaster's effects on human health.
Of great concern is the possible number of delayed deaths caused by hard cancer, leukemia and other diseases with longer time latencies following the release of radioactive debris from the disaster. A United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) study estimates the final total of premature deaths associated with the disaster will be around 4000, mostly from an estimated 3% increase in cancers, which are already common causes of death in the region. Some non-governmental organizations, many with staunch positions on the spectrum of the nuclear power debate, have claimed numbers up to a million excess deaths caused by the nuclear disaster. UN and other international agencies such as the Chernobyl Forum and the World Health Organization state that such numbers are wildly over-estimated. The Chernobyl Forum also acknowledges an increase in psychological problems amongst those exposed to radiation, which may be attributed in part to poor communication of radiation effects and disruption to their way of life, but is also likely affected by other events surrounding the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Complicating the conflict is the fact that, with the exception of diagnoses of Acute Radiation Syndrome, obvious industrial accidents on site, and a detailed analysis of thyroid cancers among children, assignment of causes of death is a statistical rather than a deterministic process. Although non-peer-reviewed publications allege a variety of cancers, heart and other organ diseases, birth defects in children and grandchildren of nearby residents and other ailments, for the majority of these conditions radiation exposure is not even a recognized cause and, in any case, the incidence of such conditions in the relevant population has actually fallen since the Chernobyl incident. On the other hand, the effects of radiation are becoming better known as experience gathers and formerly disconnected illness may actually be the result of long-term, unseen damage during the exposure event.
The total number of deaths, including future deaths, is highly controversial, and estimates range from "up to" 4,000 (by a team of over 100 scientists) to the Union of Concerned Scientists estimate is approximately 27,000 based on the LNT model, to 93,000—200,000 (by Greenpeace). Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, published by the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, but without NYAS explicit approval,[Notes 1] is a 2007 Russian publication that concludes that there were 985,000 premature deaths as a result of the radioactivity released. The controversy arises because most of the deaths cannot be measured: any cancer deaths that may be caused by the accident are small compared to background rates of cancer. Theoretical estimates must rely instead on controversial models such as LNT or hormesis models.
Deaths due to trauma and radiation sickness
In the list following are 37 people whose deaths are officially directly attributable to the Chernobyl disaster. Of these, two died at the scene, four died in a single helicopter accident, 29 died within a few months of Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS) and three died later from medical complications possibly caused by the accident. Of these people, one was a cinematographer, one a physician, five military personnel (four in a single helicopter), seven firefighters, two security guards and the rest staff at the power plant or subcontractors. At least one unidentified person is reported to have died of a coronary thrombosis at the scene, and nine children died of thyroid cancer (in 2005 that number was raised to 15), but identifications are not known. No members of the general public other than the doctor were hospitalized in the month following the accident, though a pair of fishermen, Pustavoit and Protasov, reportedly received 400 REM doses. There were a total of 137 confirmed cases of ARS, including Pyotr Palamarchuk who survived after a reported exposure to 800 roentgens, twice the normal 50% probability of death dose.
|Table: Known Deaths due to Trauma and Radiation Sickness|
|Name (Eng/Rus): Last, First, Patronym[Notes 3]
||Date and place of birth||Date and place of death||Cause of death/injury||Occupation||Description||Official Recognition|
|Yes||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|
|Yes||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|
|Yes||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.|
|Yes||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.|
|Dyatlov, Anatoly Stepanovich
Дятлов, Анатолий Степанович
|1931-03-03, Atamanovo, Krasnoyarsk, Russian SFSR||1995-12-13, Kiev, Ukraine||heart failure, possibly a delayed consequence of his CHNPP and previous exposures||Deputy chief engineer of the Power Plant||Nikolai Fomin's assistant; supervised the test, present in the control room at the moment of explosion. Sustained about 550 rads of radiation when surveying the reactor damage from the outside with Nikolai Gorbachenko; radiation burns on face, right hand, legs.||Stripped of Communist Party membership, arrested in August 1986, spent 5 years in a labor camp.|
|Hanzhuk, Nikolai Aleksandrovich
Ганжук, Николай Александрович
|1960-06-26||1986-10-02, Chernobyl NPP||helicopter crash||helicopter pilot||[Notes 4]|
|Yes||Ignatenko, Vasyli 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. He was survived by his pregnant wife Lyudmilla. Her child died shortly after birth due to a heart failure and a cirrhosis of the liver, caused by contamination.||Hero of Ukraine with Order of the Gold Star; Cross for Courage; The Soviet Union's Order of the Red Banner.|
|Yes||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.|
|Yes||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.|
|Khrystych, Leonid Ivanovych
Христич, Леонид Иванович
|1953-02-28||1986-10-02, Chernobyl NPP||helicopter crash||helicopter pilot||[Notes 4]|
|Yes||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.|
|Yes||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.|
|Yes||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.|
|Yes||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.|
|Yes||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.|
|Yes||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.|
|Yes||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.|
|Yes||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.|
|?||?||ARS||local physician||Orlov treated firefighters at the disaster site for three hours in the morning before being sent to the Moscow hospital where all his patients were headed.|
|Yes||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;|
|Yes||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.|
|Yes||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.|
|Yes||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.|
|Yes||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.|
|Yes||Shashenok, Vladimir Nikolaevich
Шашенок, Владимир Николаевич
|1951-04-21, Schucha Dam, Chernihiv, Ukrainian SSR||1986-04-26, Kyiv||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.|
|Shevchenko, Volodimir Mikitovich
Шевченко, Владимир Никитич
|1929-12-23||1987-03-29||Complications of ARS||Ukrainian cameraman||A filmmaker who took much of the iconic footage of the early days in recovering from the Chernobyl disaster. He filmed the clip of the helicopter crash of 2nd Oct 1986.[Notes 4]|
|Yes||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 1500 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.|
|Yes||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.|
|Yes||Tishchura, Vladimir Ivanovych
Тищура, 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.|
|Yes||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.|
|Yes||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.|
|Yes||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.|
|Yes||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.|
|Vorobyov, Volodymyr Kostyantynovych
Воробьёв, Владимир Костантинович
|1956-03-21||1986-10-02, Chernobyl NPP||helicopter crash||helicopter crew||[Notes 4]|
|Yunhkind, Oleksandr Yevhenovych
Юнхкинд, Олександр Евхновйч
|1958-04-15||1986-10-02, Chernobyl NPP||helicopter crash||helicopter crew||[Notes 4]|
- Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment
- Individual involvement in the Chernobyl disaster
- The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences volume “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment,” therefore, does not present new, unpublished work, nor is it a work commissioned by the New York Academy of Sciences. 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 New York Academy of Sciences 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.
- The indicated people are on the list of the original 28 official deaths caused by the Chernobyl accident.
- 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.
- This helicopter was tasked with pouring polyvinyl acetate glue on the roof as part of the decontamination efforts. The craft crashed next to the power plant building as its rotor hit a construction crane cable. See «Повезло, что вертолет упал не на реактор». 30 лет катастрофе вертолета Ми-8 над Чернобыльской атомной станцией. Павел Котляр, 02.10.2016, 10:09 Video: "Video of the Chernobyl helicopter crash".
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