The Battle of Chernobyl
For preview only. Get it at  #ad.

The Battle of Chernobyl

2006, Environment  -   59 Comments
Ratings: 7.36/10 from 193 users.

The Battle of ChernobylIt's a documentary which analyzes the Thursday 26th April 1986 that became a momentous date in modern history, when one of the reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in northern Ukraine, exploded. It was the most significant reactor failure in the history of nuclear power, a Maximum Credible Accident (MCA). The plant, just 20 km away from the town center, was made up of four reactor units each generating an output of 1,000 megawatts. The reactor in question exploded due to operational errors and inadequate safety measures and the meltdown was directly linked to routine testing on the reactor unit’s turbine generators.

The test required reactor activity and the thermal reactor output to be run down to a lower level. During the procedure, however, the reactor plummeted to an unexpectedly low and unstable level of activity. At this point, it should have been shut down; as the operators chose to continue with the test, the events subsequently proved to be catastrophic.

More than 200 people died or were seriously injured by radiation exposure immediately after the explosion. 161,000 people had to be evacuated from a 30 kilometer radius of the reactor and 25,000 square km of land were contaminated. As time went on millions of people suffered radiation related health problems such as leukemia and thyroid cancer and around 4,000 people have died as a result of the long-term effects of the accident.

Nobody was prepared for such a crisis. For the next seven months, 500,000 men will wage hand-to-hand combat with an invisible enemy – a ruthless battle that has gone unsung, which claimed thousands of unnamed and now almost forgotten heroes. Yet, it is thanks to these men that the worst was avoided; a second explosion, ten times more powerful than Hiroshima which would have wiped out more than half of Europe. This was kept secret for twenty years by the Soviets and the West alike.

More great documentaries

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 years ago

The whole idea about the Chernobyl reactor was wrong from the beginning. A reactor with no failsafe in case of error is like a running windmill.

From livescience article 39961
" In most nuclear reactors, where water is used as a coolant and to moderate the reactivity of the nuclear core, as the core heats up and produces more steam, the increase in steam bubbles or "voids" in the water reduces the reactivity in the nuclear core. This is an important safety feature found in most reactors built in the United States and other Western nations.

But not in the RBMK-1000, which used graphite to moderate the core's reactivity and to keep a continuous nuclear reaction occurring in the core. As the nuclear core heated and produced more steam bubbles, the core became more reactive, not less, creating a positive-feedback loop that engineers refer to as a "positive-void coefficient."" ref Living Science

So, using the Chernobyl disaster as an argument against atomic power is quite pointless. Suggest you read the livescience article.

Richard Neva
9 years ago

All nuclear plants are bombs waiting to go off, if you live near one, move away now!

9 years ago

There is something wrong at 1:04:50. A big mistake:

"I was holding the camera like this, and it was coming up from the ground, like that".

In the camera, the image on the film is always INVERTED top-bottom and left-right. If the radiation was coming from the ground, then on the
film and on the printed photo the traces would be in the sky area of the
photo, not in the ground.

Such a big mistake annihilate he authenticity of the whole video.

10 years ago

I remember seeing this doc a few years ago.
It is very interesting, well presented and worth while to watch.

10 years ago

An excellent documentary that reveals not only the danger of nuclear power, but the danger of the politics itself. 1st, the Russians play everything down. (contain panic) When they finally give total transparency, and pass on what they have learned from the disaster, France, and countries from the west dismiss the information, because they don't like the implications for future nuclear projects. (money/profits)
When all is said, and done, the potential for nuclear power will never see the light of day, because proper containment for large scale land based production is not financially feasable, where profits rules the day. (back up systems have all failed, (Fukashima, 3 mile Island, and Chernobyl) unlike small reactors, (submarines, air craft carriers) where they can be scuttled to the bottom of the ocean, when something goes wrong.(out of sight, out of mind) Bottom line: Since no one is telling the truth, no one can be trusted.
With all this nonsense, I am supposed to be afraid of Iran getting nuclear weapons? (apparently, the least of our problems)

11 years ago

Now we have Japan and talk about evacuation of the whole place 110 Million people all we need is another Earth Quake and its all over for most of the World with the Fuel rods burning for 100 yrs..
USA is finding radiation and I guess any where in between in food and the Air

11 years ago

subtitles are not accurate. they've edited certain patriotic things people say out.

11 years ago

youd think the mixing would be a bit better for such a great doc

11 years ago

Steven Dahl is right i used to think of it as a forward from oil but know to that one reactor do all this damage is unthinkable and the Russians said that there most powerful warhead was 100 times worse than Chernobyl.
that is something we should do away with and erase any plans for these missiles.
This kind of power should kept away from all intelligent life.
It is stupid that we would do this to anything for because of there race,culture, religion or belief's.
We will kill everything if we keep acting like this.

Arseniy Tkachuk
11 years ago

Such a bad translation.

11 years ago

The amount of information and theories in these comments is making me dizzy and I dont know what I believe now.

One things for sure, whether its for energy or profit or whatever else! Nuclear power plants are a bad idea.

Thats the bottom line!

12 years ago

Seti these nuclear reators are based upon really old submarine designs and were never meant to be upscaled. Not my opinion but the director of the nuke sub program who implemented nuclear reactors in subs for the US. Its a cheap tech though so people who want to make money like it. But its dirty as hell with really no where to store the waste, which is a whole different subject of its own. The truth is 95% of the stock in the US is owned by 5%. A 5% who very rarely IF ever truly feel the ramifications of decisions they make simply to attain or maintain wealth of an order that is ludicrous. So our planets gets trashed so a FEW rich people can get richer. And now the IMF and world bank get to own japan as they will never be able to pay back their loans they will be getting to repair their nation, unless of course they agree to privatize some of their resources for the benefit of that few again. It all BS brother. Solar panels on the homes in CA,AZ,NV,TX,NM could power half the US or more. Its no secret that the BP is the biggest supplier of solar panels. Are they trying to get them to the world cheaper as demand rises according to the economic principles the establishment eschews. Nope they fix the price and it will stay where they want it so solar stays dead. They can make money and sell them cheaper, they are subsidized by the US gov after all, but why do the right thing AND make money? Thats not in their creed. Just blind greed and a corporate media to play buffer between the truth and the lies. SO you are right in some regards but only because big money wants it that way. In 1945 35% of new millionaires were from poverty. Now it is about 2-3%. Things sure are getting more fair in the world. Free your mind and your ass will follow.

12 years ago

Just saw the George Monbiot (pro) and Helen Caldicott (con) debate over nuclear power.

I have no idea who to believe, but I believe this. There are too many people, living too high lifestyles, and we will all suffer because of this.

12 years ago

The nuclear industry only came into being after the US had done the unthinkable, and dropped nuclear weapons on populated cities in Japan. Then the capitalists looked at what could they could do to make money from this hugely expensive proposition, from the research and nuclear testing from the Manhattan Project. They came up with the phrase,'Atoms for Peace' and employed engineers and physicists to figure out a containment to harness the heat of the nuclear fission, in order to boil water. There was even the idea to use depleted uranium on the battle field. And to build higher yield nuclear devices/bombs. They knew at the time that its use on the battle field would be a war crime but sooner or later they planned to use it. And now they have. The 40 year life expectancy of their nuclear reactors is here and the accidents are about to multiply.

All of the 110 nuclear reactors in the US are built near or next to fault lines. The earth is full of fault lines, full of them, that's how the continents moved, by floating over the molten magma layer. "Everything is moving all the time. You just hope that it doesn't move while you're there." There are spent fuel pools with 1000's of tons of radionuclide waste material that will last for 10 of thousands of years, and some of it for 100's of thousands of years. They have to be monitored 100% of the time, that means for 100's of thousands of years!

Who gave these fixated sociopaths the right to destroy all of life on this planet? Oppenheimer said upon the 1st nuclear test in New Mexico, "I am become death, destroyer of worlds." Our species and our planet stands no chance of surviving the radionuclides that are contaminating our atmosphere, soil and water. It has been spread all over the Middle East, it's blowing through the atmosphere in sand storms.

And now Fukushima, with 4 reactors in meltdown and the Japanese and the US give no information on the real dangers of what has befallen our planet. In this age of information, we ought to at least be given information on the possibility that the Pacific Ocean could be destroyed and made a radioactive dead zone if all 6 of the Daiichi reactors melt down into the watertable right on the sea, right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. The people are really left to make our own calculations, and that is what we must begin doing towards those who govern and those who exploit the earth to increase solely their own wealth.

When the people of the earth realize that they do not need these kinds of energy: uranium and coal and oil, and that it was only the greed of the few for capital that took humanity in this misguided direction, then humanity will finally live in another way. The populations will decrease because they must, and there will be enough energy for a quality existence without burning anything that has been mined from the earth. Rather the sun and the wind will be the energy that powers the future, as it should always have been. Humans existed for 10 of thousands of years in this way.

12 years ago

So who do you work for Seti? The nuclear lobbyists? If not then you couldnt be anymore mistaken. The fact of the matter is Nuclear and oil are not our answer. It's a detriment to our economy and society. Nuclear and oil energy only make the rich corporations get richer as we suffer at the gas pumps and are forced to pay ever rising utility bills poisining our planet ever step of the way. Both are destroying the very fabric of our worlds society as we warmonger in foreign countrys and fight over what limited oil supplys are left. And rip up our planet and tear uranium out of it spewing toxic and oil waste from the mining and refining and to the making of the feul rods poisoning and depleting our cities and the worlds water basins. And then we have to dig even deeper holes in our planet to store our super garbage. We need to rise up and demand that our leaders make it possible for the funding and research of green energy which has been promised to us and blocked continuously by oil/nuc lobbyists and corrupt political short term greed. This is the nuclear and oil corporate owners worst nightmare. We need to use oil and gas as lttle as possible. This will not only bring the world millions of new jobs, It will also bring us out of economic depression and it will catapolt us into a clean and sustainable future for our childrens children.....

12 years ago

One should remember how much the Russians have to gain if there is a shift in energy policy back to petroleum and natural gas. Russia is sitting on an almost infinite supply of natural gas. The Germans have already had to more than double it's imports of Russian resources to offset their nuclear shutdown. It's also interesting how the one general says how "radioactive" his map is and puts his counter next to it which shows little radiation, however in the film they added sound. Later in that same scene he has the map out and is showing the film crew. Further, they even interview people at the site that is so toxic you should not go near it.

I have serious misgivings about the facts in this documentary, but as these comments reflect people buy into the hysteria. The more nuclear power plants you shut down the more profits you put into the oil companies coffers. If you are lying to yourself saying that renewable energy will replace base load in the next two decades you should seriously consider what we do until then.

It is all too soon to lay judgment on the situation in Japan. The Western media has consistently produced facts that are incorrect. Its an accident just like one at a chemical plant, an oil refinery, or any of a number of other industries that we all live near. Is it bad, sure, is it the end of the world - please spare me. The core of this matter is financial, oil, coal, and natural gas companies (often the same masters) are making sure the hysteria is pushed to record levels. Unfortunately for them, unlike Chernobyl we can get our information with using the MSM.

** This Documentary brought to you by Gasprom and Lukoil **

12 years ago

The truth needs to be shown to the world.
As Japan experiences its nightmare - this documentary needs to be shown to the world and people truly need to understand about the dangers of these technologies. I was working with a women on a clean technology solution called ACT landmark that could have cleaned the message & she showed me the pictures of children with no limbs, hands were so badly deformed. We tried to raise funds unfortunately funding just did not come and Global Environmental Funding agencies would not give us the time or the day. It is a shame what man is doing to destroy this earth and humanity. I agree it is a invisible enemy @mymulticast

12 years ago

I have an idea. Why not invest in energy that doesn't mutate your genetic code? I mean, unless of course you WANT to wake up one day and look like The Fly. How many Chernobyl accidents do you want to happen? How many will it take? The, "fear is unfounded..." Really?
'a second explosion, ten times more powerful than Hiroshima which would have wiped out more than half of Europe'
Maybe it will take half of Europe being wiped out, because apparently, Japan being melted off the face of the earth isn't enough.

12 years ago

wow! A must see in time!

12 years ago

This show deals with how they fought the battle of Chernobyl. Another show National Geographic's :Seconds From Disaster - Meltdown In Chernobyl shows what went wrong in the power plant and how the disaster unfolded.

12 years ago

Why don't they pour a slush of liquid nitrogen and solid nitrogen into the breach and cool it below with a similar cooler/freezer pump.

12 years ago

the true danger of nuclear energy is that because of the incidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl people are so against reactors that the government has put a stop to building newer ones. Todays reactors have so many safety checks that a accidental radioctive release letalone explosion by human error or even an act of terrorism is extremely unlikely. the danger is that by not building new reactors the dangerous decrepit ones the were supposed to go off line 25 years ago are not being shut down and day by day are increasing the chance of a major event.

Dave in NC
12 years ago

As an American, this video adds to my impression of the Russian people enduring momentous hardship and tragedy with stoic heroism. Fully eighty percent of the Nazi divisions were fighting on the Eastern Front- without the sacrifices of Russia, World War II would have turned out much differently. They have endured massive government corruption and a view of human life as being cheap for decades.

Of nuclear power in general, it is true that Chernobyl is not typical of Western design and that use of nuclear power may be important to bridge over to renewable natural energy supplies. However, we should consider LFTR technology- the liquid fueled Thorium reactor as an alternative which has no meltdown potential, much less dangerous or long-lasting waste, greater resource supply than uranium, and no weapons proliferation capability.

12 years ago

One of the best documentaries I have ever seen on anything! Being a US Nuclear Plant worker, it really hit home with me. People say it could never happen in the US, and we don't use this type of reactor. I'm a firm believer that different technologies open doors to different potential disasters. For that reason, I and my co-workers stay ever vigilent to problems.

12 years ago

Hi Henriette
You can buy the film at Icarus films, but it is very expensive around $400.00 I hope the price comes down, I would like to buy it too. There is a French website that has another Chernobyl film by the same director and producer. It is Play Films based in Paris. The price of the short film I believe is much less than this one.

12 years ago

This film was so hard to watch because it brought lots of my memories back. I was born and raised in Kiev and I perfectly remember that day: the whole army of military helicopters were flying over our house, non-stop, day and night, at the same direction, making terrifying noise. Nobody really knew what was going on, people were scared. I was just a 9 year old child at that time. Chernobyl is approximately 75 miles away from our home. A couple of years later my cousin died of a brain tumor, at the age of 9, after painful suffering. He had an open-skull surgery, but it was too late to save his life: the disease already spread all over his brain. The doctors sewed his scull back together and just let him die. They told us his sickness was related to Chernobyl disaster. He was a normal, healthy, smart and a nice boy before he got sick. His Mom was a school teacher. I’m so glad that I got a chance to move to the USA at the age of 25, further away from that aria. My entire family wasn’t so lucky as I and they still live in Kiev. Each one of them constantly feels sick all the time. I personally decided not to have kids of my own for many reasons. One of them is a great chance to give birth to a sick child.
Another thing also came across my mind is there is a huge population of alcoholics and drug-addicts in former USSR nowadays. Those bad habits could also contribute a lot to the birth defects of those innocent children we just saw. Not only Chernobyl by itself…

Clayton Bigsby
12 years ago

Keiv, nice place but they drink too much for me.

12 years ago

uranium will quite quickly run out. emphasis should be put on harnessing natures power. Major research should be put into making solar, wind and wave energy technology more efficient and less costly.

my major concern with this video is that russia was very selfish and neglegant for not informing other countries of what was happening. Things could have been much worse and no-body woul be prepared. lets hope everyone has learnt a lesson from this and prevent it ever happening again.

We all together bottom up need to make a change and persuade those at the top, that unless we make a change now. there will be no planet for our children to inhabit. Global warming is a fact - Lets all make a change.....Please!!!

12 years ago

I can't believe anyone would watch this and come away with a America vs Russia comment. This isn't 1981 so lose the mindless hatred and bravado. This has nothing to do with how well a country handles this situation. The point is that man is simply not equipped to handle THIS situation and perhaps nuclear power isn't a viable option.

13 years ago

May I put my two cents here. I am Hungarian, and was 10 years old when this thing happened. We were a Communist country, although not as hardline as the USSR. Still our politicians were repeating the same mantra: there's no problem, our Soviet comrades are having everything in order, go and celebrate 1st of May. However we weren't far from there: Soviet authorities already had plans to evacuate Miskolc, Ozd and some other countries in Northern Hungary, close to the Soviet (now Ukrainian) border. I remember my hair was falling those days, I had flocks of hair in my comb every day. I still don't know if there's anything to worry. What is funny that those people in charge those day still insist that Chernobyl had no long-time effects and there's nothing to worry. There was an interview with a former minister and some lead scientists on TV some years ago - they were all retired then - and they kept saying Chernobyl was safe. Just until the reporter tossed his own order into his face in which he ordered the media to suppress the truth. Then he got really upset and kicked the guy out of his home, but that's another matter. In fact some Hungarian truck drivers who were on the road when the accident happened did suffer radiation sickness and died - but the state refused to pay any compensation to their families stating that it had nothing to do with Chernobyl.

I've read a lot about Chernobyl since and I am confident that the problem is not with nuclear energy. Chernobyl did not explode because nuclear energy is evil or something. Any machine can and will go wrong if badly constructed and controlled by ignorant a-holes. The Titanic did not sink because it was meant to sink but because the captain ignored weather warnings. The same happened in Chernobyl on a larger scale. A very poorly constructed facility melted down because of inappropriate handling. The entire power plant was hastily built of poor material because the builders wanted decorations and promotions for fast work. The best material was expensive and often even stolen during construction. For instance the cover of the reactor was made of simple everyday concrete although it was supposed to be built of super-reinforced special material that would not have broken into pieces even if the reactor overheated. There were a series of minor accidents throughout the short history of the plant, including cooling water spilling into the nearby lakes, radioactive gases escaping and so on. KGB had reports on these but they were suppressed. The entire catastrophe would have been avoided if the builders and maintainers are not that ignorant. Or not that stupid to be short.

Nuclear energy is a tool, a very useful tool. Do reactors explode? No, they don't. Never a single reactor has blown up like Chernobyl, and why? Because they are correctly supervised, especially after being given an example how it can end up otherwise. I admit that nuclear energy can be, and is very dangerous, but not more than any other human invention. Saying no to nuclear energy means saying yes to either energy starvation or fossil fuels. Actually mankind needs more nuclear plants, but without all the flaws that caused the Chernobyl disaster. Even my little country has a nuclear plant but nobody is worried of it. It should not be mishandled, that's all, and everybody knows that.

13 years ago

Ok, wait. Please if somebody reads this, respond back to my question if you can 8-).

Question. So they never created the liquid nitrogen "cooling system" under the radiator? So those men dug a tunnel for nothing, basically? I mean, I know they put eventually put cement in there but cement wasn't the original proposed idea??? All those men got sick & 1/4 of those men died before the age of 40 for nothing? How sad, how truly horrible for everyone involved. Those men are heroes to me.

13 years ago

Does anyone know where I can buy this docomentary?

13 years ago

Very interesting documentary, the most detailed I know on the subject. A truly horrific disaster which will never need happen again if we resort to more greener energy resources if possible. A lot needs to be done to ensure this site is permanately eradicated of any contaminates or we could all be in serious trouble.
Panic stricken methods of dealing with the catastrophe were probably understandable as nothing of this magnitude had been witnessed before to my knowledge. However subjecting those involved at close proximity was a severe risk which should have been accredited a lot more and I must take my hat off to the individuals who were involved with the task of saving many more lives around the surrounding area and of europe with regards to clean ups, evacuations etc.
Harness what nature provides us with to supply our energy needs.....

13 years ago

People, you didn't get the point. This movie is not about Russian government, this movie is about Russian heroism and Russian stupidity. I am 32-years old Russian woman who lived in Tula (Toula in this movie) during this disaster, 1000 km from Chernobyl. I am scientist who works in US now. The Tula region as well as other Russian regions was and stay up to now contaminated by radioactivity. Only after this movie, I realized WHY. It was a crazy tragedy and stays an enormous problem and will stay a factor that decreases people lifespan in Russia.
I watched this movie 6 times, I send it to all my friends, we discussed it a lot. I have a lot of thoughts and emotions about this situation, and have no willing to share all of them here. They are mixed and not classified. I got these thoughts only now because information that was shown in this movie stayed secret for many years in Russia. Even now, people do not realize WHY they have many diseases. THIS IS HORRIBLE!!!
This situation shows how Russian government typically solves a problem (you knows NOTHING about WWII, I know a lot). Our government do not care about peolpe - it always uses them. The USA government at least realizes that people has a right - to have information what will happen if a particular person decides to serve the Country Interests.
I hate Russian government, and I always will admire by Russian people. This is why I consider that this movie was not about government, this movie was about HEROISM OF RUSSIAN, UKRAINIAN AND BELORUSSIAN PEOPLE.
Many thanks to authors of this movie.
I have only one concern right now. I am interested who is building a second sarcophagus. I do not believe that French workers (French company won a contest for building of second sarcophagus) will work in Chernobyl, and as I get machines cannot work under such level of radioactivity. This is crazy. I have no word, if Russian government again will use soldiers (young boys) for this purpose. I can use only bad words in such situation.

13 years ago

Did you notice how proactive and responsible the US government was about New Orleans ? If you think that's been fixed then fly there and take a drive out of the tourist zone and look at the derelict city that stands unrepaired years later.

If you think its okay 'cos we've got robots in the west - watch the documentary - they had our western robots at Chernobyl. Radiation that intense fries semi-conductors. Nothing above WWII valve electronics can survive.

If you think you can trust some government somewhere in history to tell the truth about bad news ..... I can't help you.

14 years ago

CME,The United States is better equipped to handle a situation like this. 3 Mile Island is a perfect example of how people worked together to prevent matters from getting worse, nobody downplayed how bad the situation was at 3 Mile Island and the United States makes sure EVERYONE is educated about the dangers and responsibility involved in every nuclear power plant across the nation. If you pay attention to this documentary, you will understand that the people involved at Chernobyl had no idea how serious the situation was and there was NO communication between the nuclear scientists and the operators of the plant. So to say the U.S. government would "waste time" is pretty much a clueless statement about what you are talking about, I would suggest you go back to school and learn something before making a careless statement.

14 years ago

OK, i might have had a belief nuclear power could be contained, until i watched this doc.

What scares me most, is the collassal effort the Soviets engineered immediately following this disaster, simply could never be done by any government on the planet today.

The US-Govt, as example, would waste months if not years bickering about what should be done, how much it would cost, setting up studies & commissions before any "FIX" would start... etc etc etc... giving plenty of time for the core to EXPLODE & make the situation 1,000 times worse.

Watch this doc & place your govt in the hand dealt to the Soviets... do you think they could do any better, if not worse?