Chernobyl Wiki
Wormwood 15
The cans in the market suddenly stopped having labels. I don't think it was because they ran out of paper.
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[RU: Слухи], [DE: Gossip]

During and after the Chernobyl accident, many people said things that they thought were true but might not have been. Some hearsay is still going on today.

Soviet firefighter-1984

Soviet firefighter.

Immediately Following The Explosion[]

When the firefighters came back from the station, they were sent to a hospital in Moscow for radiation sickness. Having been the first ones on the scene of the accident aside from the plant workers, they believed it was the work of sabotage from some other country. This view was widely shared by the soldiers and liquidators, who arrived shortly after to continue the work on the power plant. This was largely due to a complete lack of any information on the risks of nuclear power; it was basically inaccessable to the common Soviet citizen. Coupled with the endless propaganda about the "flawless" nature of the "peaceful atom," even if they had known what had truly occurred that night, none of them would have believed it. The information about the stupidity of the staff and the flaws with the reactor would not be released until the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991. In fact, almost no one who was not a high-ranking Party official in Moscow (and even then, that was rare) knew what actually went on in a nuclear reactor. They were told that energy was made out of nothing, and men in white suits pressed buttons. Not even the majority of the staff knew what was truly happening.



The clean-up process around the plant sparked even more wild stories. Because dosimetrists and Geiger-operators were deployed with the liquidators so that the count of radiation particles could be filed in their medical records, the liquidators did find out a little about radiation and its mutagenic properties. Many talked about seeing boars with two heads and atomic hedgehogs, or leaves that shined in the dark.

The truth behind this is not far from what they were saying, though - radiation can cause genetic mutations, but only in unborn fetuses. In the case of in-utro damage, it is connected to ionizing radiation (alpha particles). This means that the alpha radiation steals electrons from the fetus as well as gamma radiation, which not only causes genetic disorders but somatic damage as well. This can cause the baby to be born without limbs or, in extreme cases, dead.


This old woman still tends her land in the 30-km radius.

From The Survivors[]

In many villages in the outer 10-12 kms of the Exclusion Zone, elderly people still live and take care of animals. They survive in the nuclear desert that is Chernobyl, though there are only about 400 still left. Many say hopefully that the government has already sold the land, and that soon it will begin repopulating the area with monks. Whether they truly believe this or not is unclear, but it does give them hope for the future, though it is entirely untrue. The only people still living in the Exclusion Zone are families who ignore the government mandate, or criminals hiding from the law. In any case, aside from the elderly, people in the 30-km radius who live in the villages are there illegally.