01x01 - 1:23:45

(FOOTSTEPS WALKING)

(DOOR OPENS, CLOSES)

(WALKING FOOTSTEPS)

- (GLASS CLINKING)
- (LIQUID POURING)

(TAPE REWINDING)

(TAPE RECORDER CLICKS OFF)

MAN (RECORDED VOICE): What is the cost of lies?

It's not that we'll mistake them for the truth.

The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all.

What can we do then?

What else is left but to abandon even the hope of truth and content ourselves instead with stories?

In these stories, it doesn't matter who the heroes are.

All we want to know is: who is to blame?

In this story, it was Anatoly Dyatlov.

He was the best choice.

An arrogant, unpleasant man, he ran the room that night, he gave the orders... and no friends.

Or, at least, not important ones.

And now Dyatlov will spend the next ten years in a prison labor camp.

Of course, that sentence is doubly unfair.

There were far greater criminals than him at work.

And as for what Dyatlov did do, the man doesn't deserve prison.

He deserves death.

(RECORDER CLICKS)

(CLEARS THROAT)

But instead, ten years for "criminal mismanagement."

What does that mean?

No one knows. It doesn't matter.

What does matter is that, to them, justice was done.

Because, you see, to them a just world is a sane world.

There was nothing sane about Chernobyl.

What happened there, what happened after, even the good we did, all of it... all of it... madness.

Well, I've given you everything I know.

They'll deny it, of course.

They always do.

I know you'll try your best.

(TAPE REWINDING)

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

(SIGHS)

(DOOR OPENS, CLOSES)

(TICKING)

♪ ♪

(TICKING)

(FURNITURE SCRAPING FLOOR)

(TICKING)

(FURNITURE CLATTERS)

(ROPE CREAKING)

(WOMAN VOMITS, COUGHS)

(WOMAN GROANS, PANTS)

(TOILET FLUSHING)

(SNORING SOFTLY)

- (DISTANT EXPLOSION)
- (GASPS)

MAN: Lyudmilla?

(DOGS BARKING OUTSIDE)

♪ ♪

(BARKING CONTINUING)

(DEBRIS SWISHING)

MAN (DISTANT, MUFFLED VOICE): Comrade Dyatlov!

Comrade Dyatlov! Comrade Dyatlov!

♪ ♪

(SHOUTING): Comrade Dyatlov! Comrade Dyatlov!

- (ALARMS BLARING)
- What just happened?

- I don't know.
- (ALARMS BLARING, BUZZING)

There's a fire in the turbine hall.

The turbine hall.

The control system tank. Hydrogen.

You and Toptunov, you morons blew the tank!

- No, that's not...
- This is an emergency.

Everyone stay calm. Our first priority is...

- It's exploded!
- We know.

Akimov, are we cooling the reactor core?

We shut it down, but the control rods are still active.

They're not all the way in, I disengaged the clutch.

Try and disconnect the servos from the standby console.

You two, get the backup pumps running.

We need water moving through the core.

- That is all that matters.
- There is no core.

It exploded, the core exploded.

(ALARMS BLARING, BUZZING)

He's in shock. Get him out of here.

The lid is off!

The stack is burning. I saw it.

You're confused. RBMK reactor cores don't explode.

- Akimov...
- (WHISPERS): Sasha.

Don't worry, we did everything right.

Something... something strange has happened.

- Do you taste metal?
- Akimov!

Comrade Perevozschenko, what you're saying is physically impossible.

The core can't explode.
It has to be the tank.

We're wasting time. Let's go.

Get the hydrogen out of the generators and pump water into the core.

- What about the fire?
- Call the fire brigade.

(ALARMS BLARING, BUZZING)

(DISTANT ALARM BLARING)

(FOOTSTEPS CRUNCHING GLASS)

(WIND WHISTLING)

♪ ♪

(DISTANT ALARMS CONTINUE BLARING)

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

(LOUD TONE DRONES)

(SPEAKING RUSSIAN) _

(LOUD TONE DRONES)

(LOUD TONE DRONES)

You're not on call tonight.

MAN: They're bringing everybody in, military and civil.

Pripyat, Polesskoe, Kiev.

This is a big one.

But it doesn't look right, the color.

Pravik says he thinks they're shining floodlights or something.

And what if there are chemicals?

(CHUCKLES): Chemicals?

The problem's the roof.

It's covered in tar, so it's gonna burn all night, and it'll stink like hell. That's it.

That's the worst of it.

Go back to bed.

(DOOR OPENS, CLOSES)

(ALARMS BLARING)

(MUFFLED CLATTERING ABOVE)

- Is it war?
- Where's the dosimeter?

Here... Here.

(DEBRIS CLATTERING)

Are they bombing?

(DOSIMETER BEEPS)

What the f*ck is this?
It's . roentgen.

That's as high as it goes. The good one's locked in a safe.

I don't have a key.

Valera... your face.

Come on.

I'm going to find Khodemchuk in the pump room.

You... here.

Get Shashenok. He's in . Go.

We need to get everyone out!

(ALARM BLARING)

(VOMITS, COUGHING)

(WHIMPERS) sh1t.

Hey! We need to get to the reactor hall.

- The lift's destroyed.
- Up two flights and across.

- Right.
- Why are you going there?

(DISTANT ALARM BLARING)

(CLANGS ECHOING)

- (CLANGS)
- (GRUNTS)

Have you seen Khodemchuk?

- No. Where's Viktor?
- Still in the pump room.

- (PEREVOZSCHENKO VOMITS)
- Stay here. I'll come back.

Viktor!

(MAN COUGHING)

Viktor.

- (COUGHING)
- Viktor.

Viktor. I'm gonna get you out of here.

- Can you stand?
- (COUGHS)

(WEAKLY): Khodemchuk...

Where?

VIKTOR (GASPING): Get Khodemchuk.

(FLUTTERING)

(METAL GROANING)

(GASPING)

(DISTANT SIRENS APPROACHING)

(ALARMS BLARING, BUZZING)

I dropped the control rods from the other panel.

- AKIMOV: They're still up.
- DYATLOV: What?

They're still only a third of the way in, I don't know why.

I already sent the trainees down to the reactor hall to lower them by hand.

- What about the pumps?
- TOPTUNOV: I can't get through to Khodemchuk.

- The lines are down.
- f*ck the phones and f*ck Khodemchuk.

- Are the pumps on or not?
- Stolyarchuk?

My control panel's not working.

I tried calling for the electricians.

I don't give a sh1t about the panel!

I need water in my reactor core!

Get down there and make sure those pumps are on.

Now!

What does the dosimeter say?

. roentgen, but that's as high as the meter...

. ... not great, not terrible.

(IN UNDERTONE): We did everything right.

(SIRENS WAILING)

(SIRENS WAILING)

(INDISTINCT RADIO TRANSMISSIONS)

(INDISTINCT SHOUTING)

COMMANDER: You, connect those hooks!

(MEN SHOUTING)

COMMANDER: Get the pumps going!

MAN: Yeah, over here!

- (ALARMS BLARING)
- MAN: We're working bottom to top. Go in fast.

♪ ♪

Vasily...

- Hey, Vasily, what's this?
- I don't know, Misha.

Don't f*ck around with it. Hook these up, come on.

Do you taste metal?

- Yeah, what is that?
- I don't know.

The valves, Misha! The valves, let's go!

The valves! Come on!

(SIRENS WAILING)

(FOOTSTEPS ECHOING)

(DISTANT SIREN WAILING)

What do you need?

We need to get into the reactor hall to lower the control rods, but the door is jammed.

I don't think there are control rods.

I don't think there's a core.

No, you're... You're mistaken.

Akimov said.

Let's go.

(MISHA WAILING): No!

- (MISHA SCREAMING)
- Ignatenko, get on his hose!

It's all right. Breathe.

- (MISHA WHIMPERING)
- Misha.

All right, all right. Easy, Misha.

(GRUNTS)

(GROANING)

♪ ♪

(ALARMS BUZZING)

Are you sure?

Akimov...

- (MEN GRUNTING)
- (METAL SCRAPING)

Move.

(GRUNTING)

Come on, go!

(GRUNTS, SPEAKS INDISTINCTLY)

(GRUNTS, PANTING)

(DOOR CREAKING)

♪ ♪

(GRUNTS)

Let's go!

Let's go!

Hey!

(GASPS)

(GROANS)

Hey!

(ALARM BUZZING)

(PANTING)

(PEOPLE CHATTERING)

(DISTANT SIRENS WAILING)

WOMAN: Lyudmilla! Do you want to come with us?

Come where?

We're going to the railroad bridge to get a better look.

It's not like anyone can sleep with all the sirens.

I don't think you should go. It could be dangerous.

What do you mean dangerous? It's a fire. It's over there, we're over here.

- Mikhail.
- What?

Oh, sorry.

Oh.

- OKSANA: Is Vasily...?
- Yeah.

Did he say it was bad?

No. No, he said it was just the roof.

Well, he's never gotten hurt before.

None of the boys have.

He'll be fine.

Get some rest.

(DISTANT SIRENS CONTINUING)

DYATLOV: The tank, it's big enough.

This kind of explosion, the control tank on , it's cubic meters.

One hundred and ten.

Hundred and ten. It could do this, definitely.

(PANTING): It's gone.

I looked right into it.

I looked into the core.

Did you lower the control rods or not?

(RETCHING)

Take him to the infirmary.

Toptunov, take him!

- Where's Kudryavstev?
- He fell.

- TOPTUNOV: I need a medic! Anyone!
- He's delusional.

- His face...
- Ruptured condenser lines.

The feedwater is mildly contaminated.

He'll be fine. I've seen worse.

Do we still have a phone line to the outside?

- Akimov?
- (GRUNTS)

Call in the day shift.

- But if the...
- We have to keep water flowing into the core.

We need electricians, mechanics, we need bodies.

How many times do I have to say it?

I'm going to the Administration Building now to call Bryukhanov and Fomin.

They're gonna want a full report.

Now, I don't know if I can make things better for you, but I can certainly make them worse.

Call in the day shift, Comrade Akimov.

Yes, Comrade Dyatlov.

(SIGHS)

(DOOR CLOSES)

- (WOMAN MOANS SOFTLY)
- You're doing fine.

Raise her up.

That one, maybe an hour.

This one, not until morning.

- How's it downstairs, doctor?
- Quiet.

Always is.

Nothing at this hour but babies.

You know, I once went two days without sleep?

Ten women went into labor at the same time.

- Did I ever tell you that story?
- Yes.

Well, I won't need you in here for a while.

If you want, get some rest in the break room.

They haven't brought anyone in from the fire.

- What fire?
- The power plant.

Oh. Then it mustn't be too bad.

Do we stock iodine?

- Hmm?
- Iodine.

You mean disinfectant?

No, pills. Does the hospital stock iodine pills?

Iodine pills? Why would we have iodine pills?

(PHONE RINGS)

(PHONE RINGS)

(PHONE RINGS)

Hello? (COUGHING)

Hello?

Who else knows this?

Have you called Fomin?

Of course I want you to call him.

If I'm up, he's up.

♪ ♪

(SIRENS WAILING)

FOMIN: Whatever the cause, the important thing is that neither you nor I...

♪ ♪

(HEAVY DOOR THUDDING)

I take it the safety test was a failure?

- We have the situation under control.
- FOMIN: Under control?

- It doesn't look like it's under control.
- Shut up, Fomin.

I have to tell the Central Committee about this. Do you realize that?

I have to get on the phone and tell Maryin, or God forbid Frolyshev, that my power plant is on fire.

No one can blame you for this, Director Bryukhanov.

Of course no one can blame me for this.

How can I be responsible?
I was sleeping.

Tell me what happened, quickly.

We ran the test exactly as Chief Engineer Fomin approved.

Unit Shift Chief Akimov and Engineer Toptunov encountered technical difficulties leading to an accumulation of hydrogen in the control system tank.

It regrettably ignited, damaging the plant, setting the roof on fire.

The tank is quite large.

It's the only logical explanation.

Of course, Deputy Chief Engineer Dyatlov was directly supervising the test, so he would know best.

- BRYUKHANOV: A hydrogen tank, fire...
- (PEN SCRIBBLING)

- Reactor?
- We're taking measures to ensure a steady flow of water through the core.

- What about radiation?
- Obviously, down here it's nothing.

But in the reactor building, I'm being told

. roentgen per hour.

Well, that's not great, but it's not horrifying.

Not at all.

- From the feedwater, I assume?
- Mm-hmm.

We'll have to limit shifts to six hours at a time, but otherwise...

The dosimetrists should be checking regularly.

Have them use the good meter from the safe.

Right. I'll call Maryin.

Have them wake up the local executive committee.

There'll be orders coming down.

(CROWD MURMURING)

- Here.
- (WHISPERS): No.

You sure? Okay.

- What do you think makes the colors?
- Oh...

- It's the fuel for sure.
- "Oh. It's the fuel for sure"?

What do you know about it? You clean floors at a train station.

My friend, Yuri, works at the power plant.

He says it runs cold.

No gas, no fire. Just atoms.

Yuri says the only thing is, you can't walk right up to the fuel.

If you do, a glass of vodka an hour for four hours.

(LAUGHS) Isn't Yuri a plumber?

At the nuclear power plant, yeah.

It is beautiful.

Yeah.

♪ ♪

(WIND BLOWING SOFTLY)

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

(DISTANT ALARM WAILING)

(COUGHING)

Do you have a cigarette?

Do you need help?

It's over.

(DISTANT SIRENS CONTINUING)

(TRICKLING, PATTERING)

♪ ♪

(INDISTINCT SHOUTING)

We've done all we can from the perimeter.

We need to start making our way to the roof.

Vasily! You've gotta put it out.

PRAVIK: That's enough, comrades. We're pushing ahead.

PRAVIK: Come on, boys.

Vasily, it's just past, straight up.

All the way up, all the way in.

Come on!

♪ ♪

FIREMAN: Yeah. Going in now.

♪ ♪

(DISTANT ALARMS BLARING, BUZZING)

What about the auxiliary?

The pumps are gone, electrical's gone.

- The core?
- I didn't go in there, and I won't.

- I think it's time we faced...
- No, we have to get water into the core.

Otherwise, there'll be a meltdown.

We have to open the valves.

- Sasha...
- What do you want, Boris?

If it's true, then we're dead, a million people are dead.

Is that what you need to hear?

We have to open the valves.

- By hand.
- By hand?

You know, the number of valves, the amount of time to turn them, you're talking about hours in there!

- Then help us.
- Help you do what?

Pump water into a ditch?
There's nothing there!

Leonid, I'm begging you.

Watch the panel while we're gone.

It's not working.

Just watch it.

(DOOR CLOSES)


(CRYING)

(DISTANT SIRENS WAILING)

WORKER: I guess we know why they called us in early.

SITNIKOV: Is anyone saying what happened?

WORKER: They were running the safety test on the turbines, blew the control system tank.

It doesn't make sense to me either.

What about sabotage?

A bomb?

Sitnikov! Bryukhanov wants us to use the good dosimeter, but it's in the safe, and we can't find the key.

It's in Building . Hasn't...?

Follow me.

(DOOR OPENS)

Gentlemen, welcome.

Please, uh, find a seat. Plenty of room.

I apologize for the lateness of the hour.

Rest assured, we are all very safe down here.

We built this shelter to withstand a nuclear attack by the Americans, so I think we'll be fine.

As you can see, we have experienced an accident.

A large control tank malfunctioned, damaging reactor Building and starting a fire.

Now, I have spoken directly to Deputy Secretary Maryin.

Maryin spoke to Deputy Chief Frolyshev,

Frolyshev to Central Committee member Dolgikh, and Dolgikh to General Secretary Gorbachev.

Now...

Because the Central Committee has the greatest respect for the work of the Pripyat Executive Committee, they have asked me to brief you on matters as they stand, so...

First, the accident... (STAMMERS) is well under control.

And second, because the efforts of the Soviet nuclear industry are considered key state secrets, it is important that we ensure that this incident has no adverse consequences.

Now, to prevent a panic, the Central Committee have ordered a detachment of military police to Pripyat.

How large of a detachment?

Between two and four thousand men.

(MURMURING)

What's really going on here? How dangerous is this?

There's mild radiation, but it's limited to the plant itself.

- PETROV: No, it isn't.
- Excuse me?

You saw men outside vomiting.

You saw men with burns.

There's more radiation than they're saying.

We have wives here, we have children.

I say we evacuate the town.

BRYUKHANOV: Gentlemen...

Please, please. My wife is here.

Do you think I would keep her in Pripyat if it wasn't safe?

Bryukhanov, the air is glowing.

The Cherenkov effect. Completely normal phenomenon.

It can happen with minimal radiation.

- (MURMURING)
- (LOUD TAPPING)

(MURMURING STOPS)

I wonder how many of you know the name of this place.

We all call it "Chernobyl," of course.

What is its real name?

The Vladimir I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station.

Exactly.

Vladimir I. Lenin.

And how proud he would be of you all tonight.

Especially you, young man, and the passion you have for the people.

For is that not the sole purpose of the apparatus of the State?

Sometimes, we forget.

Sometimes, we fall prey to fear.

But our faith in Soviet socialism will always be rewarded.

Now, the State tells us the situation here is not dangerous.

Have faith, comrades.

The State tells us it wants to prevent a panic.

Listen well.

It's true, when the people see the police, they will be afraid.

But it is my experience that when the people ask questions that are not in their own best interest, they should simply be told to keep their minds on their labor and leave matters of
the State to the State.

We seal off the city.

No one leaves.

And cut the phone lines.

Contain the spread of misinformation.

That is how we keep the people from undermining the fruits of their own labor.

Yes, comrades... we will all be rewarded for what we do here tonight.

This is our moment to shine.

(APPLAUSE CONTINUES WITHIN)

Thank you.

Comrade Sitnikov to see the Chief Engineer.

Well?

(CLEARS THROAT)

I sent my dosimetrists into the reactor building.

The large dosimeter from the safe, the one with the , -roentgen capacity...

What was the number?

There was none.

The meter burned out the second it was turned on.

- It's typical.
- See? This is what Moscow does.

Sends us sh1t equipment, then wonders why things go wrong.

We found another dosimeter from the military fire department.

It only goes to roentgen, but it's better than the small ones.

And?

It maxed out.

Two hundred roentgen.

What game are you playing?

No, I... I...

I asked him, he took multiple measurements, he's my best man.

It's another faulty meter. You're wasting our time.

I checked the meter against the control.

What's wrong with you?
How'd you get that number from feedwater leaking from a blown tank?

- You don't.
- Then what the f*ck are you talking about?

I, um... (CLEARS THROAT)

I walked around the exterior of Building .

I think there's graphite on the ground in the rubble.

You didn't see graphite.

- I did.
- You didn't.

You didn't! Because it's not there!

What?

Are you suggesting the core... what?

Exploded?

Yes.

Sitnikov.

You're a nuclear engineer, so am I.

Please tell me how an RBMK reactor core explodes.

Not a meltdown, an explosion.

I'd love to know.

I can't.

Are you stupid?

- No.
- Then why can't you?

I... (STAMMERS)

I don't see how it could explode.

- But it did.
- DYATLOV: Enough!

I'll go up to the vent block roof.

From there you can look right down into reactor Building .

I'll see it with my own... my own eyes.

(VOMITING)

I apologize.

Guards! Guards!

Get him to the medic or the hospital! Whatever he needs!

(GROANING)

It's the feedwater. Been around it all night.

You go then.

What?

Go to the vent block roof and report back what you see.

No.

- No, I won't do that.
- Of course you will.

You'll be fine. You'll see.

Come on.

(SLOSHING)

Okay.

Let's begin.

(CREAKING)

Leonid.

Leonid.

Oh...

(GRUNTS)

AKIMOV: It's all the way, okay?

All the way open.

(CREAKING)

I'm sorry.

(CRYING)

There's nothing to be sorry for.

I told you, we did nothing wrong.

But we did.

- (CREAKING)
- (SOBBING)

♪ ♪

(DOOR CREAKS OPEN)

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

- (RUNNING FOOTSTEPS)
- (DISTANT SHOUTING)

(INDISTINCT SHOUTING)

(SIRENS WAILING)

(PHONE RINGING)

- (GRUNTING)
- (PHONE CONTINUING)

Hello?

- Valery Legasov?
- Yes.

You are the Legasov who is the First Deputy Director of the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy?

- I am. Who am I...?
- This is Boris Shcherbina,

Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers and head of the Bureau for Fuel and Energy.

There's been an accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

How bad is it?

No. No need to panic. There was a fire.

It's mostly put out. The system control tank exploded.

Control system tank. And the core?

We've ordered them to continuously pump water.

Yes, I see. Any contamination?

It's mild. The plant manager, Bryukhanov, is reporting

. roentgen per hour.

That's actually significant. You should evacuate the sur...

You're an expert on RBMK reactors, correct?

Yes, I've studied...

General Secretary Gorbachev has appointed a committee to manage the accident. You're on it.

We'll convene at two this afternoon.

That late? Forgive me, but don't you think given the amount of radiation that it would be...

Legasov, you're on this committee to answer direct questions about the function of an RBMK reactor if they should happen to arise. Nothing else.

Certainly not policy. Do you understand?

- Yes, of course. I didn't mean to...
- (LINE CLICKS)

(SIGHS)

(SIGHS)

♪ ♪

(VALVES CREAKING)

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

(CHILDREN CHATTERING,
SHOUTING PLAYFULLY)

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

BORIS SHCHERBINA: I'm pleased to report that the situation in Chernobyl is stable.

In terms of radiation, I'm told it's the equivalent of a chest X-ray.

No!

The fire is giving off nearly twice the radiation released by the bomb in Hiroshima.

It will burn and spread its poison until the entire continent is dead.

(DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYS)

(PSA IN RUSSIAN)

MAN: Tell our soldiers, "You will need to move quickly, and you will need to move carefully.

These are the most important seconds of your lives.

I wish you good health and long life."

WORKER: I serve the Soviet Union.

WORKER : I serve the Soviet Union.

WORKER : I serve the Soviet Union.

(MUSIC INTENSIFIES)

(RADIO CLATTERS)

The official position of the state is that a global nuclear catastrophe is not possible in the Soviet Union.