Pripyat – evacuation after nuclear accident

Description of process population evacuation from radiation contaminated territory of the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

Evacuation of Pripyat population

Republican and district organs of the Belorussian SSR and Ukrainian SSR civil defense have received the report on the blast and fire on the ChNPP early in the morning of 26 April. Several hours later the Ukrainian SSR civil defense staff was deployed in Pripyat city. Militia has placed cordons and has forbidden entrance for all transport vehicles, excepting service trucks. By the noon it was organized constant control of radiation state in Pripyat and around the city. There were the most high levels on westward from the ChNPP, but spreading of the radioactive contamination was rather insignificant because of light wind. Civil defense personnel is prepared to the city evacuation, though only the government of the USSR was able take decision about the evacuation.

Pripyat photo old document photo

photo Pripyat town

By the evening radiation level in Pripyat exceeded the natural background in 1000 times (0,1 mSv/h). Though radiation situation did not cause alert yet, physicists of the Governmental commission recommended evacuate inhabitants, because they could not judge with confidence about the state of the reactor active area and about further development of the accident. Near 22:00 Commission has come to conclusion to begin of evacuation the next day – 27 April. Commission have connected with transport organizations up to the Kiev and has organized a giving more than thousand buses, which were arrived the whole night. Local civil authority of surrounding settlements (Polesskoe and Ivankov) was said to be prepared to acceptance of the evacuee. With taking into account of radioactive contamination of the territory it were chosen routes for the evacuation and for leaders of groups, chauffeurs, militia and evacuee it were prepare clear instructions.

It is necessary to note at Saturday, 26 April, was not made official warning of local population about a need to be in of home. Town’s recreation centre was newly open several days before the accident and there was much people there. It was not also organized spreading of potassium iodide tablets and it was not enough respirators even for children.
At 7 o’clock of Sunday, 27 April, the Chairman of the Governmental commission has confirmed a decision about evacuation of Pripyat population. At 10 o’clock he met city authority and gave instruction to preparation of evacuations, which was planned at 14 o’clock. Near the noon short official message for inhabitants was sent by the radio where it was offered to take provision for 3 days with them and to be prepared to the evacuation at 14 o’clock. Nearly 1200 buses, collected near Chernobyl, moved by column of several kilometers and the evacuation of Pripyat population began at 14 o’clock – after the accident had pass slightly more than 36 hours.

Map radio pollution Pripyat

Map pollution by radionuclides Pripyat

It is expected to remove 44600 persons but real people number was less because some people had already abandoned the city or had gone to another places at weekend. According to official source of information it was sufficiently transport vehicles and evacuation pass rather easy. Less than in three hours in the city have stayed only those who executed their official duty. Evacuee were placed in families of cities and villages of adjoin districts.

Expansion of the evacuation area

28 April the Ukrainian and the USSR civil defense have offered to create around the ChNPP 10-km estranging area. 2 May leaders of the government arrived from Moscow. Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers N. Ryzhkov, who could attract industrial potential of the USSR for help, has organized operation group in Politburo of the central committee of C.P.S.U. for the management of works on the national level. Now it was possible to take principle decisions by organizations of necessary works and which will be contribution of different organizations of USSR for mitigation of the accident consequences.
It was accepted decision about evacuation of the people 2 May from the area with 30 km radius around the reactor, which became to name as the ChNPP exclusion zone. Evacuation of the whole population of the ChNPP exclusion zone was finished 6 May. That was an operation, which required transportation of many thousand people and animals. The exclusion zone was fenced and since then access to there is strictly restricted. Though nowadays nobody does not live here, some number of people drive in here for working on the ChNPP, carring out the work for decontamination of the territory, as well as for scientific researches and so on. Some evacuated inhabitants later came secretly back into abandon houses. According to reports, some people have obtained permission on return in less contaminated part of zone…