Valerii Semenov – the man who worked non-stop for 35 days under Russian occupation to keep the Chernobyl nuclear site safe
The very word Chernobyl terrifies me still. Our son was tiny when the power station disaster spread across the World. People were warned not to eat cauliflower and other green vegetables. We lived in Chipping Ongar then, very near to London where we worked.
It was 26 April 1986 at the Reactor Number 4, near Pripyat. We all noticed it on maps in north Ukraine. The worst nuclear disaster that we knew about.
Sadly Russia is more interested in Ukraine’s active nuclear power plants. The Russians fighting over the long closed plant seemed ignorant of the risks. The scientists watched in disbelief as Russian soldiers dug trenches. Thousands of tanks and troops swarmed into the Chernobyl exclusion zone disturbing soil contaminated in 1986 by the accident.
Those working in Chernobyl were held by the Russian soldiers at gunpoint. Once the Russians left on March 31, Valerii Semenov appealed for calm, despite having worked 35 days sleeping just 3 hours a night. He stayed on after the Russians had gone. He was determined to stop damage.
There was no electricity and he had the critical job of keeping circulating water to cool the spent fuel rods.
When the Russians left they took 150 Ukrainian soldiers into Belarus. Where they are now nobody knows.
What a brave man Valerii Semenov is. I can’t stop thinking about his determination and hope for his nation and the world.