Chernobyl Secret Archives Released
July 29, 2004
Secret KGB archives released in Ukraine show that there were problems with the Chernobyl nuclear plant before the 1986 explosion - the world's worst civilian nuclear disaster.
The 121 documents - dating from 1971 to 1988 - include a report from 1984, which notes deficiencies in the third and fourth reactors, and also the poor quality of some equipment sent from Yugoslav companies.
There are also references to an incident at the plant in 1982, in which small doses of radiation were released.
The explosion on April 26, 1986 on the fourth reactor released 100 times the amount of radiation of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki put together.
Between 15,000 and 30,000 people have since died and the United Nations estimates that nearly six million people continue to live in contaminated areas.
The declassified archives were made public on the eve of the anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster.
They contain a report by the Ukrainian KGB directorate to Moscow on systematic safety breaches during construction works between 1976 and 1979.
The documents also include a report sent to Moscow on the day of the explosion, in which the then Ukrainian KGB chief, Lieutenant General S Mukha, says that his department "had taken control of the situation in the plant and the surrounding area".
Mukha went on to say that "almost the entire population of the town of Prypiat (more than 44,500 people) was evacuated" by April 28.
After the accident, the Chernobyl plant remained open for over another decade until it was finally shut down iin December 2000.
A 18 mile exclusion zone around the site is still maintained though there is some talk of trying to generate tourism opportunities in the area.