Although they may not have known, the people deployed to the reactor blast in Chernobyl basically signed their own death warrant when they went into action.
It was as if they had stepped into an enormous X-ray machine, the free-flying particles technically disrupted the molecules of their bodies, but not many got away from those who were not directly by block 4, but nearby the power plant, reported Blikk.
Dr Zoltán Horváth, university professor, was asleep at the time of the first blast at 1:30 in the morning on April 26, 1986, only about 10 kilometres away from the reactor. He was invited to the region by the Soviet Ministry of Agriculture, as he was the chief engineer of the State Farm in Bácsalmás, to ensure an experiment involving the seeds of 20 sunflower hybrids with his colleagues. He already started sowing on April 25, and the locals even showed him the power plant in the distance.
“The buildings could be well seen. The next day, on April 26, we continued our work. When I glanced at the power plant, I immediately noticed that the roof had been roundish the previous day, but that day, it was strangely flat,” said Zoltán Horváth, who at the time had no idea what had happened, or how much danger he was actually in.
The agricultural expert travelled to Kyiv with his colleagues after finishing their work. When István Monori, Consul General in Kyiv gave them two train tickets, he started getting suspicious; they were immediately sent to Odesa, even though they were initially supposed to spend the night in Kyiv with Monori.
Could what happened in Chernobyl happen in Paks? Read more HERE.
“We flew home on April 30. They had a Népszabadság on the plane, in which they had written two lines about a reactor blast in Chernobyl. When we landed on Ferihegy, the Yugoslav passengers were awaited by doctors in white coats with radiation measurers. That was when I thought, I had been standing there nearby the power plant hours after the blast,” said Zoltán Horváth.
The chief engineer’s doubts were justified. He was measured for radiation too, and the device beeped. His company doctor, Dr Györgyi Kőszegi, advised him to go to the national radiobiological institution to get tested; however he did not get any results. In fact, he had to wait 15 years for them.
By some miracle, he was healthy as ever, but he was worried about a possible infection. In 1999 he wrote a letter to the National Radiobiological and Radiohygiene Research Institution.
“I received a surprising answer, according to which they could not find the records of my 1986 examination. According to the head physician, it is possible that his colleagues had not made accurate records, then they offered to repeat the examination,” Horváth said.
In 2001 he tried again and asked the institution about the records, he emphasised that he does not believe it is possible that the register was inaccurate. This time around, he received a satisfying answer: both of the measurements in 1986 came out as unfavourable, they could not find any artificial radioisotope above the detection limit. Zoltán Horváth is probably the only Hungarian who was near Chernobyl at the time of the blast but never got ill.
The results of their crops were excellent in the Soviet Union in 1986. The 20 sunflower hybrids brought 700-800 kilograms more per hectare than the Soviet kinds did on average. Even Gorbachev noticed this, and he invited Zoltán Horváth and the director of the State Farm in Bácsalmás to Moscow.
Read about the effects of Chernobyl in Hungary HERE.