The Reason They Fictionalize Nuclear Disasters Like Chernobyl Is Because They Kill So Few People
In my research, I have come to see the entertainment industry as a major factor behind popular fears of nuclear.
Movies like “China Syndrome” (US - 1979), “Die Wolke” (Germany - 2006) and “Pandora” (South Korea - 2016) all contributed to the halting of nuclear plant construction, and the burning of fossil fuels instead.
In the first episode of “Chernobyl” the nuclear reactor explodes, blows the top off the building, and catches on fire. The plant workers vomit, their faces turn red, and several appear to die.
We see a plant worker in his twenties hold open a door to the reactor hall and various parts of his body start to bleed. He rescues a comrade with a red, blistered, and bloody face, and appears to leave him for dead in a hall. Later we see the man slumped over and smoking what appears to be his last cigarette.
Later, the plant manager who was in denial about the accident becomes violently ill after he learns the true scale of the disaster. As he leaves for the hospital, we see a fireman who is carrying a body on a stretcher collapse and drop the body.
I was left thinking that dozens of workers and firefighters were immediately killed, but according to the official United Nations report (p. 66) on the accident, just two workers, not dozens, or hundreds, were killed within a few hours of the explosion.
Chernobyl’s total death toll is small compared to other famous disasters. According to the United Nations, 28 first responders died a few weeks after the accident, and since then 19 died for ”various reasons” including tuberculosis, cirrhosis of the liver, heart attacks, and trauma. The U.N. concluded that “the assignment of radiation as the cause of death has become less clear.”