Midnight in Chernobyl is an incredibly detailed account of the 1984 nuclear disaster. While chronologically laying out the night of the disaster and the days that followed, Adam Higginbotham ventures off into side stories about how politics played a key part in the accident. The chain of command prevented any oversight for fear of repercussions and because of that failed to do proper testing– which ultimately resulted in the disaster.
- The reactor was both physically larger and more powerful than any reactor yet built in the west, each one theoretically capable of generating 1,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to serve at least a million modern homes.
- Advancement in many political, economic, and scientific careers was granted only to those who repressed their personal opinions, avoided conflict, and displayed unquestioning obedience to those above them.
- As profound and terrible as exposure to ionizing radiation might prove for human beings, it’s rarely accompanied by any detectable sensation. A person might be bathed in enough gamma rays to be killed 100 times over without feeling a thing.
- A fatal dose of radiation is estimated at around 500 REM—roentgen equivalent man.
- By the end of May, more than 5000 km² of land—an area bigger than Delaware— have become dangerously contaminated.
- The government commission calculated that cleaning the city to make it habitable once more would require a dedicated force of 160,000 men. The price of such an operation would be unimaginable.
- Robert Gail told the press they could expect to see another 75,000 people die of cancer directly attributed to the effects of the disaster, 40,000 of them within the Soviet union, and the remainder abroad.
- One estimate put the eventual bill for all aspects of the disaster at more than $128 billion—equivalent to the total Soviet defense budget for 1989.