Viktor Petrovich Bryukhanov (Ukrainian: Віктор Петрович Брюханов, Russian: Виктор Петрович Брюханов; 1 December 1935 – 13 October 2021) was the manager of construction of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and the director of the plant from 1970 to 1986.
Viktor Petrovich Bryukhanov
1 December 1935
|Died||13 October 2021 (aged 85)|
|Known for||Director of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant|
Bryukhanov was born on 1 December 1935 in the city of Tashkent, Uzbekistan (at the time part of the USSR). He was the oldest son, of the four children, his father used to work as a glazier and his mother was a cleaning lady. He later went on to become the only one of his brothers to receive higher education attaining a degree from Energy Department of the Tashkent Polytechnic in electrical engineering in 1959. After graduation, he was offered a job at Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan. He worked at the Angren Thermal Power Plant in the following positions: duty de-aerator installer, driver of feed pumps, assistant turbine driver, turbine driver, senior turbine workshop engineer, shift supervisor and became workshop director a year later.
In 1966, he was invited to work at the Slavyanskaya Thermal Power Plant. He started as a senior foreman and rose up to the rank of head of workshop and finally, deputy chief engineer, finally resigning in 1970 to build a nuclear power plant in Ukraine (which at the time was also part of the USSR). He was a member of Communist Party of Soviet Union since 1966. Between 1970 and 1986, he was repeatedly elected member of the regional district office of Kyiv, Chernobyl, and Pripyat city committees of the party.
Chernobyl Power Plant constructionEdit
In 1970 the energy minister offered Bryukhanov a new assignment – build an atomic power plant consisting of four RBMK reactors on the banks of the Pripyat River in Ukraine. Initially, Bryukhanov proposed construction of pressurized water reactors (PWAs), but this decision was met with opposition stating safety and economic reasons supporting construction of RBMK reactors, which was eventually performed. At a cost of almost 400 million rubles, Bryukhanov was responsible for building the reactors from scratch. As there was nothing nearby, he would need to bring materials and equipment to the construction site. He organized a temporary village, known as "Lesnoy", and had a schoolhouse built. In 1970, he was joined in Lesnoy by his wife, six-year-old daughter and infant son. By 1972, they had moved into the new city of Pripyat.
During construction, deadlines were missed due to tight schedules, lack of construction equipment, and defective materials. Three years after assuming the role of director, the plant still had not been built. He offered to resign, but his resignation was torn up by his Party-appointed supervisor from the Energy Ministry in July 1972. On 1 August 1977, two years later than planned and more than seven years after the planning and the construction of the plant was launched, the first reactor of the Chernobyl Power Plant went online. At 8:10pm on 27 September the same year, Ukraine's first nuclear electricity ran across 110 and 330 kilovolt lines and on to the Soviet power grid.
Bryukhanov ignored and failed to acknowledge the radioactive leak that occurred on 9 September 1982 when steam rose through a vent stack shared by reactors 1 and 2, indicating at least one broken pipe. The radioactive contaminants had spread fourteen kilometers from the plant and reached Pripyat. By 1984, all the reactors of the Chernobyl Power Plant (formally known as the Vladimir I. Lenin Nuclear Power Plant) were online and functioning.
On 26 April 1986, the head of the chemical division called Bryukhanov to report an incident at the station. Bryukhanov attempted to contact the shift supervisor but there was no answer at the fourth reactor block. He ordered all authorities to meet at the bunker at the headquarters of civil defense. While on a bus passing by the fourth reactor block, Bryukhanov realized the upper structure of the reactor was gone.
The explosion had lifted the 1,000-ton reactor lid. Lacking high-range dosimeters, officials had difficulty determining whether a radiation release had occurred or not and, if so, how much radiation had been released. Bryukhanov, assisted chief engineer Fomin instructed the operators to maintain and restore coolant supply. Bryukhanov continued to maintain that the reactor core was intact until well after daybreak. At 3:00 AM, Bryukhanov, contacted Vladimir V. Marin, the official in charge of nuclear matters of the Communist Party at his Moscow home to report the accident and assure officials that the situation was under control.
After Bryukhanov went on a week's leave on 22 May, party officials made arrangements to remove him permanently from his position as director of the power plant. As part of discovery procedures dictated by the law, investigators brought him the materials they uncovered during the course of their inquiries, which were used in a case against him. Bryukhanov also found a letter written by one of the Kurchatov Institute experts, which revealed the perilous design faults that were kept hidden from him and his staff for 16 years.
On 20 January 1987, after he sat in isolation for six weeks, the prosecutor's office filed their closing indictment with the Supreme Court of USSR. All of the 48 files of evidence sent to Moscow were classified top secret.
Viktor Bryukhanov was found guilty of gross violation of safety regulations, creating conditions that led to an explosion. Reports also mentioned that he failed to ensure correct and firm leadership in the difficult conditions of the accident and displayed irresponsibility and inability to organize. Bryukhanov was sentenced to 10 years in a labor camp along with a five-year sentence for abuse of power which ran concurrently . He accepted professional responsibility but denied criminal liability.
Bryukhanov worked as an employee of Ukrinterenergo, Ukraine's state-owned energy company, in charge of liquidating the consequences of the Chernobyl accident. By his 80th birthday in December 2015, Bryukhanov had retired due to failing eyesight, and had also suffered two strokes, followed by a third in 2016.
Bryukhanov died in Kyiv on 13 October 2021, at the age of 85. The official cause of death was not communicated; Bryukhanov had a severe form of Parkinson's disease, in addition to having suffered a series of strokes in 2015 and 2016.
- Wife – Valentina, electrical engineer, in the years 1975–1990 – senior engineer of the production department of Chernobyl, now retired
- Daughter – Lily (born 1961), a paediatrician, a resident of Kherson
- Son – Oleg (born 1969), the mechanic for automatic CHP-5 management systems, from Kyiv
- Laureate of the Republican Prize of the Ukrainian SSR (1978)
- Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1978)
- Order of the October Revolution (1983)
- Medals "For Valiant Labour. In commemoration of the centenary of the birth of V. I. Lenin" and "Veteran of Labour"
- Certificate of Honour of the Supreme Council of the Ukrainian SSR (1980).
- (in Ukrainian) The ex-director of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant died during the accident, Ukrayinska Pravda (13 October 2021)
- Higginbotham, A. (2019). Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster. London: Bantam Press.
- "Бывший директор ЧАЭС Брюханов: в день взрыва в Припяти была моя беременная дочь". fakty.ua (in Russian). Retrieved 11 September 2019.
- "Chernobyl; Chronology of a Disaster" (PDF).
- "Личная катастрофа директора Чернобыля". www.mk.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 11 September 2019.
- "Бывший директор чернобыльской атомной электростанции виктор брюханов: «ночью, проезжая мимо..." fakty.ua (in Russian). Retrieved 11 September 2019.
- Reuters (30 July 1987). "Chernobyl Officials Are Sentenced to Labor Camp". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
- Schmemann, Serge; Times, Special To the New York (16 June 1986). "Chernobyl Chiefs Ousted for Erring During Accident". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 27 September 2019.
- "Chernobyl Officials sentenced".
- "Text of the Politburo Statement About Chernobyl". The New York Times. Associated Press. 21 July 1986. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
- "Chernobyl boss says true cause of disaster hidden". 25 April 2006. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
- Former Head of Chernobyl Nuclear Plant Dies, The Moscow Times (14 October 2021)
- Higginbotham, Adam (2019). Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 362. ISBN 978-1-5011-3461-6.
- Скончался руководитель Чернобыльской АЭС во время катастрофы Виктор Брюханов, Moskovskij Komsomolets (13 October 2021) (in Russian)
- Viktor Brjoechanov, oud-directeur van de kerncentrale van Tsjernobyl, overleden, VRT nieuws (13 October 2021) (in Dutch)
- Radiophobia, retrieved 11 September 2019
- Chernobyl, retrieved 11 September 2019