The Chernobyl nuclear power plant:

Type & Capacity Start Construction Criticality Shut down
Reactor 1 RBMK-800 March 1970 September 1979 November 1996
Reactor 2 RBMK-1000 February 1973 December 1978 October 1991
Reactor 3 RBMK-1000 March 1976 December 1981 December 2000
Reactor 4 RBMK-1000 April 1979 December 1983 April 1986
Reactor 5 RBMK-1000 December 1981     -     -
Reactor 6 RBMK-1000 December 1983     -     -
RBMK's (also called Light-Water-Cooled, Graphite-Moderated Reactors, or LWGRs), use light water as a coolant and graphite as a moderator

Mikhail Gorbachev had been in office only 13 months when Chernobyl occurred. He had arrived to a warm response from Western political leaders. Much younger and more active than his predecessors, he appeared to herald a time of change in the USSR. In 1986, however, he inherited an ossified Soviet state that was Leonid Brezhnev's legacy. Gorbachev's reaction to Chernobyl was very cautious but, in addition to the defensive posture adopted by his government initially, he also indicated a willingness to cooperate with the IAEA. It should be noted that in 1985 the USSR had agreed to IAEA inspections of some of its nuclear reactors, and thus this policy was not necessarily a new departure. Similarly, aid offered from long-established "friends of the USSR" abroad was also accepted, while that of individual governments was turned down.

Local times: At the time of the 1986 accident, Ukraine was one of the Republics of the USSR (Union of Socialist Soviet Republics) and had Moscow-time (GMT+3). Although Ukraine changed its time to GMT+2 after it declared indepence from Moscow in August 1991, times mentioned in the Chronology are historical local times (GMT+3) Times mentioned concerning Sweden's Forsmark, are also GMT+3. Time difference (in 1986) between Chernobyl and Sweden was 2 hours.

A few general links (more in the Chronology)
Reconstruction of the Chernobyl radioactive plume
Medical articles on the consequences of Chernobyl
Radiation from Chernobyl - Maps and Graphics

last update of the chronology pages: March 11, 2011