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Anatoly Dyatlov: Who was Chernobyl deputy chief-engineer?

Anatoly Dyatlov Cherobyl
Who was Anatoly Dyatlov from the Chernobyl disaster? Pic credit: HBO

The new series from HBO about the bleak events of Chernobyl premiered last night with unsettling results.

The show depicts the unfortunate events of 1986 in the town of Pripyat where the No. 4 nuclear reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant contaminated the town with toxic radiation.

Chernobyl goes beyond just the devastation and shows the careless decision making by everyone involved — before and after the accident. It’s a reminder of how hubris and arrogance can get in the way of moral obligation.

No individual is a better descriptor of this lesson than Anatoly Dyatlov.

Who is Anatoly Dyatlov on Chernobyl?

Anatoly Dyatlov was an intelligent man but at the same time had an arrogant reputation due to his accolades.

He was born in the village of Atamanovo Krasnoyarsk region in 1931. According to his memoir, he found success with a stellar education graduating with honors from two different colleges — Norilsk Mining and Metallurgical College and Moscow Engineering Physics Institute.

His background and expertise paved the way to working in shipyards where he worked on nuclear submarines in various roles such as Engineer, Head of Physical Laboratory, as well as Commissioning Mechanic.

Sometime later, he was sent to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant for family reasons which are not explained and he worked his way up to deputy chief engineer.

Before the tragedy of Chernobyl, he had a rough reputation for mistreating those who worked under him and was even described as “dictatorial… punishing those who disobeyed him.”

This style of leadership would backfire on Dyatlov on the unfortunate night of April 26, 1986, when a young engineer made a mistake while testing Reactor No. 4.

Despite everyone’s concerns Dyatlov chose to negligently push forward with the test, and the rest is history.

A year later, Dyatlov was sentenced to 10 years as being complicit in the events of Chernobyl but maintained it was not his fault but rather flawed plant design. He also suffered radiation exposure during the events of Chernobyl.

The first episode of Chernobyl outlined his reputation quite well showing his incapability to hear the concerns of others amidst the chaos.

His stubbornness was such that he would not budge until he himself realized he was sick from radiation contamination.

Unfortunately, as the episode conveys, this problem exceeded beyond just his poor management skills. Social politics played a part as well.

What will this mean for the future of everyone in Chernobyl?

This show seems like it will take an in-depth look into a problem the world is still dealing with today. The tragedy of Chernobyl began with the arrogant actions of a few and impacted the whole country for centuries to come.

Tune in to Chernobyl on HBO on Monday’s at 9/8c.

John Dotson is a film and television reviewer and commentator from Texas. His favorite part of what he does is getting to discuss film and... read more
John Dotson

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