Wide-ranging interview about how he came to work there, the accident, the aftermath, and the HBO series:
When I came to work that day, people from the previous shift gave us the radiation readings. Not from the pool, but from the area above it. I don’t remember the readings, as they weren’t bad enough to be memorable. We could easily walk there, then go down one level to where the water was. I took two dosimeters with me, like this. [He points to where one would have been, attached to his chest, and then another just below his kneecap.] The water only reached our knees because the firemen had already pumped some out.
Why was I sent? Because I had been part of the maintenance team, so I knew this place inside out. I took a flashlight with me. There was a light switch there on the wall, but after the accident it didn’t work and it was dark where the corridor had flooded. We didn’t want to walk in it, but there was a pipe running above the water – so we walked on that instead. You couldn’t move fast on that pipe though, or you’d fall into the water.
Chernobyl tourism is a good thing. It’s a good thing for the world. We were there recently – I wanted to try and visit my old apartment, but I couldn’t find the place! Everything was so heavily overgrown. You can’t see anything. I looked at one of the buildings, and I thought that was it. I had to duck to get inside. But then I realised it wasn’t my building at all, and we never found it in the end.