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OMITTED

517

517

14.


OMITTED

518

518

EXT. MILITARY CHECKPOINT - AS THEY DRIVE 

519

519

CLOSE ON: the GAS MASK face of a CHECKPOINT SOLDIER. In the

dark lenses of the goggles, a DOUBLE REFLECTION of the

approaching line of CARS.

The GAS MASK SOLDIER waves them through.

As they proceed, we RISE UP TO SEE the caravan enter: THE

ABANDONED CITY OF CHERNOBYL. Rural. Small, squat buildings

ensconced among the trees.

The convoy proceeds to the LARGEST BUILDING. The Hall of

Culture. And looming behind the city in the distant B.G,

the nuclear power plant.

INT. TRIAL ROOM - DAY

520

520

CLOSE ON: ANDREI STEPASHIN, 50, the STATE PROSECUTOR, suit

and tie, reading rapidly and monotonically from a typed

speech.


STEPASHIN

The Central Committee of the

Communist Party of the Soviet Union

and the Presidium of the Supreme

Soviet of the U.S.S.R. has

determined that justice be carried

out on behalf of the People in

accordance with the general goal of

our Party as determined by its 20th,

21st and 22d Congresses, which is a

Leninist goal. It was, is and will

be the only immutable goal in the

Soviet state.

THE TRIAL ROOM - a small, repurposed auditorium setting.

Against the NORTH WALL of the room, a RED DAIS on the low

stage. Three middle-aged men in suits. Ceremonial chairs.

The man in the center is JUDGE MILAN KADNIKOV, 55. Behind

them, an orange-yellow curtain.

Against the WEST WALL, a pale blue curtain. In front of it,

a DEFENDANT BOX. Bryukhanov, Dyatlov and Fomin sit in the

box. Suit jackets. Two RED ARMY SOLDIERS stand guard on

either side.

15.


THE REST OF THE ROOM - auditorium seats. Civilians, Soviet

officials, military. Near Stepashin, an EXPERT WITNESS

TABLE. Legasov, Khomyuk and Shcherbina.

As Stepashin DRONES, we're CLOSE ON LEGASOV. The air is

STIFLING. Hard to breathe. The HOT LIGHTS and mosquito-like

electric HUM of bulky Soviet press video cameras.

Legasov wipes sweat from his brow. A single, useless FAN in

the corner of the room goes ting ting ting ting ting...

STEPASHIN

The path of Leninist principles shall

be consistently and undeviatingly

followed as it expresses the vital

interests of the Soviet People, its

hopes and aspirations as we guide the

life of the Party and State. This

session of court is now open, Comrade

Judge Milan Kadnikov presiding.

Indictments--

As Stepashin recites the charges, Khomyuk leans in to

whisper to Legasov. He puts a hand up. Yes. He sees them.

Legasov glances over his shoulder, and we see: SIX PEOPLE,

four men, two women, seated together in the audience. Men

and women he knows. Scientists. The invisible jury...

STEPASHIN

Viktor Bryukhanov, Anatoly Dyatlov

and Nikolai Fomin are accused of

violating Article 220 Section 2 of

the Criminal Code of the Soviet Union

resulting in a nuclear disaster on

April 26, 1986. The State calls

witnesses Comrade Khomyuk of the

Byelorusian Nuclear Institute,

Comrade Legasov of the Kurchatov

Institute of Atomic Energy, and--

show of deference

(

)



--Comrade Boris Evdokimovich

Shcherbina, Deputy Chairman of the

Council of Ministers and head of the

Bureau for Fuel and Energy.

Stepashin sits down. There's a pause. Shcherbina leans

forward to look at Stepashin. Am I on?

Stepashin gives him a gentle nod, like a director

responsible for cueing his actors. Yes. You're on.

16.


INT. TRIAL ROOM -

521

521

LATER

CLOSE ON: A MODEL of REACTOR BUILDING #4, as it existed

before the explosion, is slowly WHEELED IN on a cart.

SHCHERBINA (O.S.)

It began with-- of all things-- a

safety test.

Shcherbina stands before the tribunal. Legasov and Khomyuk

sit at the table behind him.

SHCHERBINA

But why was there a need for a

safety test at all?

THE DEFENDANTS - listen silently. Fomin seems lost. In a

fog. Dyatlov remains stern. Bryukhanov hangs his head

slightly. He knows what's coming.

SHCHERBINA

Reactor #4 was not new when this

accident occurred. In fact, the

reactor went into operation on

December 20th, 1983. Eleven days

later, on the last day of year,

Plant Director Viktor Bryukhanov

signed this document--

He hands the document to the judges.

SHCHERBINA

--certifying that construction of

the reactor had been completed. As a

result of finishing this work before

the end of the year, Comrade

Bryukhanov was awarded Hero of

Socialist Labour.

Shcherbina turns his gaze on the defendants.

SHCHERBINA

Comrade Fomin was awarded for

Valorous Labour. Comrade Dyatlov was

given an Order of the Red Banner.

beat


(

)

But the work was not finished. And



that certificate... was a lie. In

order to sign that document, all

safety tests had to have been

successfully completed. And yet, one

remained.

17.


As he talks, he points out various parts of the model.

SHCHERBINA

A nuclear reactor generates heat in

the core-- here. A series of pumps



here send a constant flow of cooling

water through the core. The core's

heat turns the water to steam, the

steam spins a turbine here, and the

result is electricity.

beat


(

)

But what if a power plant has no



power? What if the power feeding the

plant itself is disrupted? A

blackout, equipment failure... an

attack by a foreign enemy?

Shcherbina points to the pumps.

SHCHERBINA

If there is no power, the pumps

cannot move water through the core.

Without water, the core overheats,

and the fuel melts down. In short--

a nuclear disaster. The solution?

Three diesel fuel backup generators



here. So. Problem solved?

beat


(

)

No. Bryukhanov knew the problem was



not solved at all. The backup

generators took approximately one

minute to reach the speed required

to power the pumps and prevent a

meltdown. By that point, it would be

too late. And so-- we arrive at the

safety test.

Khomyuk leans back. Surprised. Impressed with his command.

SHCHERBINA

The theory was this: if the facility

lost power, the turbine-- which had

been spinning-- would take some time

to slow down and stop. What if you

could take the electricity it was

still generating, and transfer it to

the pumps? What if the dying turbine

could keep the pumps working long

enough to bridge the sixty-second

gap until the generators came on?

He looks up at the judges. Suddenly insecure.

18.


SHCHERBINA

Please, if you have any questions...

JUDGE KADNIKOV

No. Continue.

Shcherbina nods. Good. Proud of himself.

SHCHERBINA

To test this theory, the reactor is

placed in a reduced power mode-- 700

megawatts-- to simulate a blackout

condition. Then-- the turbines are

shut off, and as they slowly spin

down, their electrical output is

measured to see if it is sufficient

to power the pumps. The science is

strong-- but a test is only as good

as the men carrying it out. The

first time they tried, they failed.

The second time they tried, they

failed. The third time they tried,

they failed.

beat

(

)



The fourth time they tried-- was on

April 26th, 1986.

The room is silent. Shcherbina knows he's done well. He

enjoys the moment-- then crosses back to the table.

STEPASHIN (O.S.)

Comrade Khomyuk.



INT. TRIAL ROOM -

522

522

LATER

New soldiers enter to relieve the guards by the defendants.

KHOMYUK (O.S.)

To understand what happened that

night, we have to look back ten

hours earlier.

KHOMYUK - stands in the center of the room, delivering her

testimony. She glances at: THE SIX SCIENTISTS. The "jury."

She wishes she could say the truth to them herself, right

here and now... but has to be Legasov. So she continues...

KHOMYUK

April 25th. The day the test was



meant to take place.

(MORE)


19.

By t

KHOMYUK (cont'd)

wo in the afternoon, the reactor

has been lowered by half from its

normal output of 3200 megawatts to

1600 megawatts, and is now ready to

be reduced to the final level for

the test. 700 megawatts. But before

they can proceed, there is a phone

call.


beat

(

)



Power grid officials in Kiev say

they cannot afford a further

reduction in electricity until after

midnight. They're asking for a ten

hour delay. This was the first

critical moment-- the first link in

the chain of disaster. Competent

management would have insisted on

canceling the test. These three men

allowed it to proceed.

beat

(

)



Why was this ten hour delay so

dangerous? It created two problems.

One is scientific in nature. The

other... is very human. That's the

one we'll consider first.

beat


(

)

At midnight--



DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. CHERNOBYL POWER PLANT - NIGHT

523

523

The glaring HEADLIGHTS of a BUS. It slows to a stop.

KHOMYUK (V.O.)

--there is a shift change.

The air brakes hiss. A line of men exit the bus, passing a

line of men waiting to get on.

TOPTUNOV steps out. He heads toward: THE POWER PLANT -

peaceful in the background.



INT. POWER PLANT - LOCKER ROOM

524

524

QUICK CUTS - men remove their clothing. Pictures of wives

and children on the inside of the locker doors.

We know their faces. Yuvchenko. Perevozchenko. Brazhnik.

Gorbanchenko. Stolyarchuk. Toptunov. And now... a man whose

name we've heard, but not yet seen.

20.


PEREVOZCHENKO

Khodemchuk...!

KHODEMCHUK, slender, 35, leans out from behind his locker.

PEREVOZCHENKO

I brought a picture of the

motorcycle.

KHODEMCHUK

I already told you no.

PEREVOZCHENKO

You said you wanted to buy...

KHODEMCHUK

I was drunk.

PEREVOZCHENKO

So, you'll be drunk again-- and then

you'll have a motorcycle!

The men laugh.



OMITTED

525

525

INT. CLEAN ROOM -

526

526

MOMENTS LATER

White uniforms-- pants, jackets, boots, hats,

underclothes-- are stacked on tables.

Nude men filter in from the locker room and grab uniforms.

Others (Perevozchenko, Toptunov, Brazhnik, Yuvchenko) are

already in the process of getting dressed.

The room is remarkably sterile, except for the fact that

most of the men are SMOKING.

As he suits up, Perevozchenko sees Khodemchuk enter.

PEREVOZCHENKO

Khodemchuk...

KHODEMCHUK

Forget it. Find another fool.

Perevozchenko sighs. Then turns to:

PEREVOZCHENKO

Toptunov--

21.


BRAZHNIK

Toptunov? Look at him. He's too

young to drive. He's got more hair

on his face than on his balls.

The men laugh. Yuvchenko points at Toptunov's mustache.

YUVCHENKO

Hair? Is that what's on his lip?

More laughter. Toptunov shakes his head. Come on guys...

As Toptunov puts on his boots, Proskuryakov (the trainee),

already in uniform, pops his head into the room.

PROSKURYAKOV

Leonid Fedorovych... Akimov says to

come to the control room as soon as

you're ready.

TOPTUNOV

He's already here?

PROSKURYAKOV

He came in a little early. Something

about a test.

A test? What test?



INT. CONTROL ROOM - REACTOR #4 -

527

527

MOMENTS LATER

Toptunov enters with the trainee. Akimov is at the main

control panel, staring at an open BINDER. Flipping pages.

Stolyarchuk and Kirschenbaum are at their panels. The other

trainee, Kudryavtsev, stands in the back, watching.

TOPTUNOV


Sasha?

Akimov turns, and Toptunov sees the worry on his face.

Akimov waves him over. Keeps his voice low.

AKIMOV


You know the test they were supposed

to run?


No, he doesn't. Then he glances at: THE OUTPUT DISPLAY - a

large box with RED LED DIGITS. It reads 1600Why so low?

22.


AKIMOV

The turbine rundown. The one they

tried last year? They couldn't do it

on the day shift so... they've given

it to us.

TOPTUNOV


To us? We don't even know what it--

Akimov puts a hand up. Sshhh. People are always listening.

TOPTUNOV

voice low

(

)

We don't know what it is.



AKIMOV

It's fine. We take it down to 700,

hold it there, and the rest is

Stolyarchuk and Kirschenbaum. But--

beat

(

)



Dyatlov is going to be supervising.

Now Toptunov knows why Akimov is worried. And with cause.

TOPTUNOV

I have to do something I've never

done before with Dyatlov over my

shoulder?

AKIMOV

Don't worry. We'll do it together.



I'm looking at the instructions now.

Toptunov glances down at the manual. Nods. All right, so

far, so good. He understands. Then he turns a page. There

is a NUMBERED LIST of instructions. There are black LINES

drawn through several of the items.

TOPTUNOV


Are we supposed to do those or not?

Impossible to say. Akimov picks up a PHONE. Dials. Then:

AKIMOV

Yes, this is Akimov in 4. We have



the manual for the rundown test, you

did this before on--

listens

(

)



Well in the program there are

instructions of what to do, and then

a lot of things are crossed out.

What should I-- ?

(MORE)

23.


listens

(

)



AKIMOV (cont'd)

Are you sure? Right. Thank you.

He hangs up. Turns to Toptunov.

AKIMOV


He says to follow the crossed out

instructions.

TOPTUNOV

Then why were they crossed out?

The door flings open. DYATLOV strides in. Dressed in the

same white uniform. No warning, no greeting. All business.

DYATLOV

We've been cleared to run the test.



checks the power

(

)



1600. Good. Now-- is it too much to

ask that you all know what you're

doing?

TOPTUNOV


Well-- we...

AKIMOV


cuts off Toptunov

(

)



Yes. Absolutely.

DYATLOV


Stolyarchuk?

STOLYARCHUK

Yes.

DYATLOV


Kirschenbaum?

KIRSCHENBAUM

I haven't reviewed-- we only just

found out we--

Dyatlov grabs a BINDER from the desk in the center of the

room, and flings it at Kirschenbaum.

DYATLOV

There. Review it. Or just do what I



tell you. I think even you, as

stupid as you are, can manage that.

Dyatlov deliberately lights a cigarette. Checks his watch.

24.


DYATLOV

Well? Let's go.

ON KIRSCHENBAUM - flipping through the binder. He's

muttering to Stolyarchuk.

KIRSCHENBAUM

I'm supposed to switch the turbine

off while the reactor's still

running? That's not a good--

But he's just loud enough for Dyatlov to hear.

DYATLOV

SHUT THE FUCK UP and do your job.



Kirschenbaum puts his hand up. Sorry... sorry...

DYATLOV


Toptunov. Reduce power to 700.

ON TOPTUNOV and AKIMOV, side by side over the controls.

TOPTUNOV

a bare whisper

(

)

I've never done this with the power



so low.

AKIMOV


whispers back

(

)



It's okay. I'm with you.

ON THE PANEL - Toptunov's finger begins pushing down on

buttons. One after another.

TOPTUNOV


Reducing power to 700...

KHOMYUK (V.O.)

I want you to think of Yuri Gagarin.

INT. TRIAL ROOM - DAY

528

528

Khomyuk addresses the room.

KHOMYUK

I want you to imagine he had been



told nothing of his mission into

space until the moment he was on the

launch pad.

(MORE)


25.

I want you to imagine all he had was

KHOMYUK (cont'd)

a list of instructions he'd never

seen before, with some of them

crossed out.

The room is silent.

KHOMYUK

That is exactly what was happening



in the control room of Reactor 4.

She walks toward the defendants.

KHOMYUK

The night shift had not been trained



to perform the experiment. They

hadn't even been warned it was

happening. Leonid Toptunov-- the

operator responsible for controlling

and stabilizing the reactor that

night-- was all of 25-years old. And

his total experience on the job?

beat


(

)

Four months.



beat

(

)



This was the human problem created

by the delay. But inside the reactor

core-- in the space between atoms

themselves-- something far more

dangerous was forming. A poison.

beat


(

)

The time is 28 past midnight.



She crosses back to table and takes her seat next to

Legasov. Her part is over. It's up to him now.

Legasov takes a breath. Sweaty palms. tick tick tick of the

fan. In the back, someone coughs.

STEPASHIN

glaring


(

)

Comrade Legasov.



He nods. Yes. It's time. He rises, and:

INT. TRIAL ROOM - DAY

529

529

- MOMENTS LATER

CLOSE ON - the WOBBLING WHEEL of a small metal pushcart.

A SOLDIER guides the cart into place in front of a large

white MAGNET BOARD on an easel, which another soldier

adjusts into place.

26.


A LINE runs down the middle of the board, dividing it in

two. On the cart: PLACARDS, some BLUE, some RED. They each

have something written on them in Cyrillic.

It's all rather functional.

The guards step away, and Legasov takes his place by the

cart and easel. Looks out at the room. The lights. The

camera whine. Someone sniffles. His throat is closing.

He takes a breath. Focuses. And again, he sees them, sitting

in their row, listening attentively: THE SIX SCIENTISTS.

LEGASOV


I am pleased to see some of my

colleagues are here-- from the

Kurchatov Institute and Minenergo.

Khomyuk straightens up. He's acknowledged them. He's

thinking about them. There's a chance...

LEGASOV


But you don't need to be a nuclear

scientist to understand what happened

at Chernobyl. You only need to know

this: there are essentially two things

that happen inside a nuclear reactor.

He holds up a RED placard, and a BLUE placard.

LEGASOV

The "reactivity"-- which generates



the power-- goes up, or it goes down.

That's it. And all the operators do

is maintain the balance.

He fixes the RED placard - "Nuclear Fission" (R1) to the

top of the RIGHT COLUMN of the board. The words on the

placard are in Cyrillic. Doesn't matter.

All that matters is the BRIGHT RED COLOR.

LEGASOV


Uranium fuel. As uranium atoms split

apart and collide, reactivity goes

up. But if you don't balance the

reactivity, it never stops rising.

Next, Legasov puts the BLUE PLACARD - "Control Rods" (B1),

in the LEFT COLUMN. Balancing it out. Blue/cool, red/hot.

27.


LEGASOV

Boron control rods. They reduce

reactivity, like brakes on a car.

He places another BLUE PLACARD - "Water" (B2) on the left.

LEGASOV

But there's a third factor to



consider. Water. Cool water takes

heat out of the system. But as it

does, it turns to steam, or what we

call a void.

He places two RED PLACARDS - "Positive Void Coefficient"

(R2) and another "Nuclear Fission" (R3) - on the right

side.


LEGASOV

In an RBMK reactor of the type used

at Chernobyl, there is something

called a "positive void

coefficient." What does that mean?

It means the more steam, the higher

the reactivity, which means more

heat, which means more steam-- it

would appear we have a vicious cycle

on our hands. And we would, if not

for this.

Legasov picks up a BLUE PLACARD - "Negative Temperature

Coefficient" (B3) and places it on the left column.

LEGASOV


Negative temperature coefficient.

When nuclear fuel gets hotter, it

gets less reactive. So--

He stares at the board. Even after all this time, he still

can't help but marvel at the science. He moves his hands

between the columns of RED and BLUE...

LEGASOV

--fuel increases reactivity. Control



rods and water reduce it. Steam

increases it, and the rise in

temperature reduces it. This is the

invisible dance that powers entire

cities without smoke or flame. And

it is beautiful...

He turns back to the room.

28.


LEGASOV

When things are normal.

Legasov lifts up a BLUE PLACARD. "Xenon Poisoning" (B4).

LEGASOV


As uranium splits apart to release

energy, it breaks down into a new

element. Xenon. Xenon reduces

reactivity. This is the poison

Comrade Khomyuk mentioned. When the

core is running at full power, it

burns the xenon away before it can

cause a problem. But because of the

delay, Chernobyl Reactor 4 was held

at half power for ten hours. The

xenon did not burn away. It built up,

poisoning the core.

He places "Xenon Poisoning" (B4) on the board.

LEGASOV


We're starting to lose balance.

The BLUE column is longer than the RED. The words don't

matter. The colors tell the tale.

LEGASOV


At 28 past midnight, the reactor is

now primed to slow down. And yet, in

less than an hour, it will explode.

beat

(

)



If you can't understand how a

stalled reactor could lead to an

explosion, I do not blame you. After

all, you don't work in the control

room of a nuclear power plant.

He turns to the defendants.

LEGASOV

But as it turned out, the men who



did... did not understand it either.


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