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Digital Archive International History Declassified

February 21, 1979

ANDROPOV LETTER, SHORTCOMINGS IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE CHERNOBYL ATOMIC POWER STATION

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation, Carnegie Corporation

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    Yuri Andropov, then Chairman of the KGB, reports concerns about the Chernobyl nuclear plant. Serious flaws in the construction "might lead to failures and accidents."
    "Andropov Letter, Shortcomings in the Construction of the Chernobyl Atomic Power Station," February 21, 1979, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Dmitriń≠ Antonovich Volkogonov papers, 1887-1995, mm97083838. Translated by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/115340
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Secret

[KGB Letterhead]

       

[Stamp:]

21 FEB 79 05363

Subject to return to the

CPSU CC General Department

21 February 1979 Nº 346-A

Moscow

[to the] CPSU CC

Shortcomings in the Construction

of the Chernobyl AEhS [Atomic Power Station]

According to information available to the USSR KGB cases of deviations from designs and also breaches of the techniques of construction and installation work have occurred at individual parts of the construction of the second unit of the Chernobyl atomic power station, which might lead to failures and accidents.

The columns of the framework of the machine shop have been installed with a misalignment from the layout axes of up to 100 mm between the columns and in individual places there are no horizontal connections. The wall panels have been arranged with a misalignment from the axes of up to 150 mm. The roof slabs were arranged with a deviation from the instructions of the design supervision. The crane runways and the stopways have drops in height of up to 100 mm and in places a slope of up to eight degrees.

Cde. V. T. Gora, the Deputy Chief of the Construction Directorate, gave orders for the production of a backfill of the foundation in a sector where the vertical waterproofing had been damaged in many places. Such violations with the knowledge of Cde. V. T. Gora and Cde. Yu. L. Matveyev, the chief of the building complex, were also permitted in other construction sectors. The damage of the waterproofing might lead to groundwater getting into the station's premises and to radioactive contamination of the environment.

Sufficient attention is not being paid by the management of the Directorate to basic economy on which the operation of which the quality of construction depends in many respects. The concrete plant is operating irregularly and the quality of its output is poor. Cracks were made in the concrete when pouring especially heavy concrete, which led to the formation of pits and stratification of the foundation. The approach routes to the Chernobyl Atomic Power Station are in a disastrous condition.

The construction of the third high-power line is being delayed, which might lead to a restriction on the use of the capabilities of the second power unit.

One hundred and seventy people received work-related injuries during three quarters of 1978 as a result of insufficient monitoring of the condition of the safety equipment and the loss of working time was 3,366 man-days.

The KPU [Communist Party of Ukraine] CC has been informed of the substance of these violations by the Committee for State Security.

This is reported for purposes of information.

Chairman of the Committee [signature] Yu. Andropov

[handwritten in the lower-

left corner: Gliba,

22 February, 7 [illegible

possible signature]

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