1986: Chernobyl and Northern Italy 

One of the key discussion points in the HBO series “Chernobyl” is how secrecy about the accident, fallout, etc. had to be maintained by the Soviet State.

I would like to share the experience of a teen living in Northern Italy when this happened.

The first cloud arrived over Northern Italy just in time to catch heavy rainfall, indeed, the Ticino region of Switzerland, geographically beyond the barrier of the Alps and adjacent to Northern Italy was badly…

1986: Chernobyl and Northern Italy 

affected, so much that the Swiss authorities leaped into action as a Swissinfo retrospective remembers¹. Fishing was banned in Lake Lugano, children were kept indoors in Luzern, etc. but in Milan… the word was “do not cause any panic”, heard that before?

Indeed, I recall it pouring with rain and my father, a physicist, banning me categorically from going out. “But my friends do!” were useless protests: I insisted so much that…

¹ swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss-assess-

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1986: Chernobyl and Northern Italy 

he put me in the car and drove me to university. He pulled two Geiger counters from the cupboards and took me to the puddles. Under the umbrella, the rain still pouring, he put one next to the largest puddle and it screamed off-scale, then the next one which settled mid-way. He then rushed us back indoors and carefully drenched our shoes.

“Yes?” is all he said to me.

I only wish I could remember the scale.

When the second cloud arrived the Carabinieri…

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1986: Chernobyl and Northern Italy 

blocked access to the Geiger counters as only the State readings were allowed.

They also banned salads, strawberries (it was May…), milk, etc.

“There is no need to spread fear and misinformation” is not just for the Soviet Union.

I was also severely punished at school for refusing to take part in an outdoor run under the rain.

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1986: Chernobyl and Northern Italy 

This is a good picture of the distribution of Cs137 of the “second cloud” around May 1st


I am trying to see if I can find an animated GIF with the two clouds, the one which went up to Sweden and then down again and the second one “more direct”.

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