I’ve watched the trailer. I have no stomach for watching people die from acute radiation sickness. I read the report on Louis Slotin some long time ago, and that was quite enough for me. It’s a horrible way to die.
But I am willing to answer your questions on the series. I was on a rapid response team at the Los Alamos National Laboratory as information about the accident emerged. We were trying to think of ways to help deal with the accident.
The series is supposed to be accurate in terms of the science and the bureaucratic response, according to what I have read. But some of it may not be clear. I’ve receive a question from a longtime lurker about the explosion. The Wikipedia article looks reasonable to me, but here is a quick rundown.
The Chernobyl reactors (called RBMK type, for the Russian designation) were of a design that had a tendency to become more reactive (release more neutrons for chain reactions) under conditions under which most reactors are designed to become less reactive (release fewer neutrons). The operators did a poorly planned safety experiment and lost control of the reactor, which heated up rapidly. The water coolant flashed into steam, which was the explosion. That blew off the top of the reactor and the top of the building, leaving a smoldering mess where the reactor had been. Much of the reactor was graphite, a form of carbon. There are arguments about whether the process amounted to a fire, but it was rapid oxidation of the graphite with heat release from that, along with the heat from the nuclear reactions. My own feeling is that whatever word you want to use is somewhat irrelevant, as long as you recognize the process.
Helicopters dropped sand and boron compounds, which absorb neutrons, to deal with both processes. It took days to bring the reactor fire under control.
The RBMK reactors were widely used in the Soviet Union to produce heat and electricity along with plutonium for weapons. Many still exist but have been modified so that they behave like all other reactors and will not become more reactive in abnormal conditions the way Chernobyl #4 did.
So give me your questions in the comments and I will try to answer them.