Chernobyl nuclear reactor area

A radiation warning sign stands near a checkpoint in an exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, southeast of Minsk, Belarus.

Idaho National Laboratory is hosting a series of talks in Idaho Falls and Pocatello to discuss the accuracy of the hit HBO miniseries “Chernobyl.”

There’s a “Chernobyl — Just the Facts” discussions open to the public in Idaho Falls on Wednesday, and one in Pocatello on Thursday.

“Overall, what I think people will get from this is, they’ll get an opportunity to see which things they got right, and they got a lot right, they did a really good job overall,” said INL spokeswoman Sarah Neumann. “But .. some things were not completely accurate, or they may have taken a bit of creative license on certain things.”

One example Neumann gave is a scene in the second episode, when a helicopter flying over the nuclear plant is shown as crashing due to the radiation. There was a helicopter crash at Chernobyl, but Neumann said it was caused by a helicopter’s propellers clipping a crane cable.

“When you see that, you think ‘Oh my God, I had no idea radiation can cause a helicopter to crash,’ and that’s not accurate,” Neumann said.

The five-part miniseries, which came out in May to critical acclaim and won several Emmys, portrays the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, an accident at a nuclear plant in Ukraine in 1986 that is considered the worst nuclear accident in history. Public access is still restricted in a 1,000-square-mile area surrounding the former plant.

“HBO’s five-part drama on the Chernobyl nuclear accident has sparked questions about whether such an accident could happen here in the United States,” INL posted in a Facebook event previewing the talks. “Idaho National Laboratory, the nation’s lead nuclear energy research laboratory, has extensive experience in reactor design, post-accident analyses and keeping people safe from radiation. We want to answer your questions. Experts on Chernobyl, nuclear safety and radiation will be available for a (question and answer) discussion.”

Attendees are asked to bring their smartphones to participate in interactive polling. People can submit questions beforehand to

INL radiation safety expert Brad Schrader; Roger Mattson, who co-chaired the International Atomic Energy Agency’s post-Chernobyl development of safety principles for nuclear power plants; and George Griffith, who works in reactor design, will be at all of the panels. Bruce Halbert, the director of INL’s Light Water Reactor Sustainability program, will be at the Tuesday panels, and Ron Boring, who has led human factors research projects for agencies such as the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NASA, the U.S. departments of Energy and Defense, will be at the Wednesday and Thursday panels.

The talks will be held:

• At the art museum at 7 p.m. Wednesday, and

• At Idaho State University in Pocatello, Physical Sciences Building Room 140, 921 South Eighth Ave. (at the corner of Eighth and Carter), at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.