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Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Disaster Essay

2402 words - 10 pages

What happened at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, on April 26, 1986, was the biggest nuclear accident in nuclear history. It caused thousands of deaths through radiation and the sickness induced by it. Thirty three of those deaths were almost immediate, and the rest followed in the years after.All of these deaths were caused by the explosion and following fire of the Number Four Reactor of the type RBMK (meaning Power Boiling Reactor) (Read, P. VII). It was a reactor manned by incompetent operators, untrained to handle it properly, and it held inside it 185 tons of uranium 235 (Read, P. 32). It went out of control and erupted in a steam explosion. That, in turn, caused a chemical explosion, which, in blowing off the reactor's roof, released tons of radioactive particles into the world. And, it all happened because of a careless experiment.The disaster at Chernobyl (at left) cannot even be called an accident. It was the result of an experiment to see if the plant could successfully close down during a blackout. And, this experiment became a catastrophe when the reactor went out of control, overheated, and blew up.This did not happen without human intervention. Director Bryukhanov of the Chernobyl Plant and Chief Engineer Fomin (both at left) decided that the experiment would be a 'pure' (Cheney, 1993) one. That meant that it was to simulate, as much as it could, an actual emergency situation. So, the emergency systems of the Plant were disconnected, along with the diesel generators, which would supply power to the reactor if the normal source was cut off.The experiment was launched at 11:00 p.m., on April 25. The power level to the reactor was lowered. Because of the low power the fuel of the reactor began to be contaminated with abnormally high levels of iodine isotopes. To raise the power again and conduct the experiment, a large part of the control rods had to be taken out of the reactor. Even though the safety margin was 28 control rods, all but eighteen were removed, making the reactor very unstable.It was 1:03 a.m. The operators manually fed water to the reactor to keep it cool. That lowered the production of steam in the reactor, which, in turn, lowered the reactivity in the reactor. So, more control rods were taken out. Everything was far below the normal safety standards .At 1:23 a.m., the test began and the last running turbogenerator was shut down. As it wound down, the power dropped, as did the water supply to the reactor. With the drop of cooling water, steam began to build up. The buildup in steam resulted in higher reactivity in the reactor, which, to complete the circle, produced even more steam. The heat rose.Forty seconds after the final part of the test started, the operators saw that something was wrong and pressed the shut down button. To shut down the reactor, all of the control rods were automatically dropped into the reactor. But, the impact from the control rods added some heat to the reactor. This happened, and the...

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