The Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Essay

1212 words - 5 pages

The Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster
*Works Cited Not Included
Chernobyl is a popular nuclear disaster it was a terrible technological disaster. Chernobyl is a small town in the Ukraine. The closest major city is Kiev. Kiev is the capital of the Ukraine. It is made up of 2.4 million people. In 1986 April 26 Chernobyl experienced an unforgettable nuclear disaster. At the time, the USSR was responsible for roughly 10% of the world's nuclear power. The year of the accident Chernobyl nuclear power plant was using four of the most modern soviet reactors, the RBMK-type.

The cause of this tragedy was due to operator error. The nuclear operators were running a test to observe how the RBMK reactor worked with a limited power flow. The test was said to be an electrical test only and it is thought that the test was under the supervision of the turbine manufacturer and not the regular operators. If the test was not completed at this time (April 26, 1986), then the people would have to be delayed another year for the next shutdown. Just ahead of a planned reactor shutdown for regular maintenance, the test was scheduled. A writer in the Los Angeles Times John-Thor Dahlburg said that the RBMK reactor was so poorly designed that the "scram button" that was supposed to smother the reaction by dropping control rods into the atomic pile actually accelerated the storm inside. Dahlburg talked with Friedrich Niehaus, a specialist with the International atomic Energy Agency said, "It's like hitting the brake pedal on the truck and feeding gas to the engine instead." In 1979 there was an accident at the USA Three Mile Island plants, which resulted in a general survey of safety of reactors worldwide. It was found that the RBMK reactors had no containment. The RBMK is a huge reactor, which was about 71 meters high so the Soviets felt to put this reactor in containment would be difficult. The Soviets put only the bottom pipes in containment because this was easier. The main weakness was in shutting the reactor down. As a result of inadequacy the shutdown rods are part of the normal plant control system rather than being a separate emergency system. Again a fault in the control system also makes the emergency shutdown unable to function. Another weakness was that Chernobyl had only partial containment. Because of the partial containment the radiation went out the top of the reactor where there were no leak tight boxes. The hot fuel and graphite were exposed to air when they went out the top of the reactor. If there had been a completed containment, then the water and steam from the broken pipes would have dissolved almost all of the cesium and radioactive iodine that escaped. Even if the containment leaked the cesium and the iodine would not get out. Because the hot fuel and graphite were exposed to air this chemical reaction did occur. The operators had removed all of the control rods except for six. This...

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