The incident of Chernobyl

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The Chernobyl tragedy was a devastating nuclear event that occurred on April 26, 1986, in Ukraine, about 01:20 AM, during a scheduled safety test. The nuclear energy plant spiraled out of balance, resulting in a massive blast from reactor chamber number 4 at the Chernobyl plant, killing 30 plant operators (Parker et al., 2014). The Chernobyl disaster was caused by flaws in the construction of control rods, a significant positive vacuum, and inadequate clarification of operational orders in the reactor, which resulted in environmental effects, radiation leakage, and health consequences.
Causes
Deficiencies in Design
In the reactor design, the under fraction of the control poles was comprised of graphite which was lacking 1.3 meters. The top of the rod was meant for absorbing the neutrons and altering the reaction while the gap below the rods were channels containing water (Rissman, 2014). Due to this design on inserting rods in the rector from their peak position, water was displaced by the graphite leading to absorption of neutrons that activated the control bar causing the increase of yield power (Shestopalov, Bohuslavsky, & Bublias, 2014).

Positive Void Co-efficient

Void co-efficient is the measure of the extent in which a reactor reacts to an amplified vapor creation in the water coolant. Majority of the reactor designs have a negative co-efficient to slow down the rate of reaction when vapor bubbles form in the coolant to slow down neutrons and prevent splitting of uranium atoms (Peterson, 2016). However, Chernobyl’s reactor used graphite for slowing down neutrons but instead, graphite acted as a neutron absorber. Since steam absorbs neutrons faster when vaporization becomes intense, neutrons were able to split uranium atoms, therefore, increasing power production to dangerous levels.

Poor Execution of Instructions

There was a breaching of operation regulations by the staff. In the act of putting off the disaster cooling structure, the employees interfered with settings of the safety equipment hence jamming the force of pressure in the partition barrel (Lochbaum et al., 2015). Also, plant personnel operated the reactor at low power levels of less than 700MW as well as using small operational reactivity margin of which regulations had forbidden.

Effects

Radioactive Substances

The radioactive materials released during the explosion of Chernobyl disaster is estimated to be 400 times in comparison to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Over 100,000km squared of the land were contaminated with radioactive materials where the worst affected areas being Belarus, Ukraine and Russia and smaller effects all over the Europe (Parker et al., 2014). These contaminations spread depending on weather conditions and were largely deposited in mountain regions and highlands which led to radioactive rainfall caused by adiabatic cooling. As a result, over a million people were affected by radiation causing mutations prevalence in both humans and animals (Shestopalov et al., 2014).

Environmental Effects

Chernobyl nuclear plant was positioned near river Pripyat, which connects to Dnieper water reservoir that supplied over 2.4 million residents of Europe with water. The radioactive materials contaminated drinking water after the incident to an extent above the advised levels of consumption (Peterson, 2016). Further, flora and fauna were not left out. For example the pine forest directly to the reactor turned brown and then dried. Most of the animals died, and the remaining failed to reproduce again.

Health Issues

Immediately after the accident, it is said that 237 people ailed from acute radiation sickness and 31 lost their lives (Shestopalov et al., 2014). It has been revealed that thyroid cancer among the children is as result of health impacts from the Chernobyl disaster. Over 6000 cases of thyroid cancer, lung cancer, birth defects, mutations, and genetic defects have been reported after the Chernobyl accident (Lochbaum et al., 2015).

References

Lochbaum, D., Lyman, E., Stranahan, S. Q., & Scientists, T. U. of C. (2015). Fukushima: the Story of a Nuclear Disaster. New York: New Press.

Parker, B., McCartney, J., Sadowski, J., Dudley, O. T., Peli, O., & Kanopy (Firm). (2014). Chernobyl diaries. San Francisco, California, USA: Kanopy Streaming.

Peterson, M. (2016). The Chernobyl disaster. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publisher’s, Inc.

Rissman, R. (2014). The Chernobyl disaster. Minneapolis, MN: ABDO Publishing Company.

Shestopalov, V., Bohuslavsky, A., & Bublias, V. (2014). Groundwater Vulnerability: Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

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