Chernobyl Nuclear Meltdown
On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded. The explosion released radioactive particles into the atmosphere which drifted across most of Europe. The resulting steam explosion and fires released at least 5% of the radioactive reactor core into the atmosphere and downwind. Two of the Chernobyl plant workers died on the night of the accident, they received high doses from external gamma radiation. More people died a few weeks later due to radiation poisoning. The greatest contamination occurred around Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. Some amounts of radioactive materials were deposited in the urban areas near the power plant. However, their residents were evacuated quickly so that they avoided being exposed to high levels of external radiation. Other urban areas have received different levels of deposition and their residents received some amount of external radiation. Near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant there is a graveyard of vehicles that were highly contaminated by radiation. 1,350 military helicopters, buses, bulldozers, tankers, transporters, fire engines and ambulances were used while fighting against the nuclear accident; all were irradiated during the clean-up operation. Human errors and design features are generally cited as the causes of the accident. The explosions blew apart the 1,000 ton lid of the reactor and released radioactive debris high into the atmosphere. The radioactive material released into the atmosphere was equal to that of ten atomic bombs like the one that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in August 1945.
We do not believe that the Chernobyl accident should necessarily be regarded as an insurmountable obstacle to future nuclear power development, although any new reactors must have a secondary containment. We have stressed the uncertainties involved in predicting the long-term consequences of Chernobyl and believe this approach to be far preferable to either downplaying or exaggerating...
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