The Chernobyl Errors

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The Chernobyl errors

A tremendous fact, like the Chernobyl explosion in 1986, is not only an example of a team work and a project design failures, but it is also an overall project management one, and we would provide the main reasons in the following paragraphs.

First of all it is clear (and it was also at the time of the accident) that the reactor had a design failure because of which it could not be used at low power settings.

Secondly, both the operators and the supervisors made so many several mistakes (undershot the intended power setting; did not withdrew the experiment when the power reached the 7%) and procedural violations (among which the most significant were the supervisor decision to continue the test and the closure of steam line valves to the reactor) that the human contribution to the tragedy should not be underestimated. These procedural violations have been defined as “unavoidable violations”, because of both what is was envisaged in the plan given to the operators (i.e. the disconnection of the Emergency Core Cooling System, “ECCS”) and because of the necessity to allow the possibility of repeated testing: making a long story short, the operators inherited a “complex series of failures in the overall system”.

Furthermore the overall attitude of the actors involved (operators, supervisors but also experimenters) witnessed a superficial approach: the ECCS was not reconnected when the Kiev controller 11 hours before the explosion asked to continue supplying grid, thus the following activities were not taken according to the safety procedures; they acted with the so called “illusion of invulnerability” which led all of them to underestimate the problems they were facing and to take the wrong decisions.

Even worse, according to the case, the plan was executed without the formal approval of the Russian nuclear establishment (who were the responsible of the high-power tube reactor): not...
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