Research and Report Writing
Chernobyl Nuclear Accident
Prepared by Bill Ward
Prepared for Brenda Daigle
Due Date is October 25, 2012
Table of Contents
Cause of the Accident
Health and Environmental Effects
As the world grows, so does our need for resources. Technological advances provide us with new ideas on how to quench our need for these resources. From the sun, to fossil fuels, and now to nuclear energy, we have always found a way to manipulate the things around us to suit our needs. But as these needs grow, we start to sacrifice the understanding of the technology to satisfy these needs. Without proper understanding, we begin to create a medium in which accidents can occur. It is when these accidents occur do we finally start to realize how important understanding really is.
In a woodland area near the town of Pripyat, on April 26, 1986, the lack of understanding a technology shook the civilized world. “The most serious accident in the history of the nuclear industry occurred at Unit 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the former Ukrainian Republic of the Soviet Union.” (International Chornobyl Research and Information Network, 2010, p. 1) The explosion from the accident sent radioactive materials over a 150,000 square kilometer area. Storm and wind patterns also scattered this material across most of the northern hemisphere, although these amounts were considered insignificant. (International Atomic Energy Agency, 2011) Due to the large area of contamination, the accident garnered international attention on the safety of nuclear energy. Only with this attention did people finally start to realize the scope of how seriously dangerous growing technologies could be.
This purpose of this report is to provide the reader with insight as to the cause of the accident, the health and environmental effects, decontamination efforts, and finally what has come of Chernobyl today. Cause of the Accident
On the morning of April 25, 1986, the fourth reactor at the facility was to be shut down for routine maintenance. The shutdown provided an opportunity for technicians to perform a test on the turbines of the fourth reactor. Unknowingly, this was the cause leading to the accident. A Russian State Committee officially released this statement in a report, acknowledging this fact: The immediate cause was an experiment which it had been planned to perform while the reactor was being shut down for a “medium repair” on 25 April. The purpose of the experiment was to determine whether, after steam had been shut off from the turbo-generator, the inertia of the still-rotating generator would be sufficient to generate enough electricity to operate auxiliary motors which were part of the emergency cooling system of the reactor. (Megaw, 1987, p. 54) In preparation to the test, the operators of the reactor had to take upon some actions including disabling of the automatic shutdown mechanisms. This was to improve the accuracy of the test, but proved to be disastrous. As the test carried on, it became delayed due to power demands in a nearby town. Because of the delay, the plant continued to operate without the safety mechanisms in place. By the time the test was to be finally finished, the reactor had already become unstable. When the procedures of starting normal operations commenced, the reactor experienced a huge power surge due to a design flaw. The power surge caused fuel to melt, which in turn caused a pressure explosion, and then a hydrogen explosion which blew the lid off the of the reactor. (Health Protection Agency, 2012) “There were over 100 radioactive elements released into the atmosphere when Chernobyl’s fourth reactor exploded.” (International Atomic Energy Agency, 2011, p. 1) Two employees of the plant died from these explosions. Thousands more were...
Bibliography: Megaw, J. (1987). What Really Happened At Chernobyl. How Safe? Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Beyond. (pp.54) Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Stoddart Publishing Co. Retrieved October 18, 2012
World Health Organization
World Nuclear Association. (2012, April 1). Chernobyl Accident 1986. (pp.1) Retrieved October 19, 2012, from World Nuclear Association: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/chernobyl/inf07.html
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