January 9, 2013
Chernobyl: A Modern Disaster
Throughout our history as human beings, we’ve made amazing discoveries. Whether it is discovering fire or inventing the Internet, our minds are able to achieve mind-blowing accomplishments. One of the greatest accomplishments in recent history is nuclear power: the use of nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Unlike fossil fuels, they do not emit any atmospheric pollutants, generate immense energy with little fuel, and have little waste. In other words, nuclear power has become the most economically efficient tool for the production of energy – but also the most dangerous. Nuclear power plants carry the risk that dangerously high radioactivity contained within the plant could possibly leak during an accident. On April 26th, 1986, the world witnessed the worst nuclear power plant accident in history; a safety test carried out at a nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine went horribly wrong. “The Chernobyl disaster” shows how one man’s error affected millions, whether the effects were short term or long term, medical or psychological. Furthermore, the incident also changed the world’s perception on nuclear science, forcing us to put more emphasis on nuclear safety.
The catastrophe occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Powerplant in Ukraine, Ukraine’s first and largest nuclear power station. No one knew what Chernobyl was before the incident; it was a small rural town in the middle of nowhere. But as a result of an unwieldy explosion on April 26, 1986, Chernobyl became the world’s prime symbol of technological catastrophe (Marples 238). It occurred because of an experiment on how long safety equipment would function during shutdown of the fourth reactor unit in the facility. The operators had dismantled safety mechanisms at the reactor to prevent its automatic shutdown, but this reactor type became unstable if operated at low power. An operator error...
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