Chernobyl Lessons

Interesting review by the BBC of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Reactions went awry, apparently, when some engineers tried to test a hypothesis on a production system. The system quickly heated out of control during the test, and was unable to recover.

Operational errors:

The reactor began to overheat and its water coolant started to turn to steam.

At this point it is thought that all but six control rods had been removed from the reactor core – the minimum safe operating number was considered to be 30.

Design errors:

Because the reactor was not housed in a reinforced concrete shell, as is standard practice in most countries, the building sustained severe damage and large amounts of radioactive debris escaped into the atmosphere.

They are still working on building a containment system, twenty years later, and now need £600m to replace the present system that is failing. Wonder what the cost of the containment shell, and/or a proper development and test environment, would have been prior to the accident.

7 thoughts on “Chernobyl Lessons”

  1. Milan, thanks for the photo link. Interesting post on your site as well. I found some stark comments near the photos after the author rode into the kill zone:

    These fire engines are some of the most radioactive objects in all of Chernobyl. The firemen were the first on the scene, and they thought it was an ordinary fire. No one told them, what they were really dealing with.


    Over 650,000 liquidators helped in the cleanup of the Chernobyl disaster in the first year. Many of those who worked as liquidators became ill and according to some estimates about 8,000 to 10,000 have died from the radioactive dose they received at the Chornobyl Power Plant.

  2. Here are a couple more:

    The patch of trees in front of me is called red – or ‘magic” wood. In 1986, this wood glowed red with radiation. They cut them down and buried them under 1 meter of earth.

    The readings on the asphalt paving is 500 -3000 microroentgens, depending upon where you stand. That is 50 to 300 times the radiation of a normal environment. If I step 10 meters forward, geiger counter will run off the scale. If I walk a few hundred meters towards the reactor, the radiation is 3 roentgens per hour – which is 300,000 times normal.

  3. OK, sorry, I misunderstood something :). I thought you were writing about the nuclear disaster (which was in Ukraine), not about its economic impact on neighbouring countries…

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