Chernobyl, an Examination of the World’s Worst Nuclear Disaster

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Chernobyl, an Examination of the World’s Worst Nuclear Disaster On the 26th of April, 1986 unit 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power station was taken off the electrical grid to perform an experiment in which the reactor would be run at low power. The Chernobyl power station, which is located in the present day Ukraine and is approximately 12 miles south of the border with Belarus, did not react as designed and unit 4 proceeded to spiral out of control. The unconstrained fission reaction which followed resulted in a steam explosion that poured radioactive material into the atmosphere. To this day Chernobyl is the largest and farthest reaching nuclear disaster in human history. The meltdown of Chernobyl's fourth reactor was the result of a series of errors in the reactor design, operations, and a failure to follow established safety protocols. These human errors resulted in more than 400 times the radioactivity of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb being released into the environment (Salge & Milling, 2006). This caused a massive economic, environmental, and human toll to the region. Improved reactor design and proper adherence to safety procedures could have prevented this disaster. The Chernobyl disaster was caused by two part human error. The first part occurred long before the 26th of April and was due to the design of the reactor. The Chernobyl reactors create energy by utilizing thermal energy from the fission of the uranium-235 isotope to heat water into steam. The steam then turns turbines which create electrical energy. The problem with the Chernobyl reactor is the way it maintains the fission reaction. The fission of uranium-235 creates neutrons which in an ideal situation bombard other uranium-235 atoms which then divide and... ... middle of paper ... ...ine spend roughly 5 percent of their total budgets on benefits to survivors and cost associated with upkeep of the Chernobyl disaster site (Stone 2006). The true tragedy of the Chernobyl disaster is that it did not need to happen. Works Cited Gale, R. (2011). If the unlikely becomes likely: Medical response to nuclear accidents. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 67(2), 10. Lewis, H. W. (1986). The Accident at the Chernobyl' Nuclear Power Plant and Its Consequences. Environment, 28(9), 25. Marples, D. R. (1996). The Decade of Despair. (Cover story). Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 52(3), 22-31. Salge, M., & Milling, P. M. (2006). Who is to blame, the operator or the designer? Two stages of human failure in the Chernobyl accident. Systems Dynamics Review (Wiley), 22(2), 89-112 Stone, R. (2006). THE LONG SHADOW OF CHERNOBYL. National Geographic, 209(4), 32-53.
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