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The Chernobyl Disaster

Powerful Essays
The seemingly limitless power of the atom has been exploited by scientist around the world ever since the Enola Gay flew over Hiroshima on August 6th 1945 and dropped the second atomic bomb, revealing to the world this new form of energy. The key to harnessing the energy from nuclear fission in a stable reaction soon followed, starting the Nuclear age. Russia, emerging as a superpower and major industrial center found special needs for nuclear fission. From the period of 1980-1990, the Russian Federation’s Gross Democratic Product grew 2.8% each year, comparable to the United State’s 2.9% each year. To fuel this growth, the only cheap, affordable, efficient energy production means was nuclear energy. The fission of 1 lb of uranium-235 produces as much energy as 1,500 tons of coal. The Cold War only escalated this demand, and soon, reactors served dual purposes of providing energy, as well as producing weapons grade plutonium. In fact, the first reactors were designed to manufacture plutonium, not to generate electricity. Everything has its flaws though, and nuclear energy was no exception, with one of the heaviest reprucussions in the event of an accident. April 26th, 1986 is an excellent example of that. Chernobyl was not the first nuclear reactor mishap the world has encountered, but it was definitely the worst for many years to come. Previous accidents such as Three Mile Island in the United States, Indian Point near New York, and a partial meltdown at Leningrad predated Chernobyl. However, the 100 million curies of radiation emitted by the RMBK-1000 reactor put Chernobyl on an entirely different scale compared to the previous accidents. Failure to effectively prevent, contain, and effectively respond to the radiation emit... ... middle of paper ... ...PS. Automatic controls should have been extended to almost all areas of maintaining normal operational limitations, especially with the quality of the scientist around Chernobyl. Izmailov, a veteran of Glavatomenergo, said “It was practically impossible for us to find anyone in the central directorate who knew much about reactors and nuclear physics. At the same time, however, the bookkeeping, supply, and planning department grew to an incredible size.” While it may be a bit of an exaggeration, the fact still stands that under such incompetence, it would have made logical sense to have the majority of safety and maintenance carried out through an automated system. Seven years prior to Chernobyl, a meltdown of the nuclear reactor on Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Unlike Chernobyl however, nobody was injured during the meltdown on March 18, 1979.
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