The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Facility

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After Hiroshima and Nagasaki the world believed that the threat of a nuclear disaster was over. Much to their disarray, Chernobyl proved to be the greatest nuclear disaster to befall upon the earth, with its effects ten times as severe as those in Japan. However, Chernobyl was directly caused by human incompetence as the engineers involved failed to report and analyze the errors evident in the reactors design and safety protocols. This catastrophe will become the precedent for engineers to learn and build upon their mistakes in communication and cooperation The disaster occurred on April 26, 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Facility in Pripyat, Ukraine. The main objective of the power plant was to convert the heat produced by uranium into electricity (World Nuclear Association, 2009). The engineers ran a systems test to see how reactor four would operate on low power; therefore, they disabled the cooling system which was a safety violation since this was not included in the original plans. Reactor four then experienced a hazardously low power level, from the recommended 700 megawatts to 200 megawatts and below. In addition to low power, the reactor was not cooled properly; the channel pipes became overheated and thus exploded. The explosion released 50 tons of radioactive toxins into the atmosphere, covering the Belarus, Pripyat and Russia (World Nuclear Association, 2009). Reactor four was initially designed with one major flaw; the reactor became unstable when being operated at lower levels of power. Furthermore, control was lost by the operator in charge of reactor four as the energy levels plummeted to zero megawatts. The operation seemed more like an experiment as multiple safety procedures were being violated in additi... ... middle of paper ... ...ting impact on the people of Ukraine and its environment. It has also set a precedent for engineers to learn from their mistakes and improve upon them. With the first ethical issue being the design of reactor four as it was different from reactors one and two along with different safety procedures, making it prone to failure. Additionally, its poorly designed controls were ignored; the procedure was well planned out, but the engineers decided to incorporate their own ideas into the operation. The last ethical issue concerns the Soviet government’s handling of the situation; secrecy was prioritized over the lives of countless innocent civilians. As engineers, it is our duty to exercise caution in understanding the potential impacts of our innovations and decisions. If safety culture is not cultivated properly, then disasters such as Chernobyl are not far from reality.

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