Disaster at Chernobyl
It has been forteen years since the explosions at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukraine, Then a consitiuent republic of the Soviet Union. The aftermath of chernobyl has been devastating; its human, financial, and environmental cost almost beyond measure. The death toll, still unknown, may yet reach into the thousands. Prime aqricultural land, totaling hundreds of thousands of squaremiles, have been taken out of possibel use due to the radioactive comtamination. Some 135,000 people were exposed to radioactive fallout and have resetled far form contaminated areas. The psychological impact of this uprooting will continue to hunt these people for years. Unfortunately, cantamination levels in some regions are still high, thus makeing further evacuations and resettlement necessary.
The first serious accident in a modern 1,000 Mwe reactor took place in the United states in 1979. The enviroment did not become con taminated due to the fact that the reactor was contained in a hermetic, dome-shaped protective structure made of reinforced concrete; This was not the case at Chernobyl. As Reactor four was to be shutdown for routime maintenance on the 25 of April 1986 the technitions decided to take advantage off down time to run a test. The test was to check wether, in the event of a shutdown there would be enough cictrical power to operate the emergency equipment and core cooling punmps untill the diesel power supply came back on. As the reactor shutdown proceeded, the reactor operated at around half power when the electric load dispatcher refused to allow further shutdown. As part of the test the emergency core colling system was switched off and the rector continued working at half power, At about 11:00 the grid controller agreed to further reduce the power. The test reactor was to be stabilised at 1,000MW befor shutdown, however, due to an operatioal mistake the power fell to about 30MW where the positive void coefficient became a problem. The operators tried to increase the power by freeing all the control rods manually. They eventually,afte some time, stabilised the reactor at 200MW. Shortly afterwards an increase in coolent flow and a drop in steam pressure occurred requiring the operatos to wihdraw almost all the rods. The reactor became very unstable after doing this and the operators had to make adjustments every few seconds to maintain a continuous power. At this time the operatoors decreased the flow of feed water to maintan the steam pressure. Also, the pumps that were powered bye the slowing turbine provided less and less cooling to the reactor problemed reactor. The sudden increase in temperature caused part of the fuel to repture. these fuel particles racted with the water creating a steam explosin which destroyed the ractor core. A second explosion added to the destruction two minutes later .
The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station lies on the outskirts of Pripyat, southeast of the Yanov railroad station, high on the bank of the Pripyat River, just north of its convergence with the river Uzh. Both of these rivers flow into the Dnieper River, which feed the Kiev reservoir to the south. The station itself is almost 1.6 km long, form one end of ractor #1 to ractor #4. The four reactors at Chernobyl were built in pairs, sharing buildings . The explosion blew burning fragments of the graphite core out of the ractor building. The burnig material fell onto the roof ofthe trubine hall and started a fire that put reactor # 3 at risk. More that 30 seprat fires broke out. The fires were contained by 5:00am, except for the graphite fire in the reactor core. It is likely that most of the fire fighting had been done by local crews and the major fires already containd before others arrived on the scene. Soviet sources say the fires were fought by just 28 men .
Chernobyl affected the health of many people throughout Russia. Altogether the total number of fatalities caused by Chernobyl stands at 31 officially. Around 600,000 however were classified as being "significantly exposed" and will have their health monitored their whole lives. Twenty-four people were disabled by the accident, some so severely they were left as invalids for the rest of there lives. Two-hundred thiry-eight people have suffered acute radiation syndrome. This was updated later in 1988 at a conference in Kiev . At the conference the estimates were updated and around 50,000 people had received 50 rad (0.5 Gy) and about 2,000 people have received around 200 rad (2 Gy). Note that an exposure of about 100 rad will cause symptoms of radiation sickness. The total number of people that were in this classification is somewhere around 10,000 .
The areas of Russia that were affected most were the rural areas. This is because 40% of the population in Western Russia is located in rural areas. The rural areas such as Polessky outside of Ukraine were once very fertile areas consisting of many different crops. The areas now are too contaminated to continue such work . One problem that rural citizens faced was the new land that they went to live on did not guarantee them a new permanent subsidized housing when the realization came that they could not move back in immediately. The total number of rural evacuees came to over 100,000. By January of 1987 around 1,500 people moved back into their villages after the military decontaminated the area . However no children were allowed to return to the evacuated villages. The main reason for sending all of the people back was to have them return to continue their agricultural jobs so they would not harm the economy of the USSR too badly . There were many evacuees from Chernobyl and the surrounding villages, the number kept changing throughout the years and through the different resources. The main problem about evacuating people was the elderly. They were usually persistent not to leave. Eventually, many of the elderly returned to their abandoned homes in 1988; their main reason was that the effects of the radiation were not as harmful to them as to younger people . Altogether the rural effects were devastating and the continued radiation levels still do not meet the norm.
Altogether, fallout from Chernobyl was registered in all of the Northern Hemisphere. The only places that were affected enough to affect human health was in Europe and the Soviet Union. The US, Canada, and Japan all set up monitoring services to check Students and Tourists from USSR and Western and Eastern Europe. The Chernobyl accident, combined with the effects of the Three Mile Island incident, put an end to the development of nuclear power plants. Since 1979 no new nuclear power plants have been built, causing the eventual diminishing of nuclear power .
Edel E. Robert, Chernobyl and Its Aftermath (CSIS:1994)
Gould Peter, Fire in the Rain (Johns Hopkins University
Press: Baltimore, 1990)
Medvedev A. Zhores, The Legacy of Chernobyl (W.W. Norton
and company: New York 1990)
http://www. Chernobyl.co.uk/ March 1, 2000
Word Count: 1127