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What Happened at Chernobyl?

In 1986, a reactor exploded at Chernobyl, releasing radioactive material into the air.
The Chernobyl reactor was located in the Ukraine.
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  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2014
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On 26 April 1986, one of the worst nuclear accidents in history occurred at the Chernobyl reactor in the Ukraine. The fourth reactor exploded in the early hours of the 26th and released radiation and particulate material, devastating a 20 mile (32 kilometer) radius and affecting to the rest of the world as well. The cause of the disaster was readily identified, and it was deemed by some nations to be gross negligence on the part of plant operators. There were 30 deaths at the site of the explosion, and many more people suffered illness as a result of radiation exposure.

The site of the Chernobyl reactor was cordoned off, and the reactor was capped with a large concrete pad. In the 21st century, it became evident that the pad was not effectively sealing off the radiation and that additional steps would need to be taken to prevent additional leakage of contaminated material. The area around the reactor is still restricted to humans, and in the slang of the region is known as the “dead zone,” despite the plant and animal life that has begun to take over the abandoned plant.

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The accident was caused by a routine shutdown at the power plant. The shutdown was designed to test the ability of the plant to function at low power, although other tests of similar plants and other reactors had suggested that powering down the plant was unsafe. The reactor became unstable as the flow of cooling water slowed, and because automatic shutoff had been disabled, the plant could not turn itself off. A worker realized the situation and attempted to turn off the reactor, but a power surge resulted instead, blowing the cover plate of the reactor off and showering radioactive material and particulates in a wide radius.

Graphite from the core caught fire and burned for nine days, releasing a large amount of radioactivity into the atmosphere. Effects of the Chernobyl disaster could be felt all over the world, with many nations reporting a rise in radioactivity as a result. The area surrounding the plant was quickly evacuated, although personnel at the site, such as firefighters and medical staff, suffered from intense radiation exposure.

The events at Chernobyl were a sobering lesson for the rest of the world, which realized that poorly maintained nuclear power plants could affect the rest of the planet and not merely the regions they were in. Citizens around the site continue to suffer the effects of radiation poisoning, requiring extensive public health monitoring and treatment. More stringent safety procedures at nuclear plants were instituted, with the aim of preventing similar catastrophic accidents.

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anon350703
Post 16

This is sad.

anon338333
Post 15

988bius/per radium was released just in the first .28 seconds of the reactor puncture. That is 72 times that of a half megaton nuclear bomb.

anon309482
Post 13

There was an underground stream under the power plant which was unaccounted for. After the explosion, much of the leaking radiation entered the stream and was carried to other parts of Europe. Despite the containment structure, it took time for the stream to be identified.

anon159761
Post 10

The Exclusion Zone is one of the most verdant areas in Russia from the lack of humans. nature can deal with radiation.

anon156455
Post 9

From a Health and safety point of view, would be breached? Do you think from the prior tests they should have not been continued? and from what has happened what could they do to improve to keep it from happening again?

anon153199
Post 8

Over 895 percent of reactor number 4 control room was gone or shredded for 15 years. I ran the reactor manually, due to no automation back up.

A 30" foot hole came through the back of the reactor wall and/or control panels.

anon116757
Post 7

@Anon73821: The 'idiots' as you call them were also killed in the nuclear explosion. No explosions were caused ever before in the world so they thought it was safe enough not to be always alert. Maybe they were sleeping or at lunch.

You don't really know what happened so don't judge people how you perceive them. It's your opinion and you're entitled to it but try to see it from a side point of view. If you worked there would you man the manual shut down control room all the time. 15 years pass and nothing happened. So the people who manned it got lazy.

anon91620
Post 6

The damage was great but it is a milestone in the true potential of the atom. Only by mastering the smallest things can the greatest things be accomplished. This was a tragedy but it will not go forgotten and the benefits of quantum physic will greatly outweigh its faults.

anon73821
Post 5

It is a well known fact that two idiots ran manual override on six safety stops that would have stopped this from ever happening!

anon65920
Post 4

It is said that the radiation released by this explosion was greater than that of the deliberately dropped bomb on Hiroshima during World War II.

We should stop messing around with such a potentially deadly substance. How many has it killed so far? But then, without radiation, we wouldn't have microwaves. And that is what is inspiring the scientists to keep studying it.

We should stick to something with less mass though. Bombs and massive power plants? Come on! We're practically asking for it.

anon51413
Post 3

the idea of the human race intelligently utilizing and playing with nuclear energy is clearly not advised. Enough with the mess we've got. In the interests of wider available information concerning the plight of us all, including our beautiful animals and plants, we must cease such abominable development with processes best left for the universe to manage on its own grand scale and not amongst such environments within the greatness of it all such as the plant earth. essential as the path we take is, it is essential to reach our destiny for existence within the universe as we perceive it.

anon10745
Post 1

if you had to describe the aftermath since this event, What would you say?

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