Analysis of the Chernobyl Meltdown



On April 1986, Soviet's Union Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded

letting out a massive amount of radiation that would debate of all

Russian citizens for hundreds of years to come. At exactly 1:21 am. on

April, 1986 inChernobyl, a city near the Pripiat River the No. 4

reactor exploded and released thirty to forty times the radiation of

the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombing. The exact causes of the explosion

are not known , however scientists and researchers, under thorough

investigation, have uncovered possible causes to the explosion.1 The

main reason why the explosion occurred was that, the operators of the

plant were attempting to conduct an experiment with the emergency

cooling system turned off, they made six fatal errors which sealed

everyone's fate. Soviet officials clamed that if the technicians,

would have avoided at least one of those mistakes, then the plant

could have been saved.

The technicians began the test one day before the explosion.

They started reducing the reactor's power level so they could run the

turbine experiment. However in order for the plant to run at lower

power they had to turn off the automatic control system, which powered

all emergency limitations that the plant should make in case it goes

out of control. Turning of the cooling system was an unnecessary

action and though it did not cause the explosion, it made the

consequences more fatal. Just then the operator's receive a call from

the local grid controller in Kiev, who needed the power and asked the

technicians to stop lowering it, at what they obeyed. Once that was

done the reactor was running with out the cooling system , which was a

very serious mistake. At 11:10 p.m. the grid controller said he no

longer needed the power, and the operators returned to reducing the

power. At twenty minutes past midnight the operators forgot to set the

regulator properly, it was the second fatal error. Because of the

incorrect regulator settings the reactor's power crashed to 30 MW from

1,000 MW which is too low for the test. At that point the operators

would have abandoned the experiment, but they attempted to rescue it,

for the next time they would be able to conduct would be in one year

only. The senior authorities who had ordered the test would have been

furious and would have found out the regulator problem. So the

operators decided, to pull out the stops to restore the reactor's

power.2 Their third fatal mistake, was the pulling out of control

rods. The plant's rule was to have thirty in at all times however they

left all but six. By 1:00 Am the power risen to 200 MW, which was

still to low for the experiment, however the operators continued. In a

few minutes they made their fourth fatal error, by turning on two

extra pumps to join the six that wee already cooling the core. This

procedure under such low power caused a massive steam disorder. Their

fifth fatal error was the turning off of the automatic shut off, which

would turn off the reactor. At 1:23 a.m. on Saturday April 26, the

workers began the actual experiment. They made their sixth error, by

turning off the last safety system. It took the shift manager thirty

seconds to realize what was happening and shouted at another operators

to press button AZ-5 which would driven all the control rods back into

the core, but because the rods were melted from serious heat they

didn't fit properly into the core. As the manager gloomy eyed looked

down at the control panel several loud banging noises were heard.

Immediately the one thousand tone roof of the reactor blew off sky

high, and brought down the giant two hundred tone refueling crane onto

the core, destroying more cooling systems and 30 fires spread around

the plant. Finally the over-heating and steam build up caused a second

explosion which destroyed the reactor and part of the building. The

graphite began to burn ferociously once exposed to air, as core

reached temperatures as high as 2,800o F a massive amount of

radioactive dust was let out into the air which was picked by winds

and carried thousands of miles into every direction. As well, previous

to the testing the technicians, drew up plans, but did not discuss

them with physicists or nuclear safety staff at the plant. Though they

send experiment plans