What Happened at Chernobyl?.
The Chernobyl nuclear accident is considered one of the worst disasters in the modern world. It occurred on the 26th of April, 1986 when a nuclear reactor in a power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine exploded. The explosion caused nuclear radiation to spread to many places around the world, with the entire Europe being affected. This resulted in health problems as well as contamination of farmlands.
It all started when engineers at the Chernobyl nuclear plant conducted an experiment to find out if low power from the reactor could be used to support the cooling pump system in case the supply of auxiliary electricity is cut off. The control rods of the reactor were lowered to bring output level down to 20% of the normal output, but the engineers lowered too many rods, and this caused output to decrease too rapidly. As a result, the reactor was almost shut down. So, they started to raise the control rods to stabilize the reactor. They kept raising rods until the power reached about 12%, and then, the power suddenly shot up to perilous levels. Soon, overheating occurred, and the water coolant began to evaporate. The engineers pressed the shutdown button, but the reinsertion of control rods increased the concentration of reactivity in the lower part of the reactor.
At this point, the power level of the reactor was 100 times more than normal, and the reactor began to explode. Two explosions happened, and they blew off the upper radiation shield. The contents from the reactor core erupted outwards, and air from the outside reacted with the carbon monoxide gas in the reactor to start a fire that lasted for nine days. The building that housed the reactor was badly damaged, and a total of 31 people were killed. The accident could have been prevented if a reinforced concrete shell was constructed to house the reactor, which is the way nuclear reactors are built in other countries.
As a result of the accident, a large quantity of radioactive debris was released into the atmosphere, and it spread to many regions around Chernobyl before it reached Europe and other parts of the world. About 200 people were hospitalized because of exposure to the radiation. It is believed that the medical effects of exposure to nuclear radiation will only start to show many years after the incident, and some of the health problems that are associated with radiation exposure are skin diseases, birth defects, and cancer. An estimated 6500 people may contract cancer because of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. In fact, many children in the regions around Chernobyl are suffering from thyroid cancer today.
Other notable nuclear disasters that occurred around the world include fire at the Windscale nuclear plant in the UK, accident at a Russian nuclear facility near Kyshtym, reactor meltdown in Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and accident at a uranium processing facility in Tokaimura, Japan. The Windscale nuclear plant fire resulted in leakage of radiation into the atmosphere, and it caused dozens of people to contract cancer. The Kyshtym incident was more fatal as it caused hundreds of people to die from radiation illnesses. The Three Mile Island nuclear reactor incident was the worst nuclear accident that took place in the US, and it resulted in the evacuation of more than 100,000 residents. A total of 55 employees were exposed to radiation following the Tokaimura nuclear accident, and over 300,000 residents had to stay indoors until the area was cleaned up.
- The Chernobyl Accident: A detailed account of the nuclear accident that took place in Chernobyl.
- Chernobyl Disaster Information: General information about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
- Chernobyl Disaster Tour: A virtual tour of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
- Chernobyl Explained: A comprehensive description of how the Chernobyl disaster happened.
- Inside Chernobyl: An informative article about the Chernobyl nuclear accident and its effects.
- Ecological Effects of the Chernobyl Accident: A medical news article that reveals the ecological effects of the nuclear accident in Chernobyl.
- Legacy of the Chernobyl Disaster: An article that discusses the effects of the Chernobyl disaster.
- 20 Years after the Chernobyl Disaster: Information on how the Chernobyl disaster affects the health of present-day children in regions around Chernobyl.
- The United Nations and Chernobyl: Information about the United Nations’ efforts to help Chernobyl recover from the nuclear accident.
- Nuclear Reactor Accidents: A list of major nuclear accidents that took place in various countries around the world.