Elliza Casey Norma Williams A.P.

United States History 5 May 2010 Chernobyl It was to be the largest nuclear complex in the world, the Soviet Union¶s pride for the energy industry started off strong. One day, something went terribly wrong. Chernobyl, a town located 70 miles north of Kiev, Ukraine, had four reactors to supply much of Ukraine¶s power in the region (Edwards, 104). To run an experiment on the reactor, technicians disabled key safety systems. The reactor had a good record of safety. Inside reactor Number Four, engineers reduced power below twenty-five percent (Edwards, 102-103). In order to maintain reactor power, they withdrew many control rods, which help control the chain reaction. Operators reduced cooling water flow to maintain steam pressure. The cooling water that remained boiled rapidly and the reactor surged with energy. In fact, it surged so fast that the reactor went from seven percent to fifty percent power in just under three seconds. The operator then knew that the chain reaction was surging out of control. Another operator noticed this, and quickly pushed the emergency button. Control rods began to lower into the reactor chamber to slow down the out of control chain reaction, but failed to halt it. The reactor¶s fuel began to dissipate and fall into the pool of cooling water. As the hot material met with the water, a massive amount of steam was produced. The pressure from all that steam shattered the core¶s 1,000-ton lid and ripped through the roof. Radioactive material was launched over three quarters of a mile into the atmosphere. Only four percent of the reactor¶s radioactive material reached the atmosphere, but it was still

115) (a measurement of biological tissue damage caused by radiation (Pringle. it could launch even more radioactive dust about the countryside. Their lives have adapted to deal with it. 116)). 33). Number Two was shut down after a fire in 1991. In fact. 65). and nausea. worker. but they were later released because . a breakdown of the body¶s systems characterized by diarrhea.2 million people now live within contaminated regions. vomiting. scattered or even fused with melted concrete or steel.000 people to clean up the accident. 33). only 17 curies escaped at the Three Mile Island accident (Pringle. Explosions and fires that followed the explosion sent 12 million curies (a measure of how radioactive something is) of radiation into the air in just 24 hours. Chernobyl had four reactors. The structure was not sealed air-tight. This is enough to cause acute radiation sickness. Numbers One and Three are still functioning. Some of these liquidators received over 200 REMs of radiation (Edwards. If the structure collapsed. Five survivors were jailed. These people were known as ³liquidators´. In contrast. Clocks atop government buildings in Minsk. They erected a twenty-four story sarcophagus of concrete block around the remains of reactor Number Four. the Soviet government sent an army of 750.more than was released by the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan (Pringle. An estimated 180 tons of uranium fuel remain in the rubble. temperature. Two operators were fired due to this incident. Byelorussia. Following the accident. 62-65). the explosion produced 90 times as much fallout (radioactive particles launched into the atmosphere and later fall to the earth) than Hiroshima received from one atomic bomb alone (McCuen. flash the time. because it was decided that the welders faced too great a danger of radiation. 5 REMs are the maximum dosage of radiation permitted yearly for any U. and radiation level (McCuen.S. An additional 38 million fell within the next ten days. 2. but they are unsafe.

Russia. they all exploit them for electricity (Edwards. Fifteen of these reactors still operate in Ukraine. Ukraine is concerned about their future. Chernobyl just seems to be a sore thumb for the Ukraine. 101-104). the environmental impact of this incident is undeniable. however. Chernobyl has affected almost 5 million people. and if nuclear power is to have a future.they had not been informed that graphite-core reactors will become dangerously unstable at low power. made no mention of this shortcoming. With their economies in chaos. . Operating manuals. the world must learn how to control the power that is held within. One thing is for sure. The government knows how dangerous it is to keep these reactors running but continues to run them to avoid energy shortages. also. and Lithuania. Chernobyl-related matters consume fifteen percent of their budget. Now the rules prohibit operating below one quarter power. Today.

Mike. Toxic Nightmare: Ecocide in the USSR & Eastern Europe. McCuen Publications. New York. Pringle. 1989. ³Living With the Monster: Chernobyl.´ National Geographic. Gary E. McCuen. NY: Macmillan Publishing Company. Swanson. Laurence.Works Cited Edwards. Ronald P. Nuclear Energy ± Troubled Past. Inc. Hudson. .. WI: Gary E. Uncertain Future. 1993. August 1994: 101-115..

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