Chernobyl Nuclear Explosion
On April 26, 1986, a nuclear power plant reactor in Ukraine explodes in a catastrophic disaster. Today, the area remains devastated and still nuclear reactive. The events of Chernobyl are shocking and show how much damage it did to people, the economy, and the environment.
The immediate cause of the Chernobyl accident was a mismanaged electrical-engineering experiment. The plant was made up of four graphite reactors, which were the most modern Soviet reactors of the RBMK-type. Two more of these reactors were still under construction at the station. The Soviet designed RBMK is a pressurized water reactor with individual fuel channels and using water as its coolant and graphite as its moderator. It is very different from most other reactor designs as it was intended and used for both plutonium and power production. The combination of graphite moderator and water coolant is found in no other power reactors.
The problems that led to reactor number four’s explosion, was a test. The purpose of the test was to observe the dynamics of the RMBK reactor with limited power flow. The power was too low for the test. The water added to the reactor is heated by the nuclear reaction and turned into steam to turn the turbines of the generator. The explosion was driven by gases and steam generated by the core runaway, not by nuclear reactions. Burning material went flying into the air above the Number four reactor. These were hot pieces of nuclear fuel and graphite, some of which fell onto the roof of the turbine hall where they started fires. An estimated fifty tons of nuclear fuel evaporated and were released by the explosion into the atmosphere. In addition, about seventy tons were ejected sideways from the core and hitting a pile of structural debris. Debris also landed onto the roof and on grounds of the plant. The released radiation, which killed between 7,000 and 10,000 people, was roughly equivalent to the explosion of ten Hiroshima...