Chernobyl: A Nuclear Wasteland Essay

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Leading up to the accident The morning of April 26, 1986 started just like all other mornings in Chernobyl, with just one exception, there was an emergency systems test underway at the near-by nuclear power station. This test was unauthorized, none the less, it was designed to ensure cooling water for the reactor could still be controlled with little or no power to the station. The cold war was in full swing, and Russia was still poised to go to war with the United States at any moment. It was due to this “distrust” that the test was being run that morning. The head nuclear scientist on shift, Anatoli Dyatlov, was from the “old school” and thought that he alone could control the whole reactor process, and he also thought he knew more …show more content…
At 1:00 A.M. on 25 April, the command was given to start reducing power to the station. “This could not be done quickly because the xenon gas that came from the radioactive decay of uranium 135 absorbed neutrons. If not allowed to decay, which it did in a few hours, it could accelerate the decline in the reactor’s activity and close it down altogether.” (Read p.59) Twelve hours after the start of the power reduction, the reactor had reached half-power, and generator number 7 was switched off. The number 8 generator would be next, but there was a slight risk that the decrease in water supply to the reactor or the start up of the auxiliary generator would signal an emergency to the system sensors that would automatically start the emergency core cooling system. If this happened, the reactor would be flooded and it would be closed down. Dyatlov had the emergency system disconnected so that the test could continue uninterrupted. After the this system was disconnected, the test was ready to proceed, which was to reduce power in the number 8 generator and take it off line, all the while keeping the reactor on low power. As the order was given, a call came in from the power grid dispatcher in Kiev saying that the power that the number 8 generator produced was needed until 11 P.M., which meant that the test had to be postponed. (Read, 1993) Dyatlov was tired and frustrated at the delay, so he went home to
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