Nuclear Disasters

9971 Words Aug 16th, 2011 40 Pages
Nuclear Disasters and Accidents

Introduction:
One of the scariest things about nuclear power is when something goes wrong and an accident occurs. Radiation is released into the environment and people get hurt. Two of the most famous nuclear accidents occurred at the Three Mile Island reactor 2 in the United States and the Chernobyl reactor 4 in the former Soviet Union. In this text we will discuss these two disasters, along with correcting a few common misconceptions about nuclear accidents. The Myth of a Reactor Explosion:
It is impossible for any PWR or LWR nuclear reactor to explode like an atomic bomb. This is because in order for an uncontrolled chain reaction to occur that is similar to an atom bomb, the uranium fuel must be
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This reduced the amount of coolant in the core. There wasn't enough coolant in the core, so the Emergency Core Cooling System automatically turned on. This should have provided enough extra coolant to make up for the stuck valve, except that the reactor operator, thinking that enough coolant was already in the core, shut it off too early.
There still wasn't enough coolant, so the core's temperature kept increasing. A valve at the top of the core automatically opened to vent some of the steam in the core. This should have helped matters by removing the hot steam, but the valve didn't close properly. Because it didn't close, steam continued to vent from the reactor, further reducing the coolant level. The reactor operators should have known the valve didn't close, but the indicator in the control room was covered by a maintenance tag attached to a nearby switch. Because the operators didn't know that the valve had failed to close, they assumed that the situation was under control, as the core temperature had stopped rising with the first venting of steam from the core. They also thought that the coolant had been replaced in the core, because they didn't know that the pump outlets were closed. A few minutes later the core temperature began to rise again, and the Emergency Core Cooling System automatically switched on. Once again, an operator de-activated it, thinking the situation was under
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