Nuclear Power : A Case Study On The 1986 Disaster At The Chernobyl Atomic Power Station

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Nuclear power plays a hugely important role in the generation of today’s world’s everyday energy needs. Accounting for around 11% of the world’s energy needs, nuclear energy is generally harnessed using uranium as the fuel [1]. Within a nuclear reactor, a neutron collides with a uranium nucleus to induce a chain fission reaction. This is a reaction in which the nucleus of an atom splits to form two separate atoms, with a great quantity of energy being released in the process [2]. This heat energy is absorbed by water or carbon dioxide gas which is pumped through the reactor and later is used to heat water converting it to steam. The steam then rotates turbines in order to produce electricity. This report will explore the
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• Production of nuclear power leads to lower energy costs and provides jobs for thousands of people.

In contrast to the advantages of nuclear power, listed below are some of the major disadvantages:
• Nuclear power produces large amounts of toxic waste which can be harmful to the environment.
• Greenhouse gases are still produced in other ways, contributing to climate change.
• The consequences of a nuclear accident are potentially very damaging to human life, health and the environment.

Case-Study: The 1986 Accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station
The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station is located approximately 3.6 kilometres from the city of Pripyat in the Soviet Union (now part of Ukraine, close to the border with Belarus) [4]. The power station was the site of four completed nuclear reactors, as well as two further reactors under construction. In the early hours of the 26th of April 1986, Reactor 4, which had been running for approximately 2 years prior, was undergoing maintenance checks in order to review emergency procedures [5]. In a test to examine whether the cooling pump system could function in the event of the failure of the auxiliary electricity supply, too many control rods were lowered, causing a near-complete shutdown of the reactor. Engineers raised the rods in an attempt to restart the system, but raised too many rods, resulting in a great increase in power output. At 1.23am, the emergency
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