The Chornobyl Incident: Lessons Learned

Chernobyl Accident

The Chernobyl incident took place on April 26, 1986, in Ukraine, 60 miles North of Kyiv, when the reactor experienced a beyond design basis reactivity power excursion and subsequent steam explosion. The explosion led to the blowing apart of the reactor core. According to Moler et al. (2018), the accident occurred during a turbine generator coast-down experiment. In this essay, the author has discussed the events’ sequence during the accident, industry response towards the accident, and most surprising things.

Timeline of the Event

Before the accident occurred, various activities took place. On April 25, the team of the Chernobyl power plant was preparing for a system test. Its purpose was to determine the duration during which the turbines were capable of continuing to function and supplying power to the circulating pumps under the circumstance of the main electrical power supply loss (Kashcheev et al. 2017). It was followed by the turbine inlet valves closing, and this occurred immediately after the start of the test. Immediately after the closure of the turbine inlet valves, a power excursion took place, and it led to operators attempting to scram the reactor (Kashcheev et al. 2017). Rods were then inserted the only pathway into the core, but this led to increasing the excursion.

Consequently, a steam explosion occurred, and it destroyed a significant fraction of the reactor core into the “confinement” building. Three seconds into the incident, another explosion took place caused by fuel channels and hot graphite debris. It rendered the graphite and the fuel incandescent, causing a series of fires and leading to a considerable radioactive fallout (Kashcheev et al. 2017). Two men died on the spot due to the explosion, while 28 others died between April 25 and July.

Industry Response/Lessons Learned

The primary effect on the industry consisted of increased attention devoted to the design of safety measures. In addition, maintaining proper procedures and controls for everyday operations and emergencies became an issue of paramount importance (Volkova et al. 2017). Responsible people are to ensure that they follow the correct methods without disregarding any important aspects. The role of precision in terms of forecasts and system modeling equally increased, as it was vital to avoid any reliance on probability. By being careful and following the right steps, optimal results are achieved, and accidents are prevented.

Furthermore, backup safety systems are to be available to deal with potential accidents. Whenever such tasks are executed, there should be substantial measures taken to alleviate the risks of a system malfunctioning. Another critical aspect comprises the availability of medical teams trained to intervene in case of emergency. This idea is related to the concept of adequate infrastructure and sufficient assets, which would facilitate the transportation of people and equipment.

Surprising Aspects

The first surprising aspect is connected to the crew inserting the rods into the core without fully knowing the consequences. When high-risk tests are conducted, it is essential to have a complete understanding of what a certain procedure will entail. The second point comprises the lack of effective precautions taken by the crew. A quality assurance procedure would have helped to forecast some of the risks, thus providing the crew with vital knowledge before the test. This way, it would have been possible to avoid such a large-scale catastrophe.

Conclusion

The Chernobyl accident could have been prevented if the people in charge had followed the correct procedures when conducting a new test. While such procedures are needed, a single mistake could lead to a fatal situation. Accordingly, every person involved should be encouraged to prioritize safety before anything else. A quality assurance procedure should be necessary when conducting risky tests to ensure people’s lives are not at risk.

References

Kashcheev, Valeriy V. et al. 2017. “Radiation Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases in the Cohort of Russian Emergency Workers of the Chernobyl Accident.” Health Physics 113(1): 23-29.

Moller, Anders et al. 2018. “Long-term Effects of Ionizing Radiation after the Chernobyl Accident: Possible Contribution of Historic Dose.” Environmental Research 165: 55-62.

Volkova, Polina Yu., Stanislav A. Geras’kin, and Elizaveta A Kazakova. 2017. “Radiation Exposure in The Remote Period after The Chernobyl Accident Caused Oxidative Stress and Genetic Effects in Scots Pine Populations.” Scientific Reports, 7(1): 1-9.

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