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There are different accounts to this story but the basic plot to this story is that on April 26, 1986 in Chernobyl, a city that was at the time part of U.S.S.R. (now part of Ukraine), there was one of the worlds most fatalistic nuclear disasters. The disaster at Chernobyl marks the only accident in history of commercial nuclear power where radiation-related fatalities occurred.
Experts generally agree that there are three factors that contributed to the incident at Chernobyl:
The Chernobyl nuclear power plant was made up of 4 graphite reactors. The number 4 reactor was the one that exploded. Even though the reactors are known to be unstable at low power settings, the reactor crew wanted to perform a set of controlled experiments to see how long turbines would spin and supply power at these low temperatures.
Then the experiment went wrong, very wrong. With its flawed design, the flow of coolant water diminished and power output increased. The surge in power coupled with the unstable reactor caused the reactor to melt down at the core.
There were actually 2 explosions of the number 4 reactor. With the first explosion, fuel elements ruptured and took off the cover plate of the reactor with it. Second explosion followed, burning fuel and graphite. Both released clouds of radioactive material for a period of 10 days.
As a security measure against the rising nearby river, the Bryaat River, a concrete wall was driven 30 meters into the ground to stand between the reactor and river. It is still standing but is known to be a shabby structure that needs to be replaced.
A total of 12 x 1018 Bu of radioactivity was released. This exposed the Chernobyl people to radioactivity 100 times greater than the Hiroshima bomb. 30 people were killed instantly. 209 people on the site were treated for radiation poisoning. There was a definite increase in Thyroid and other cancers around the sites in which the Chernobyl plant affected. 10 years after the incident, in an affected city, babies were sill being born with no arms, no eyes, or only stumps for limbs. More than 600,000 people known to be involved in the cleanup are now sick or dead. 15 million people were victimized by the disaster in some way.
We live in a constant fear of nuclear power. For heavens sake, were starting a war because of it. There are nuclear plants being in use in the United States today and experts say that well be tapping into our resources shortly, with the shortages in our fossil fuels and all. But to tell you the truth, I dont know what to think; its all too confusing for me. I am not exactly sure how nuclear power works as a power supply or for anything. The technical terms prove to be too difficult for an average Jane to comprehend. All I know is that nuclear power is dangerous yet useful. Even though there havent been many nuclear disasters as that of Chernobyl, I understand that if any one of the nuclear power plants standing in the United States go only slightly skewed, a big disaster will come about. Its really a shuddering thought. Nevertheless, nuclear power plants should continue to stand, if not for use than at least for the symbolic security and power of the United States. There needs to be a very tight security around our symbol of power to prevent it from doing harm.
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