Time Magazine May 12 1986 Meltdown Chernobyl Reactor

This book explains everything about nuclear meltdowns and nuclear power plant explosions.

In the first chapter we explain how meltdowns and explosions occur. In the second chapter we discuss the details of Three Mile Island. In the third chapter we discuss the details of the infamous explosion of Chernobyl. The final chapter discusses technology and processes which can be put in place to prevent meltdowns and explosions. The Appendix has suggested guides related to the safe design and operation of nuclear power plants.

Table of Contents

A. The Science of Meltdowns and Explosions
1. Meltdowns and Explosions: Overview
2. Melting Points
3. Possible Results of a Meltdown
4. Explosion by Excessive Chain Reaction
5. Explosion by Hydrogen gas
6. Size of Potential Explosions in Nuclear Power Plant

B. Three Mile Island
1. Three Mile Island: Overview
2. Three Mile Island: Details of Events

C. Chernobyl
1. Chernobyl: Overview
2. Chernobyl: Details of Events
3. Design flaws in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant

D. Making Nuclear Power Plants Safer
1. Introduction
2. Design and Construction of Nuclear Power Plants
3. Control Room
4. Training of Operators
5. Regulations and Inspections
6. Maintenance
7. Communication and Emergency Planning
8. Defense in Depth
9. Nuclear Safety Standards

1. American Nuclear Society Standards
2. NRC Regulation Guides

Chernobyl Plant Worker Shares Painful Memories

KYIV, Ukraine—Nikolai Vsisovich worked as a liquidator inside the Chernobyl nuclear power plant after the No. 4 reactor exploded 25 years ago. He is the last surviving work of 18 men. With the Fukushima crisis still not resolved, Vsisovich shares what he sees as too high a price to pay for nuclear power.

The Chernobyl disaster occurred about 75 miles from Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and the accident was classified as level 7, the highest rating on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The International Atomic Energy Agency has rated some individual reactor accidents at Fukushima as level 5, but the Institute for Science and International Security, founded by a former IAEA inspector, says taking the plant as a whole, the level should be 6.

April 26, 1986, seemed like a normal Saturday. “Some men were drinking beer or sodas sitting near their home; children were playing in the yards. It was Saturday and a sunny day,” says Vsisovich.

The only surprising thing, he said, was that residents in the satellite town of Pripyat continued to behave as though nothing was happening after tanks and people wearing special uniforms entered the town to measure radioactivity levels.

The accident had occurred in the middle of the night, just before 1:30 a.m. During a systems test, there was a power surge, and everything went out of control, leading to a series of explosions at the No. 4 reactor. The explosions caused a fire, creating a highly radioactive plume of smoke. The amount of radioactivity released was roughly 400 times more than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, according to the IAEA.

“Safety measures were ignored, the uranium fuel in the reactor overheated and melted through the protective barriers,” according to the IAEA.

Nikolai Vsisovich shows a picture of the protective face mask he wore during the working at the Chernobyl plant after the accident. (Vladimir Borodin/The epoch Times) Shortly after Pripyat was tested for radioactivity, and 36 hours after the accident, Soviet authorities began evacuating the town of nearly 50,000. Pripyat lay less than 2 miles from Chernobyl and had been established in 1970 to house workers when construction of the plant began.

In the ensuing weeks and months, some 200,0000 people were permanently relocated because of the accident.

Vsisovich and other members of plant staff were asked to stay behind because nobody knew the facility better than they did. “Even the leaders of the country came to ask us to stay, although we were supposed to be taken away from the plant because we already received the maximum exposure,” he says.

Plant staff worked together with soldiers who had the most dangerous job of clearing the exploded roof of the reactor.

“For that job soldiers were taken out of the army and paid 1,000 rubles as a bonus, and were allowed to leave military service for good. I don’t know, they might have already died a few years after the explosion,” said Vsisovich.

The 31-year-old Vsisovich went back and forth at a distance of about 500 feet from the exploded reactor, wearing a simple uniform and a facemask

In the first days of the cleanup, many staff members experienced a strange condition that kept them awake. “We had such euphoria that did not allow us to sleep—that excited us very much.”

However, he said then he learned that his body temperature had dropped to 35 degrees. “I felt like a boiled crayfish,” he recalled, adding that when he came home for a vacation after a month of work, he slept for about 20 days without getting out of bed.

Vsisovich, now 56, describes the litany of chronic ailments he suffers, about 20 in all. Most of his fellow workers suffered from heart problems and cancer—some suddenly died years after the disaster.

“I am the only one from my team of 18 people who is still alive,” he says.

Vsisovich thinks workers at the Fukushima plant will also likely suffer health problems. “There are no doubts,” he said.

The Chernobyl disaster and the crisis in Japan have changed his views on the safety of using nuclear power. He thinks the costs are too high and now stands for developing other sources of energy.

Vsisovich doesn’t agree with opening the Chernobyl power plant and the ghost town of Pripyat as a tourist destination. He believes the radiation levels are still too high and that the sarcophagus under the fourth reactor is weak, fragile, and full of highly radioactive dust.

Tours to Chernobyl started in February. The website says it is safe, if you follow the guide’s instructions, and do not “make contact with objects that easily adsorb radiation.” They also advise visitors to wear closed shoes and clothes that fully cover the body.

In the 1990s Vsisovich started helping the victims of Chernobyl by organizing philanthropic events and is working on creating an international fund in case of another Chernobyl, or indeed Fukushima.

Chernobyl today-Fukushima Tomorrow

Chernobyl today and the gas masks for the kids from the nuclear disaster Someone asked me for more information on what happens after the Fukushima nuclear disaster to the site and the other reactors.  To answer this I looked into Chernobyl.

Taking a look at the history of Chernobyl  since the disaster and the efforts to contain the radioactive material and clean up the site, we can see what hurdles the Fukushima few have to fight everyday.  Today the reactor number 4 at Chernobyl (the reactor that had a melt down) is now enclosed in a large concrete shelter which was by October 1986.  The shell allowed continuing the operation of the other nuclear reactors at the plant.  Some 200 tons of highly radioactive material remain buried deep within it.  This radioactive material poses an environmental hazard until it is better contained/cleaned up.

A New Safe Confinement structure is due to be completed in 2014, being built adjacent and then will be moved into place on rails. It is to be an 18,000 tonne metal arch 110 metres high, 200 metres long and spanning 257 metres, to cover both unit 4 and the hastily-built 1986 structure. The design and construction contract for this was signed in 2007 with the Novarka consortium and preparatory work on site was completed in 2010. The Chernobyl Shelter Fund, set up in 1997, had received €864 million from international donors by early 2011 towards this project and previous work. It and the Nuclear Safety Account, set up in 1993, are managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The NSA had received 321 million by early 2011 for Chernobyl decommissioning and also projects in other ex-Soviet countries. The total cost of the new shelter is estimated to be €1.2 billion. Early in 2011 EBRD said a further €600 million was required for the structure. Design approval is expected by mid 2011.

Used fuel from units 1 to 3 is stored in each unit’s cooling pond, in a small interim spent fuel storage facility pond (ISF-1), and in the reactor of unit 3.

Chernobyl meltdown today-A lonely landscape In 1999, a contract was signed for the construction of a radioactive waste management facility to store 25,000 used radioactive fuel assemblies from units 1-3 and other nuclear wastes, as well as radioactive waste from decommissioning units 1-3. The contract included a processing facility, able to cut the RBMK fuel assemblies and to put the material in canisters, which will be filled with inert gas and welded shut. They would then be transported to dry storage vaults in which the fuel containers would be enclosed for up to 100 years. This facility, treating 2500 fuel assemblies per year, would be the first of its kind for RBMK fuel. However, after a significant part of these ISF-1 storage structures had been built, technical deficiencies in the concept emerged, and the contract was terminated in 2007. EBRD says that the licence for ISF-1 is unlikely to be renewed after 2016. A new interim spent fuel storage facility (ISF-2) is now to be completed by Holtec International by mid-2014. Design approval and funding from EBRD’s Nuclear Safety Account was in October 2010.

In April 2009, Nukem handed over a turnkey waste treatment centre for solid radioactive waste (ICSRM, Industrial Complex for Radwaste Management). In May 2010, the State Nuclear Regulatory Committee licensed the commissioning of this facility, where solid low- and intermediate-level wastes accumulated from the power plant operations and the decommissioning of reactor blocks 1 to 3 is conditioned. The wastes are processed in three steps. First, the solid radioactive wastes temporarily stored in bunkers is removed for treatment. In the next step, these wastes, as well as those from decommissioning reactor blocks 1-3, are processed into a form suitable for permanent safe disposal. Low- and intermediate-level wastes are separated into combustible, compactable, and non-compactable categories. These are then subject to incineration, high-force compaction, and cementation respectively. In addition, highly radioactive and long-lived solid waste is sorted out for temporary separate storage. In the third step, the conditioned solid waste materials are transferred to containers suitable for permanent safe storage.

As part of this project, at the end of 2007, Nukem handed over an Engineered Near Surface Disposal Facility for storage of short-lived radioactive waste after prior conditioning. It is 17 km away from the power plant at the Vektor complex within the 30-km zone. The storage area is designed to hold 55,000 m3 of treated waste which will be subject to radiological monitoring for 300 years, by when the radioactivity will have decayed to such an extent that monitoring is no longer required.

Chernobyl meltdown today-A hydrocephAnother contract has been created for a Liquid Radioactive Waste Treatment Plant, to handle some 35,000 cubic metres of low- and intermediate-level liquid wastes at the site. This will need to be solidified and eventually buried along with solid wastes on site.

In January 2008, the Ukraine government announced a four-stage decommissioning plan which incorporates the above waste activities and progresses towards a cleared site.