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Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster: Why its regarded the worst Nuclear Disaster in History? Read to know!

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By: Niladri Sekhar Dutta, The North-Eastern Chronicle

Visual by: Kunal Kaustav Duwarah

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We all have heard about Nuclear Power and the many disasters that have took place over the years. In simple terms Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions that is use to produce electricity. 

Now with the rapid growth in the field of Science and Technology, Nuclear science and of power generation, research has led to an increase in the risk of occurrence of Nuclear and Radiological emergencies.

If an accident takes place in any nuclear facility including the nuclear reactor, or in a facility using radioactive sources can lead to a large-scale release of radioactivity in the environment. An uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction that takes place can inadvertently lead to bursts of neutrons and gamma radiation that is what happened at Tokaimura, Japan.

Where is Chernobyl and did the disaster happened?

Nuclear

One of the worst Nuclear disasters is the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster. The accident occurred in 1986 at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the Soviet Union. It is regarded as the worst disaster in the history of nuclear power generation. The Chernobyl power station was situated at the settlement of Pryp’yat, 10 miles or 16 km northwest of the city of Chernobyl and 104 km north of Kyiv, Ukraine. 

The station consisted of four reactors, each capable of producing 1,000 megawatts of electric power; it had come online in 1977–83.

How did the disaster take place?

The disaster happened, when the chain reaction in the core went out of control. On April 25–26, 1986, the technicians at Unit 4 rector attempted a poorly designed experiment. The Workers shut down the reactor’s power-regulating system and its emergency safety systems, and then they withdrew most of the control rods from its core while allowing the reactor to continue running at 7 percent power. 

This led to several explosions and triggered a large fireball that blew off the heavy steel and concrete lid of the reactor. The fire in the graphite reactor core released large amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere and was carried to great distances by air currents.

Harmful effects of the explosion:

Harmful effects of the Nuclear The North-Eastern Chronicle

If we see, as per some sources state that only two people were initially killed in explosions, whereas others report suggests that the figure was closer to 50. Whereas, dozens more contracted serious radiation sickness and some of them died later. Between 50 and 185 million curies of radionuclides which are radioactive forms of chemical elements have escaped into the atmosphere. And the numbers are several times more radioactive than that of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

Not only in Pryp’yat and nearby cities, the radioactivity spreaded by the wind over Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine till as far west as France and Italy.

Livestock were born deformed, and among humans several thousand radiation-induced illnesses and cancer deaths were expected in the long term.

Managing and dealing with the Chernobyl Crisis

chernobyl Crisis Nuclear The North-Eastern Chronicle

The Soviet authorities started evacuating people from the area around Chernobyl within 36 hours of the accident. 115,000 people were evacuated, the government further subsequently resettled another 220,000 people.

Shortly after the accident, firefighters arrived to try to extinguish the fires. First on the scene was a Chernobyl Power Station firefighter brigade under the command of Lieutenant Volodymyr Pravyk, who also died on 11 May 1986 due to radiation sickness. They were unaware of how dangerously radioactive the smoke and the debris were, and may not even have thought that the accident was anything more than just a regular electrical fire.

The immediate priority was to extinguish fires on the roof of the station and the area around the building containing Reactor No. 4 to protect No. 3 and keep its core cooling systems intact. Many firefighters received high doses of radiation.

Long-term impacts

After the disaster, the Soviet Union created a circle-shaped exclusion zone with a radius of about 30 km. The impact of the disaster on the surrounding forest and wildlife still remains an area of active research. In the immediate aftermath of the accident, an area of about four square miles became known as the “Red Forest” because so many trees turned reddish-brown and died after absorbing high radiation levels.

The disaster of Chernobyl had other fallout. The economically and politically that ended the USSR and fueled a global anti-nuclear movement.

The Chernobyl Disaster shows no matter how technological advance we are, accidents like this can happen at any time. And how careful we should be, that could put thousands of lives at stake. Today Chernobyl is just a tale for tourists. Since today also no people actually live in the exclusion zone, though scientists and others may file for permits that allow them to enter for a limited period of time.

Also Read: Heart Attack: The silent killer of so many young people

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