Towards the end of the Cold War, a horrible incident occurred in the Soviet Union that would later result in the deaths of 4000 innocent lives. The Cold War was a period of increased tension between the United States and the Soviet Union to develop the highest grade nuclear weapons. When an explosion of technology at this high of level takes place, it is bound to come with unintended consequences. An essential scientific procedure accidentally ran off the rails when a test at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant 4 failed due to increase in power emitted into the reactor which led to its eventual explosion. This catastrophe marked a significant failure due to the scientists inability to come to a correct conclusion on how to handle such an important and dangerous situation at a nuclear power plant.
The incident that happened at the power plant marks one of the biggest and most catastrophic mistakes in scientific history. According to the World Nuclear Association, the workers at Chernobyl reactor 4 were performing a test to see if the turbines could provide enough energy to keep the coolant pumps running if there was a loss of power and if they could keep them running until the emergency diesel generator kicked in. The test was tried before, but the attempted rendered unsuccessful. Prior to the mishap, the reactor was turned down to 25 percent of its capacity but an undetermined problem happened that caused the reactor’s power to plummet to one percent. The engineers involved in the test attempted to raise the reactors level after it had hit frighteningly low levels. Workers on the scene were in a vital situation and attempted to raise the power of the plant back to a stable number. However, this plan backfired and the reactor’s levels hiked to unstable numbers. This eventually led the reactors emergency system to shutdown. An engineer on the scene had concerns about the high levels and recommended the test be stopped immediately. However, the engineer was overruled by someone with more power and he urged the test to carry on. So, despite the engineers concern and warning, the test continued and the pressure continued to spike. This impacted the roof of the reactor to start shaking giving off an unstable appearance. The reactors started to admit noises which created a sense of urgency amongst the people within the power plant complex. The combination of hot fuel and cold water created a bunch of steam that couldn’t escape and created lots of pressure. All this pressure caused the roof of the reactor to blast off and outburst was radiation. This caused a massive exposure of radiation in the air and it expanded into the atmosphere to the point where people living miles away had to evacuate their homes. Radiation from the explosion carried for miles and impacted people in different countries. The radiation that had entered the air increased the danger of getting cancer from being exposed to it. Their efforts to put out the fire and cover the exposed reactor were met with a wide number of casualties and radiation exposure because they had to get very close to reactor to perform this. Helicopters would have to fly over the exposed reactor in an attempt to cover it and prevent the spread of radiation. These helicopters would drop sand and clay to help calm the problems.
Scientists that were working on the project were the ones that knew that test was going to result in a failure. It was the leader of test who advised him to continue on with it and to raise the temperature when it had plummeted. This was a very low point for the Soviet Union, as the nuclear race was going on at the time and a failure like this would give them a bad look by the world. There was even an instance where they considered asking the U.S to help control the situation but couldn’t because of the conflict they were in. The events of Chernobyl have impacted the science world since the disaster. Safety precautions since have been elevated and nuclear power plants continue to be heavily monitored.
The Chernobyl disaster marks a failure in the scientific world due to the inability to control an issue that came with the procedure. Scientists continue to learn about problems that arise in today’s society and they should continue to do what they do to discover new things. In this instance, it was a rise in technology that the people at the time were not able to fix. The technological advancements were so far ahead that a fix could not be found. They are able to take their mishap and learn from it to make sure it never happens again.
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