30 Haunting Chernobyl Pictures Still Discussed Decades Later

By Jack Ripley | December 15, 2023

The Chernobyl disaster stands as a haunting reminder of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear accidents

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(getty images)

The incident occurred during a safety test conducted to assess the steam turbine's capability to power the emergency feedwater pumps of an RBMK-type nuclear reactor. The purpose was to simulate the scenario of a simultaneous loss of external power and a significant coolant leak. As part of the preparations for the test, the reactor's power output was intentionally reduced. Unfortunately, the operators mistakenly lowered the power output to an extremely low level due to xenon poisoning.

While attempting to recover from the power decrease and stabilize the reactor, the operators violated the operating procedures by removing more control rods than permitted. Upon completing the test, the operators initiated a reactor shutdown. However, a design flaw resulted in localized increases in reactivity within the reactor, known as a "positive scram." This caused fuel channels to rupture and a sudden drop in pressure, causing the coolant to vaporize into steam. As a consequence, neutron absorption decreased, leading to a further increase in reactor activity and coolant temperatures. This dangerous cycle intensified, eventually leading to steam explosions and the melting of the reactor core.

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant was once a symbol of technological advancement and energy generation

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The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, located near the city of Pripyat in the Ukrainian SSR, was one of the largest nuclear facilities in the Soviet Union. Built with the intention of providing energy for the region, the power plant comprised four RBMK-type reactors, each capable of generating significant amounts of electricity. The Chernobyl Power Plant played a crucial role in meeting the growing energy demands of the Soviet Union, contributing to the country's industrial development and power grid.