Flowers for Chernobyl


Advocacy site

It’s a cruel joke that flowers grow in abandoned gardens all over town next to reactor 4. Everything looks normal, but the very air is deadly. If you live there, chances are your life is irrevocably shortened.
The accident at Chernobyl is an indictment of…? You decide.
-The pumps that move coolant back and forth in the reactor were powered by the electricity produced by the reactor. When the reactor failed, the power for the pumps also failed. This accelerated the failure; made it inevitable. It was a serious design flaw that’s not allowed in western reactors.
– A test of the coolant system had resulted in an imbalance between the cooling tanks in the reactor. The day shift postponed a scheduled test of the pumps. The night crew wanted to get the test done to put a feather in their caps. When the pumps were turned off, the coolant imbalance made the reactor heat up. Ambition made people cut corners in safety.
– The accident became a unique event when the night crew disregarded protocol and safety rules by pulling all but 6 control rods from the reactor. That’s the point where the reaction got out of control. Everything blew up a little while later. Poor training? The Soviet system was replete with technicians pushed into positions of great responsibility, but little prestige. A good recipe for poorly motivated workers.
So, who do you pin the responsibility on? Everyone and no one, I think. Chernobyl was caused by human nature, as much as anything specific. The designer needed to fix a technical problem, and chose the simplest solution. The technicians had plenty of meltdown close calls before it finally happened for real.
Like so many of us who are responsible for less important things…
We get away with it, until we don’t.
How close did you come to rear-ending that car last week?

3 Responses to “Flowers for Chernobyl”

  1. Scottage Says:

    I rode by Chernobyl on the trans-Siberian express, a train that runs from Leningrad to Kiev, in December of 1987. At the time, they told us nothing, not that we were going by it, not that there was any danger. Our chaperone, a brilliant Poli-Sci teacher named WElling Hall, knew about Cernobyl and pointed it out. But no one knew how bad the accident had been.

    Of the 16 people on the trip, 12 developed problems which we relate to that leg of the trip. I am not one of them, but my best friend Todd got Thyroid cancer, and had surgery a few years ago. Welling died about 8 years later after contracting breast cancer.

    We can talk all we want about who was responsible for the accident when it happened. But I believe the policy of silence led to the many deaths that followed the accident.

  2. npanth Says:

    I agree. The true test of a government is how it deals with crisis. I can’t think of many governments that have really dealt with a nuclear problem properly. The Soviet Union was notorious for sacrificing personal safety for the illusion of State competency. In the end, they got neither.

  3. jeff Says:

    I genuinely enjoyed reading this posting.Thanks.


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