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?