Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chernobyl Disaster Facts is Japan's Nuclear Disaster Differs From Chernobyl

 Japan’s nuke disaster recalls Chernobyl

As I write this the world is watching helplessly to see if the nuclear disaster unfolding in Japan will reach the level of the signature nuclear catastrophe of Chernobyl in 1986. If anyone still thinks this shouldn’t portend the death knell to a nuclear power “renaissance,” including in earthquake-waiting-to-happen Utah, the contents of a new book should be required reading.

Written by Russian and Belarus experts, edited and published by the New York Academy of Sciences, the book is Chernobyl : Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment. Drawing from more than 5,000 published articles and studies, the authors’ conclusions about the disaster in the former Soviet Union are authoritative and startling.

So far, 1 million people from around the world have already died from Chernobyl radiation, including over 110,000 of the original 830,000 cleanup workers. High doses of radioactive fallout reached much of Europe and the United Kingdom and 750 million people in the Northern Hemisphere received significant contamination. The accident released 200 times more radiation than previously thought, hundreds of times more than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“There is a danger greater than nuclear weapons concealed within nuclear power. No citizen of any country can be assured that he or she can be protected from radioactive contamination. One nuclear reactor can pollute half the globe. Chernobyl fallout covers the entire Northern Hemisphere,” the authors contend.



Chernobyl Disaster Facts 

The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukrainian SSR (now Ukraine). It is considered the worst nuclear power plant accident in history, and it is the only one classified as a level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

The disaster began during a systems test on 26 April 1986 at reactor number four of the Chernobyl plant, which is near the town of Pripyat. There was a sudden power output surge, and when an emergency shutdown was attempted, a more extreme spike in power output occurred, which led to a reactor vessel rupture and a series of explosions. This event exposed the graphite moderator components of the reactor to air, causing them to ignite. The resulting fire sent a plume of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and over an extensive geographical area, including Pripyat. The plume drifted over large parts of the western Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and Northern Europe. Large areas in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia had to be evacuated, and over 336,000 people were resettled. According to official post-Soviet data,about 60% of the fallout landed in Belarus.

The accident raised concerns about the safety of the Soviet nuclear power industry, as well as nuclear power in general, slowing its expansion for a number of years and forcing the Soviet government to become less secretive about its procedures.

Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus have been burdened with the continuing and substantial decontamination and health care costs of the Chernobyl accident. Fifty deaths, all among the reactor staff and emergency workers, are directly attributed to the accident. Estimates of the total number of deaths attributable to the accident vary enormously. Despite the accident, Ukraine continued to operate the remaining reactors at Chernobyl for many years. The last reactor at the site was closed down in 2000, 14 years after the accident.

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