One-minute read. Written by Aryan Pratap Singh, a grade 8 student .
For most residents of a small town in Ukraine known as Pripyat, Saturday, 26 April 1986 seemed a relatively unremarkable day. Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe, bordering Russia.
Few would have been aware of the incident at the nearby Vladimir Lenin Nuclear Power Plant, around which the town had sprouted up in the decade prior. This incident is now known as the worst nuclear reactor incident ever, the Chernobyl incident. And what’s ironic is that it occurred during a safety test. It’s safe to say that it was the worst safety test ever.
What was the Vladimir Lenin Nuclear power plant?
The Vladimir Lenin Nuclear Power Plant was commissioned in late 1977 and was the first of its kind in Ukraine. Its powerful 1000 megawatt reactors could have powered an energy-hungry city such as New York for over a century, let alone rural Ukraine.
Even before the worst nuclear power plant accident in history there had been over 29 smaller accidents in the plant due to design flaws which the Ukraine, which was a part of the Soviet Union had managed to hide from the world. But the incident which took place on 26th April 1986 was much larger, more powerful and highly radioactive. In fact, it was so radioactive that it made the radioactivity of the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan look like the sharpness of a blade of grass compared to a samurai sword.
The accident started during a safety test in the no.4 reactor (ironic, isn’t it). The test was a simulation of a power outage. The gap between power off and on was about a minute and had been identified as a potential safety problem that could cause the reactor core to overheat. It was hoped that the residual energy in the reactor could provide enough power to cover the gap.
During the test attempt, an unexpected 10-hour delay meant that an unprepared operating shift was on duty. During the planned decrease of the reactor power in preparation for the test, the power unexpectedly dropped to near-zero. The operators were able to only partially restore the specified test power, which put the reactor in a unstable condition. This risk was not made evident in the instructions, so the operators proceeded with the test.
Upon test completion, the operators started a reactor shutdown, but a combination of unstable conditions and design flaws caused an uncontrolled nuclear reaction. This released so much radioactive energy that the areas around Chernobyl are deemed unlivable for 26,000 years.
It has caused families which had been living in the area during April 1986 to have what cruel doctors call FLK’s or funny looking kids.
Written by Aryan Pratap Singh.
Aryan is a grade 8 student in Modern School, New Delhi. He is a keen writer and his current interests are World War II, warships and fighter planes, world leaders, mobile video games, Greek and Egyptian mythology.
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