Sunday 17 April, Chornobyl

Mon 18 Apr 2011 07:15
The Chornobyl disaster happened 25 years ago this month, I think it was 26th April.  Chornobyl is 2 hours bus ride away from Kiev, so we went there.  It made us realise how much we didnât know; this is what we learned.
On the eve of the accident, the technicians at Reactor 4 were ordered to do an experimental test.  The test went wrong, and an explosion occurred in the reactor.  Hot radioactive material shot upwards, piercing the roof and shooting high into the atmosphere, and fire broke out inside the reactor.  One person was killed instantly and his body was never found.  This âfireâ was reported to the Kremlin with an assurance that all was completely under control.
Next morning, the people of Pripyat, the purpose built new town for the Chornobyl workers and their families, came to life as normal.  Children went to school and people went about their normal lives.  They were already receiving a massive dose of radioactive iodine. 
The contents of the reactor were now becoming molten.Over the next couple of days, frantic efforts were made to cool down the reactor with water, which had no effect and seeped down below the molten âmagmaâ.  Further down bellow the reactor was a massive aquifer which supplied the whole area with water. Things were still âwell under controlâ.  The first the international community knew about this was when the Swedes measured high levels of radioactive material falling over their land.  The Americans then spotted the site on their spy satellites, and some of the truth started to be revealed.
The operation that followed involved thousands of servicemen whose heroic efforts avoided a second, much larger explosion, that would have wiped out much of Europe.  Iâm gonna send this now in case the internet goes awol.