One day, someone dropped the brick and there was a blue flash. Lots of neutrons were released that day. People died from radiation exposure soon after.
There's also a story about a fuel rod getting jammed, so they tried to force it with a crane and ended up breaking it in half, spilling highly radioactive water all over the place, and then the fuel rod catches on fire because it's not being cooled anymore. It's comical how quickly these disasters escalate.
Read https://www.amazon.com/Atomic-Accidents-Meltdowns-Disasters-... , it's accurate and relatively fun given the subject. One of the chapters is titled "The US Government almost never lost nuclear weapons", which I find subtly amusing.
Interestingly I came away from a book about atomic disasters being pretty pro nuclear, at least more so than I was before reading the book. Here are my main take aways:
- The US needs to start back up the waste reprocessing program. Jimmy Carter banned this in the hopes of setting a good example for other countries (one of the byproducts being plutonium). But everyone else continues to process nuclear waste except for the US and it just makes the waste storage problem that much harder. 95% of the fuel that comes out of a rector is harmless U-238. We should only be burying a tiny fraction of what we currently bury.
- We need to start innovating beyond PWR and BWR reactors. Things like liquid metal fuel reactors have the nice property of not having to worry about them melting down because they are already melted.
Edit: The book is no way anti-nuclear and actually starts with a description of a horrific accident at a hydro-electric plant.
"However, the sheer force of the second explosion, and the ratio of xenon radioisotopes released during the event, indicate that the second explosion could have been a nuclear power transient; the result of the melting core material, in the absence of its cladding, water coolant and moderator, undergoing runaway prompt criticality similar to the explosion of a fizzled nuclear weapon."
NB I'm in the process of reading *"Atomic Accidents - A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters: from the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima" - but I haven't got to Chernobyl yet....
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