Enkey Magazine
Technology information website

Chernobyl 35 years later: the awakening of the reactor 4

Chernobyl, the reactor awakening

26th of april 1986. Chernobyl (Černobyl’). The biggest nuclear disaster of the human history. May 2021, 35 years later. The reactor number 4 of the nuclear plant of Chernobyl woke up. What is happening? Do we risk a new accident? Do they need to do something soon?

Chernobyl 1986 – the biggest nuclear disaster of the human history

All of us know the biggest nuclear disaster of the human history. We are in Chernobyl, it’s the 26th of april of the 1986, at the 1:23 (local time). The accident took place in the reactor number 4 of the nuclear plant, it seems during a process of test about the safety.

The disaster of Chernobyl
The one of Chernobyl was the biggest nuclear disaster of the human history

Anyway the test was postponed of 10 hours, so to do it it wasn’t the established team, but the employees of the following shift. It seemed that everything was good. No one noticed that, during the test, the reactor was becoming ever more unstable.

Until when they had to do something rigth in the reactor 4, in the middle of night. While the city, few kilometers away, was sleeping, inside the plant they was attempting to switch off the reactor. The procedure, though, triggered a chain reaction that ended with the explosion of the reactor.

A cloud of radioactive material went out from the plant and landed on the neighborhood. At the beginning the accident was understimated. But when they understood its severity, the authorities found out that the accident was devastating.

The consequences

The people were evacuated only few days after. They told them that they had to leave the houses only for few days, but they never came back. Many started to die in the following weeks after the disaster, other after months or years.

Today, the reactor four is closed inside a coffin

They didn’t say nothing to the rest of the world. But the morning of the 27th of april, the nuclear plant of Forsmark, in Sweden, revealed a high level of radiations. The alarm rang, they thought about an internal accident. Surely they didn’t think that the accident happened thousands of kilometers away.

After the pressure of the other governments, the back then Soviet Union admitted the accident, but the first claims were poor. Right in that days a storm borught the radioactive cloud in the whole Europe. In very few days the levels of radioactivity were very high in Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, on all the Balkans, until to touch the Finland, all the Nordic Regions and the cost of the North America.

Chernobyl 35 years later

The nightmare of Chernobyl didn’t end. For Chernobyl people still die today. In the whole Europe people continue to suffer of thyroid cancer and leukemia, which are attributable to the accident of the 1986.

However the nightmare of Chernobyl seems weakened in the minds of who lived it and of who just heard about it. 35 years later the towns few kilometers away from the plant seem an unreal place, post-apocalyptic, which catches the attention of many curious and a little crazy tourists.

But today the nightmare of Chernobyl seems to come back, like something that doesn’t want to leave us never, something to which you can’t say goodbye. Like a nuclear plant that you know how to switch on, but you didn’t discover yet how to switch it off.

The reactor 4 of the nuclear plant woke up

The news run fast, through the media: the reactor 4 of the Chernobyl’s nuclear plant woke up. The experts say to not worry and to not scaremongering. They said the same even the 26th of april of the 1986.

The reactor four woke up, inside it the reaction of nuclear fissions restarted

But what did happen to the reactor? “The reactor burns as the coal of a barbecue”, that’s how the chemistry Neil Hyatt describes it. Inside it there are buried the masses of uranium involved in the accident of 35 years ago. Today inside it the reaction of nuclear fission re-started.

The sensors that control the reactor releaved an ever growing number of neutrons. This means that the reactor woke up. But the sign comes from one of the inaccessible places of the plant. Inside the coffin that close the reactor 4. Right inside the heart of the explostion of the’86.

Will be there a new accident?

The scientific community has mixed opinions about it. At the moment of the accident the core of the reactor melted, together with the bars of uranium, the cover in zirconium, the bars in graphite and sand. Now all of it is petrified in what’s called FCM (Fuel Containing Material). Inside the FCM there are 170 tonns of radiated uranium which scares a lot.

The counting of the neurons increase very slow, which avoids an imminent accident. By the way, if the fcm will dry up the reactions of fission will exponentially increase, by releasing uncontrolled nuclear energy.

According to the scientists a supposed accident won’t have the same consequences of the one of the 1986, but it might break down some parts of the building, by releasing new radiations. The ucranian government, together with the experts, is considering to do something about it or not.

This post is also available in: Italiano