Friday, March 20, 2015

Chernobyl: Containing the World's Worst Nuclear Accident

Summary: Almost thirty years after the Chernobyl disaster, the radioactive containment is getting a long term solution. The project is known as the New Safe Confinement, and will be a gigantic dome designed to fit over the building that housed the nuclear reactor that exploded on April 26th, 1986. A massive amount of land next to the reactor has been cleared and prepared for the construction to take place. The finished product will be the most massive of it’s kind ever attempted, and will be rolled on rails to its final resting place over the building. The core of the reactor was filled with around 100 tons of uranium, one ton of plutonium, and an assortment of other highly dangerous radioactive substances. The structure will be capable of keeping the building and core climate controlled, while simultaneously preventing any radioactive dust from escaping.

Response: While the surface is mostly safe for short periods of exposure, the massive amount of substances in Chernobyl’s core will prevent human population from returning for thousands of years. While I think it’s great that we are doing something to make the containment more permanent, when you really think about it, 100 years isn’t very long at at all. The Chernobyl disaster is a lasting reminder that utmost care and caution should be used with radioactive substances. In this case, however, humans seem to have taken a bigger hit than the native species. The thirty mile exclusion zone around the reactor has actually become a habitat of sorts, as no humans are permitted beyond a certain point. We really don’t know exactly what might happen to the plants and animals that are exposed to radioactivity here. A good guess would be infertility and a higher rate of cancerous tumors. Whatever the consequences are, they will continue for centuries.

Zachary Jay
11:41 P.M.

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