|WIT's World Ecology Report - Vol. 08, No. 1 - Critical Issues in Health and the Environment (WIT, 1996, 16 pages)|
Operators at the Chernobyl power plant were to conduct a test to see how long the generators would run without power. In order to accomplish their task, they reduced power in reactor 4 and interrupted the flow of steam to the generators. Because of the poor design of the RBMK-1000 reactors, a flaw exists that causes the reactor to become unstable at low power. The operators increased the risk of a reactor destroying itself by disabling safety systems. The operator thought the systems might interfere with the test results thus ignoring the safety systems that were developed to shut down the reactor before a catastrophe could occur.
APRIL 25 - 1:00 am: Reactor at full power. Power reduction began, as planned. 1:05 pm: Reactor power at 50%. All steam switched to one turbine, as planned. 2:00 pm: Reactor power stayed at 50% for 9 hours because of unexpected electrical demand.
APRIL 26 - 12:00 am: In continuing the power rundown, the operator made an error that caused power to drop to 1%, almost shutting down the reactor. This caused the core to fill with water and allowed a neutron absorber, xenon, to build up, making it impossible to reach the planned test power level. The RBMK design is unstable if the core fills with water. 1:00 to 1:20 am: The operator raised power to 7%, attempting to control the reactor manually. This caused fluctuations in flow and temperature. Almost all control rods were withdrawn seriously weakening the capability of an emergency shutdown. 1:20 am: The operator blocked automatic reactor shutdown first on low water level, then on the loss of both turbines. He was afraid that a shutdown would abort the test and wanted to keep the reactor working to run more tests if needed. 1:23 am: The technician started the test using the remaining turbine, causing power to rise slowly at first. He then pushed the manual shutdown button. The reduction in flow as the voltage dropped caused a gradual increase in boiling which led to a rise in power. This probably produced the fast power surge due to the rod design. 1:24 am: The reactor power surged to about 100 times full power. Fuel disintegrated. Excess steam pressure broke the pressure tubes. The pressure in the reactor core blew the protective top shield off the reactor exposing the entire area to extremely high doses of radiation. Explosion and fire followed. On April 26, while the crumbling reactor burned, initially spewing deadly amounts of extremely radioactive fallout over 5000 square kilometers, local children went to school and people conducted their daily lives as if nothing were wrong. The Communist Party Regional Committee in Pripyat, following Moscow's orders, instructed the schools to hold normal instruction, thus condemning hundreds of children to disease and slow death brought on by radioactive poisoning.
APRIL 27 - 2:00 pm: 49,000 residents of Pripyat and others within a 10 kilometer radius of the power plant were evacuated. By this time, those living close to the explosion had suffered exposure to extremely high levels of radiation for close to 36 hours. The approximate dosage for these evacuees has been established at 12 rems per person, according to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
APRIL 28 - Swedish experts detected increased radiation levels.
MAY 1 - As part of the May Day celebrations honoring communism, children paraded through the streets of Kiev, only 60 miles from the site of the nuclear blast. Radio 'iodine content of the air over Ukraine's capital city peaked on May 1. Thus more children were unnecessarily condemned to the ravages of cancers in the service of communist ideology.
MAY 2 - Soviet authorities publicly acknowledge Chernobyl explosion.
MAY 15 - Evacuation of children 14 years and younger begins.
1990 - Four years later, the Supreme Soviet of Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic declared the country an ecological disaster zone, finally recognizing the devastation to land, water and air of the radioactive contamination that Chernobyl produced.