Reports have been surfacing that the situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan has been raised to a “7” out of a possible “7” and that is in line with Chernobyl, however please have your fears alleved. It is NOT the same.
A simple explanation below.
Here’s what happened on Apr. 26, 1986 60 miles from Kiev in Ukraine:
Nuclear reactors are a delicate balance. Like a hamster on a wheel, churning all the time. If the rate and balance varies the hamsters fall off.
Inexperienced workers were ordered to carry out a test at Chernobyl on whether or not the auxiliary power would take over if the main power was shut off. At Chernobyl the power for controlling the plant came from the reactor itself. Water is pumped over the fuel rods which produce heat, which turn the turbines and in turn produce electricity.
Chernobyl in Reactor 4 had 211 fuel rods. When the rods are lowered, less heat is produced. When the rods are raised, more heat is produced to turn the turbines. Water still needs to be pumped continuously over the rods or they will overheat, this is why all nuclear reactors need to be placed next to a large water source. Too much water, pumped too fast, not enough heat and thus not as much power to turn the turbines.
There was barely any communication within the plant at Chernobyl. When the test was ordered to be done, the controller of the turbines and water pumps shut off the main water pumps and power to see if the auxiliary power would take over. He pumped water from the reserve water tanks over the fuel rods too quickly, thus not much heat was produced. The controller of the fuel rods detected that less heat was produced, so he feared there wouldn’t be enough power to fuel the plant itself so he RAISED all but 26 rods, out of the 211 resulting in massive heat.
The delicate balance became unbalanced. Not enough water was being pumped over the rods at the required rate, so the reactor BLEW emitting 200 pounds of uranium and 80 pounds of worse plutonium into the air. FYI plutonium is not found in nature. It is either a result of bombarding uranium or a result of the decay of uranium itself.
Unlike the Fukushima plant, Chernobyl was a catastrophe in under a minute with MASSIVE radiation emitted. Fukushima has been emitting radiation for over a month but not at the explosive rate of Chernobyl.
Think of it as the massive decompression of an airplane at 33,000 ft. being blown to smithereens or the slow leak of a balloon or tire. This is the difference.
Yes, unfortunately there is still going to be loss of human life.