1986 right now may seem like the long-forgotten past. We remember this once a year and try to avoid such things in the future. What has happened can never be altered, even if we desperately want to erase all the damage it brought.
That notorious day has, in fact, changed the course of history. That glorious day of April could have become the date of a life-changing invention. The day of a breakthrough in science. In biology or medicine. Instead, this day has become the day of radioecological catastrophe.
Some are naive enough to think that a disaster of this scale is impossible. Some doubt this, drawing conclusions, for instance about Fukushima. In both situations, nobody was expecting or predicting this. Today, millions of people ask the same scary question: can Chernobyl explode once again?
Let’s look into the question with a little more depth.
The Critical Accident and The Reaction
According to Robert Rapier, Forbes investor and chemical engineer by profession, the sure-fire recipe for disasters like Chernobyl is the following: an accident mixed with an inadequate reaction to it. Not everything can be predicted. Some natural phenomena can have an irreversible effect on atomic reactors (like it was with the tsunami in Fukushima). Still, the human response often makes 80% of the outcome.
- The disaster won’t happen if we take the necessary measures. Precautions have always been the part that is so much neglected. Ironically, the more confidence or experience the person has with nuclear power, the easier they omit the rules.
Knowledge is critical here. Knowledge of how to make the reactor work in a safe way and what it takes to reap the results of mishaps. In fact, the whole catastrophe happened because the engineers didn’t know the reactor was unstable to critical situations.
If engineers work at making nuclear stations as unfailing as possible, taking into consideration every detail, reducing the risks of future accidents, it will give at least some safety guarantee. The IAEA’s design has changed after Chernobyl exploded. More than 10 years ago, Tomihiro Taniguchi calmed the audience that they are absolutely convinced in the impossibility of a further explosion like this.
It may have reduced the likelihood, but has it disappeared?
- The reaction determines the outcome. Besides the uncontrolled events, the one thing we can control is our reaction to those things. In the situation with Chernobyl, the staff did not advance into action at once. As a result, the environment was badly contaminated, more than 50 000 people had to leave their homes and who knows how many people were irradiated. How many grand fails we could prevent if only the responsible people acknowledged that something is not okay?
This concerns mainly directors and engineers. Obviously, everybody is capable of making a mistake. Constructions and projects fail sometimes. Still, if you realize that lacking cautiousness may cost thousands of human lives, do the checkup! Beat the alarm. Contact all possible sources of help. Only do not pretend that it’s fine.
The fast reaction can actually save the situation, no matter how much wrong the project was.
As you see, these two factors should go together to give any assurance that the world won’t suffer from Chernobyl-like consequences once more. Only if all the nuclear power stations realize how much responsibility they bear on their shoulders and prove all their projects safe, we can say that Chernobyl will not happen again. Right now, it is all in our hands.