#2 Mechanical causes

Posted by RDN under Mind & body on 22 January 2011

The reactors at Chernobyl were RBMKs, which moderate their fission processes with graphite and are cooled by water. Hence their common Western name: LWGR, or light-water graphite reactor…

The reactors at Chernobyl were RBMKs, which moderate their fission processes with graphite and are cooled by water. Hence their common Western name: LWGR, or light-water graphite reactor.

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/chernobyl/rbmk.htm”>http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/chernobyl/rbmk.htm

It was a type unusual in the West but was common throughout the old Soviet Union, not least because it could be adapted to produce weapons-grade uranium as well as heat. Its design had an inherent weakness: the reactors needed to be managed with special care when at low power.

The two year old Unit 4 was a version of the station’s four Soviet-designed RBMK plant Though up-to-date, it was not built to the highest standards, and some of its safety devices (especially a particular emergency switch and its circuitry) were dangerous in that they did not do what their name implied.

But design flaws and faulty manufacture did not cause the explosion. The accident happened because a fatal dose of bad management was added.

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