Chernobyl.

“Top Gear” and Chernobyl

I have a soft spot for the absurd Top Gear and its "star in a cheap car" and its supercar features. But above all I like the Flashmanism of some of the team's heroics. Very galling, then, to watch their absurd treatment of  a visit to Chernobyl. Read more...

Published

17 February 2014

Chernobyl’s 25th anniversary: Start here

There are 10 mini-essays on this site which intend to do honour to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and the extraordinary people who are associated with it. See the "Browse by tag" menu at left. Here's a v short YouTube video of an RDN visit to the surviving Chernobyl plant in 2005. You may be interested in Chernobyl's cancer death toll, and an account of that appears here. If you're kindly interested in my personal take on Chernobyl, read on below..... Read more...

Published

24 January 2011

#2 Mechanical causes

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... Read more...

Published

22 January 2011

#3 Management causes of the accident

In some sense all errors are human. Reactor 4's design made it fallible, but Soviet secrecy made it impossible for its designers to explain the weaknesses of their work. Soviet bureaucracy also made it likely that the reactor might not be well built and maintained... Read more...

Published

22 January 2011

#4 The immediate aftermath

What happened next? As news of the accident filtered out to the people who ran the Chernobyl plant and its satellite town, and – simultaneously – to Kiev and Moscow, the first problem was that the senior managers of the plant either did not grasp or could not bare to reveal the full extent of the disaster. Read more...

Published

22 January 2011

#5 Who’s to blame

It is surprisingly hard to allocate blame for the Chernobyl accident. Within the soviet system, nuclear power stations could only have been designed by an ambitious and secretive scientific elite working with an ambitious and secretive technological elite to deliver the national ambitions they all shared and which were guided by a political elite who had complete power to advance a person to giddy heights, or consign them to outer darkness. Read more...

Published

22 January 2011

#6 The politics of Chernobyl

To a surprising degree, it suited many parties - governments, journalists, and campaigners - to exaggerate the consequences of Chernobyl, and then to blame them on the Soviet regime. Read more...

Published

22 January 2011

#7 The official international response

From the start, Western governments were keen to accept the Soviet account of the causes and consequences of the accident, and to agree that the Soviets had done their best in the face of it. Blame was not politic. Read more...

Published

22 January 2011

#8 A myth-busting timeline

Here's a timeline list of some of the most authoritative accounts of the effects of the Chernobyl accident. If you'd rather something cripser, try the World Nuclear Association's sharp and well-referenced account.  Read more...

Published

22 January 2011
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