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The Chernobyl disaster on April 26 1986 is described as one of the most frightening environmental disasters in the world The plant was made up of four graphite reactors which were the most modern Soviet reactors of the RBMK-type Two more of these reactors were still under construction at the station Chernobyl was an obscure town in north central Ukraine former Soviet Union on the Pripyiat River near the Belarus border Immediately its name was joined to the Nuclear Power Plant located twenty-five kilometers upstream The plant is actually located fifteen kilometers northwest of the city It is not only the radioactive mess left that strikes fear Nineteen similar stations are still running because neither the former Soviet Union nor its republics can afford to shut them down The world first learned of this accident from Sweden where unusually high radiation levels were noticed at one of their own nuclear facilities At 123 am technicians at the Chernobyl Plant took some erroneous actions that will impact the course of Soviet events without exaggeration Human error is what basically caused the disaster These operators of the fourth unit slowly allowed power in the reactor to fall to low levels as part of a controlled experiment gone wrong The purpose of the test was to observe the dynamics of the RMBK reactor with limited power flow Twelve hours after power reduction was initiated power reached 50 percent Only one turbine was needed to take in the decreased amount of steam so no 2 was turned off Power was then reduced to 30 percent One of the operators made a mistake Instead of keeping power at 30 percent he forgot to reset a controller which caused the power to plummet to 1 percent Now water was filling the core and xenon a neutron absorbing gas built up in the reactor The power was too low for the test The water added to the reactor is heated
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