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Nuclear Power stations are like stars that shine all day long declared one senior Soviet scientist M A Styrikovich We shall sow them all over the land They are perfectly safe This statement was made in the late 1970s - a time when the Soviet Union carried out a widespread reactor building programme It was a time when nuclear fuel seemed like it would be cheaper than the more traditional oil and coal However people of this time never predicted the effects of this nuclear material on the environment These lasting effects were seen when reactor number four at the nuclear power plant located 25km away from the obscure city of Chernobyl in north-central Ukraine exploded and released enormous amounts of nuclear material into the atmosphere On April 26 1986 Chernobyls anonymity vanished forever in a catastrophe where 32 lives were officially lost but so many more changed forever Work on the Chernobyl plant began in 1972 The four thermal reactors inside the plant were of a Russian design known as the RBMK Like all nuclear reactors they work like giant kettles using the heat from splitting atoms of uranium oxide fuel to produce steam which drives turbines to produce electricity Rods of boron control the reactor by absorbing some of the neutrons that may cause a chain reaction fission These reactors had already gained a questionable reputation among some Soviet scientist because they leaked dangerously high amounts of radiation Still in the climate of the time no one dared challenged the decision to install them at Chernobyl A staff recruitment advertisement published before the disaster- Wanted Operators for Nuclear Power Station in the Ukraine No experience necessary speaks volumes for the negligent attitude to training and safety that prevailed both at the plant and in the Soviet nuclear industry In the years before the explosion Soviet physicist Medvedev wrote several articles questioning the safety of Russian reactors but he could not find
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