Nuclear Power Plant Meltdowns

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One of Man’s strongest instincts is that to protect and provide for himself. In doing so however, he has created nuclear weapons and energy. From experiments with radium in the late 1800s, to the creation of weapons of mass destruction during World War Two and finally the more recent disasters from nuclear power plant meltdowns. Man has started out with good intentions, but in so doing, he may have doomed himself. In 1896, radioactivity was discovered by Henri Becquerel (Nobelprize.org). Upon its discovery, scientists started experiments on it, eager to learn everything they could about it. Radiation was experimented with by numerous scientists, one of the most well known of these, being Madame Curie. She spent her life studying radium, …show more content…
The worst accident in the history of United states commercial power plants, caused by a stuck valve, coolant leakage, and the system trying to solve the wrong problem, and instead making it worse. Radioactive gases and iodine were leaked into the environment but fortunately the damage was not terribly significant, although the cleanup cost about one billion dollars. This accident was cause for new rules and regulations for the United States nuclear industry (world-nuclear.org).
One of the most infamous power plant accidents was that of the meltdown at Chernobyl. Chernobyl was one of five similarly designed and built nuclear power plants in the soviet union. The plant was poorly designed and constructed with shoddy materials and workmanship. The poor quality of the plant was no secret, just a month before the explosion happened, a lengthy article that cited several construction flaws was published in Pripyat, a nearby city constructed for the Chernobyl workers and their families (Cheney, Glenn.
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When there was not enough cement, sand was added. The material was cheap and shoddy, many metal components were defective, builders ignored problems. When it came to building the radioactive waste depository, 326 tons of defective steel sheathing and 220 tons of defective pillars were installed to hold it up. The problems at the Chernobyl power plant went beyond shoddy materials and workmanship though, the engineers running it were poorly trained for the job (Cheney, Glenn. Chernobyl).
Another major flaw in the design was that it allowed the shut off of the safety systems. When the safety systems were shut off during an experiment, a steam explosion occurred, followed by a chemical explosion (Cheney, Glenn. Chernobyl). Unlike most nuclear power plants, the reactor at Chernobyl was not enclosed in a sturdy containment building like the vast concrete domes at other plants. Because of this, the explosions dislodged a 2 million pound slab of roof that collapsed on the reactor, turning it into a deadly pile of rubble (Mayell, Mark. Nuclear

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