How can we control a nuclear disaster?

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How can we control a nuclear disaster?

Post  Admin on Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:45 pm

In a full reaction, one would want to attempt to regain control of the reaction and slow it down. This must be done by encompassing the critical material with something that has the ability to absorb the neutrons that cause the nuclear material to fissile, without actually fissiling themselves. This is usually done with control rods and water (though, if we are having a run-away reaction, it is likely that these would not be functioning, rather than someone just wasn't paying attention to the monitor).
Control rods may have to be manually entered and water manually entered as well, but the water would also have to be cycled to prevent it from boiling over and causing a steam explosion. These actions would cause great risk to those who would go in to manually to stop the reaction.
In a nuclear disaster, people exposed would have varying degrees of radiation burns and/or radiation poisoning. Depending on how the disaster occurs and the type of exposure to people. Some could die instantly, in moments from organ failure, over an extended period of time from cancer or a devastated immune system, or possibly recover from their poising.
the largest "disaster" that happened in the US was TMI* (three mile island) in the late seventies. This resulted in no deaths and no confirmed cases of cancer or other effects. Chernobyl, in 1986, is widely regarded as the worst nuclear disaster in human history. The steam explosion scattered vast amounts of radioactive material into the air, where the wind carried it over the Ukraine. It is estimated that approximately 4,000 people suffered from cancer and immune deficiencies over the years after the effect, there was also a spike in birth defects in the following year. 57 people died in the initial disaster.
*TMI is often viewed as a success story in regards to its safety equipment. When engineers believed that the reactor was going to meltdown (get so hot that it melts through its container), they evacuated the power plant. The automatic safety system managed to safely bring the reaction back under control, although some radiation did escape.

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