Prague Twin

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Chernobyl

Twenty years ago today, reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear facility in the Ukraine exploded resulting in the worst-case scenario for a nuclear reactor: total meltdown. There is still a debate as to whether or not the explosion was caused by a faulty design or by operator error. My best guess is that it was a combination of the two.

You can read about it here on Wikipedia if you are interested. It is a fairly thorough summary of the events.

In the days following the accident, the Soviet government failed to announce the accident. My (Czech) wife recalls a beautiful stretch of weather in those first few days when no one knew what had happened. Families were out in record numbers enjoying the sun and eating fresh spring vegetables, completely unaware of the radioactive cloud hovering above them.

This is a classic example of a government which is more concerned with its own survival than with the health and survival of its citizens. How they thought they would keep this a secret is completely beyond me. The Sweeds, of course, figured it out some days later at their own nuclear plant when people started "clicking". Did the Soviets think they could keep this a secret forever?

No one really knows what they were thinking, but it is clear that an institution which operates under a cloak of secrecy, eventually does so to the detriment of the very people it is entrusted to protect.

Freedom and transparency. Despotism and secrecy. Matches made in heaven.

5 Comments:

  • I heard on the radio today that there is a very powerful lobbying group in Russia trying to minimalize the percieved severity of Chernobyl in order to eliminated laws preventing new reactors. The company wants to build about 20 new ones.

    By Blogger Donviti, at 6:56 PM  

  • I don't doubt it. The Russians have a completely different set of ideas about these types of things than we do. I remember seeing a thing about how the people who were still working the other reactors at Chernobyl were so sad that they had to close them down. "These work fine," the technicians were saying.

    A Russian friend of mine used to hook up electricity without the ground cable because as he said, "it works without it."

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 9:40 AM  

  • Scary, scary.

    Here's a question: how would this administration deal with a nuclear "problem"?

    Would George W. even come off vacation?

    By Blogger reality-based educator, at 1:04 PM  

  • Oh, I think there would be full blown panic in the US

    What GWB would do about it, I really couldn't say.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 4:38 PM  

  • I just hope that they let us know sooner if something like this does happen in the United States.

    God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

    By Blogger David Schantz, at 4:05 AM  

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