Essays on Chernobyl Nuclear Power Disaster - Health Management Case Study

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The paper "Chernobyl Nuclear Power Disaster - Health Management" is a good example of a management case study.   The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Disaster or the Chernobyl disaster as it is simply referred is one of the fatal nuclear power plant incidents in world history. The disaster happened on the 26th of April, 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. The accident is one of the two nuclear accidents in the world classified as level 7 incidents on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other incident being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe according to World Nuclear Association (2011).

The accident entailed a massive explosion and a fire which scattered large quantities of radioactive materials into the atmosphere, which spread through the larger part of Europe and the western USSR. The accident happened when serious power increase was experienced at Reactor-4 which caused the inner core to explode at exactly 1.23 am (World Nuclear Association, 2011). The explosion led to the release of a considerable amount of radioactive fuel and contents of the core into the atmosphere, which ignited the highly inflammable graphite moderator.

The burning graphite elevated the emission of radioactive particles transported by the smoke as the reactor was not contained in a hard control vessel (World Nuclear Association, 2011). The resulting fire caused a cloud of extremely radioactive smoke into the air, over a vast geographical region including Pripyat. This incident occurred during experimentation that was meant to investigate an impending safety emergency core cooling feature that occurred during routine shutdown practice. Nuclear power vessels need cooling even after shutting down. The management of Chernobyl wanted to perform an essential experiment concerning the safety of reactor number 4.

At the time of the experiment, the power gridlock from generators was poorly designed as they were required to pump cooling water into the reactor at a 15 seconds interval. Nevertheless, this objective was not met as they were taking longer (60-75 seconds) to supply enough power of 5.5 MW to run a single main cooling pump to full potential. The delay time was perceived unsafe as it would cause the reactor to heat up leading to a disaster. The reactor had been operating with this limitation for two years which was a breach of safety measures.

Prior efforts to test this fault were futile. The station managers desperately needed to correct this fault, which is the possible reason why they did not seek procedural consent to perform the test from the Soviet Nuclear Regulator even though there was a representative at reactor 4 complex at the time of the experiment (World Nuclear Association, 2011). Besides, there is a possibility that the night staff that executed the experiment after the day’ s attempt backfiring due to power disruption were not prepared for the experiment.

They were not informed of the procedure for carrying out the experiment as day time staff were the one that we're familiar with the procedure. Thus, when a problem occurred, the staff at some point continuously inserted metal rods with the aim of restoring the system. This caused the situation to worsen, hence the explosion. Efforts to contain the catastrophe involved more than half a million people and cost approximately 18 million rubles which brought down the Soviet economy.

Two workers died immediately from the accident while many others were affected later. Since the accident happened in 1986 until 2000, about 350,400 people from the most affected areas of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine were moved and resettled (Dyatlov, 2003). Over 60 percent of the fallout was in Belarus (Dyatlov, 2003). The countries affected (Russia, Belarus and Ukraine) have been laden by the decontamination and healthcare costs that have been in progress since the disaster. The number of deaths caused by Chernobyl disaster varies significantly as stated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The number of deaths from the accident is 31 comprising of workers in the plant and emergency response workers. The World Health Organization (WHO), estimates that 4000 civilians have died as a result of the disaster, while the Association of Concerned Scientist believe that, the disaster has caused 50,000 cancer cases in the region which has led to over 25,000 deaths (Dyatlov, 2003).

References

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Dyatlov, A. (2003). Chernobyl. How did it happen? Moscow: Nauchtechlitizdat.

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UNSCEAR (2000.) Report, Sources and Effects of Ionizing Radiation Annex J, Exposures and effects of the Chernobyl accident. Accessed September 4, 2012 from http://www.unscear.org/docs/reports/annexj.pdf

World Nuclear Association (2011). The Chernobyl Disaster 1986, Accessed September 4, 2012 from http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/chernobyl/inf07.html

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