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Ethical Issues in the Management of the Nuclear Disaster in Chornobyl

Updated September 20, 2022

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Ethical Issues in the Management of the Nuclear Disaster in Chornobyl essay

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This disaster killed more than 30 people at the place of the accident and because of the radiation level in the surrounding 20-mile radius, almost 1,35,000 people were evacuated. Concerning the ethical issues, we can briefly discuss about the issues below- 1) The engineers failed to design a reactor with sufficient safety features in case of any emergency or conduct sufficient tests to ensure the power plant was a safe working environment. The RMBK design at Chornobyl did not possess a massive containment structure as found in its Western counterparts.

Nuclear plants in the United States of America for example employ a design principle known as “safety-in-depth”. Whereby even if the safety system fails, Western nuclear plants can rely upon many layers of physical barrier to minimize and prevent the release of radioactive materials to the environment. These layers of protection ensure that the radioactive materials are unable to escape to its surrounding thereby polluting the environment. 2) The Chornobyl Power Plant had many construction failings and as such the monitoring of it was also difficult.

According to the data in the possession of the KGB of the USSR design deviations and ventilation of construction are occurring at various places in the construction. The pillars of the generator room were erected with a deviation of up to 100mm from the reference axis and the horizontal connections were absent. There was a deviation in the wall panels of up to 150mm. Also in many places, the waterproofing during the backfill of the foundation was damaged.

So this damage led to groundwater seepage into the station and radioactive contamination of the environment. 3) The lead roles in the plant were led by engineers who did not have prior proper knowledge about the topic. Initially, the company believed that its staff had enough experience and knowledge about the reactor so that they can perform their experiment in a safe way. Unfortunately enough their judgment was wrong because they were not trained to resolve any problem at the time of any nuclear explosion or accident. 4) The operators were careless and violated many plant procedures, partly due to a lack of knowledge and partly a lack of training and experience.

There was insufficient communication between the safety officers and the operators in charge of the experiment being run that night. Also, many safety systems were switched off during that night which was generally prohibited by the plants published technical guidelines. 5) When reactor 4 exploded, the firemen stationed nearby the plant reacted quickly. They had no proper idea what may have what started the fire.

They thought it was just a fire caused by an electrical problem and not from the reactor. Their main objective was to put out the fire on the roof so that it would not spread to the other reactors. But because of the presence of graphite in the plant, the fire spread in a large scale. 6) The Soviet government failed to inform the world, especially the areas near the plant about the severe health issues that would come from the radiation if any disaster ever occurred. When the reactor exploded, the Soviet government did not acknowledge the mistake they made, and also did not pay much attention to evacuating all of the nearby people. This not only led to a large distrust of the government but also the integrity of the government was diminished.

Ethical Issues in the Management of the Nuclear Disaster in Chornobyl essay

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