Video Lectures

Lecture 26: Chernobyl—How It Happened

Description: Using all the information from the course thus far, we explain how the Chernobyl accident happened from a technical point of view (and briefly explain the failings of Soviet culture which led to the cascading human errors). The RBMK design is shown to have positive feedback coefficients, a physically dangerous situation, which along with lack of operator knowledge about long-term neutron poison transients (xenon buildup and decay) led to the 600x increase in power in four seconds, which itself led directly to the explosion, fire, and scattering of radiation around Europe.

Instructor: Michael Short

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