What Happened - In Detail

What Happened – In Detail

The accident was covered in two ANS reports in 1986. The reports contain much information of value to the public, as well as technical discussions about the nuclear reactor physics involved. The reports have been publicly available. Plain language discussions of the nuclear reactor physics are elsewhere. The reports contain photos, drawings and graphs.

The first report in June, describes the initial Soviet and International reaction, including evacuations, radioactive fallout and comparisons of the Chernobyl type reactor to other similar reactors. The comparisons were made to insure that other reactors could not have a similar accident.

The second report in September, describes the Special International Meeting at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) where the Soviet experts provided complete details of the plant design and what went wrong. The discussion reveals that the design was somewhat risky, but the accident was caused by Operator errors. Table 1 lists six errors, and the Soviets stated that if any one of the first five errors had not been made the accident would not have happened. The report also reveals the Operators were attempting to repeat an “engineering run” that had been done twice before, to get data on an improved voltage regulator for the main generators. The term “experiment” which may give the wrong impression to some people, has been used in some descriptions.

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