Scientists monitoring the ruins of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine have seen an increase in fission reactions in an inaccessible chamber in the complex. They are currently investigating whether the problem will stabilize or require dangerous and difficult intervention to prevent an out of control nuclear reaction. From a report: The Chernobyl explosion in 1986 brought down walls and sealed off many rooms and hallways. Tons of fissile material from inside a reactor were spread throughout the facility and the heat it generated melted the sand in the reactor walls with concrete and steel to form substances lava-like and intensely radioactive seeping into the lower floors. A chamber, known as the 305/2 sub-reactor, is believed to contain large amounts of this material, but it is inaccessible and has not been seen by human or robotic eyes since the disaster.
Now the researchers have saw a spike in neutron emissions from the room, with levels increasing by around 40% since the start of 2016. This indicates an increasing nuclear fission reaction, so researchers are trying to determine if this surge will die out, like previous peaks in other parts. ruins did, or whether they’ll have to find a way to get into the room and intervene. Neil Hyatt of the University of Sheffield, UK, who studies nuclear waste disposal, likens the situation to ’embers in a barbecue’ and says’ this is a reminder to us that it is not. a solved problem is a stabilized problem ”.
One suggestion as to why this is happening is that a new structure placed above the crumbling reactor in 2016 causes the plant to dry out. When uranium or plutonium decays radioactively, they emit neutrons, which can promote a fission reaction if the neutrons are captured by another radioactive nucleus. However, large amounts of water slow down these neutrons, preventing them from being captured. The original shelter, which was hastily built over the reactor in the months following the crash, was riddled with holes that let in rainwater and birds. If the rainwater helped suppress the reactions in room 305/2, its absence due to the new structure could mean that there is not enough water in the room to slow down the neutrons sufficiently.
Chernobyl nuclear reactions multiply in inaccessible room
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