On April 26, 1986, one of the most devastating nuclear disasters in history occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near Pripyat, Ukraine. An explosion at Chernobyl's reactor number 4 destroyed the facility's protections against nuclear radiation and sent massive quantities of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere. In the aftermath of the disaster, scientists and historians have studied Chernobyl in order to determine exactly what went wrong. Was the catastrophe simply a tragic failure of nuclear safety systems? Or did something more than a mere accident happen at Chernobyl?
A nuclear accident happened at ChernobylShow moreShow less
A combination of technical problems and inadequate safety measures led to a catastrophic explosion.
The Maximum Design Accident (MDA) is a term in nuclear safety which refers to the most devastating malfunction a given nuclear reactor is designed to withstand. In order to simplify and streamline their processes, Soviet nuclear safety policies prior to the accident at Chernobyl dictated that reactor designs and operational protocols be based on the most plausible malfunctions, not the worst possible issues; the MDAs of their reactors were correspondingly low. Soviet nuclear plants such as Chernobyl thus had no viable contingency measures available should a more improbable, disastrous problem occur within a reactor facility. This lax philosophy with respect to safety led directly to the Chernobyl disaster.