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on November 30, 2003 at 9:03 AM
I read two accounts besides the "Popular Science" type stuff, I hear you..
If you haven't read the account by Grigori Medvedev, one of the engineers involved in the plant's design and intimately familiar with the characters involved ( a lot of office politics in the account, but readily sifted), you will find it very interesting. (Basic Books, Inc. division of Harper Collins, 1991). A little hard to read as the author isn't a writer and it had to be translated, but worth the time. Toss it onto the toilet tank and chip away
They failed at every turn to make choices to the safe course, and their personal Party status was paramount. Thanks to Admiral Rickover for insisting on solid, commonsense engineering in the Navy's reactors, which have had a strong bearing on nuclear plant design in the U.S., we didn't stay with that primitive and dangerous road of developement.
The absorber rods had graphite tips, so when/if you tried to SCRAM you sent a huge flux of neutrons just itching for a nucleus to hassle as these tips preceded the rest of the rods down (and, as exemplified by many other acheivments by "Soveit Man", the absorbent rods were probably crap too). The couldn't even SCRAM when they tried as it had been DISCONNECTED, and when they attempted to lower the rods, the channels were too screwed up to allow full insertion. Murphy was watching them and helping them (or his Russian equivalent) right over the lip.
We had a snakebit plant in central California called Rancho Seco; lots of structural and material faliures caught early enough to avoid the biggest troubles. The Russians would have just tried to run it harder or slapped on duct tape.
on November 27, 2003 at 11:22 PM
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