35 years have passed since the terrible accident that took place in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. However, experts still have their sights set on its ruins. The surroundings of the facilities have become a ghost scene, with uninhabited villages and abandoned wooded areas, in which life has been making its way after being practically uprooted. Meanwhile, the radioactive material remains buried under a sarcophagus of steel erected a month after the disaster. But just because he has his own coffin doesn’t mean he’s dead. In fact, it still retains some activity, the recent rise of which has drawn the attention of the scientists tasked with reviewing it.
At the moment the causes of this phenomenon are not clear, nor is it known where it will go. It is not ruled out that a new explosion could occur, although it would not have anywhere near the magnitude of the one that occurred in 1986. Also, it would not be something imminent, so there might be time to take action on the matter.
Chernobyl activity increases
Before we see what is happening now, let us remember what the Nuclear fision. Broadly speaking, this occurs when a heavy core, such as that of the uranium, is divided into two or more, causing the release of the neutrons that were inside. In turn, these neutrons shoot out towards other atoms, causing them to divide as well.
To control nuclear fission there are sensors that detect possible increases in neutron emission
In this process, a large amount of energy is released, which is used in nuclear power plants, for example, to generate electricity.
Currently in the ruins of the Chernobyl accident there are sensors whose function is to detect possible increases in the neutron emission. Thus, it is possible to detect if fission is taking place in the atoms of radioactive elements that are still there.
The latest counts show a slow rise in these levels, which has caught the attention of police detectives. nuclear power plant ruins. But should we worry?
Caution yes, but not panic
Speaking to Science Magazine, researchers from the Kiev Institute for Nuclear Power Plant Safety Problems (ISPNPP), in charge of reviewing the activity in the Chernobyl rubble, have explained that there are still many uncertainties and that the possibility of an accident cannot be ruled out. However, they have also made a call for calm, ensuring that the speed at which this increase in activity is being generated is so low that this possible accident would occur in the distant future and would not be something very big either.
Neutron release is happening very slowly
Even so, they are still attentive, because they do not know how it could have happened. The greatest enemy of radioactive debris is the humidity. This is because, outside of it, the neutrons leaving a fissioned nucleus go too fast to adhere to another and generate the chain reaction. However, when changing them to a medium such as water, everything slows down and it is much easier for this union to be generated, which ends up causing a new nuclear division. Therefore, when they found that the rainwater began to accumulate under the sarcophagus, a new cover was made, called New Safe Confinement, whose function was to keep the area dry.
This leads us to think that humidity should not be the factor that has generated this increase in activity. Although it cannot be 100% insured either.
In the meantime, since everything seems to be happening slowly for now, they plan to do a fuel cleanup to try to avoid future accidents. One of these scientists, Maxim saveliev, has explained that “any explosive reaction would be contained, but could threaten to bring down unstable parts of the dilapidated Shelter, filling the New Safe Confinement with radioactive dust.” We would not be facing a cloud of radioactivity over the whole of Europe, as in 1986, but we would be facing an accident that should be tried to avoid. Without fear, but looking for solutions.