Notes and Reflections on Books and Media
by Hannah Leitheiser
Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster
"The RBMK was a triumph of Soviet gigantimania. A testament to its creator's unrelenting pursuit of economies of scale. 20 times the size of western reactors by volume, it was capable of producing 3,200 MW of thermal energy or 1000 MW of electricity.
The RBMK was so large that reactivity in one part of the core had only a lose relationship to that in another. The operators had to control it as if it were not a single unit, but several reactors in one. Isolated hot-spots of reactivity might build deep in the core where they proved difficult to detect. This problem was especially pronounced during start-up and shutdown and when the reactor was operating at low power, when the systems designed to detect reactivity within the core proved unreliable. During these crutial moments, engineers because almost totally blind., and were forced to estimate activity within the core using experience and intuition." - Adam Higginbotham, Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster (2019)