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City, Country
Chernobyl, Pripyat, The Ukraine

Number & type of Reactors
4x RBMK 1000

Net Electric Power as % in 92 of national total
1850 MWe, 5% of nat. total

Major population Centers in a 150 km radius and
total estimated population of 150 km r. region

Approximately 3.5 million, including Kiev and parts of Belorus; 654,000 in the "voluntary resettlement zone"

Date of commercial operation start up
or (if unfinished) date of construction start.

Startup dates 1978, 79, 82 and 84


Accidents and Dangers:

1982: explosion in upper fuel channel; Serious faults found during testing in 1981 and 1983; 1986, meltdown at Unit 4; 1991 unit 2 caught fire, still not operable.

Local Contact Group:

Neka/Ukraine Youth Environmental League
Scherbakova Street 49 G, Apt 74
252111 Kiev, Ukraine
ph/fax 380/44/4421305

Key Arguments/History

RBMK reactors have a number of serious safety problems, notably the fact that the formation of steam bubbles in the tubes of the reactor actually causes the rate of the reaction to increase, causing the formation of still more steam bubbles, causing the reaction to go out of control.

In addition, RBMK plants have a slow-acting scram system which has graphite "followers" attach to the control rods, causing a substantial increase in reactivity when the control rods are inserted from the fully withdrawn position. Finally, the reactor is especially unstable at low power. While attempts have been made to address these problems, units 1 and 3 at Chernobyl are operating in especially difficult conditions due to the high levels of radiation in the area from the Unit 4 disaster, especially in the case of unit 3, which shares the same building as block 4.


1000MWe of wind power could be introduced over the next 2-3 years, according to a joint US DOE/Ukraine energy ministry report, at a cost lower than completing other partially completed reactors. 10% in efficiency gains in Ukraine heavy industry could be made at no cost merely by good housekeeping. 40-60% of energy demand could be saved through energy saving, saving the Ukraine US$200-300million/year. Finally, ample spare fossil capacity exists, with 40% of fossil plants idle.