Chernobyl Book Summary – February 2022

Author: Serhii Plokhy

Short Summary
Chernobyl (2018) book by the author Serhii Plokhy puts light on the catastrophic event of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion. Moreover, the importance of good leadership is highlighted in this book.
chernobyl book
Source: amazon.com

Detailed Summary

The book has described the heart-wrenching event of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion that happened on April 26, 1986. The explosion took the lives of many people. Not only this but the aftermath of the explosion was worse. The explosion knocked the 200-ton lid of the reactor through the roof. The radiations were emitted into the atmosphere which affected many people. Chernobyl book is all about history, bad leadership, and arrogance.

Chernobyl Book Key Points

How the explosion took place    

A nuclear fission reaction was carried out to generate energy. In the nuclear fission reaction, uranium is put in the rods. Nuclear power plants have the ability to generate a large amount of clean energy but this process is dangerous as well. It needs to be executed under professional supervision. People executing it should be really vigilant and expert.

In order to generate a large amount of clean energy, engineers use the control rods which control the reactivity of elements inside the core. Control rods are specially used by engineers to slow down the reactivity of elements in the reactors. During the clear fission reaction, these rods are removed and so the process is carried out to generate energy.

What actually happened in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion, a safety test was conducted. The safety test was done to see the reaction if the power is lost which turned out to be an explosion. So, what they did was. They lost the power for a short amount of time to see the plant’s reaction. In order to restore the power, it took 45 seconds which was long and became a reason for the explosion.

They had the backup generators as well. They wanted to see when the backup power is started, the reactors could power themselves or not. So, for this, they removed the control rods and reduced the input power to the plant.

Bad leadership and unprofessional behavior of the staff

According to the author, the major reasons for the Chernobyl explosion are bad leadership, arrogance, and the unprofessional behavior of the staff. All these reasons became the cause of the explosion.

The night when the explosion took place, the leader Yuri Tregub was not well-informed about the safety test that has to be conducted. So, the deputy chief engineer Anatoly Dyatlov was assigned with him to oversee the operation. He arrived at 11 pm. The team had the go-ahead that started at 10 pm. Anatoly was very rude and arrogant with the staff and leader Yuri. He dismissed all their questions regarding the test and just wanted the operation to be continued. Moreover, he was very strict with the staff and wanted them to work fastly.

What they didn’t know was that the reactor had a design flaw. Because of that, the machine couldn’t maintain the power itself. A large amount of energy inside the reactor boiled water into steam. It increased the temperature inside the reactor and so the power was spiked. Leonid Totunov immediately pressed the emergency button. RMBK reactor was not legal anywhere else in the world and also because of its risky setup had a critical flaw. The explosion happened and sent the radioactive material everywhere in the atmosphere and surroundings

After-Effects of Explosion        

When the nuclear power plant exploded, the reactor was knocked through the roof. It could send radioactive material into the atmosphere. So, when the fire department arrived, they firstly focused on the roof.

Moreover, the radioactive heat started melting their boots and the graphite pieces were everywhere. It took the life of 20 people but its aftermath was worse.

A person found the metal piece in the tires of his truck. He didn’t know what it is so when he tried removing it, he lost his skin from the deadly metal graphite. Besides this, many people got sick because of the radiation. The chances of cancer increased because of it. And so many people got terrified and had panic attacks because of the explosion.

So, the explosion not only took the life of many people but also affected them in so many ways. The explosion teaches us how a leader’s attitude is important and has an influence on the performance of the staff. We should be responsible enough to lead a team and take responsibility for our bad decisions.

Who would I recommend Chernobyl book to?

The Chernobyl book is highly recommended to people who like history. The people who are interested and tempted to read what happened at Chernobyl and how the explosion took place need to read this book to gain a more insightful and detailed account of the reasons behind the explosion.