A visit to Chernobyl

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Science  26 Jun 1987:
Vol. 236, Issue 4809, pp. 1636-1640
DOI: 10.1126/science.3603003


Details of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant were given by Soviet experts at a special International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in Vienna, Austria, in August 1986. Several unanswered questions were made much clearer by a visit to the decontaminated and operating power plant at Chernobyl and by discussions with Soviet scientists. The visit gives us insights into the way the Soviets design their technology, the consequences of the accident, and the magnificent way they coped with the disaster. Although there are general conclusions to be drawn for the rest of the world, such as the realization that operators of technological systems can and will deliberately cut out safety systems, the primary specific conclusion is to be grateful that the West did not follow the Soviet route in its development of nuclear power.

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