The lessons we learned from the Chernobyl disaster

by   |  VIEW 254

The lessons we learned from the Chernobyl disaster

At the root of the Chernobyl disaster, it seems that there were procedural errors during a safety test on the RBMK No. 4 nuclear reactor of the plant. It was a system approval test, to verify the possibility of powering the cooling system pumps even in the event of an electrical blackout, feeding them with electricity produced by the inertial movement of the turbines, for the time necessary to activate the groups.

of emergency diesel-electric generation. A cloud of radioactive material escaped from Reactor No. 4 and fell over large areas around the plant, heavily contaminating them. The fires of the structures had catastrophic effects of atmospheric contamination.

The firefighters from the nearby stations of Pripyat and Chernobyl, promptly intervened, put out the fires, but were not able to extinguish the core and completely block the radioactive emission: therefore the authorities, in the following days, used military helicopters to cover the stone with sand and boron.

Faced with the extreme severity of the contamination levels in the surrounding territories, the evacuation of around 336,000 people was ordered and, later, resettlement to other areas. The government did not disclose the news at first, but had to admit the incident a few days later, when the anomalous increase in atmospheric radiation was detected in Sweden and the news spread internationally.

There were serious political consequences, both international and domestic, for the credibility and scientific-technical prestige of the Soviet Union. The radioactive clouds also reached Eastern Europe, Finland and Scandinavia in a few days, touching, with lower levels of radioactivity, also Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Balkans, up to portions of the east coast of North America, causing general alarm and great controversy against the Soviet leaders.

Now with the war in Ukraine, and with the attacks and bombs on the country's nuclear power plants by Russia, there has been a return to talk of nuclear energy, including the risk of an atomic war between the West and Russia.

The study: Medical management: major lessons learned from the Chernobyl accident (the review), published on the Journal of radiological protection: official journal of the Society for Radiological Protection, said: "Thirty-five years have passed since the moment of the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

It is quite a sufficient period to assess the correctness of the organization of medical care for victims, to summarize the results of monitoring the health status of various groups of persons involved in the accident, including its direct participants.

Radiation from a massive source of relatively uniform gamma radiation and a heterogeneous source of beta radiation can cause affected people to develop acute radiation syndrome (ARS) of varying severity, including non-curable forms of the disease ARS developed in 134 patients; 28 patients from 134 with ARS died in a short time (100 d) after exposure.

Among the patients whose disease ended in death, 2/3 of the outcome could be due to radiation skin lesions (19 people). Treatment of ARS varying severity, which was combined with common skin burns with beta radiation, requires long-term specialized treatment.

The experience of treating this group of patients has demonstrated that the indications for bone marrow transplantation in the curable form of ARS are limited. The percentage of victims who have absolute indications for allogeneic bone marrow transplantation and in whom this procedure will lead to an improved prognosis for life is very small.

Recovery of own myelopoiesis and survival are possible after whole-body irradiation from 6 to 8 Gy, which was found after rejection of haploidentical human leucocyte antigen transplantation, as well as in patients who did not use bone marrow transplantation due to the absence of a corresponding donor. Patients who have undergone ARS need lifelong medical supervision and the provision of necessary medical care. "