Nuclear travels

Been avoiding the mini series Chernobyl despite very good reviews. Didn’t have the heart to watch it for no specific reasons. My daughters persuaded me to watch it and I succumbed.

I have a faint memory of hearing about Chernobyl accident through radio news when I was waiting for my results of 12th standard board exams. The scale and details of the accident and its global impact are the subjects of this mini-series.

I am introduced to a host of terms when watching the series. The melt down, Void positive coefficient, The Core, Light water coolants, U235, radioactive contaminants, water hammer, etc., Not that I would comprehend fully what I would be reading about these terms. But the series was effective, apart from the awareness it creates about the dangers and risks associated with the nuclear energy, in giving a bird’s eye view on how nuclear reactors work. For me, a science-ignorant person, there will be enough of seeking in the coming days.

Years ago (in 1989) I had met a stranger on a bus journey from Madurai to Nagercoil. He was travelling from his new work place Kalpakkam to Liquid Propulsions System centre in Mahendragiri. I remember him talking about nuclear energy in detail and explaining by way of diagrams etc. Subsequently I was exchanging letters with him for a year or so. Now I don’t even remember the name of the stranger.

Interestingly years later, I met a technician (of Tamil origin) who was working for a Nuclear Power Plant near Dortmund, Germany. The chance meeting happened with that gentleman on a flight journey from Frankfurt to Mumbai way back in 1997. I tried to enter into a conversation with him too about nuclear energy ; this time too, my inane questions were answered patiently and with smile.

There was another travel experience related to the second major accident in a nuclear power plant, only the second incident of the melt down. I was travelling in Japan until 9th march 2011 for a week. On 11th March the Fukushima Daiichi accident happened. Unlike Chernobyl, this time there has been no human error. Nature by way of tsunami had a role in this accident.


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