‘A very real problem’: How resurgent nuclear reactions at Chernobyl might be dealt with to avert disaster. Robots and gadolinium nitrate spray among interventions under consideration as scientists concerned by 40 per cent spike in fission activity in reactor room inaccessible since notorious 1986 meltdown. The activity is seemingly the fault of the New Confinement Shelter that was erected to cover the former reactor site five years ago, a giant steel arch structure that, unlike its shoddier predecessor, prevents rainwater entering, unwittingly eliminating a key element that turns out to have played a role in suppressing the neutrons. The Institute for Safety Problems of Nuclear Power Plants (ISPNPP) in Kiev is now engaged in monitoring the situation and assessing whether a potentially dangerous intervention might become necessary to prevent a further explosion at the site if stability is not restored. This might involve drilling into what was once Subreactor Room 305/2 to soak the smouldering uranium fuel masses buried within with gadolinium nitrate or sending in robots capable of withstanding the still-glaring radiation and humidity to install neutron and temperature sensors or boron cylinders to act as control rods, sopping up the neutrons.
Independent 14th May 2021 read more »