At the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the mass of uranium fuel buried deep in the reactor hall of the plant, fission reactions are starting again. This was reported by the journal Science.
According to Anatoly Doroshenko of the Kyiv-based Institute for Nuclear Power Plant Safety Problems, sensors are detecting an increase in the number of neutrons coming out of one inaccessible room at the plant, indicating a fission reaction.
Recall that a year after the Chernobyl disaster, a sarcophagus of steel and concrete was built over it. But since water penetrated into the sarcophagus during the rains, which increased the probability of fission of uranium nuclei and caused a sharp increase in the number of neutrons, the New Safe Confinement (NSC) was built over it. Thanks to this construction, the number of neutrons at most points in the sarcophagus remains stable or even decreases.
But now, for some reason, neutrons have started to reappear and accumulate in new places. For example, in one of the plant rooms, their number almost doubled in four years.
“It’s like smoldering embers in a brazier … It’s credible and conclusive data. We just don’t understand what the mechanism is,” said chemist Neil Hayat.
According to him, there is no way to ignore what is happening, because the fission reactions in this area can accelerate progressively, leading to an uncontrolled release of nuclear energy. According to Maksim Savelyev of the Institute for Nuclear Power Plant Safety, another accident could occur at Chernobyl, but those in charge of managing the situation have a few years to find a way to eliminate the threat. The scientist also noted that if an explosive reaction were to occur, it would most likely collapse the unstable elements of the old sarcophagus, and then the NSC would fill with radioactive dust.