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On april 26, 1986, the worst accident in history at a nuclear power plant occurred at the Chernobyl power station near the town of Pripyat, about 70 miles north of Kiev in the Ukraine. Reactor 4 of the complex exploded, creating an inferno that spewed massive amounts of radioactive particulate matter into the atmosphere. The Soviet authorities responded by dumping boron and sand onto the inferno by helicopter. After the fire had been contained, the ruins of the reactor were encased in a thick shell of concrete. The destroyed reactor was a Soviet RBMK model, which was notorious for its design flaws. Worst of all, because the power plants with RBMK reactors were designed to permit reprocessing of fuel rods for military applications, it ...

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