Jamison Brizendine Senior Comprehensive Essay Geochemistry In the morning hours of April 26, 1986, a horrible disaster took place just outside of the present country of Belarus in the Ukraine. In this area, located over 70 miles north of Kiev, lies the small town of Chernobyl, Ukraine, with a population of about 12,500. Chernobyl housed a nuclear power plant that supplied about ten percent of the world’s electrical power and nearly fifty percent for the former Soviet Union. By that morning the reactor had been running for about 9 hours straight at fifty percent power. In the early morning hours of the operators had been given permission to lower the power output to thirty percent. An operator had made a serious error, when he forgot to reset a controller. The power dropped to one percent as water started to fill the core, and xenon was building up in the reactor. A half hour later the reactor spiked to 7 percent power and all but six control rods were removed. The reactor became unstable, and the operator forced an emergency shutdown. As power in the reactor began rose water flow decreased, which lead to increase in boiling (Chernobyl.info). The reactor made a chain reaction and reached one hundred and twenty times its full power, and the entire top of the building exploded, sending radioactive debris everywhere and had caused over 30 fires. The after effects were not simply concentrated in the Soviet Union. The radiation spread to the countries of Sweden, Poland, Austria and Hungary. Food became contaminated with Cesium and Iodine, and animals had to be slaughtered immediately. Piglets and calves were also contaminated by the radioactivity (Plant 2005). Since the Soviet Union depended largely on the fertile soil of the Ukraine to grow crops the majority of the farmland was ruined. After the initial disaster approximately five thousand tons of boron, lead, sand and dolomite were deposited above the core of the nuclear reactor. This only caused the nuclear core’s temperatures to rise therefore, and more emissions were released. Cesium 137 actually increased in areas where the radioactive fallout had traveled over areas that had a lot of rain and snow. The fallout was not concentrated in one area, even a large area, but it was more patch like and dispersed. Scientists also know that radioactive fallout can travel over large distances, as the fallout from Chernobyl reached Scandinavia, China, Japan and to a lesser extent, the United States. Today Geochemists use a process called block kriging in the analysis of nuclear decay, the technique has been used mostly to detect for radiocesium (Wright 2002). That paper also compared their depositions from a plutonium plant that had also released radionuclides in Cumbria, England. Today geochemists continue to study the concentration of radioactive elements in the soil and in the atmosphere. The Chernobyl incident could have been prevented. It may have occurred because of poor management and poor design of the facility. Soviet officials had inspected the power plant earlier that year saying it had a one in ten thousand chance of exploding. The explosion of 1986 also has made large improvements in nuclear safety, and detecting other potential hazards.