Friday, April 15, 2016

The Elephant's Foot

Elephant's Foot

The Elephant’s Foot – Solid Mass of Melted Nuclear Fuel

The Elephant’s Foot is said to be a solid mass of melted nuclear fuel which is mixed with plenty of concrete, sand together with core sealing material which the fuel had melted through and is located in a basement area beneath the original location of the core. The radiation level on the Elephant’s Foot had been measured at 10,000 roentgens per hour in 1986.

Towards the fall of 1986, the emergency crew struggling to contain the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl had made it in a steam corridor below failed reactor Number 4. In the chambers, they observed black lava which had emanated straight from the core and the most known formation was a solid flow which their radiation sensors informed them not to approach it.

 The workers dubbed the dimly lit mass as the Elephant’s Foot. As per the readings taken at that time, the still hot proportion of molten core extinguished adequate radiation to give a deadly dose in 300 seconds. Anyone who approached it would have received a deadly dose within a minute. After just 30 seconds of exposure, the person would experience fatigue and dizziness a week later and two minutes of exposure, the cells would soon tend to haemorrhage. Four minutes would result in vomiting, diarrhoea with fever and at 300 seconds one would have two days to live.

Elephant's Foot_1

The Chernobyl Disaster

The Chernobyl disaster had taken place on April 26, 1986 at 1.23 a.m. when exceedingly hot nuclear fuel rods were lowered in cooling water and an immense amount of steam developed which due to the reactors design defects produced more reactivity in the nuclear core of reactor number 4.

 The subsequent power surge caused a great explosion which detached the 1,000 ton plate covering the reactor core, emancipating radiation in the atmosphere and blocked the flow of coolant into the reactor. Seconds later, a another explosion of a greater power than the first blew the reactor building apart and send out burning graphite together with other parts of the reactor core around the plant.

This started a number of intense fires around the damaged reactor and reactor number 3 that was still functioning during the explosions. When the nuclear fires were eventually controlled, workers climbed to contain the invisible dangers of the failed Chernobyl core.

Unknown Crystalline Forms - Chernobylites

After a period of six months of investigation, researchers discovered the Elephant’s Foot and with the help of remote camera, an extremely radioactive mass was discovered in the basement of Unit 4 which was two meters wide, weighing hundreds of tons and was called the `elephant’s foot’ due to its wrinkled form.

Concrete below the reactor had been steaming hot and was crack opened by solidified lava together with remarkable unknown crystalline forms called chernobylites. Chernobylite is a techno-genic mineral, a crystalline zirconium silicate having high content of uranium as a solid solution. It is highly radioactive owing to its high uranium content and contamination by fission products.

Thereafter it was concluded that there was no more risk of explosion. The contents of the Chernobyl tomb will tend to remain radioactive at least for the next 100,000 years and all the fire fighters together with the people who had worked in building the tomb had died around a year or so after the incident.

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