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New finding: nuke blast crippled Chernobyl via Cosmos

The Chernobyl 4 reactor was destroyed by a nuclear explosion, not a steam one, according to research published in the journal Nuclear Technology.

The reactor, 130 kilometres of Kiev, Ukraine, exploded in on April 25, 1986, killing 30 people, and inducing acute radiation poisoning in 134. Today, encased in thick concrete, it stands at the centre of a 2600 square-kilometre exclusion zone.

Investigations into the causes of the reactor failure concluded that the cause was a steam explosion. This remains the accepted explanation, and is sometimes deployed to bolster the case put by the power industry that no reactor has ever experienced a nuclear explosion.

Now, analysis by researchers from the Swedish Defence Research Agency, Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, and Stockholm University contradicts the standard explanation.

The team, led by Lars-Erik De Geer, concludes that the first of two explosions reported by eyewitnesses was in fact a nuclear one – or rather, a very rapid series of nuclear ones – followed three seconds later by a secondary steam explosion.

The nuclear explosions, the researchers conclude, sent a jet of debris very high into the sky. The steam explosion immediately afterwards ruptured the reactor and sent still more debris into the atmosphere, but at lower altitudes.

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