Some things I didn't know about either, like the risk of a larger secondary explosion.
See how gross exaggeration scares and misleads people?The steam explosion averted by three heroic divers would not have been so devastating
Much of the tension from the second episode comes from the fear that a steam explosion was imminent as soon as the core meltdown reached the groundwater underneath. That's what brought Ulana Khomyuk into the lives of the main characters, after all—she warned Legasov of the approaching danger and miscalculations that led Legasov to neglect it. Khomyuk claims that the follow-up explosion would involve a force of 2 to 4 megatons, wiping out Kiev and most of Minsk in the process. The radiation released by that secondary incident would also devastate much of the continent, carrying a lethal cloud all across Soviet Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and most of East Germany.
Unfortunately, there was nothing as dramatic brewing after the initial catastrophe. Though it was technically possible that would happen, it wasn't really a likely scenario, as Jan Haverkamp, a senior nuclear energy expert, points out. If all of the melting core were to hit groundwater at once, then yes, it's plausible an unprecedented radiation leak would damage most of Europe. But since core meltdowns happen very unevenly, that would not have really been a worry. Also, the 2-to-4 megaton range seems to have been a gross exaggeration.
As an engineer I would love to know how to create a 2-4 megaton steam explosion using groundwater, which most people think exists as some huge underground lake, but in fact is really damp soil.
Last edited by Dilbert_X (2019-06-17 17:49:32)