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Turbine Tests Blamed for Nuclear Fire

July 24, 1986|Associated Press

MOSCOW — Badly prepared experiments conducted to see if a turbine generator could provide enough electricity to run an atomic power plant in case of an accident caused the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, a Soviet official said today.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady I. Gerasimov, responding to questions at a news conference, said he could not provide full technical details of the experiments.

He said specifics will be published in a report "hundreds of pages" long, to be presented to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency by September.

Test in Case of Accident

"When you shut the station, the generator is still working," Gerasimov said. "The experiment (was) . . . if there is an accident, could the generator provide energy for the station for 40 to 45 minutes?"

"The capabilities of the generators were studied, the generators that generate kinetic energy," he said in an apparent reference to electrical generators.

Gerasimov said the experiment was "a purely technical experiment, nothing special about it." He denied what he called suggestions in the Western media that it had military significance.

"The point is not that the experiment was conducted, the point is that it was conducted without the necessary precautions," he said.

Reactor Power Surged

Previous Soviet reports have said the No. 4 reactor at the Ukrainian nuclear power plant was being shut down for routine maintenance at the time of the April 26 accident.

The reactor surged from 6% of capacity to 50% in 10 seconds, reports have said.

The cooling system could not handle the overload. Water combined with graphite and produced hydrogen which exploded, ripping open the reactor core, setting fire to the building around it and spewing radiation into the atmosphere, reports have said.

The disaster claimed 28 lives,

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