Ukrainian scientists have discovered that leftover nuclear fission fuel made of uranium has begun reacting again in the sealed chamber of the Chernobyl power plant.
Since the April 26, 1986 meltdown disaster, the sub reactor room 305/2 has been sealed off after scientists claimed it contained large amounts of highly radioactive melted uranium, concrete, and sand known as corium.
The Institute for Safety Problems of Nuclear Power Plants (ISPNPP) in Kyiv, Ukraine said that the sensors they placed around the plant detected increased readings of neutron activity which is a byproduct of nuclear fission.
The ISPNPP added that neutron activity has been increasing from the sealed chamber since 2016.
ISPNPP has already discussed dismantling the plant last week but has not suggested other solutions.
“There are many uncertainties. But we can’t rule out the possibility of [an] accident,” said ISPNPP’s Maxim Saveliev.
Neil Hyatt, a nuclear materials chemist at the University of Sheffield said that the new reactions are a “cause for concern but not alarm.”
(The reactions) “are like embers in a barbecue pit. Istabilizedt’s a reminder to us that it’s not a problem solved, it’s a problem stabilized,” explained Hyatt.
Saveliev said that since the sealed chamber is dangerous to get to, robots could be used to install neutron and temperature sensors or install a solid neutron absorber to control the reactions.