Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building (PISB)
33rd and Chestnut Streets (NE Corner)
After the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986, many asked the question why Soviet nuclear experts chose the RBMK (the “Chernobyl-type reactor”) as a standard design for implementation all over the Soviet Union. Implicit in this question were assumptions about the RBMK’s inherent risks: why would anyone select a technically flawed reactor, and let insufficiently trained technicians operate it? Often, the Soviet system with its tightly integrated economic plans and political program has been blamed, again implying that “this could never happen here” (wherever the “here” might be). The Fukushima accident has complicated such straight-forward assignments of blame: severe accidents in
American designed reactors, in a high-tech nation that adheres to democratic, free market principles could not be explained away as easily.