Fast moving neutrons, graphite moderators and radioactive clouds: an ANT account of the Chernobyl accident's risky network

MacGill, Ross (2017) Fast moving neutrons, graphite moderators and radioactive clouds: an ANT account of the Chernobyl accident's risky network. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This research seeks to understand the Chernobyl accident at the material level and this is achieved through a sustained engagement and use of Latour’s Actor-Network Theory. The primary research question asks how has the accident travelled through various worlds: impacting upon them, reorienting their structure, and at times, creating new nuclear worlds in its wake. The ambiguous nature of the question is designed to allow the research to approach the expansive topic from several angles, thus accounting for the very real material spread radioactive fallout and, crucially, the material action engendered by the agency of RBMK no4, the central actant in the network in question. The nature of this work is quasi-scientific; that is, the majority of the empirical data is the discourses of the ‘hard sciences’, the disciplines tasked with understanding and mitigating one of the worst accidents the world has ever witnessed, and safeguarding against another similar occurrence. The reassembling of RBMK no4’s network, and its travels, hence ‘renders visible’ the lessons learnt by the nuclear industry in the wake of the event of April 1986. The spectre of Chernobyl has loomed over the industry for 3 decades. This research attempts to create a pragmatic context. It is not interested in the epistemological ‘sensationalist’ representations of the accident. Instead it embraces the complex intricacies of the physics, engineering and radiological sciences — the very essence of the materiality of RBMK no4, and its risky network.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Chernobyl, actor-network theory.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences > Geography
Funder's Name: UNSPECIFIED
Supervisor's Name: Philo, Professor Chris and Shaw, Dr. Ian
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Mr R MacGill
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8260
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2017 08:26
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2017 09:51
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/8260

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