Since I arrived in Russia three months ago I have been accumulating books not merely about civil defense, but also about the Soviet civilian nuclear power. The one on the left is titled "NPP with VVER: Procedures, Characteristics, Effectiveness," and the one on the right is "Channelized Water-Graphite Reactors: Textbook."
The book on water-graphite reactors is particularly interesting, as it was sent to press a mere six months before the accident at Chernobyl Unit 4. In the fourth chapter, "Safety of Nuclear Reactors," the authors note that:
Нарушение соответствия между выделяемым и отводимым теплом и, как следствие этого, разрушение твэлов и других элементов конструкции могут возникуть или при повышении энерговыделения выше допустимого уровня, или при ухудшении теплоотвода. В результате бесконтрольного увеличения реактивности первый процесс возможен как в активной зоне в целом, так в отдельных ее частях. Причинами такого явления могут быть, например, заклинивание регулируюших стержей на вводе в активную зону, резкие изменения темпуратуры теплоносителя и т. п.
A lack of agreement between produced and removed heat, and consequently the destruction of fuel elements and other elements of construction, can result from either an increase in heat production beyond acceptable levels, or from a reduction in heat removal. The first process is possible as a result of an uncontrolled increase in reactivity in the active zone as a whole, or in a part of it. The causes of such an event can be, for instance, the jamming of control rods on entry to the active zone, abrupt changes in coolant temperature, and so forth. (p. 104)
Although such a reactivity spike caused the explosion at Chernobyl, it's clear from the textbook that the accident the authors envisioned was much more limited than that which actually transpired. This was probably because if the RBMK-1000 was operated according to regulations, the resulting power excursion would have been much smaller. (RBMKs have "safety rods" as well as control rods, and the operators removed most of these in order to start the reactor while it was subject to xenon poisoning, leaving it in an extremely unstable and dangerous state.) In any case, the book is merely an introduction (albeit a highly technical one) to Soviet water-graphite reactors. I'll keep my eye out for a more complete account of RBMKs, like the book about VVERs on the left.