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stratoaxe View Drop Down
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    Posted: 05 May 2012 at 9:20pm
Linky.

I have zero hope for this movie, but I may have to watch it out of sheer Chernobyl obsession.

I think there's a fellow devotee on the board here, Reb or Tallen or somebody. Anyway, carry on.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tallen702 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 May 2012 at 10:28pm
Originally posted by stratoaxe stratoaxe wrote:

Linky.

I have zero hope for this movie, but I may have to watch it out of sheer Chernobyl obsession.

I think there's a fellow devotee on the board here, Reb or Tallen or somebody. Anyway, carry on.


You're thinking of me. And yes, I'll have to watch it even though it has absolutely ZERO credibility from what I've seen.

Also, depending on when they're saying the movie takes place, it might not even be credible then. The only people who can take tours in have to be registered with Chernobylinterinform, and even then, there's talk that they're only letting scientific crews in since late last year due to legality questions in the national courts in the Ukraine.

I still wanna go there though. Two reasons, see how screwed up it is, and to see communism just frozen in time
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote impulse418 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 May 2012 at 11:50pm
Seen the documentary White Horse?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote evillepaintball Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 May 2012 at 4:57am
They aren't letting the public take tours anymore?  I was planing on getting out there this summer.

Edit:  Something tells me this will be another "The Hills have Eyes"


Edited by evillepaintball - 06 May 2012 at 7:31am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tallen702 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 May 2012 at 10:12am
Originally posted by impulse418 impulse418 wrote:

Seen the documentary White Horse?


Yeah, the sheer tangible feeling of pain and loss that you get from that documentary is almost unbearable.

I think the thing that interests me the most about Chernobyl is that it illustrates just how broken the system was in the USSR.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tallen702 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 May 2012 at 10:13am
Originally posted by evillepaintball evillepaintball wrote:


They aren't letting the public take tours anymore?  I was planing on getting out there this summer.

Edit:  Something tells me this will be another "The Hills have Eyes"


They might have started allowing them again. Get in touch with Chernobylinterinform via the gov't of the Ukraine. They'll tell you who, if anyone, would be authorized to take you in. Usually the tours run $150-$200/person for a day trip. I'd highly suggest picking up your own dosimeter though.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote impulse418 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 May 2012 at 11:19am
Originally posted by tallen702 tallen702 wrote:

Originally posted by impulse418 impulse418 wrote:

Seen the documentary White Horse?


Yeah, the sheer tangible feeling of pain and loss that you get from that documentary is almost unbearable.

I think the thing that interests me the most about Chernobyl is that it illustrates just how broken the system was in the USSR.


I can't believe people looted that place. I wonder if it was just scrubs or the military themselves.

If I'm bored, I just hop on englishrussia. They have some fascinating articles.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tallen702 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 May 2012 at 2:02pm
From what I understand it was common citizenry who looted Pripyat. The sold anything that wasn't welded to the structure of the buildings for scrap metal or sold it on the rather prolific black markets that existed between the accident and the fall of the soviet union (and shortly thereafter in the chaos as well)

Lost source accidents were/are a lot more common than most people realize. Most of it is radioactive materials for mundane things like xraying welds and whatnot, but a lot of lost source material made it into the smelters in eastern europe and the Urals after the fall of the USSR. Orphan source accidents are also pretty prolific, but not as much as lost source incidents. The Goiania orphan source accident is probably one of the best examples out there.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GI JOES SON Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 May 2012 at 7:52pm
I've known of Chernobyl but never really knew too much about it...looking at wiki it said that the area immediately surrounding the reactor wouldn't be safe for human life for approximately 20,000 years...my question is, how safe would a trip to the outer lying areas be?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote tallen702 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 May 2012 at 5:42am
Originally posted by GI JOES SON GI JOES SON wrote:



I've known of Chernobyl but never really knew too much about it...looking at wiki it said that the area immediately surrounding the reactor wouldn't be safe for human life for approximately 20,000 years...my question is, how safe would a trip to the outer lying areas be?


Oh, so long as you have a working dosimeter, you're safe to go virtually anywhere (with the exception of inside the sarcophagus, and even then, certain areas are OK). The 20,000 years thing is actually a bit on the false side. The reality is that wouldn't even cover 1 half life of PU-239. Even then the decay of Pu-239 to U-235 would mean that the resulting extended half-life would be 703,800,000 years. But the Pu-239 and U-235 aren't what you really need to worry about because we can FIND those if we look properly. They don't leach out into vegetation and groundwater like some of the other decay products do. 300 years is actually a much more realistic timeline for the return of human habitation without significant side effects if a cleanup project is done to find the Pu and U orphan/lost sources that were buried willy-nilly around the site after the explosion. The big culprits right now are Sr-90 and Cs-137. The biggest issue post-explosion was I-131 which causes thyroid cancer and other hormonal issues. The half-life of I-131 is 8 days, effective decay is approximately 10 half-lives, so after 80 days, it ceased to be an issue. The half-lives of Cs-137 and Sr-90 are 30 years meaning about 300 years for effective decay into stable isotopes and elements. Cesium and Strontium like to mimic calcium and potassium which plants take in, that animals eat, that then get into our bodies when we consume those items. It then gets taken into our muscle and bone tissue because our bodies think they are potassium and calcium and their low-energy alpha and beta decay particles then start bombarding us with radiation from the inside. That's what makes Chernobyl dangerous to anyone who lives there. That, and the very real chance of the sarcophagus collapsing before they build the new containment shelter. If that happened, it'd potentially be even worse than the original fire and steam explosion.

Edit:

Also, people still live in the zone, especially up in Belarus. They have a government which is less than desirable and doesn't really like its own people in the same way that the soviets didn't. So they've pretty much opened up large portions of their section of the zone of exclusion for human resettlement whereas the Ukrainian side of things is still very closed off because their government has progressed past the soviet autocratic model. Even then, in the Ukraine, some elderly people had/have been allowed to remain on their land since the chances of them getting cancer/dying from radiation was about the same as they'd normally face at their age. As to whether there is actual harm cause by radiation in the repopulated Belarusian areas is up for debate, but the thought on the Ukrainian side of things is that if you let people live in those areas, they're going to plant gardens and eat what comes from those gardens as well as hunt what lives in the radioactive areas, and humans being top predators will wind up concentrating all that radioactive material in their own bodies causing health problems.

Here's an interesting paper on the subject: http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/Articles_2010/Summer_2010/Belarus_Repopulation.pdf

Still, as I said earlier, the issue isn't so much the "big" or more commonly known radionuclides as it is the stuff you don't hear about on the nightly news or in your high school science class. The Cs-137 and Sr-90 are the big culprits preventing resettlement. Once the 300 years has passed for the effective decay times, the area will be largely habitable and it will become much, much easier to sweep the area for those long-lived radionuclides like Plutonium and Uranium and properly dispose of them.

Edited by tallen702 - 07 May 2012 at 7:28am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rofl_Mao Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 May 2012 at 8:25am
Tallen, I heard from watching a documentary that creating a new sarcophagus would cost an extreme amount of money.

Is This true? And when do they plan on building it?

Also, how would a collapse of the current sarcophagus create a larger problem than the initial explosion?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tallen702 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 May 2012 at 9:06am
Originally posted by Rofl_Mao Rofl_Mao wrote:

Tallen, I heard from watching a documentary that creating a new sarcophagus would cost an extreme amount of money.

Is This true? And when do they plan on building it?


Yeah, it's rather expensive and unfortunately, the Ukraine has been left to foot the bill almost completely by itself. The structure is called "New Safe Confinement" and is essentially a gigantic hangar-like assembly which will cover the entire powerplant. It's built section by section in pre-fab form and then rolled on tracks over the CNPP almost like a convertible roof. It's a great system and even include groundwater mitigation, but much like the sarcophagus, is only meant to contain the nuclear material, not necessarily clean it up. For that project, there is a plan to use robotic and remote-operated equipment within the NSC shelter to dismantle reactor #4. The idea is essentially to allow more freedom of movement and the ability to kick-up all that radioactive dust from the decay materials allowing them to dismantle the entire thing while subsequently preventing it from entering the atmosphere. All you need to do is google "New Safe Confinement Progress" and you'll see that it's being built and supposedly will be in place by the end of next year (though 2014 or 2015 is more likely at this time) All the decom work has been finished on reactors 1-3, so now it's just the construction phase that is happening.


Quote Also, how would a collapse of the current sarcophagus create a larger problem than the initial explosion?


Right now, most everything "bad" has run its course outside of the the wreckage of #4. While there ARE still piles of highly radioactive junk left out there in the zone, almost all the really nasty short-lived radionuclides have run their course, leaving the above mentioned Sr-90 and Cs-137 to be the main concerns in regards to health.

The issue is that all of those short-lived and particularly nasty gamma emitters that cause the really scary high-level doses (like what the firefighters from the CNPP Fire Brigade got hit with) are still being created as decay products from the fuel and moderator break-down going on inside the shell of the sarcophagus. What's more, instead of having only a few years to be produced like they would be between refueling cycles in an RBMK2000 reactor, they've have 26 continuous years of relatively un-moderated activity to build up from. If the sarcophagus were to collapse, it wouldn't spread the radiation as far, but it would spread much, much more. Furthermore, it would haul down the remaining housing structure as well, leaving much more of the core material exposed to the atmosphere. Remember, the reactor building was bad to begin with (no secondary containment field) and with an explosion, fire, and subsequent 26 years of no maintenance or upkeep, it's pretty much a house of cards. Same goes for the sarcophagus itself. They couldn't even weld the blocks its built out of together because it was too hot. (both physically and radioactively) They tried using robots to do it, but they simply died due to the ionizing radiation levels. So it's just sitting there like children's blocks being held together by gravity alone. A small earthquake like we had this year on the east coast, or a category 1 hurricane would topple it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rofl_Mao Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 May 2012 at 10:34am
Wow. That's interesting information, thanks for explaining it. Seems like they will be completing the new sarcophagus faster than I thought they would.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tallen702 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 May 2012 at 12:09pm
Originally posted by Rofl_Mao Rofl_Mao wrote:

Wow. That's interesting information, thanks for explaining it. Seems like they will be completing the new sarcophagus faster than I thought they would.



For someone relatively new to the whole subject, I'm sure it definitely seems fast. For someone who has been following since the early 1990's, it's been an incredibly slow process that has caused me to face-palm more than a few occasions.

The biggest threat Chernobyl has faced concerning delays or halting of the cleanup process is the environmental and "green" movements who like to use the disaster as their very own way of "Godwining" a conversation about nuclear power. They've done this so much that people kinda push it from their minds as soon as the topic is brought up. These groups also fail to bring up what has been/is being done to remedy the situation on the ground at the NPP. The reason is that they want to make sure that "Chernobyl" continues to be a synonym for environmental failure and akin to "boogieman" in the environmental lexicon rather than a story of succeeding in tackling what has been one of the scariest monsters of the environmental and health worlds for the past 26 years. The very fact that they have latched onto Fukushima as the new "dirty word" concerning nuclear power goes a long way to show that they know Chernobyl isn't anywhere as bad as it used to be and is in fact, well on the way to being fully decommissioned and decontaminated. Fukushima has far fewer deaths and shorter consequences than Chernobyl did, yet they're using that image because it's fresh in people's minds and at this point, worse than Chernobyl due to the efforts of the Ukraine and various other organizations working to improve the containment structure and continue the clean-up.

Once the NCS is in place, the Ukraine can concentrate on tearing down the old power plant and decontaminating the waste materials. They can then remove the "clean" waste and concentrate the "dirty" waste to be disposed of properly. Don't get me wrong, it's going to take a few hundred years, but the knowledge we are gaining about how to do this properly is probably one of the most important things to come out of the whole Chernobyl accident.

If you find yourself with some time to read, I'll suggest the following 3 books:

Ablaze : the story of the heroes and victims of Chernobyl
Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of Chernobyl
Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

The first is a clear-cut factual recounting of the incident and the causes, lead-up, and aftermath of the accident.
The second is an up-to-date journal of what is going on in the zone right now.
The Third contains the collected stories of those who survived and those who have moved back to the exclusion zone.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote usafpilot07 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 May 2012 at 1:27pm
Tallen, in lieu of me having to do any googling/real reading on the subject; somewhere recently I heard that Fukushima was actually a lot worse than the Japanese government/media was letting on. I know we talked on FB briefly about it right after it happened but is there any new information about it?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stratoaxe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 May 2012 at 2:00pm
Pardon me if Tallen already addressed it (I'm speed reading right nw but one of the issues with adding to the current sarcophagus is weight.

The Chernobyl power plant sits on a very large water supply, and thanks to the current weight of the sarcophagus in use it's already beginning to sink into the ground. They're afraid with too much weight it could potentially contaminate the Russian water supply.

Interesting note-the grass around Chernobyl is called wormwood, and the Bible says in Revelation that a star called wormwood would fall to the ocean and contaminate the water supply. One of those neat little things that I love about reading the Chernobyl story-it's so damn spooky.

I absolutely loved the original STALKER for pc. Chernobyl is the ultimate real life horror locale for movies and video games, such a great visual sadness to it. I really want to go there.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tallen702 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 May 2012 at 2:18pm
Originally posted by usafpilot07 usafpilot07 wrote:

Tallen, in lieu of me having to do any googling/real reading on the subject; somewhere recently I heard that Fukushima was actually a lot worse than the Japanese government/media was letting on. I know we talked on FB briefly about it right after it happened but is there any new information about it?


The release of Cs-137 was about twice the initial estimate, but this was still only 40% of the Chernobyl release, and what's more, no "heavy" materials made it out of the reactors, just decay materials like I-131 Cs-137 and SR-90. Don't get me wrong, that stuff isn't anything you'd want to play around with, but given proper remediation and periodic control checks, nothing that will prevent the land from being habitable much, much sooner than the exclusion zone around Chernobyl. Mind you, if you Google "Fukushima worse than Chernobyl" you'll get all kinds of fear mongering, headline grabbing stories from pseudo-scientists and anti-nuclear groups saying that the Dai-Ichi plant is far worse. It simply isn't.

Japan JUST took its last NPP offline a few days ago and is now relying on conventional power production meaning coal prices and oil prices will probably jump after having just come down. I'm not 100% sure of the reason why they've shut all of them down, but I'm sure part of it has to do with massive inspections and overhauls. I doubt they'll be down forever, or even for all that long.

All the articles you see about it being "worse" point to the spent fuel pools at FDI-NPP as the cause of worry. While #4's spent fuel pool is rather badly damaged, the reality is that the issue is under control and the spent fuel rods are being protected by the coolant (water) which hinders their ability to accelerate their decay. Furthermore, the partially melted cores of the 3 reactors were stopped before they breached containment. Chernobyl didn't even have a containment system outside of the pressure vessel and the lava-like fuel containing material (LFCM or "Corium" essentially all the fuel, control rods, and construction materials melted into a viscous blob) poured out of the bottom of the pressure vessel and wound up pooling on the basement floor of the reactor building. It was only through sheer luck that the partial meltdown didn't burn through the floor and into the ground. The reality is that Tokyo folded to international pressure from anti-nuclear groups and elevated the INES classification to a Level 7 accident when really, the overall release of radioactivity from Fukushima Dai Ichi has been found to be 10% of that at Chernobyl or less. What's more, FDI's releases were absorbed by the sea, which does a much better job of dilution than ground. This means that while short-term levels are bad, they will rapidly (in under a decade) be diluted and spread out to the point that they won't be distinguishable compared to background and naturally occurring radiation levels unless you start looking at isotope "fingerprints" to find the reactor signature saying that it came from Dai-Ichi or Chernobyl or wherever.

So, TL;DR:

Fukushima Dai Ichi was worse than initial reports suggested, but not nearly bad enough to garner the level 7 incident rating it was ultimately given. I'd be surprised if it didn't decline to a level 6 or level 5 in the coming decades. I'd put it somewhere between TMI and Chernobyl, but closer to the bottom end of that comparison given the most likely long-term effects.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote impulse418 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 May 2012 at 2:31pm
Originally posted by stratoaxe stratoaxe wrote:

Pardon me if Tallen already addressed it (I'm speed reading right nw but one of the issues with adding to the current sarcophagus is weight.

The Chernobyl power plant sits on a very large water supply, and thanks to the current weight of the sarcophagus in use it's already beginning to sink into the ground. They're afraid with too much weight it could potentially contaminate the Russian water supply.

Interesting note-the grass around Chernobyl is called wormwood, and the Bible says in Revelation that a star called wormwood would fall to the ocean and contaminate the water supply. One of those neat little things that I love about reading the Chernobyl story-it's so damn spooky.

I absolutely loved the original STALKER for pc. Chernobyl is the ultimate real life horror locale for movies and video games, such a great visual sadness to it. I really want to go there.


Chernobyl means wormwood in Russian.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tallen702 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 May 2012 at 2:33pm
Originally posted by stratoaxe stratoaxe wrote:

Pardon me if Tallen already addressed it (I'm speed reading right nw but one of the issues with adding to the current sarcophagus is weight.

The Chernobyl power plant sits on a very large water supply, and thanks to the current weight of the sarcophagus in use it's already beginning to sink into the ground. They're afraid with too much weight it could potentially contaminate the Russian water supply.

Interesting note-the grass around Chernobyl is called wormwood, and the Bible says in Revelation that a star called wormwood would fall to the ocean and contaminate the water supply. One of those neat little things that I love about reading the Chernobyl story-it's so damn spooky.

I absolutely loved the original STALKER for pc. Chernobyl is the ultimate real life horror locale for movies and video games, such a great visual sadness to it. I really want to go there.


Yes and no. The weight isn't an issue concerning the water supply so much as the structural integrity of the confinement building(s). Luckily, despite its proximity to the Dnieper river (which is Ukrainian btw, not Russian ) the groundwater issue has already been addressed with the use of various holding ponds, levies, and dikes. This is addressed in "Wormwood Forest" to some extent. In reality, the groundwater has been contaminated since day 1. What everyone must remember is that Chernobyl was a meltdown only AFTER it was an explosion and a fire. Essentially the pressure vessel acted like a stopped-up tea kettle on full boil when certain conditions (formation of positive voids at low activity levels, but we'll save that for another post) were met. The run-away reaction built up steam which made the reaction hotter which built up more steam which then blew the lid off the reactor exposing its really, really hot graphite moderator block to air (and remember kids, pebble bed reactors ALSO use graphite in really, really hot, oxygen deprived environments) which caused it to burst into flames. The explosion blew the roof off of the reactor building allowing chunks of burning irradiated graphite to fall where they may lighting everything on fire. Of course, you have to fight fires with something, and since water is pretty easy to come by, well, you use that.

The reality is that the water put out the surface fires, but not the core fire which continued to burn and allow the core to continue to melt down. They dumped concrete (failed) sand (failed) boron (kinda failed) and lots more water (did better than most) into the gaping hole on the roof to try and extinguish the fire. All that water is now highly radioactive and has to go somewhere. Some of it boils off as radioactive steam, the rest finds its way into basements and sub-basements and eventually, into the ground. Part of the confinement and clean-up was digging under the reactor to pump in liquid nitrogen to try to keep the fuel from melting through the floor. The other thing this did was allow groundwater mitigation efforts to be made. Also, most of the longer lived isotopes (Cs-137 and Sr-90 are the big ones yet again) absorbed into the topsoil and those short-lived isotopes that DID make it to the water table have long since decayed. The real issue surrounding groundwater are the waste disposal and burial sites which are scattered around the zone and unmarked. They present much better chances for groundwater contamination than the NPP itself. Even then, mother nature does such a good job of filtering groundwater, there's very little chance of it ever causing issues downstream in Kiev.

Edit:

As for the biblical connection, it's a bit overstated. "wormwood" in the bible actually refers to a completely different plant versus the wormwood around Chernobyl. "Chornobyl" actually refers to common mugwort instead of Artemisia absinthium known as "Grand Wormwood" or "Absinthe Wormwood" which is what is referred to in the bible according to biblical scholars. Furthermore, there's actually speculation that "Chornobyl" the town (which the NPP was named after) is actually a conjunction of two words chornyi (чорний, black) and byllia (билля, grass blades or stalks) meaning "Black Grass" in reference to the marsh grasses which are far more abundant in the area than even mugwort. The town was founded in the 12th century, and most historians theorize that the "Black Grass" name is much more likely.

Edited by tallen702 - 07 May 2012 at 2:50pm
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