View Full Version : Chernobyl, 25 years ago
26th April 2011, 10:29
A small reminder of the tragedy that happened 25 years ago, on April 26th at Chernobyl.
A small reminder for us to pray for those who lost their lives during and after that accident, trying to prevent the consequences of the explosion of the No 4 reactor. Those heroic workers and soldiers who gave their lives to build the sarcophagus around the blown reactor, to contain the radiation.
And a small reminder of the criminal responsibilities of the then USSR, who didn't warn the public about the explosion and the radiation spread, until May 1st. While a lot of people could have minimized the exposure to the radioactive substances by staying at home, they were allowed to celebrate the 1st of May in the fields, where they got exposed to radiation at much higher levels.
26th April 2011, 17:47
And the agony lingers on......
26th April 2011, 18:55
Some years ago I spent some time with a woman from Ukraine. Her father was one of the workers who help seal up the plant, and he died or cancer due to radiation poisoning a few months after I met him on a visit to Kiev.
I was staying in a typical Soviet-style apartment block -- a massive pile of faceless, identical apartments in a sea of identical buildings stretching on for blocks in all directions. They were building more and I took a stroll around the neighborhood to see how construction there compared with construction in the U.S.
I was astonished when we rounded a corner and right in front of us a saw what was obviously a [small] nuclear power plant, complete with the high tension wires coming out of it. I asked my friend about it -- she didn't even know it was a power plant. She thought it was some kind of factory. Their government never told them what it was going to be when it was built, and I guess nobody bothered to ask.
26th April 2011, 19:12
A terrible tragedy that could have been minimized, but wasn't!
27th April 2011, 07:30
There was an interesting documentary about Chernobyl here, last week. One of those interviewed, a former resident of Pripyat, the now-deserted city near the factory, mentioned a discussion he had recently with some friends who has also lost relatives in the disaster. They were wondering what would have happened differently, if the accident in Chernobyl had happened in the information age, with the Internet's social networks helping to spread news and information, even in countries with oppressive regimes. They agreed that the situation would have been handled very differently.
Then, the Fukosima disaster happened, and to these people in the Ukraine, it was a disappointing confirmation that they had assumed wrong: in particular, the 'safe radiation limit' being raised regularly means, in the opinion of the people of Pripyat, that the Japanese people and all others involved in that crisis, are facing many difficult years, even after the problem is contained.
Also, the concrete sarcophagus built around Chernobyl's No. 4 reactor had a design life of 30 years, when new. So it has to be rebuilt and/or replaced in the next five years...
27th April 2011, 08:31
I guess the authorities around the globe have learned the "proper" way to handle such disasters, after Chernobyl. In other words, "never say the truth to the people. They do not have the knowledge to tell if what we tell them is true or not, and we control enough key-people so the truth will never be known". That's what happened in Fukushima.
When the first building blowed up, and the authorities were quick to say it was due to a hydrogen build-up, nobody (not even the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Association) wondered where did the hydrogen come from. The hydrogen is a byproduct of the heat generated inside the reactor core. If there was a hydrogen explosion, either the whole reactor vessel blew up (which means the reactor core is exposed to the environment), or hydrogen escaped from somewhere from the reactor vessel and collected inside the reactor building. The "hole" from where the hydrogen escaped (be a breach in the reactor vessel, or a broken pipe coming from the reactor vessel or whatever) didn't just let out hydrogen, it let out radiation as well, it's only natural that if a gas can escape from somewhere, radiation is escaping as well. And when the building exploded (if we accept that it was just the building that blew up and not the reactor vessel) radiation leaked to the environment as well, no matter what the owners of the plant say, or the Japanese government say.
As for Chernobyl sarcophagus, there was never any "design" criteria, when the old sarcophagus was build. If you remember, they build it in a hurry, to contain the leaking radiation, in whichever way they could. Helicopters dropped sand over the core (it's safe to assume that all pilots are now either dead or seriously ill), and cement was poured above it to contain the broken reactor vessel. The more concrete was poured around it etc. etc. There was no plans with predefined measurements or dimensions, so the expected life is more of an after-event calculation, based on what they've managed to create under those horrible conditions, than a build-in characteristic of the sarcophagus.
As for the new "cover", there was a meeting held in Kiev a few days ago, regarding this issue. There were some funds collected for this new cover, but unfortunately they are not enough to complete the new sarcophagus. A lot of countries are not willing to contribute to this fund, believing it is not their problem. Until the money are there, Chernobyl will continue to be a danger for the whole Europe and other countries to the East. If the existing sarcophagus starts leaking again, the problem will not be limited to just Ukraine or just Russia.
27th April 2011, 09:14
Chernobyl will continue to be a danger for the whole Europe and other countries to the East. If the existing sarcophagus starts leaking again, the problem will not be limited to just Ukraine or just Russia.
Enlightening post, I had no idea of the current danger. Hopefully, they will find a solution before it's too late!
27th April 2011, 09:36
One correction to an earlier post I made. I asked Lena (she is from Ukraine and she was there when the Chernobyl accident happened) about when the people were notified of the accident and the radiation leaking to the environment.
According to her recollection, it was either late on May 1st or on May 2nd. Which means that the USSR government let the people in the dark for at least five whole days. They also let them celebrate May 1st (which is typically an outdoors day, with people going out in the fields enjoying the spring) outside. How much radiation they received is anybody's guess.
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