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Touring Chernobyl In 2010

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  • #16
    Originally posted by DuSTman View Post
    Nuclear waste as it's commonly considered is a mixture of many radioisotopes with different lifespans. Relatively active isotopes don't last long because their activity means they decay quickly. It's the long lived isotopes that cause the long-term waste problem (the heavy radioactinides).

    Long story short, there are designs of reactors available which can burn up the long-lived radioacinides leaving only the short-term constituents. We're just not building them. For the life of me, I can't think why - even if we were to shutdown all existing power reactors today we'd still have a big stockpile to deal with and no better way of doing so than to stick them in the ground.

    We're in a situation where the most common complaint of anti-nuclear activists is the treatment of waste, and the best option for dealing with it is to construct more nuclear reactors (of a different type).

    Don't get me wrong - I wholly support the development of renewables and conservation of energy, but I don't think we can bet the farm on it.
    Can you provide some references, or perhaps expand on it yourself? The view I've got from reading Wikipedia is different to what you presented. On the one hand, it doesn't look like a perfectly tested and mature technology yet, so no wonder why plants like these are not widespread. On the other, burning the most long-lived isotopes is good and all, but it won't make nuclear plants clean: you'd still have to deal with the ~30 years half-life products. Now, 30 years sounds peanuts compared to 0.2 million years, but still is a very long time in human life terms. Imagine the effects of say, soil contaminated with this waste; cool that my grandchildren won't notice it, but I and my kids will.

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    • #17
      Looking at the photos reminds me a lot about my country, Lithuania. The poorer districts of Vilnius have quite a lot of the apartment blocks like that (we call them Khrushchevkees since they're all boring and have no style whatsoever), and other artifacts there are also very familiar. Then again, Ukraine isn't far away from here, and it's also post-communist.

      Ignalina Power Plant here is a headache for us, too. The model is very similar to the one in Chernobyl, so we are trying to get rid of the power plant and in the long run build a newer one, hopefully in a joint venture of all the Baltic countries. The problem is that we are also very much dependent on it for power, and if it closes, the prices of electricity will grow tremendously and we will have to import it from other countries, probably Russia, and being dependent on them is the last thing we want after the long years of Soviet occupation...

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      • #18
        When I say short term I mean in terms of "decays to negligibility in <1000 years" rather than the tens or hundred-thousand year half-lifes exhibited by some uranium or plutonium isotopes.

        It's worth mentioning that some countries (such as, I understand, the USA) don't even reprocess their fuel even though it still has the majority of its usable U-235 intact (the rods are typically removed when nuclear poisons accumulate, reducing the rods reactivity). Putting this through the PUREX process will separate the majority of usable usanium from the smaller accumulation of plutonium and a smattering of trace elements. The plutonium can then be transmuted in a fast reactor, which would leave a very compact sludge.

        I'd like to put forward the LiFTER reactor here, which has the following points in its favour:
        > Uses thorium, which is more commonplace than uranium, and is much harder to process into a form suitable for weapons.
        > Has strong passive safety characteristics.
        > Can transmute plutonium and other heavy actinides.
        > Has waste isotope separation built into its fluid cycle.
        > Can scale greatly in size.
        > As a liquid medium, you can have a "panic button" which can pollute the fuel into a useless state in case terrorists come knocking.

        The current uranium-based nuclear fuel industry came about in most countries because they were looking to cohabitate it with a weapons program, which Thorium wasn't suited for, however Thorium is probably the better choice for purely energy-driven development.

        Here's an informative talk about the Liquid fluoride thorium (LiFTER) reactor.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by GreatEmerald View Post
          Ignalina Power Plant here is a headache for us, too. The model is very similar to the one in Chernobyl, so we are trying to get rid of the power plant and in the long run build a newer one, hopefully in a joint venture of all the Baltic countries. The problem is that we are also very much dependent on it for power, and if it closes, the prices of electricity will grow tremendously and we will have to import it from other countries, probably Russia, and being dependent on them is the last thing we want after the long years of Soviet occupation...
          The Ignalina plant was shutdown in december 2009, as it was demanded of Lithuania in their accession treaty to the EU.

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          • #20
            One technical thing to note: JPEGs are always LDR (low dynamic range), not HDR. An HDR image should have more than 8 bits per channel, typically 16 or 32, and is not displayable on monitors. What you've shown us was originally an HDR image converted using "tone-mapping" to the range representable by LDR monitors, and the colors which don't fall in LDR are lost or rounded. The fact that the first image looks really good is because of a very good tone-mapping function, not the HDR representation itself.

            I couldn't resist enlightening you. Anyway, cool photos.

            -Marek

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Eosie View Post
              One technical thing to note: JPEGs are always LDR (low dynamic range), not HDR. An HDR image should have more than 8 bits per channel, typically 16 or 32, and is not displayable on monitors. What you've shown us was originally an HDR image converted using "tone-mapping" to the range representable by LDR monitors, and the colors which don't fall in LDR are lost or rounded. The fact that the first image looks really good is because of a very good tone-mapping function, not the HDR representation itself.

              I couldn't resist enlightening you. Anyway, cool photos.

              -Marek
              Right, but regardless of whether the term is actually correct, most people still refer to them as "HDR photos".
              Michael Larabel
              http://www.michaellarabel.com/

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              • #22
                @DuSTman:
                <1000 years sounds to me still like long-term problem. I assume this uses Th-232 as the starting material, right? That decay line indeed looks more promising than the usual one. Concerning the reactor it would be better to link to a paper instead since that talk made me sleepy after 1 minute and I'm used to listen to university talks (granted majority of them are as boring as that talk here). I prefer information condensed since then people can not sugar- or side-talk the problems but have to come to the point which is important for scientific work.

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                • #23
                  Fair enough. I don't claim that there's such thing as a perfect generation technology, but I do think that a lot of the anti-nuclear sentiment is way overblown.

                  Similarly, I'm quite fond of renewables too, but find that some people get it out of perspective (for example, I live near Heysham in the UK - there was recently a petition to evaluate the site for a third nuclear powerplant (likely with 2x1600MW EPRs)). Some protesters put up a page suggesting that we build two wind turbines instead. Most wind turbines put out ~3.2MW, so this proposal would produce 1/500th the power of the proposed nuclear plant. I just can't fathom what they must be thinking to suggest that as a serious alternative.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by DuSTman View Post
                    The Ignalina plant was shutdown in december 2009, as it was demanded of Lithuania in their accession treaty to the EU.
                    You're right, I wasn't aware of such recent events. No sign of price increase just yet, so that's a good sign, though it's been only a few months now. Getting all the waste out of there will take additional 40 years or so, though.

                    Talking about energy sources - what about fusion power? It's not that good right now, but should be available at least earlier than we can deal with nuclear waste.

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                    • #25
                      @DuSTman:
                      The trick is usually a mixture. We call it "localized energy production". Hence the idea is to produce as much energy as possible at the location where it is used with means available like for example solar panels, wind turbines or other possibilities. This is not going to be a cure all but would definitely help to reduce the amount of energy required to be drawn from nuclear power plants where possible.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by thefirstm View Post
                        Nuclear power is safe, just not the way the Russians did it. A properly functioning (American) nuclear power plant emits less radiation than a Coal power plant. And there aren't very many nuclear disasters, but the ones that occur are widely publicized.
                        No, nuclear power is not safe. There is no safe way to dispose of spent fuel and there is no safe way to mine the uranium, you just don't hear about these points in the very politicized push for "clean" energy.

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                        • #27
                          Michael, thanks for this awesome photos. It's damn impressive.

                          I also think that "modern" nuclear power stations (at least here in Germany, I don't trust others) are relatively safe and secure.
                          Of course it's always a big risk that someone could fly into such a station with unimaginable consequences, but actually they are generally safe. But there is always a risk. And *if* some disaster happens again...you saw the pictures. (There is always a litte risk, so it's *not* really safe). And in other countries the risk is even bigger.

                          The problems I see are generally those:
                          - The waste is an unsolved problem. There is no solution in sight and there are actually no places where you can put the waste. (-> Its *not* clean)

                          - With the waste the next problem is the price. It's not true, that it's cheap. It's simply that everyone who says that, is a liar. And/or naive. The big companies get many subventions and /we/ pay this. If it comes out that there is no safe place for the waste, the general public has to pay, because the people who run the station have agreements with the state that *they* have not to pay. If they had to pay, it would be much more expensive.
                          We saw here in Germany that many experts said that many places are inappropriate for the waste. The companies refered simply on other experts who said the opposite (probably they got money for saying this). Now the general public has to pay the billions of billions to find a new 'home' for the waste and make the situation safe again. It's damn expensive for us. (-> From this position it's neither safe nor cheap.)

                          - The companies always want to make money and so they don't take care of the welfare of the general public. And so it becomes under the line more expensive and dangerous.

                          - If we see that even in Germany those things are not handled as they should, in other countries it's probably much more worse.

                          - In countries where is no public control the waste goes into the environment and people get sick. Even /we/ have to accept the consequences.

                          - If /we/ don't stop using this technology why should other countries with not so safe stations stop, too? We have to be an example.

                          So I am strong against the use of this technology.

                          (It's hard to think objective. Especially if we always got said what we should think and don't want to get another opinion. But the only way is to try to see all arguments. Think on your own.)
                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Answeri...lightenment%3F

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                          • #28
                            Thanks for sharing all these impressions.

                            I still remember the time. Born in the GDR (eastern part of .de) we were not informed for a long time what had happened. Well, of course a lot of people had relatives in western countries (esp. western Germany) and would (illegally) receive western radio/television. So we often knew it sooner from the western media and relatives what had happened than official press organs told. I remember my mom being very worried one day suddenly talking about some accident in Russia but that the salad that was offered on the market was so strangely cheap... probably she suspected the salad having gotten some fallout. Suddenly a lot of thing were sold but having questionable origins. And what really bothered me was that we had to avoid collecting mushroom as we always did in summer vacation. Would store the metals from the fallout. Darn!

                            And a lot of these pictures woke up childhood memories in me. All the kyrillic letters (Russian at school was obligatory very early), the political posters and all that stuff, the functional but utterly loveless architecture, rabbit and the wolf, the cars... *sigh*.
                            Sometimes I just miss that rotten view somehow.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by bugmenot View Post
                              (It's hard to think objective. Especially if we always got said what we should think and don't want to get another opinion. But the only way is to try to see all arguments. Think on your own.)
                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Answeri...lightenment%3F
                              Yeah. Sometimes people weigh the evidence and then come to an opinion, but usually it happens the other way around - just human nature. I'd be lying if I claimed I wasn't defaultly pro-nuclear as a child of people who work in the nuclear industry and a (partial) physics graduate.

                              It's often difficult to tell who is doing which but some behaviours give the game away:
                              To draw an analogy, if I were worried about the amount of rubbish going to the landfill I might campaign against the packaging used by soft drink manufacturers, but the absolute last thing I would ever do is try to get the recycling centres shut down - I'd see can recycling centres as a win and a sign my concerns were being taken seriously. The only reason I'd want to shut down the can recycling plant is if I just wanted to hurt the industry.
                              Similar with nuclear waste - If greenpeace and the like were really concerned about nuclear waste, the absolute last thing they'd be doing is trying to get the waste reprocessing plants shutdown (even illegalised as in the US). That would not be congruous with the stated goal, and the only reason for it would be to hurt the industry by making its waste and economic profiles worse so that they could complain about them some more. And yet who is the number one campaigner for the closure of our fuel reprocessing facilities? Greenpeace. Hmm.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Adarion View Post
                                <...> rabbit and the wolf, the cars... *sigh*.
                                Sometimes I just miss that rotten view somehow.
                                Nu, pogody! It's still occasionally shown these days, and it's essentially a Soviet version of Tom and Jerry

                                Yea, people have the same thoughts about it here as well. Once we got free, people wanted to destroy as much of the Soviet legacy as they could, but now it's accepted as a part of out history, it's nothing to be proud of but nothing to deny, either. And it's a part of human psychology, you remember the bright sides of days gone past, the view changes from what it was when the events actually happened and you feel nostalgia...

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