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Touring Chernobyl In 2010

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  • Touring Chernobyl In 2010

    Phoronix: Touring Chernobyl In 2010

    I just returned to the United States after being in Ukraine the past five days over Easter weekend. The purpose of this trip was to explore the site of the Chernobyl nuclear accident and surrounding areas -- Kyiv, Pripyat, the Red Forest, etc. Contrary to some initial beliefs, it was not an April Fools' Joke. Due to the great interest in Chernobyl among those interested in science and technology whether it be due to the fascination with nuclear power or finding Chernobyl popularized by video games, documentaries, and the like, I have published my collection of these photographs of Chernobyl showing what the area looks like in 2010 -- just days prior to the 24th anniversary of this catastrophic disaster -- along with some of my thoughts and information collected from this journey.

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=14747

  • #2
    It's like a real life fallout 3.
    Very interesting to see. I remember seeing pictures of the site where they buried all these military vehicles.

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    • #3
      Wish they would find a less dangerous power source - too many lives lost. Thou with the current power hungriness of people that ain't gonna happen.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by SkyHiRider View Post
        Wish they would find a less dangerous power source - too many lives lost. Thou with the current power hungriness of people that ain't gonna happen.
        The power on the planet is not a little, the people are many.

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        • #5
          After seeing all those pictures I can't really say a thing...
          It's incredible to imagine what has happened there.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by SkyHiRider View Post
            Wish they would find a less dangerous power source - too many lives lost. Thou with the current power hungriness of people that ain't gonna happen.
            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.

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            • #7
              A few comments:

              Testing of this nuclear safety feature in April of 1986 turned into this deadly disaster as established procedures were not followed and in the minutes leading up to the accident, emergency warnings were ignored and mistakes were made. There also proved to be several flaws within the design of the Soviet RBMK nuclear reactor and in its construction.
              According to the testimony of Anatoly Dyatlov, all the instruments read normal just six seconds prior to the explosion. Instrumentation was probably inadequate here, as it's considered likely that there was a "hot spot" that formed in the lower half of the reactor which went undetected.

              The RBMK reactor was known to be less stable at low power levels than at high power, and it was originally instructed that they perform the test at about 60% power. However, due to electricity demand they were forbidden to shut down the reactor for several hours after when the test was supposed to start, which caused Xenon to build up (which is a strong poison). The reaction rate tanked, and they removed a bunch of control rods to try and get it back up, finally deciding to run the test at much lower power than anticipated (~14% iirc).

              Again according to Dyatlov, the test completed successfully and the control rods were being reinserted to shut the reactor down after completion. The control rods, however, were tipped with graphite which moderated the reaction and when first inserted actually *increased* the reaction rate. (A fault which was first discovered in an incident at the Ignalina plant).

              Canadian simulations suggest that the control rods were actually able to successfully deactivate the top half of the reactor, but there was still enough material in the lower half that it was able to operate essentially independantly from the top half.

              Worth noting is that none of the reactors at Chernobyl had a containment building, which is effectively an airtight shield made of steel and concrete that covers the nuclear reactor and presents radiation from escaping into the atmosphere.
              The RBMK was a very tall reactor, especially factoring in the fuel cranes on the top, and they didn't consider it practical to add even more to the height by adding a heavy containment to the top. They did, however, have a fairly robust accident localisation system (ALS) for the bottom half of the reactor (a lot of good that did).

              (Sweden was reportedly the first country to notice the increase in airborne radiation)
              Yep - the Forsmark power plant registered somethat higher radiation levels at their detectors and shut themselves down for inspection thinking that they might have had a leak. They didn't find one.

              The sarcophagus did help in preventing greater amounts of radioactive material from escaping into the atmosphere, but it's fallen into a state of disrepair with cracks appearing along the roof and the entire structure is considered unstable and being at a risk of collapse.
              The sarcophagus is built upon the existing structure of the reactor 4 building, which is considered unsound as one of the major supports was severely bent in the explosion. Simulations suggest that a tremor of 7 or above on the Richter scale (which happen in the area about once every 30 years or so) could cause the thing to collapse.

              Comment


              • #8
                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.
                Yeah, westernized nuclear power is quite safe. Even after visiting Chernobyl, I still am a strong proponent of nuclear energy production. They are safe, clean, can operate more efficiently than wind or solar energy farms, can ultimately be cheaper than other forms of "clean" energy, etc.
                Michael Larabel
                http://www.michaellarabel.com/

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                • #9
                  How can you call nuclear energy production "clean"? Maybe while running but the biggest problem is the waste. This contaminated crap lasts for longer than one can think. It may be clean for us but the upcoming generations have to deal with the crap we left behind. I personally don't consider this clean. Alternative energy sources are not as efficient but they are a multitude cleaner than nuclear energy in the long run.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dragonlord View Post
                    How can you call nuclear energy production "clean"? Maybe while running but the biggest problem is the waste. This contaminated crap lasts for longer than one can think.
                    There's Yucca Mountain and other facilities for storing waste for many, many years.
                    Michael Larabel
                    http://www.michaellarabel.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dragonlord View Post
                      How can you call nuclear energy production "clean"? Maybe while running but the biggest problem is the waste. This contaminated crap lasts for longer than one can think. It may be clean for us but the upcoming generations have to deal with the crap we left behind. I personally don't consider this clean. Alternative energy sources are not as efficient but they are a multitude cleaner than nuclear energy in the long run.
                      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.

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                      • #12
                        I don't something like that is a solution in the long run. The more energy consumption is done the more plants are required and the faster the waste grows. You can't play that game forever. Besides are such waste disposal areas a ticking time bomb. If that stuff ever gets out for whatever reason we have a much bigger problem at hand that the Chernobyl disaster ever had been. After all that's a huge, highly concentrated blob of death. I would even go as far as to compare it to a Pandora box. As long as it stays closed all is fine but should it ever bust open you've got a problem.

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                        • #13
                          EDIT: Got cross-posted, directed at Michael. (hail to the 1-minute-edit-limit)

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                          • #14
                            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.
                            A couple of points to clarify first.
                            1) What kind of time scale are you talking about here when you refer to "short-term"?
                            2) What kind of isotope are we talking about and therefore what kind of decay chain?
                            After all half-life time does not simply decrease from longest to shortest. Inside a decay chain it is very well possible that an isotope with a short (seconds) half-life time decays into one with a very long (thousands of years) half-life time.

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                            • #15
                              First: nice pictures, Michael. I'd be interested how it did "feel" there, I think there wasn't too much about that in the text.


                              Originally posted by Michael View Post
                              Yeah, westernized nuclear power is quite safe. Even after visiting Chernobyl, I still am a strong proponent of nuclear energy production. They are safe, clean, can operate more efficiently than wind or solar energy farms, can ultimately be cheaper than other forms of "clean" energy, etc.
                              Well, I don't think they're really that safe, there are enough examples of quite serious events even in western nuclear power plants. But that is of course debatable.
                              What I really doubt is the cheapness. Yes, it may be cheap now (though at least here in Germany it's heavily subsidies to my knowledge), but is it as cheap, if you factor in the costs of storing the waste ? We just have a very big problem with a mine called "Asse", where they dumped medium-grade waste - water got into the mine and now there is the threat of ground-water pollution. Probably there are safer storages for the waste, but I doubt anyone can predict what happens in millions of years. And you'll have to monitor and care about those storages for millions of years, even if not too much happens.
                              The most interesting fact about all this is, that to my knowledge, there doesn't yet exist a single final storage for nuclear waste world-wide. And this after decades of producing waste and searching for a final storage.

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