Chernobyl Legacy

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by lightgigantic, Oct 20, 2007.


How much are you in favour of Nuclear Power

  1. All for it - no problems with buying real estate next door

  2. Not ideal, but better with it than without it

  3. undecided

  4. uneasy about it - concerned about long term impact

  5. Its a human disaster just waiting to happen

  1. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    On April 26, 1986, at 1:23 a.m., the world’s worst nuclear accident occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.

    The explosion, described by the United Nations as “the greatest environmental catastrophe in the history of humanity," released 200 times the radioactive fallout of the two nuclear weapons used at the end of World War II.

    The radioactive plume traveled over large parts of the former Soviet Union (including Belarus, Ukraine and Russia), across Europe and reaching as far as Greenland and Asia exposing entire populations to levels up to 100 times the normal background radiation.

    Magnum photographer Paul Fusco recounts the human aftermath of the tragedy

    Nuclear Power?
    pro's and con's
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  3. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    That was a VERY stupidly, cheaply built plant. The operators were POORLY trained and the test they were running that day was NOT well-thought out. All in all, unlike facilites in the rest of the world, it really WAS a disaster just waiting to happen.

    Comparing Chernobyl to any modern plant today is almost like comparing the Wright's brothers first plane to a Boeing 747 with a well-trained crew.
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  5. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    October 14, 2007

    With Indonesia planning to build nuclear power plants in an area prone to earthquakes, many are worried about the risks to Australia and the region. Tom Hyland reports.



    do we have earthquake proof architecture available?
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  7. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member


    Nuclear power is a tax on future generations. We are forcing them to pay for the security and safety around nuclear waste for thousands of years. Another example of to hell with the future. Even if there are no more 'accidents' we will still have to guard that waste, transport that waste, and make sure it is safe in storage for periods of time politicians and certainly corporations are poorly equipped to think in.

    it is not cheap, we've just shifted some of the cost onto our children, our grandchildren, our greatgrandhildren....and the list would go on for dozens of pages.

    That's in a best case scenario. The best case scenario is a burden on the future.
  8. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    Where there is money to be made, shortcuts will be taken, even if designs are available.

    Denver flats nuclear facility should be a case study for anyone wanting nuclear facilities.

    hell, they found visible chunks of plutonium in the ventilation ducts and nuclear waste water was poured over ground that drained toward cities.
  9. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    Well, a look at the way Rocky Flats Nuke facility was run should call into question any smugness USA pro nuke people at least should have. There were hundreds of incidents, air and water tables were polluted, plutonium released into both. Some of the actual findings by investigators are beyond belief. Large chunks of plutonium were found in places no workers was aware of. Waste was poorly stored or simply released into the environment. It was a joke.
  10. Vega Banned Banned

    There have been reports in the Russian Press, recently, that UFO's were sighted above Chernobyl, and a suspected intervention in the complete meltdown of the reactors done. This is true, but more than a complete meltdown was part of the intervention. The extent of poisoning in the immediate arena, such that deaths were limited and illness limited to that which could be treated, in the main. Also, the degree of poisoning of areas outside of the Chernobyl arena was limited.
  11. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    What?!?!? I, for one, would like to see some proof of that statement.
  12. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    corportations will always want to save money and cut corners (Bhopal, for example). Using the modern vs. unmodern is not a good metaphor because cheapness was really the issue. And cheapness has not gone away.

    And 747s do crash. A full out crash by a nuke facility destroys a region for a long time. It cannot be swallowed up by statistics in the same way that plane crashes can be. More people die driving so statistics can offer reassurance at a societal level. It is a whole different can of worms if Indian Pt. goes. And given that the Bush administration has done nothing to up terror defenses at nuclear and chemical facilities - even squashing such measures at bequest of these industries - and that activist teams have managed to enter these facilities regularly, a terrorist incident is also some that must be considered FOR THE NEXT SEVERAL THOUSAND YEARS as one of the problems with Nuke energy.
  13. Vega Banned Banned

    Indeed an accident waiting to happen!
  14. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    Today, unlike in the early day, there are different reactors called Breeder reactors that are safer, not completely safe but safer, and they use almost 99 % of the fuel which doesn't leave as much residue that is contaminated as ever before. Like I said it isn't 100% safe but the new safety regulations that France has established are very demanding and since France hasn't had any incidents of failure we should examine there system and copy it in America and elsewhere round the world. If we are wanting energy then we have to attain it from somewhere. Oil is but another way to get energy but it is very costly and highly polluting in most cases.
  15. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    If we took the same sensationalist approach to cars, since more harm and deaths occur in auto accidents, then we shouldn't ever build another car.
    If we took the same sensationalist approach to the medical profession, where accidental deaths occur every day, we should close down all hospitals and doctors' offices.
    If we took the same sensationalist approach to the airline industry, we'd never have airplanes.

    I wonder what other human endeavor could be sensationally shown to be bad for the human race and the Earth?

    Accidents happen ....shit happens ...but do we just stop doing everything where accidents might occur?

    Baron Max
  16. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    I think the difference is that accidents in cars, etc can be localized in ways that are comparatively insignificant compared to say the shelf life of plutonium.

    IOW does a society that hasn't even been stable for 30 or 50 years have the capability to insure the necessary architectural requirements for the safe handling of radioactive material for the next 10 000 + years?
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2007
  17. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    I don't know .....millions more people have been killed in car accidents than all of the nuclear accidents combined. Is death by nuke somehow worse the death by car? Or murder?

    No, and they shouldn't be permitted to have such nuclear material. There are many other sources of power other than nukes for such backward nations of the world. They don't need nukes!! Most of them can't even feed their own people and most die of simple diseases, what the hell do they need electricity for?

    What the hell does "IOW" mean?

    Baron Max
  18. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    I think you miss the point
    If loose control at the wheel or go on a rampage with an uzi I can maybe kill 10 - 100 people in a particular instant

    If a nuclear reactors start going seriously wrong (eg, a global event occurs, like say the break down of civil maintenance programs) then we have the prospects of millions of people dying over thousands of years

    hence there are unique issues that surround nuclear energy (particularly since even the so-called brilliance of first world countries would not be sufficient to deal with serious radioactive contamination), even though driving a car may be noted as a cause of death

    In Other Words
  19. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    Over a period of thousands of years, how many deaths from car accidents, wars and murders do you think would occur?? Easily in the millions, tens of millions.

    So, ...what's the difference? As I see it, it's just a matter of sensationalims and nothing more. We tend to see big groups of people killed as a horrible thing, yet we accept murders and accidental deaths as just another day in the park.

    Dead is dead, I think, regardless of the cause of death or the timing. ...except, of course, for the sensationalism to sell more newsparers!

    Baron Max
  20. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    Once again I think you miss the point
    To maintain a steady flow of car fatalities there requires an infrastructure - if that infrastructure collapses or is not maintained, I guess we would go back to horse and buggy related fatalities.

    In the case of nuclear energy an ante is placed on the table that cannot be removed for tens of thousands of years, regardless whether the infrastructure that laid the gamble flourishes or perishes

    Thus the issue is, given that we don't have an infrastructure that has remained stable for 20-50 years, are we in a position to hedge our bets that we can make a steady commitment to practices that require a steady infrastructure for tens of thousands of years?
  21. Echo3Romeo One man wolfpack Registered Senior Member

    Read-Only has it right about Chernobyl. The RBMK plant was a notoriously stupid design from the ground up, first of all. Secondly, the one that exploded at Chernobyl was operated by a staff of complete morons who deliberately and systematically disabled something like 30+ safety interlocks designed to prevent the exact situation they tried so hard to create. It was a perfect storm of events that will never be repeated anywhere in the west because 1) we use better reactor designs and B) we don't operate with the same flagrant disregard for safety that the night shift at Chernobyl did.

    Are you aware that the containment domes of nuclear reactors are made of reinforced concrete over 12 feet thick and that one of their design metrics is to be able to shrug off the direct impact of a large aircraft?

    A 747 slamming into the reactor building of any modern, western plant would splatter like a bug on a windshield.

    I'm curious why you seem to think that such an event would "destroy the region for a long time".
  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    And therefore no other "perfect storm" of events will occur either, and the various large river systems, oceanic regions, vast areas of productive farmland, and millions of people's lives that could be badly and permanently destroyed by another such accident are safe.

    Trust us. We would never take a stupid risk with your life just for billions of dollars. And we never make serious mistakes.

    A quote, if my memory serves me, from an operating engineer's testimony about the near miss at Three Mile Island: " We were seeing modes of behavior we had never anticipated"

    A fact: when the currently operating plants were built, there was no plan in place to dispose of the operating waste even, let alone the plants themselves at the end of their lives - which was expected in less than thirty years. That's the mentality involved.

    A fact: when the waste disposal problem began to be serious, one solution adopted was to simply pipe the stuff - including plutonium - into the deeper ocean water off the English coast. It was thought that since no one knew much about such waters or their behavior, there wasn't much to know - such deep waters were therefore assumed to be very stable, and the stuff would therefore stay put. That's the mentality involved.

    A fact: there is now a plume of toxic and radioactive waste moving through the underlying rock toward the Columbia River. It is capable of killing the whole river downstream, and a large area of ocean at the mouth. It exists because the people at a local nuclear research and weapons facility dumped their waste into "temporary" vats, barrels, and various poorly labeled and mixed reservoirs, some of which leaked into the ground geology. That's the mentality involved.

    A fact: the current waste disposal setup - at Yucca Mt - is not big enough, has geological problems, and involves the transport of many thousands of tons of waste across country by train, etc. The last time such a train went through my town, the waste was in concrete casks weighing less than 500 pounds sitting on flatbed rail cars in the open - not even chained down. It was declared that such a procedure was safe, because such casks could not be moved without heavy equipment. That's the mentality involved.

    Incident: One of the nukes up near the headwaters of the Mississippi River was recently shut down when the main control box for the operation fell off the wall it was wounted on and smashed into the cooling pipes for the core. Nothing really bad happened - the backup safety systems turned out to be able to handle the situation. That was fortunate, because no one had anticipated that accident, or anything like it, in the design of those safety systems.

    Point: Heat engine solar power has received less than a thousandth of the research money, and the attention of only a few of the better researchers, and no government boost to bring in economy of scale. Nevertheless, it is already cheaper than nuclear power.
  23. Echo3Romeo One man wolfpack Registered Senior Member

    Nice strawman, but the facts are on my side. A pressurized water reactor, with a negative void coefficient, cannot replicate the conditions that led to the RBMK reactor at Chernobyl, with its positive void coefficient, blowing its lid off. The designs are fundamentally different: a PWR uses water as a moderator versus the RBMK's fixed graphite blocks. Read about void reactivity coefficients here.

    This is mostly incorrect. Yucca Mountain has faced a few limitations that have been placed on it for political reasons, namely the 70k MT mass storage limit and the 10,000 year longevity requirement. In both cases these arbitrary limitations haven't been explained. Nobody has explained why it can't hold more than 70,000 tons when there is much more excavatable volume to be had, nor has anyone said why it needs to be predictably stable for 10,000 years when the radioactivity of waste stored there will be consistent with background radiation within 300 years of being sealed up (the bulk of it at least). The initial requirement by the EPA had held it to the standards used for any other hazardous waste/heavy metals disposal site of up to 10,000 years, but the NAS flipped that on its head and demanded more than 10,000 years. Which is an utterly ridiculous number when you consider that it is longer than recorded human history and by that time anything inside the caves will be dead cold a thousand times over. It will still be chemically toxic, mostly in the form of lead and cadmium, but the radiological hazard disappears relatively quickly.

    The DOE has surveyed ten locations around the country and settled on Yucca Mountain as the ideal option for long term internment. They've exhaustively reviewed the percolation characteristics of the soil, the water table fluctuation, and seismic activity for the past 20 years or so. There is no more ideal place to store this stuff.

    Also, I'm not sure why transporting nuclear waste in concrete casks designed for transporting nuclear waste is so worrisome. The casks themselves are virtually indestructible. Since you seem to have a problem with waste transportation I would be interested to hear why you favor leaving the spent fuel on-site in boron-water pools, stacked in casks at the 120+ plants around the country, or sitting at Hanford and Oak Ridge.

    There isn't as much big government interest in solar energy because it isn't a viable solution for widespread use. The problem with solar is going to be the same thing as it is with geothermal, wind, and hydroelectric. The economy of scale is going to work against the program because the number of viable sites is comparatively limited and at each one there is a fixed maximum output, and it falls off factorially once you start getting off the prime real estate. The most solar flux an earthbound collector will ever see is 750w/m^2, at peak. Once you average it out over the day/night cycle, take into account inclement weather, collector inefficiency, and distribution losses, solar just can't hack it. Contingent sources can work great for houses or small communities, but you'll never see them taking up more than a scant percentage of the generating capacity because the energy simply isn't there to be collected. The concept is sound but the environment won't support it. I'm willing to bet that in 50 years time the global power demand will exceed that which can be meaningfully harvested with the so-called "alternative" sources anyway.

    In any case, nuclear energy has historically been more expensive due to bureaucratic and political factors. The red tape of the licensing process and the fact that there is no standardized form factor for plant construction meant that each new reactor was a custom job from the ground up, consisting of subsystems from hundreds of different subcontractors, all patched together so perfectly that it could satisfy the best rejectionist bureaucracy that the US government could muster. The Nuclear Power 2010 program, started in 2002, is reversing all of this and ushering in a renaissance within the nuclear industry. They're streamlining the regulatory process, certifying a host of new generic reactor/plant designs, and offering up-front incentives to utilities to build more plants because the energy crunch is already here and we needed them yesterday. In the past, utility companies have been reluctant to build new nuclear plants because they require an enormous amount of capital to build, and only begin to break even around the 10 year operational mark. The next ~20 years, if left unmolested, they'll turn a profit.

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