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Chernobyl's Sarcophagus, Redux

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the looking-back dept.

Earth 121

Lasrick (2629253) writes "With the news that a multinational consortium is to the halfway point in constructing a huge stainless steel hangar that will sit over the ruined site of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, Dan Drollette looks in the archives of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and compares notes on the sarcophagus that was built 25 years ago, and the one that is being built now. 'No one really knows what went into the "concrete cube;" even the amount of concrete claimed to have been used is suspect, as it would form a volume larger than the sarcophagus, wrote nuclear engineer and author Alexander R. Sich in his 11-page article, "Truth was an early casualty."' Let's hope this new sarcophagus lasts longer."

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So Funny! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46923481)

Anal detonation
Mustard gas mixes with the air in the cube farm
Sulfur, methane, stale beer
Gagging and coughing
Who did it?
Tee hee!
I make myself scarce with everyone else to avoid suspicion

Re:So Funny! (0)

siddesu (698447) | about 6 months ago | (#46927205)

The "gas that mixes with the air" is not that much of a problem nowadays, the concrete will mostly cover that. What's leaking from below, on the other hand...

A Bit of Dark Humor (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46923497)

I believe the structure should appear from space as a giant band-aid.

Re:A Bit of Dark Humor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46924843)

Or a giant Mr. Yuk [wikipedia.org] sticker.

THIS COMMENT HAS A SUBJECT (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46923581)

"Truth was an early casualty."

That's a great line.

Re:THIS COMMENT HAS A SUBJECT (2)

Richy_T (111409) | about 6 months ago | (#46924051)

It's a paraphrase of an old comment about war.

Re: THIS COMMENT HAS A SUBJECT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46924057)

And rarely is it available to become one in the first place.

Hanlon's Razor, anyone? (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 6 months ago | (#46929575)

Because I'm sure they're lying about how much concrete they used rather than they just did it so hurriedly nobody kept accurate records.

Re:Hanlon's Razor, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46929959)

Why can't it be both? It was a severe emergency, so it's easy to accept that nobody was keeping a close eye on accounting issues. Therefore, someone might be tempted to over-bill, or arrange some kind of kickback, or pull off some other scheme that wouldn't be noticed.

- T

The poster-child for unintended consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46923591)

I'm sure that this shelter is WAY better than that OTHER shelter made by THOSE people.

Re:The poster-child for unintended consequences (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46923615)

Thanks Obama!

Re:The poster-child for unintended consequences (3, Funny)

Richy_T (111409) | about 6 months ago | (#46924061)

If you like your concrete shelter, you can keep it.

Re:The poster-child for unintended consequences (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46923853)

Your Republican agenda is showing. Why do you people not think that a more enlightened society like Russia or China can't build higher quality things than the explotive, hate the workers US? The Bush junta proved you people can't do a damn thing correctly. You got beaten-off in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East just as you got your ass handed to you in SE Asia. You may have not lost a single battle, but you completely and utterly lost the war. Your kind is disgusting. Everything you do is a failure.

Getting it done, again. (1)

blagooly (897225) | about 6 months ago | (#46923629)

Chernobyl was arguably the worst design of anything in history. But the Soviets moved, 500,000 plus people. Gorbachev says it is what broke the USSR. Mistakes were made, but they are taking responsibility for the mess. This is what is needed for Nuke Inc. USA and Japan. Get it done. This would turn the tide of popular opinion.

Re:Getting it done, again. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46923673)

If by taking responsibility you mean reburying the highly radioactive blob and unspent fuel which will continue to work its way to their water table...then yes they are.

A true example for the rest of the world.

The truth is we can't adequately cope with runaway reactions of any scale. The best we can do is try to keep the scale small which doesn't produce enough power to be useful. We also don't have a solid plan on what to do with the waste products besides weapons proliferation.[lots of ideas, no solid plans]

Nuclear energy is clearly something we are all bad at.

Re:Getting it done, again. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46923899)

As opposed to our plans for dealing with the waste products of other energy production systems? Or the "adequate" way we deal with say, coal mine fires?

Re:Getting it done, again. (2)

Medievalist (16032) | about 6 months ago | (#46928339)

As opposed to our plans for dealing with the waste products of other energy production systems? Or the "adequate" way we deal with say, coal mine fires?

I'm sure you know you've got a logical fallacy there; being bad at one thing doesn't rule out the possibility of being bad at lots of other things.

But the USA could have put out the Centralia coal mine fire any time we wanted to - just divert half the Susquehanna river into the mines for a year.

Nobody's going to do that, though, because the right wing likes pollution and hates bailing out farmers and non-millionaire "little folks", and the left wing is just too cowardly to do anything that necessarily entails large unforeseeable consequences. And there does not appear to be any political representation of the middle view (or middle class, for that matter) any more. So Centralia burns and we will continue to relicense America's aging nuclear plants until they fail.

Re:Getting it done, again. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46923903)

We also don't have a solid plan on what to do with the waste products besides weapons proliferation.

Bury it in the ground and send the bill to the tax payer, then claim it's really cheap to run because you don't need to include disposal of nuclear waste as they're paying for that in othe rways.

Re:Getting it done, again. (1)

blagooly (897225) | about 6 months ago | (#46924137)

All of the above is correct, unfinished business that results in lost trust. These are not unfounded, irrational fears of NIMBYs wielding BANANAs. Advocates should perhaps dig deeper into how the French do things. Gov't/industry are effectively one there, perhaps the truth is on lockdown? Or are they more serious about things other than profit?

There is a major push from the trillion dollar industry, with support from this Admin, as Climate Disruption rules all. So folks should pay attention.

EPA is currently taking comments on changing the "safe" acceptable radiation levels. Environmental Standards for Uranium Fuel Cycle Facilities: Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) http://www.epa.gov/radiation/l... [epa.gov]

Comments are due by June 4, 2014

Re:Getting it done, again. (1)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#46924491)

And why shouldn't the EPA be revising safe acceptable radiation levels? After all, the prior standards proved so overly protective as to be universally ignored. If WWII and Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, and all of the other minor leaks and accidental exposures have taught us anything is that life (including humans) is more resistant to radiation that we ever though. Basically if it doesn't kill you within a few weeks, you will have a statistically indistinguishable prognosis of living a normal life.

Re:Getting it done, again. (3, Interesting)

blagooly (897225) | about 6 months ago | (#46924793)

EPA allows far less than FDA. If they just quietly say they want the EPA levels to match FDA, because why should we have two sets of numbers? Skip the details and complicated reworking of the whole thing, most folks wouldn't even look up from twitter. For example, EPAs Maximum Contaminant Levels assumes regular consumption over 70 years, accepts that one in a million will die. FDAs single dose Derived Intervention Levels accepts 2 in ten thousand. If pesky calculations like this are somehow kept out of the discussion, they might get it done without too much noise. It does legislate away an expensive problem.

Re:Getting it done, again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46924803)

What!?!?!?

Are you actually serious? I want to not only live but live to be old and see my kids have kids. I don't want to shave off a bunch of years because I'm inconvenient to some polluter.

I actually think that people like you are actually more resilient to me punching you in the face at least once every day. Your face will eventually get all pulpy and ugly, but you will have a statistically indistinguishable prognosis of living a normal life.

You can't opt out, I've already dumped a bunch of "I get to punch you in the face"-sauce all over the place where you live. Deal with it.

Re:Getting it done, again. (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 6 months ago | (#46926159)

What!?!?!?

Are you actually serious? I want to not only live but live to be old and see my kids have kids. I don't want to shave off a bunch of years because I'm inconvenient to some polluter.

However, you need to treat all polluters equally - what's the point of making a relatively clean nuclear power station more expensive than a dirty coal fired power station just because the pollution regulations are far stricter? I'm not saying we should allow the nuclear industry to just pump their waste into the atmosphere like the coal industry does, but there does seem to be a disconnect there that doesn't seem to be in the public's best interest...

Re:Getting it done, again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46924577)

They did that up until the 1970's.

Here is the AEC putting "low level waste" in cardboard boxes in a trench. http://www.brookings.edu/about... [brookings.edu]

Re:Getting it done, again. (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | about 6 months ago | (#46926919)

Low level waste is just that. Its stuff that may have some very low induced activity, typically from some exposure to neutrons. Most of the activity is gone after a few hours and almost all after a year or two. Activity is often so low you don't need special handling equipment.

This NOTHING like spent fuel waste.

Re:Getting it done, again. (1)

slack_justyb (862874) | about 6 months ago | (#46924947)

Agreed, we are very bad at it because no one wants to be good at it. Just good enough to be profitable. A company can run a good plant and still make profit, just not the pie high in the sky kind. We've got little choice in the matter, we're going to either have to get good at nuclear or just accept insanely huge energy costs as norm in the next five to six decades.

I love solar and wind, but that's going to be an uphill battle with the coal and oil folks for at least the next 30 years. At least nuclear has already made it past the trail of fire. We just need to really focus on LFTR designs and how to overcome some of the still remaining challenges there.

Re:Getting it done, again. (4, Insightful)

Tailhook (98486) | about 6 months ago | (#46923995)

but they are taking responsibility for the mess

The EU is paying for the new shelter, not Russia or Ukraine. The construction of the old shelter/sarcophagus is a lie. They're still running about 10 of these RMBKs in Russia proper.

And somehow, in your mind, this qualifies as "taking responsibility."

turn the tide of popular opinion

The problem of popular opinion about nuclear is a symptom of cheap fossil fuels. Give people a little energy scarcity and they'll warm right up to nuclear. Until then they'll indulge the the nuclear hysteria they've been trained with.

Re:Getting it done, again. (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 6 months ago | (#46924185)

Give people a little energy scarcity and they'll warm right up to nuclear.

I see what you what you did there.

Re:Getting it done, again. (4, Funny)

smallfries (601545) | about 6 months ago | (#46926711)

You mean that people would glow with approval?

Re:Getting it done, again. (2)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#46924549)

The EU is paying for the new shelter, not Russia or Ukraine. The construction of the old shelter/sarcophagus is a lie. They're still running about 10 of these RMBKs in Russia proper.

The new shelter is not even on the same scale of intent as the old sarcophagus. Never mind the shortcomings of the sarcophagus, its intent was to be a shield for radiation. It is falling in due to its own weight, and hasty construction. But as of now it is serving its purpose, although badly in need of repair.

The new shield is nothing more than dust cover. Made of thins sheet steel, it is designed to keep the dust of future work on the sarcophagus contained. It is not itself designed to block radiation. Its mostly dual concentric layers of 1 mm thick correlated sheet steel and aluminum held up by a system of trusses. It is not designed to be radiation proof.

Once in place, the new structure should contain radioactive dust, preventing any atmospheric contamination should the old sarcophagus collapse. The new building is expected to last anywhere from 100 to 300 years.

Re:Getting it done, again. (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about 6 months ago | (#46925231)

AIUI radiation tends to travel in straight lines starting out in random directions. So the bulk of radiation that is emmited by a source will end up either absorbed by the containing structure, absorted by the ground or radiated into space and even for victims with line of site to the source the radiation will decay according to an inverse square law.

Radiation from the disaster site is really only a concern because of the threat it poses to people dealing with the real problem (which is radioactive contamination that can be carried arround large areas by natural processes).

Re:Getting it done, again. (2)

fnj (64210) | about 6 months ago | (#46925199)

That's two posts so far in which you've called it "RMBK". You might want to spell it right. It's RBMK - Reaktor Bolshoy Moshchnosti Kanalnyy.

Re:Getting it done, again. (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 6 months ago | (#46926195)

The problem of popular opinion about nuclear is a symptom of cheap fossil fuels. Give people a little energy scarcity and they'll warm right up to nuclear. Until then they'll indulge the the nuclear hysteria they've been trained with.

Popular opinion is largely due to the disproportionate amount of attention dedicated to radiological pollution. In the nuclear industry, waste is routinely kept out of the environment as much as possible and any leaks are a big media story that makes out that many people are going to die (in actual fact, the health impact of even big nuclear disasters doesn't seem that great). On the other hand, other industries such as coal fired power stations routinely just dump much of their pollution directly into the atmosphere where it is forgotten about - there are no headline stories about a coal power station's pollution killing many people (as it certainly does) because it's routine rather than a big one-off event.

Its basically like comparing the safety of air travel to the safety of driving your car - driving a car is pretty dangerous, and people get killed routinely so there are few big news stories about it. Air travel is relatively safe and accidents happen so infrequently that on the odd occasion it does there's a media circus around it that fuel a lot of peoples' fear of flying.

Re:Getting it done, again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46926685)

Gorbachev is shifting the blame. What broke the USSR was his complete inability to foresee the consequences of his actions.

Re:Getting it done, again. (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 6 months ago | (#46929639)

Mistakes were made, but they are taking responsibility for the mess. This is what is needed for Nuke Inc. USA and Japan. Get it done

What the hell is this supposed to mean? We should get around to building our own sarcophagus properly over *our* Chernobyl? Oh, that's right...we didn't have one.

Or are you saying the US should take responsibility for Japan's Fukushima reactors? Why?

How effective is effective? (0)

presspass (1770650) | about 6 months ago | (#46923671)

Can we build something that will shield the reactor that is more effective that just leaving it open?

Serious question...

Re:How effective is effective? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46923747)

Yes. Clearly. That's why they are. Fuckwit.

Re:How effective is effective? (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 6 months ago | (#46924159)

I'm sure there are dozens of alternatives other than burying it like a turd in the back yard. Unfortunately it looks like burying it and hoping it solves the problem is the best alternative at this time.

Re:How effective is effective? (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 6 months ago | (#46926247)

I'm sure there are dozens of alternatives other than burying it like a turd in the back yard. Unfortunately it looks like burying it and hoping it solves the problem is the best alternative at this time.

AFAIK the long term plan isn't "bury it" - the new containment is designed to contain dust while work is going on to desconstruct the reactor. There are cranes and things built into the new structure for this purpose.

Re:How effective is effective? (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 6 months ago | (#46929803)

Well you're half right but there's no money other than building the containment hut now. [bbc.com] The hope is that they'll get some money and do something else with it later.

So, for now and the near future they're just burying the shit. Maybe in 100 or 200 years they'll have the tech to actually remediate the site.

Chicken Soup Engineering (5, Insightful)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 6 months ago | (#46923855)

It can't hurt and it might help.

On a positive note, deeds such as this involving international assistance reinforce my retarded optimism that humanity might rise above tribalism into something astonishing.

Re:Chicken Soup Engineering (2)

Richy_T (111409) | about 6 months ago | (#46924089)

Don't worry, elections coming up at the end of this year. You'll soon have that beaten out of you.

Re:Chicken Soup Engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46924169)

Yeah, and I'm already hearing that 2016 will be The Most Important Election Of Our Lifetime.

Re:Chicken Soup Engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46924349)

If Bernie Sanders runs, it might be.

Re:Chicken Soup Engineering (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 6 months ago | (#46924319)

I on the other hand do not see what is 'astonishing' to 'rise above tribalism. Having one central government is astonishingly stupid, immoral (everybody is forced into the same set of rules, that many people will not accept on their own and will be punished for breaking) and bad for the economy (all eggs in one basket and one set of corrupt politicians).

No, there is nothing astonishing about 'rising above tribalism', I do not want to join with you in any universal harmony of whatever ideology you prefer, I defy and deny all of your ideas and ideology out of hand, don't care about your ideas, don't want them. I don't work with collectives. I don't consult. I don't co-operate. I don't collaborate.

Re:Chicken Soup Engineering (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 6 months ago | (#46924575)

I hear you you bro, but you're still coming over this weekend, right?

Re:Chicken Soup Engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46924829)

(everybody is forced into the same set of rules, that many people will not accept on their own and will be punished for breaking)

You mean like physics and chemistry? Then what is your lower bound for number of governments? Why shouldn't each person on Earth be their own government?

Re:Chicken Soup Engineering (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46925565)

No more than two.

For sake of argument let's call them "Republican" and "Democrat".

Article purpose? (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 6 months ago | (#46923887)

So what is the purpose of this submission? Chernobyl cleanup and management is an interesting topic, but little useful info is put forth here. An update on construction and a rehash of what we already know. Just a vehicle to put forth an accusation of lying about concrete volumes that doesn't appear to have a basis.

Chernobyl is a huge mess that fortunately can't and won't be replicated due to design differences in existing plants.

Re:Article purpose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46924079)

Didn't somebody else say there are about 10 identical plants still operating in Russia today?

Humorous how there are so many different people spouting different things.

Re:Article purpose? (2)

Tailhook (98486) | about 6 months ago | (#46924317)

Didn't somebody else say there are about 10 identical plants

No, nobody said their are 10 identical plants. I said their are about 10 other RMBKs operating in Russia. The actual number is 11 and the list is here [wikipedia.org] .

None of these reactors are "identical." They've all incorporated various design changes during construction and retrofits since. Regardless, they all have a high positive void coefficient and low power instability. Operated incorrectly every one of them is still capable of exploding and burning and their containment is no better than Chernobyl's.

The GP can somehow claim that won't happen, and I lack the crystal ball that says hes wrong, but there is nothing in physics that precludes another RMBK steam explosion.

Re:Article purpose? (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 6 months ago | (#46925449)

The existing RBMKs have undergone significant changes, from safety systems all the way to the core design. Its essentially a different design, or at least a significantly adapted one. A re-creation of such an event would take a long list of intentional actions taken by a team of people for that purpose.

But compared to the typical PWR/BWR, they do fall short.

Re:Article purpose? (1)

Tailhook (98486) | about 6 months ago | (#46925627)

such an event would take a long list of intentional actions taken by a team of people

Which is precisely what happened at V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station, a.k.a Chernobyl.

Re:Article purpose? (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 6 months ago | (#46926979)

such an event would take a long list of intentional actions taken by a team of people

Which is precisely what happened at V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station, a.k.a Chernobyl.

Not with the intention of failure. The list of actions that led to failure at Chernobyl was actually very short. It was way too easy.

Re:Article purpose? (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 6 months ago | (#46929917)

According to the test parameters, the thermal output of the reactor should have been no lower than 700 MW at the start of the experiment. [...] The day shift workers had been instructed in advance and were familiar with the established procedures. A special team of electrical engineers was present to test the new voltage regulating system. [...] The Chernobyl plant director [...] postponed the test. Despite this postponement, preparations for the test not affecting the reactor's power were carried out, including the disabling of the emergency core cooling system or ECCS, a passive/active system of core cooling intended to provide water to the core in a loss-of-coolant accident. Given the other events that unfolded, the system would have been of limited use

At 23:04, the Kiev grid controller allowed the reactor shutdown to resume. This delay had some serious consequences: the day shift had long since departed, the evening shift was also preparing to leave, and the night shift would not take over until midnight, well into the job. According to plan, the test should have been finished during the day shift, and the night shift would only have had to maintain decay heat cooling systems in an otherwise shut-down plant.

As the reactor power output dropped further, to approximately 500 MW, Toptunov mistakenly inserted the control rods too far—the exact circumstances leading to this are unknown because Akimov and Toptunov died in the hospital on May 10 and 14, respectively. This combination of factors rendered the reactor in an unintended near-shutdown state, with a power output of 30 MW thermal or less.

The reactor was now only producing around 5 percent of the minimum initial power level established as safe for the test.[28]:73 Control-room personnel consequently made the decision to restore power by disabling the automatic system governing the control rods and manually extracting the majority of the reactor control rods to their upper limits.[32] Several minutes elapsed between their extraction and the point that the power output began to increase and subsequently stabilize at 160–200 MW (thermal), a much smaller value than the planned 700 MW.

The operation of the reactor at the low power level and high poisoning level was accompanied by unstable core temperature and coolant flow, and possibly by instability of neutron flux. Various alarms started going off at this point. The control room received repeated emergency signals regarding the levels in the steam/water separator drums, and large excursions or variations in the flow rate of feed water, as well as from relief valves opened to relieve excess steam into a turbine condenser, and from the neutron power controller. In the period between 00:35 and 00:45, emergency alarm signals concerning thermal-hydraulic parameters were ignored, apparently to preserve the reactor power level.

The flow exceeded the allowed limit at 01:19, triggering an alarm of low steam pressure in the steam separators. [...] Nearly all of the control rods were removed manually, including all but 9 of the "fail-safe" manually operated rods,[clarification needed] which were intended to remain fully inserted to control the reaction even in the event of a loss of coolant. While the emergency SCRAM system that would insert all control rods to shut down the reactor could still be activated manually, the automated system that could do the same had been disabled to maintain power, and many other automated and even passive safety features of the reactor had been bypassed.

To say that it was "way too easy" is grossly wrong. While they were unaware of a number of the mechanics through which different events happened, they had to explicitly disable most of the safety systems and do the test anyway way under the minimum proscribed powerlevel.

Shema Ysrael! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46927107)

> The existing RBMKs have undergone significant changes [to prevent another Chernobyl disaster].
> A re-creation of such an event would take a long list of intentional actions taken by a team of people for that purpose.

The Stuxnet military computer worm required a long list of intentional actions taken by a team of people for that purpose (and cost about 100 million dollars to achieve success, after some 3 years). Stuxnet wrecked the iranian's uranium isotope refinement plants. It contains a simplified MIDI copy of Hatikva in its binary code and played it along over the frequency controllers as the hexa-fluoride gas ultra-centrifuges were wrecked.

Let there be absolutely no doubt, that CIA + NSA + Unit 8200 can use yet another Stuxnet variant, based on the flexible "Tilded" cyberattack framework, to make another one or two RBMK reactors explode spectacularly or on russian soil proper (should Putin and his ex-KGB cronies remain hell-bent on re-holodomorizing Ukraine and making toilet paper out of the Budapest Memorandum of Understanding of Security Guarantees for the Ukraine.)

Putin strolling across the isotopically depopulated steppes of Mother Russia will be much like Adolf Hitler, wandering around the ruined streets of Berlin on his last birthday of 20 April 1945.

BTW, did you know the Chernobyl disaster happened directly because of Israel? The soviet russians were experimenting with super-quick emergency shutdown scenarios, after witnessing the devastating efficency of "Opera campaign". It was a suprise-based air attack, in which a handful of jewish fighter-bombers easily demolished Saddam's Osirak nuclear reactor (despite the supposedly strong, soviet and french equipped iraqi air defence system of radars, missiles and jetfighters).

The efficiency of those newest, digital computerized american F-15 and F-16 warplanes, as used by the zionists in the Opera / Osirak attack, scared the soviets witless, as they were still stuck with vacuum tubes and hand-soldered discrete transistors at the time. Fearing a similar aerial attack on reactors on soviet soil, likely resulting in widespread radioactive fallout, they experimented with swift nuclear reactor shutdowns with just 5 minutes of forewarn. This resulted in an accident, with the soviets themselves spreading radioactive fallout over the USSR.

Re:Shema Ysrael! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46929111)

> Fearing a similar aerial attack on reactors on soviet soil, likely resulting in widespread radioactive fallout, they experimented with swift nuclear reactor shutdowns with just 5 minutes of forewarn.

That's not what they were doing. It takes about ten seconds to make that reactor sub-critical. That's actually a long time compared to modern reactors.

They were seeing how much power could be generated from the remaining steam through the turbines by decay heat after a reactor had been shut down. This lead to a dangerous *low* power configuration where the reactor became unstable.

Re:Article purpose? (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 6 months ago | (#46929799)

Of course they *can* still explode. Why Chernobyl did was because they were operating it in unsafe ways that even they were aware of at the time they probably shouldn't have been.

Re:Article purpose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46927889)

Especially since the volume of concrete used may not necessarily be above ground. How much of that concrete was just pumped through the roof of the blown up reactor building in order to get some cover over the still melted pile? How much flowed down into the structure underneath the reactor where the melted fuel also went?

Nuclear is about some people getting rich... (0, Troll)

gweihir (88907) | about 6 months ago | (#46924067)

... and a lot of others doing the dying. Nothing new in the behavior of the human race. And no, this one will not last much longer either. After all, they will have to buy the next one, regardless.

Re:Nuclear is about some people getting rich... (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 6 months ago | (#46924231)

If you do a cost-benefit analysis of risk, nuclear energy is less problematic than fossil fuels, believe it or not, even with occasional accidents. Fossil fuels harm and kill a good many due to air pollution, and perhaps general climate disruption due to the green-house effect.

There is something psychologically more fearful about dying from radiation than dying from lung cancer even though the second is significantly more prevalent.

Perhaps because in our movie-shaped imaginations, too much radiation creates 3-eyed mutants with lumpy heads or giant city-eating monsters; while lung cancer merely produces dead people with screwed-up lungs.

It's hard to produce a scary movie based on lung cancer. Dawn of the Coughers just doesn't have the same freak-out punch as zombie mutants or Godzilla. Hollywood needs to get more inventive.

Re:Nuclear is about some people getting rich... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46924359)

It's hard to produce a scary movie based on lung cancer. Dawn of the Coughers just doesn't have the same freak-out punch as zombie mutants or Godzilla. Hollywood needs to get more inventive.

Hmmmm, if everyone sounds like Darth Vader, it just may work...

Kid: Dad, HHH-HH, can i, HH-HH, have a, HH-HHH, pony? HHHHH

Dad: NoooHHHHHHHH!

(Draft screen-play copyright 2014 Anonymous Coward, all rights reserved. Violators will be...slapped.)

Re:Nuclear is about some people getting rich... (1)

Kittenman (971447) | about 6 months ago | (#46924489)

If you do a cost-benefit analysis of risk, nuclear energy is less problematic than fossil fuels, believe it or not, even with occasional accidents.

I read somewhere that the most deaths of any power source have been .. solar. Because people fall off the roof while putting up the panels.

Yeah I know... citation needed. But hey, this is slashdot, right?

Deaths per TWh (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 6 months ago | (#46926545)

Actually, coal is the worst by far. Nuclear is the best. Solar is more dangerous than Nuclear, but not even by an OOM.
Forbes article [forbes.com] , deaths per Trillion kWh
Coal, Global: 170k, Coal, China: 280k, Coal, US: 15k
Solar: 440
Nuclear, Global average: 90
Deaths per TWh by energy source [nextbigfuture.com] (note:1k times less electricity than above)
Coal, electricity, world average: 60. 100 if it's for everything.
Oil 36
Solar .44
Wind .15
Hydro .10(not including Banqiao, including it raises it to 1.4 because the once incident killed 171k. And we thought rare accidents were dangerous with Nuclear? They have nothing on Dams).
Nuclear: .04

Re:Deaths per TWh (1)

smallfries (601545) | about 6 months ago | (#46926715)

How many births outside of China is coal responsible for to make those numbers?

Or, they are not net, then when did China cease to be part of the world? I hope there was some kind of memo about this, I haven't seen it.

Re:Deaths per TWh (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 6 months ago | (#46927485)

China has an appalling coal miner safety record. That is where most of the confirmed, as in you can x-ray the lungs of these people and see the dust in them, coal deaths come from. The other deaths, some may be directly diagnosed as particulate pollution deaths, but a lot of these people will just silently die as be signed off as dead from hearth disease which was in fact caused by the coal power plant emissions. Coal power plant emissions cause cardiovascular problems. Those people do not even get accounted for.

Re:Deaths per TWh (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about 6 months ago | (#46927763)

... from hearth disease ...

Coal-fired hearth, I take it. What a wonderful Freudian Bra...I mean slip!

Re:Deaths per TWh (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 6 months ago | (#46928857)

How many births outside of China is coal responsible for to make those numbers?

Not sure about the question? What do you mean births? Unless you think the 170k for the global average is a total - it's now, it's the average number of deaths per TkWh. IE if you generate 1T kWh via coal power, on average 170k people are going to die from it. China's record, at least when the statistics were gathered, was so bad it more than doubled the death rate for the global average, so they broke it out as a specific example. I understand that they've improved somewhat since then, but consider the pollution in their cities...

Re:Deaths per TWh (1)

smallfries (601545) | about 6 months ago | (#46929217)

Did in fact read it as a total rather than an average and assumed the China figure was an error. Makes more sense now.

Re:Coal is about some people getting rich... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46924599)

It's hard to produce a scary movie based on lung cancer.

One of the scariest places I've ever been was the pulmonary ward of the major teaching hospital where my wife was working. I was picking her up just as the night shift began, so it was low lights and a chorus of laboured (and sometimes mechanically assisted) breathing emanating from the semi-dark. Hair standing up on back of neck just recalling the scene ...

Re:Nuclear is about some people getting rich... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46924297)

Nuclear could easily be our best and safest energy source! There's just little indication that people are responsible enough to do it safely.* And if we don't the environmental impact can far outweigh even other very damaging energy sources like coal, petroleum, and hydroelectric power.

*now obviously people might complain that "modern" reactors are much, much safer, but I have a hard time believing that we're still not being careless. we need to be building these things with the intention of them surviving the worst possible human-caused and natural disasters, but it seems like greed and foolishness (and technological limitations) make that the ideal case rather than the standard.

Re:Nuclear is about some people getting rich... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46927943)

And by "a lot of others doing the dying" you mean "less people than killed by roller-skates per year doing the dying".

Fun fact: more people die while servicing wind turbines PER YEAR that nuclear power has killed in it's entire history.

Re:Nuclear is about some people getting rich... (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 6 months ago | (#46928011)

You could say the same about coal, and be more correct. In fact, WAY more correct.

Coal kills 170,000 people per year; nuclear after Chernobyl and Fukushima only kills 90. Source [forbes.com]

440 people die per year from rooftop solar, which is almost 5x as many as nuclear.

um (2, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#46924273)

No one really knows what went into the "concrete cube;" even the amount of concrete claimed to have been used is suspect, as it would form a volume larger than the sarcophagus

The core melted a hole through the ground deep enough to hit the water table where it exploded on contact with water, then caused a steam explosion that was so powerful some of the material hit the jet stream. The heat continued causing hydrogen build up and further hydrogen explosions.

They tried to pour molten lead into the cavity but that just boiled and caused the radioactive steam to also carry lead vapor as well, making it even more toxic. So they gave up and filled it in with concrete. No one has any idea how large the whole was, if there was a chamber at the bottom from the water reservoir or multiple explosions. I don't find it the least bit suspicious that the amount of concrete poured into a random unexplored hole in the midst of the greatest man made disaster in history might be a bit off.

"Truth was an early casualty."' Let's hope this new sarcophagus lasts longer."

Apparently sensationalism is still alive and well.

Re:um (1)

Jack Griffin (3459907) | about 6 months ago | (#46924775)

Mod up...

Re:um (2)

zm (257549) | about 6 months ago | (#46925025)

The core melted a hole through the ground deep enough to hit the water table where it exploded on contact with water, then caused a steam explosion that was so powerful some of the material hit the jet stream. The heat continued causing hydrogen build up and further hydrogen explosions.

Citation?

Re:um (5, Interesting)

whois (27479) | about 6 months ago | (#46925043)

The core melted a hole through the ground deep enough to hit the water table where it exploded on contact with water, then caused a steam explosion that was so powerful some of the material hit the jet stream. The heat continued causing hydrogen build up and further hydrogen explosions.

They tried to pour molten lead into the cavity but that just boiled and caused the radioactive steam to also carry lead vapor as well, making it even more toxic. So they gave up and filled it in with concrete. No one has any idea how large the whole was, if there was a chamber at the bottom from the water reservoir or multiple explosions. I don't find it the least bit suspicious that the amount of concrete poured into a random unexplored hole in the midst of the greatest man made disaster in history might be a bit off.

Please cite sources for the core melting through to the water table. Accounts that I've seen say the steam explosions are from the cooling loop and secondary explosions are due to hydrogen. Most of the dispersal was due to the fire which burned for days.

Re:um (1)

kyrsjo (2420192) | about 6 months ago | (#46926493)

Exactly. It did melt through a few concrete floors tough.

Re:um (5, Informative)

Firethorn (177587) | about 6 months ago | (#46926565)

Yep, but the core didn't hit the water table. They located most of it years and years ago. The core is currently a solidified mass through a bunch of pipes, solidified pools, and such through much of the structure under where the reactor core was, the best known formation is the 'elephant's foot' [wikipedia.org] located in a sub-basement [nautil.us] .

Taking pictures of it was an interesting affair because the radiation is strong enough to fry even our best shielded robots, not that the Russians had them, so they had to get creative with more primitive tools.

Still, I haven't seen any evidence that it managed to make it to the water table.

Re:um (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46927577)

It didn't really melt through the concrete floors.

What happened was the molten core combined with it's surround of serpentine mineral sand, and flowed along corridors and down pipes like water.

If you look at a map of the corium flow, it shows surprisingly little erosion of the concrete beneath it. Even right below the reactor, it didn't make it through the floor, but took a winding route along access corridors.

Have a look at a map of the flow here:
http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/coriummap.gif

Re:um (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46926629)

where there not a army of miners that where employed to to dig a giant chamber below the building to house a cooling apparatus? The cooling apperatus was never placed because of money issues and wasn't that chamber filled then with concrete out of a possible worry that the fissionable materials would go into the ground water table.

this further supports the whole point that you made that the fissionable materials never reached the ground water.

on the subject of the lead it was mixed with sodium (not sure about what the other part was of the mixture but i thought it was sodium) that was dropped in there by helicopters it was to stop a reaction because the lead isolates the neutron(?) emissions that caused the reaction to continue. (note: those where bags of materials not molten mass and several helicopter crews died due to radiation exposure because they needed to fly directly over the open reactor to drop the mixture in there. A famous video shows that one of the helicopter pilots got acute radiation poisoning and flew into a nearby crane killing all the crew onboard)

also the first explosion was by a pressure build up caused by a low water level which allowed the water in the reactor to start boiling. The boiling caused the lid of the reactor to blast off the reactor. The reason for the low water level was that there was a test going on at the time to see how the reactor would perform under lower water levels then standard. When the government called and required more power the control rods where pulled out and the accident occurred. The fire fighters that where first on scene knew exactly what they where facing and went in the reactor room anyway to fight the fire because their families where in the worker city nearby they all died in less then 14 days due to radiation exposure.

there are several really good documentaries on youtube about the subject. The best 2 on there are about the scientists that are still working inside the building to measure the state of the reactor. Those scientists also found the fabled elephant foot which was a mixture of glass and fissionable materials from the reactor that looked like a elephant foot. (glass came from the sand that was used as a isolating layer below the reactor vessel)

A lot of very brave people died while fighting the disaster.
No fissionable materials reached the ground water.

Re:um (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46927381)

"got acute radiation poisoning and flew into a nearby crane killing all the crew onboard"

Um, no. The pilot screwed up. Watch the video. Yes - there's video of it happening, although the guy taking the videos eventually got sick and died because Chernobyl was not a healthy place to stand around making videos all day. The crash was unlucky but it was not caused by "acute radiation poisoning". Some of the people who were closer not only survived, but went on to live fairly normal lives and die of old age (of course if you're a conspiracy theorist they still count as killed by Chernobyl, as do millions of people who never even existed).

Re:um (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 6 months ago | (#46926073)

Whatever you're smoking - you should consider laying off it before commenting. Or at least label your comments with "hallucinogen induced fiction".

Sigh (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46926121)

Ugh. Utterly embarrassing uninformed comments like this are why I really don't want to read /. any more. Everything you've said is just sophistry and doesn't pass the whiff test if you've got even a basic foundation in nuclear physics, and you got upvoted +5 for it!

Re:um (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 6 months ago | (#46927505)

Where did you get this BS? From viewing the China Syndrome movie? It did not reach the water table. The water was from the cooling loop.

I don't know what is worse your awfully misguided comments or the fact that people actually modded up. Jesus.

Re:um (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46927623)

That's completely wrong. The steam explosion happened while the reactor was intact, and the corium didn't even get through the concrete beneath the reactor.

Have a look at a map of the corium flow at Chernobyl here:
http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/coriummap.gif

Re:um (2)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 6 months ago | (#46930025)

No, it melted through to the cooling pools, which they drained in order to prevent that exact circumstance. The 3 guys who did that died shortly afterwards since they were basically swimming in highly radioactive water.

The smoldering graphite, fuel and other material above, at more than 1200 C,[67] started to burn through the reactor floor and mixed with molten concrete from the reactor lining, creating corium, a radioactive semi-liquid material comparable to lava.[66][68] If this mixture had melted through the floor into the pool of water, it was feared it could have created a serious steam explosion that would have ejected more radioactive material from the reactor. It became necessary to drain the pool.[69]

The bubbler pool could be drained by opening its sluice gates. Volunteers in diving suits entered the radioactive water and managed to open the gates. These were the engineers Alexei Ananenko (who knew where the valves were) and Valeri Bezpalov, accompanied by a third man, Boris Baranov, who provided them with light from a lamp, though this lamp failed, leaving them to find the valves by feeling their way along a pipe.[70] All of them returned to the surface and according to Ananenko, their colleagues jumped in joy when they heard they had managed to open the valves. Upon emerging from the water, the three were already suffering from radiation sickness and later died.[71] Some sources claim incorrectly that they died in the plant.[70]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]

And with what type of energy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46924501)

What did they use to mine, crush, mix, transport and pump all that concrete? Oil, gas and coal. And how about for making that stainless steel? Oil, gas and coal. These things have to figure in when doing the Energy Return, air pollution and societal cost calculations on nukes...

Re:And with what type of energy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46927239)

What about all the energy needed to create solar panels and wind turbines? It will take thousands of wind turbines, solar panels and many square miles worth of land to equal the energy output of one nuclear reactor.

Chernobyl is in Ukraine (0)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 6 months ago | (#46924765)

Chernobyl is in Ukraine, a fact that should makes everyone think twice before pushing a civil war. And by everyone, I also mean US and EU. Nobody should have supported a revolutionary government with an agenda beyond making a new constitution and new elections

Re:Chernobyl is in Ukraine (1)

hey! (33014) | about 6 months ago | (#46925305)

Yeah, but it's up in the north right on the border with Belarus; not the nice waterfront property Russia's interested around the Sea of Azov.

Re:Chernobyl is in Ukraine (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 6 months ago | (#46925701)

You miss my point.

There have been a revolution in Ukraine. The constitution does not apply anymore (otherwise the former president would still be there). Since there is no constitution, nothing legally prevent a region to leave the country. The emergency is therefore to restore a constitutional order, and foreign powers should not support a government that works on anything other than that.

Without a constitution, Ukraine will fall in civil war. It will not need help from Russia to go that way, and the mess will spread to most parts of the country. Including Chernobyl.

Re:Chernobyl is in Ukraine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46926495)

You do realize Ukrain's favorite hobby is revolutions and corrupt politicians right?

Re:Chernobyl is in Ukraine (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 6 months ago | (#46927119)

That hobby seems much better than a civil war.

Meanwhile in Fukushima.. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46926591)

Three full core melt-throughs are sitting in sandstone, leaching to the pacific/atmosphere without any control or sarcophagus at all, since march 2011.

Re:Meanwhile in Fukushima.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46927199)

Citation Needed

Why does wild life prosper in Chernobyl? (1)

Max_W (812974) | about 6 months ago | (#46926701)

I saw a documentary, there are deers, birds, a lot of large fish in the station's artificial lake, foxes, etc. And also a lot of trees in the Chernobyl area.

Is wild life and plants immune to radiation?

Re:Why does wild life prosper in Chernobyl? (1)

advid.net (595837) | about 6 months ago | (#46926995)

Is wild life and plants immune to radiation?

Those with radiation induced complications die much earlier.

Re:Why does wild life prosper in Chernobyl? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46928121)

Probably - but also realize that survival in the natural world is mostly a numbers game - and pretty much all wildlife are designed to deal with a certain amount of "breakage". And it is mostly a self regulating system as well.

"Radiation induced complications" are statistical background noise compared to the other factors in wildlife "birth/death" ratios.

For example - as far as the general population of deer is concerned: it doesn't particularly matter if the deer had lung cancer or if the deer was old when it got caught by the wolf and eaten. A deer out of the herd was probably gonna get caught and eaten in either case. And it doesn't particularly matter much to the wolf either - as he gets fed either way.

However - the deer that DOESN'T get lung cancer may be slightly less genetically predisposed towards getting lung cancer, and may pass those traits on to children. Thus, after a while - nature tends to balance things out.

Also - a hard winter making for another month of low forage will have a FAR greater impact on deer population than any number of cancers. Yet deer populations bounce back from that occurrance regularly.

Informed opinion (1)

XB-70 (812342) | about 6 months ago | (#46927937)

I was speaking with a nuclear engineer just this past weekend. The reason that Chernobyl happened was that an unauthorized test took place over the direct objections of senior management. It was like taking the oil out of a car engine and seeing how long it would run. What did they expect would happen? In any event, after the disaster, the existing cover is/was inadequate at best.

Whether the new design is adequate or not is moot: when Putin takes over the country, he will completely shut down any real news and everything will be fine.

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