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Arctic Radiation Levels From Chernobyl Declining

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the remember-that-the-west-is-evil dept.

Science 17

jangobongo writes "Nearly 20 years after the Chernobyl meltdown and much longer since Soviet nuclear weapons testing, radiation levels in the Arctic landmasses are finally declining. But nuclear disaster is still lurking on the horizon. The Kola Peninsula in northwest Russia is home to Russia's aging, decomissioned (and sinking) nuclear sub fleet as well as a depots of nuclear weapons and an old nuclear power plant. Estimated cost of clean up to prevent further toxic leakage is millions of euros."

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Not exactly much (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10513118)

Well, "millions" of euros aren't exactly much, for instance the new train station in Berlin costs 3 billion euros ...

Re:Not exactly much (2, Interesting)

jantheman (113125) | more than 9 years ago | (#10513254)

...and it's not as if there isn't anyone there who's happy to fritter away amounts like that on rubbish [bbc.co.uk]

Why isn't this being taken care of? (3, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 9 years ago | (#10513159)

Estimated cost of clean up to prevent further toxic leakage is millions of euros.

While millions of Euros is nothing to scoff at, this is a clear problem and we need to fix it. In proper perspective, millions of euros is a small price to pay (the world can chip in if needed, but even cash-strapped Russia can pay the millions of Euros alone if necessary) to clean this mess up.

If we can spend hundreds of billions of dollars to "clean up" a country with no pending nuclear disaster, surely we can spend far less than 1 billion dollars on this.

Re:Why isn't this being taken care of? (4, Informative)

schnipschnap (739127) | more than 9 years ago | (#10513189)

I just noticed, that the story clearly states:

"Strand said it will take billions of dollars (euros) to clean up."

Re:Why isn't this being taken care of? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515581)

Well since the EU is right next door to this issue I would say that they should lead the way. It is time for the US to stop being the worlds policeman/grabageman/banker. Lets see that EU pride and leadership come to the for front. BTW millions of euros? Hundreds of millions or more likly tens of billons. Truth is I would be all for the US helping out if it run better than the Food for Oil program.

Re:Why isn't this being taken care of? (1)

thermopile (571680) | more than 9 years ago | (#10518221)

Ah, but this is being taken care of. It's just one of those things that are often done below the news reporter's radar screens. From this report [armscontrol.org], there is the following:

Currently, there are long lines of vessels waiting to be dismantled at the three facilities that have been receiving Western (especially U.S.) technical assistance: Nerpa (Murmansk), Zvezdochka (Severodvinsk), and the Zvezda Far Eastern Shipyard (Bolshoy Kamen). Until the technical and social problems at these facilities are resolved, the rates of dismantlement and use of Western equipment will remain well below peak efficiency. Current funds also do not provide for the long-term maintenance of the U.S. equipment, putting into question the issue of whether these yards will be able to continue working even at existing rates in the future, much less fulfill plans for accelerated submarine dismantlement. In addition, many of the submarines that need to be dismantled are located at shipyards without adequate facilities to do this work.

"Technical assistance" is provided by experienced engineers from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, the same guys who are actively preventing this same situation from building up on the US's side.

The problem is, in the heyday of the Cold War, it was us vs. them, and we were each trying to pump out as many as possible. Money was spent like no object designing and building these things. We won, they lost, and now we have to help them foot the other HALF of the bill: paying for the dismantlement.

--A concerned reader.

Mobile radation only (1)

justanyone (308934) | more than 9 years ago | (#10513336)

IMHO, this indicates that airborne radiation levels only are declining. Data from the artic would not seemingly have anything to say about the contaminated soil and water in the polluted areas of the Ukraine.

Since the Chernobyl plant exploded and burned for days, large amounts of radioactive material was spread over a broad surrounding area, borne aloft by wind currents. The highly contaminated radioactive smoke that poured out of the plant may have now settled out of the planet-wide atmosphere, but that still leaves a lot of radioactive waste embedded in the soil and water surrounding the plant for (tens of? hundreds of?) miles.

I do not object to nuclear power generation. It does not generate CO2, NO2, SO2, or other nasty pollutants that are spread widely and cause other effects. Rather, it concentrates the waste in a nasty form that we then have to safely cope with. I believe the best place for this stuff is probably off-planet, but until we get that capability, let's put it in a well-guarded, well-controlled area.

I also am willing to help pay for the cleanup of Soviet-era radioactive waste - it may affect my children.

The LONG TERM SOLUTION would seem to be SOLAR or aneutronic (non-neutron-emitting) Fusion. I will vote for a candidate who has solid development of those. My great great grandchildren (God willing) will thank me for saving the planet for them.

Re:Mobile radation only (1)

FriedTurkey (761642) | more than 9 years ago | (#10513733)

. I believe the best place for this stuff is probably off-planet, but until we get that capability, let's put it in a well-guarded, well-controlled area.

Are you serious? So when the next shuttle explodes we can have the radioactive material distrubuted higher in the atmosphere? You have to accept that accidents will always happen. The problem with nuclear accidents is that they kill hundreds of people and cause extreme environmental damage for a hundred years. Nuclear energy isn't worth the risk. Your right that a long term solution is solar or fusion. Star Trek IV will be right that nuclear energy was a brief solution for energy. The part in Star Trek IV, where humpback whales will prevent a energy sucking probe from destroying earth, will be wrong.

Re:Mobile radation only (1)

justanyone (308934) | more than 9 years ago | (#10513949)


when the next shuttle explodes we can have the radioactive material distrubuted higher in the atmosphere?

I AGREE, THE SHUTTLE SUCKS. (go ScaledComposites!) I was speaking of space vehicles availble to my grandchildren (presuming, again God Willing, that the humanity doesn't suffer another dark age from some catastrophe or another).

Taking a 4 hour automobile trip has a small but finite chance of destroying the car and its contents. As soon as our record for getting things out of Earth's gravity well is as good, let's consider using that method to push some waste off-planet.

By the way, by 'Off Planet', I mean completely - not just off Earth, but plummeting into the sun or something. Obviously, the sun puts out more nasty radiation in 10^-8th of a second than in all the world's nuclear waste piles .

Re:Mobile radation only (1)

FriedTurkey (761642) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515593)

I was speaking of space vehicles availble to my grandchildren

Nuclear power will complete the current death spiral before reliable space vehicles are completed.

Reading comprehension (2, Interesting)

alexo (9335) | more than 9 years ago | (#10513357)


Currently the page says:
> Estimated cost of clean up to prevent further toxic leakage is millions of euros.

Millions of euros is small change.

However, the actual article [go.com] says: Strand said it will take billions of dollars (euros) to clean up.
Since the source is ABC news, I assume that they use the American billion (10^9).

Now that is a whole different story, considering the fact that the projected revenue [russiajournal.com] for the Russian Y2005 budget is only ~92 billion Euros.

A conservative assumption of single digit "billions" results in something like 10% of the total budget revenue.

Just for comparison, this would be akin to [akamaitech.net] the US spending 200 billion dollars on a similar task.

Re:Reading comprehension (1)

dario_moreno (263767) | more than 9 years ago | (#10513745)


on the one hand, the US just wasted about 200 billions dollars in Iraq for some oil, and on the other hand, millions of euros is no small change : given that I could easily retire to a nice sunny island and spend my days in between champagne and women.

Re:Reading comprehension (1)

b-baggins (610215) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515429)

More evidence computers have become so easy to use that even morons can operate them.

Re:Reading comprehension (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10518233)

Do you have anything intelligent to say, or are you just displaying your own ignorance, as usual?

Mea Culpa (1)

jangobongo (812593) | more than 9 years ago | (#10515836)

I apologize to all who caught the mistake of "millions", when it should have said "billions". I would offer an excuse such as, "It was late at night when I submitted this story, so I was very tired at the time and it slipped through even though I previewed the story three times," but I don't think anyone wants to hear excuses. Again, sorry!
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