Chernobyl 21-years On

Candle in the dark

The accident that occurred at Chernobyl on 26th April 1986 was the most disastrous reactor malfunction in the history of nuclear power. More than 40,000 residents in the immediate area were exposed to fallout 100 times greater than that from the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Based on top-secret government documents that came to light only after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1999, THE BATTLE OF CHERNOBYL reveals a systematic cover-up of the true scope of the disaster, including the possibility of a secondary explosion of the still-smouldering magma, whose radioactive clouds would have rendered Europe uninhabitable.*

Today it is exactly twenty-one years since the nuclear accident in Chernobyl. I do remember it very clearly, indeed. Here is a map of the radioactive fallout of the Caesium-137 over the landmass of Europe. The time when most of the world were kept in the dark over the incident and the consequences of the same. The month of April in 1986 had been rather nice in Ireland, so that the children were outside much – actually, well after the time, when the nation should have been notified to keep them in. Neither were we given the practical advice as in the windows needing to be closed and so on. Here is what the BBC said about it in 1986 and even this day in 2006. The Soviets did not admit to the accident while the monitoring stations in Sweden, Finland and Norway began to report sudden high discharges of radioactivity in the atmosphere two days previously. Also, the Wikipedia has excellent and interesting material on it in here. The Swedish newspaper called Dagens Nyheter had this to say in Swedish in 2006. The Finnish one – my usual morning paper, Helsingin Sanomat said this about the disaster in 2006.

This link is a photographic exhibition online about a Finnish man, who recently went to the ghost town of Pripyat that is located right besides the Chernobyl nuclear plant. It is called: Pripyat – Population Zero, in English. Very interesting and moving at the same time as the place looks like not so-long-ago abandoned and yet it is already 20 years ago! The people leaving their homes were told that they would be gone for only three days… Lisa gave a tip of this site called Kiddofspeed about this very brave lady, Elena, riding her bike in these affected areas taking photos and writing most interesting articles about the same.

Alpha, Beta, Gamma.
It is time to learn a couple of simple things about radiation types. Ones that goes through us is called gamma radiation, it is cumulative, it adds up, so we can calculate what a damage it make for health. Gamma is almost identical X-rays. X-rays are human made, while gamma occurs in nature. It is also called a cosmic radiation. Everyone who (is) flying high on plane (will be) exposed to the 25 mR/hr of cosmic radiation. Gamma is the toughest type of radiation for immediate problems. It is sort of invisible bullets that can kill in hours, alpha and beta on the other hand are alike to delayed-action mine. With breathing of radioactive dust, they are) getting inside of a human body, lodges there and in a few years explode with the cancer cells. A beta particle has more mass and less energy then gamma, so it doesn’t penetrate matter as deeply. Alpha radiation generally can not travel 4-12cms (1-3 inches) before it stopped, so we can play billiard with balls of a pure plutonium. The dead cells on our skin will stop beta radiation, so even juggling with plutonium balls will be safe, just don’t swallow them by mistake. (Elena’s online site.) The words in brackets are mine to clarify further the point she is making, I do hope anyway.

Chernobyl compared to Hiroshima (Wikipedia)

“Far fewer people died as an immediate result of the Chernobyl event than died at Hiroshima, and the eventual total is also significantly less when including those predicted by the WHO to die in the future. However, the radioactivity released at Chernobyl tended to be more long lived than that released by a bomb detonation. Chernobyl released 890 times as much caesium-137 as the Hiroshima bomb, released 87 times as much strontium-90 as the Hiroshima bomb and when the iodine-131 release is compared between the events (decay corrected to three days after the event) then Chernobyl released 25 times as much as the Hiroshima bomb. When the xenon-133 release is compared between the events (decay corrected to three days after the event) then Chernobyl released 31 times as much as the Hiroshima bomb. Hence it is not possible to draw a simple comparison between the two events. Sources of environmental radioactivity.”

Chernobyl compared with the Three Mile Island accident (Wikipedia)

“Three Mile Island-2 was a completely different accident from Chernobyl. Chernobyl was a human-caused power excursion causing a steam explosion resulting in an graphite fire, uncontained, which lofted radioactive smoke high into the atmosphere – TMI was a slow, undetected leak that lowered the water level around the nuclear fuel, resulting in over a third of it melting. Unlike Chernobyl, TMI-2’s reactor vessel did not fail and contained almost all of the radioactive material. Containment at TMI did not fail – but it was not sealed off until after some water containing radioactive material had flowed through an overflow pipe and into the rest of the plant. Radioactive gases from that overflow leaked into the atmosphere, mostly noble gases.”

“Chernobyl Heart” is a medical condition caused by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. The condition weakens the circulatory system, and has affected a large number of children in Ukraine and Belarus who have grown up near the place of the accident. Chernobyl Heart by Maryann DeLeo is a short documentary which offers a look at the children and families who are facing this dangerous disease.” (Wikipedia)

Closer to home so to say, Ireland is the country most affected by the UK’s nuclear industry. Sellafield is only 60 miles away from the Irish coast and has been pumping 2 million gallons of liquid radioactive waste into the Irish Sea every day, making the Irish Sea the most radioactive sea in the world. If an accident happens at the plant or with the shipment, or if there is a terrorist attack, depending on which way the wind blows, Dublin, Dundalk, Drogheda, Belfast, and vast parts of Ireland, would be uninhabitable. No wonder the Irish government is sending a navy patrol boat and a spotter plane to closely monitor the shipment. (Greenpeace online)

Tis for now Riihele xx.

*The Battle of Chernobyl
A Film by Thomas Johnson

Nuclearinfo.net
Everything you want to know about Nuclear Power.

Irish objections to Sellafield
Norwegian objections on the same.

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