“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language

And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

HUGZ from Rii

I put this photo of mine, taken in the spring, looking through a window,
for to me the new year always feels like one is trying to peek through into something,
that for the moment, is still unknown, unfamiliar…


“A new year is unfolding –
like a blossom
with petals curled tightly
the beauty

ThinkExist site

Photos: Riihele. All rights reserved.

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

Everything you want to know about Nuclear Power.

Irish objections to Sellafield
Norwegian objections on the same.

Always Ready!

Irish Sunsets

‘Always ready like a good scout.’ This is the motto to have and to hold. It comes to my mind when I am thinking of a conversation with a neighbour some good while back. There we were sitting outside at midnight – she puffing the fresh air with smoke, myself watching that the cat did not disappear into busy nightlife of the hip-n-happening city centre. She is a neighbour with whom I exchange the daily newspapers; she gives me the local paper and I give her the real paper!

Anyhow, she told me that I wouldn’t be getting the paper that weekend, because she was going to take part in a major ‘Always Ready’ – training where the state, provincial, and the volunteer sectors were going to be involved in. Apparently, a big exercise. She told me, that these training sessions stem from the disaster of the 9/11 in New York, which caused the Finnish authorities to take a hard look at their resources and their coping mechanisms in the event of a major catastrophe happening. Another push to being even better prepared came with the tsunami in 2004 in Asia, that affected the Nordic nations in a major way with so many of the citizens holidaying in the resorts, where the disaster hit the hardest.

From my childhood, and even more so from my teens I do remember that there were the bunkers underneath the housing areas and even in this house that I am living at present there are the massive underground areas that are in other use now, but when and if needed, will be turned into living quarters where everything is already in place.

Also in Sweden and in Israel while living in these countries the bunkers existed and some sort of a plan to adapt in time of need. Well, then I moved to Ireland and asked himself about the bunkers and so on – the look of disbelief in his face was priceless. ‘What bunkers? What plans?’ Hah, no such things in here.

Then the 9/11 happened and one of the Irish government ministers was interviewed – shall remain nameless – in a radio show which I did listen at the time. He was asked about the fact that how prepared was Ireland for any such like catastrophe; his answer was adamantly to declare:

‘that Ireland was as well-prepared as any country.’ 

More than that he could or he would not say; no matter how the reporter tried to eek out the exact measures and the nature of this declared preparedness. He would not say. Nope. Just repeated the above line like a robot.

Then a research was done to this statement of ‘Ireland being as ready as any other nation’ and they found out that tis was not so, as the only thing that there was, was a few boxes of iodine tablets – that’s all.

The story became farcical as the truth emerged:

  • the tablets were out of date
  • there were not enough of them for the population of nearly 4 million
  • there would possibly be one tablet or so per person at the most
  • there were no Plan B, no alternative methods or means to help the population at all. Zippo.

This I told my neighbour and hearing it she laughed so much that tears in her eyes for laughing so much. She was thinking of the well-oiled preparedness of Finland and her own involvement in it and could not comprehend that this was all a nation could have. I do hope that the ‘always ready’ – approach has finally arrived in there, too. Ireland is a very dear country to me which I love and like enourmously. This is not meant to hurt but to illustrate a point. I was told by the neighbour that with each rehearsal there comes up every time so much that needs to and has to be refined but that without these exercises they would not know that so much is still missing. Theory is so vastly different to the actual though stimulated event. And even more so when and if the really real event happens, for sure.

Tis for now. Riihele xx.

BTW – The photograph is one where I put two photos which I had taken in short intervals into one. This view was to the west in my last abode in Ireland.