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What Chernobyl Looks Like In 2010 413

Posted by samzenpus
from the quiet-neighborhood dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The editor of Phoronix.com has toured Chernobyl's Zone of Alienation (the 30km zone surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant) to see what the area looks like 24 years after the world's largest nuclear disaster. Many photographs from Chernobyl in 2010 have now been published, showing off the power plant and its RBMK reactors, the town of Pripyat, the town of Chernobyl, and the Red Forest. The 24th anniversary of this deadly nuclear disaster will be on April 26."
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What Chernobyl Looks Like In 2010

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  • by Aku Head (663933) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @04:29AM (#31772982) Journal
    No matter how bad for you radiation might be, living around humans is worse.
  • by dingen (958134) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @05:14AM (#31773214)

    That the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were dropped in order to end the second world war, doesn't mean they didn't had disastrous results. In fact, that was the whole point of the operation, to force Japan into surrender by causing extreme devastation. I think it is a valid question to ask if the millions of innocent citizens spanning multiple generations who lost their lives or were severly harmed by these actions justify the ending of a war.

    And of course, there is the question of necessity. It's plausible to assume the war would have stopped without nuclear attacks. It's extremely plausible the war would have stopped after the first nuclear attack on Hiroshima, so surely the second atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki was gratuitous at best.

  • by jrumney (197329) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @05:23AM (#31773254) Homepage
    US intelligence already knew the end was near. They wanted to make sure the Japanese surrendered to them, and not the Russians.
  • by kestasjk (933987) * on Thursday April 08, 2010 @05:29AM (#31773278) Homepage
    Also other identical reactors, built at the same time from the same design, like the one at Ignalina [wikipedia.org] in Lithuania continued operating until the end of 2009 (not because the plant was at the end of its useful life, but because the EU didn't want Lithuania to be operating a potentially unsafe reactor any longer).

    Chernobyl type reactors, despite being absolutely obsolete and horribly dangerous by 1980s nuclear standards (even if they are far more stringent than other energy standards), have been operating right up until the end of last year. (With some updated safety features learned from Chernobyl of course)
  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @06:07AM (#31773426)
    Define long term.

    While you are doing your rapid research into the matter in order to reply with more alarmist stuff, I think that you are going to find that you were terribly mistaken about the "long term" effects of those two bombs.
  • by Archon-X (264195) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @06:12AM (#31773442)

    Just as Chernobyl nature has taken back the surrounds of Pripryat, the Chernobyl stories take on mythical proportion.

    Unfortunately, most people who go to Chernobyl (TFA author included) - seem to adopt this faux-investigative journalist approach, as if the entire experience is touch and go.
    This is entirely not the case - and while there are many interesting elements to Chernobyl, its surrounds, and its history, the above really just isn't one of them.

    For those of you who are interested - I've been. It's interesting enough. You pay 40 - 80USD, hop in a bus, drive 2 hours, and you're there. There's a quick paper check on the edge of the exclusion zone. You drive to a small village that has more kittens than people, and you're told a little about the history. You drive a little further into a larger town, and buy some Kvass and sausages, and keep going.

    From there, you're back in the bus - you see a memorial on the eastern side of Reactor 4, drive to the western side, at another memorial. This is as close as you can get to the reactor (and it's where the author shot his photos from)

    From here, it's a crapshoot depending who you went with. Normally, you'll get a speed-tour of Pripryat. They used to do the helicopter / heavy equipment graveyard, but that's no longer done.

    Pripryat is quite interesting, but the tours are always superficial. You follow a set path, and everyone sees the same thing: The ferris wheel, the school, the swimming pool. The buildings are decayed - not due to radiation, but simple weather exposure, yet peeling-paint photos somehow always manifest into drama-heavy recants.

    On my trip, I was lucky enough to slip away from the group, and get some more interesting perspectives:
    http://ninjito.com/2009-09-12-PANO/qx-pano-pripyat-1.jpg [ninjito.com]
    The hotel Polissia. It was quiet a pleasant day.

    http://ninjito.com/2009-09-12-PANO/qx-pano-pripyat-2.jpg [ninjito.com]
    Roof of said building, you can see reactor 4 in the distance to the right.

    http://ninjito.com/2008-08-16/qx-pripyat-1.jpg [ninjito.com]
    Rarely seen fresque honouring the cosmonauts.

    Interesting things to take away from the trip are:
    - There's a lot less 'fuss' than most people imagine
    - There are active buildings, people in the region
    - The unchecked nature growth has resulted in truly beautiful surrounds - the forests and plant life are stunning.
    - Radiation is pervasive and scary. While it's obvious that you can't see, touch, or smell it, it's truly startling to stand somewhere that has slightly-higher than background radiation, take two steps to the right, and suddenly be exposed to several-hundred times background radiation.

    Summary: Go and see it for yourself, but don't buy into the mythology.

  • by VShael (62735) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @06:14AM (#31773450) Journal

    When I was in Pripryat (and yes, we had the dosimeters as well) the readings were perfectly fine if you stepped on concrete, tarmac, or in some of the buildings. But if you stepped onto grass, soil, vegetation or anything which was connected to the water table, the dosimeter shot WAY up WAY fast.

    Our guide made a point of showing this to us, when we were taking photos of the bumper cars in the amusement park.

    I'm considering going back again this year.

  • by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @06:18AM (#31773474)

    Longtime? Like people still dying years later?
    You can get that with normal bombs, in fact you are likely to find those in almost any bombed area just waiting for something to trigger them. Just this month a WWII bomb had to be diffused in munich.

    We had a couple of those here in the UK over the past year as well (though thankfully, no one died).

    You get the same effect with airplanes. People are still dying (years later) from illness and other health-related problems directly attributable to the 9/11 atrocity, which involved no bombs (nuclear or otherwise), just a couple of big airplanes, a couple of big buildings, and a whole lot of jet fuel.

  • by Archon-X (264195) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @06:19AM (#31773476)

    One of the best parts of going to Pripryat was seeing one of the Woodpeckers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Woodpecker [wikipedia.org] looming in the distance.

  • by stevencbrown (238995) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @08:07AM (#31774082) Homepage Journal

    Think you've got this wrong. The Soviet Union didn't invade Japan from the North, they declared war, and invaded Japanese held China (in particular, Manchuria). Though it did affect the Japanese decision to surrender.

    The japanese did surrender conditionally, but it wasn't like it was them that were offering conditions to the US for months. The conditions argument was in the main between the US and the UK (US wanted Hirohito tried as war criminal, UK wanted to keep him as head of state). UK, US and China agreed conditions which they would accept a Japanese surrender, a week or 2 before the first bomb.

    The decision was taken on the 9th of August - the day in which they got news of Manchuria and Nagasaki. So I don't know where you get that they "didn't surrender after the second one". They did. It might not have been the only factor, the USSR invasion helped, but it's unlikely a USSR invasion on it's own would have triggered the surrender.

    Also, there was going to be a 3rd bomb available a week after the 2nd one was dropped. But it was likely if Japan hadn't surrendered by then, the US would have "saved up" a lot of bombs for a nuclear blitz, and force the end of the war that way.

  • by ffreeloader (1105115) on Thursday April 08, 2010 @01:24PM (#31778754) Journal

    Unconditional surrender isn't the worst thing a victorious nation can impose upon a losing nation. All that means is that the losing nation says "we quit and acknowledge we are completely beaten".

    We could have added any kind of post-surrender conditions, as in oppressive reparations, we could have imagined, and gotten them. We could have easily done to the Japanese what the Brits and French did to the Germans after WWI, but we didn't. We retained the same language and conditions even though we had demonstrated the ability to, quite literally, "wipe them off the map".
       

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 08, 2010 @02:03PM (#31779416)

    She took them on a guided tour and yes, the pictures are fascinating and there are lots of other pictures from the area that are even better. She only gave hers an extra - not so honest - fascination factor by making up that story about driving around alone on her motorcycle. And that's a shame since she's a good writer and many of the captions to her pictures were good. So if she instead had just written that it was a photo essay from such a visit, it would've been really good, honest, though-provoking reporting. It might not have gotten as wide an audience that way, though, but then again, now her initial success has backfired when many consider her a liar and the Ukrainian authorities are fed up with endless inquiries by motorcycle enthusiasts that want to drive around there like she said she did.

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