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Chernobyl 25th Anniversary

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  • you can see it in postings on this website: technological overconfidence. the inflated sense of mastery over a technology due to technophilia and deriving much personal worth from one's mastery of technology

    which is fine when you are talking about space exploration or computers. but nuclear power?

    the problem is, accidents happen. they always do. no long winded speech on safety will alter the inevitable. corners are cut, economic considerations bypass longterm challenges, things break and fall apart over time. eventually, you have a nuclear accident. well now, it's a matter of the consequences of the accident. well: you blow up an oil supply depot, collpase a coal mine, undermine a dam, etc: these are awful cataclysmic events. and 5 minutes after it happens, its over. but nuclear power, when you have an accident, it stays with you for centuries. that's the big problem with nuclear power

    mankind being too confident in his technological mastery, combined with longterm effects outside of the realm of mankind's normal psychological considerations, and you can see the problem with nuclear power. mankind, in a way, isn't built to handle nuclear power safely, and so we just shouldn't use it

    i'm not saying we have better alternatives. and nuclear is great, when it works. and it works 99% of the time. but the problem with nuclear, when it doesn't work that 1% of the time? unlike every other power source, really terrible consequences stay with you for centuries. and so that 1% changes everything about nuclear power in ways that any conscientious person finds very troubling and sobering

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @02:37PM (#35944968)

    when a hydroelectric damn collapses millions can be left homeless and tens or hundreds of thousands can be left dead and it can take years to repair the damage and rehome those left homeless.

    After a regular old industrial accident huge tracts of land can be left unusuable effectively forever when regular non-radioactive poisons and heavy metals leave the land unusable.
    There's lots of mutagens which aren't radioactive but will still give you cancer and deform your children and which have no halflife. they're forever.

    nuclear can be dangerous but fundamentally it's not game changing.
    slag piles and lead don't just stay with us for centuries, there there forever.
    So I'll still go with the nuclear and call for safety systems out the wazoo.

    it's a risk but it's still a lesser risk.

  • Re:Oblig (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @02:53PM (#35945230)

    That's not how it works, but I doubt you care.

    I wonder if the net result of these nuclear accidents that seem to continuously do orders-of-magnitude less damage than the hysterical anti-nuclear advocates claim will actually help the nuclear industry after a while?

  • by peragrin (659227) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @03:42PM (#35945928)

    we have solved the waste problem technically, we just can't get funding for it as anti-nuclear crowd blocks all good research, and development.

    Seriously the last nuclear plant built in the USA was started in 1977. I was born in 1978.

    We literally have 30 years of additional knowledge but are unable to capitalize on it to help solve the problems of nuclear waste because of the anti-nuclear crowd.

  • Re:Oblig (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @03:48PM (#35946012)

    chernobyl didnt melt down, so it isnt a meltdown site

    What? The reactor blew it's lid, the graphic and fuel inside caught fire and burned for days. The fuel and fuel rod casings, and the sand packed around the reactor vessel that acted as a bio-shield, all melted and flowed out of the bottom of the reactor, finally solidifying into a large mass of highly radioactive glass like substance now called Chernobylite [wikipedia.org].

    Chernobyl wasn't just a meltdown, it was a complete meltdown.

  • by aztektum (170569) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @03:57PM (#35946130)

    The two worst nuclear events happened 25 years apart. How many oil spills and coal mine issues have we had? How much more pollution have we pumped skyward?

    You seem to be ignoring the fact that Fukushima went online in the 70s and operated w/o incident until a 9.0 earthquake struck. Chernobyl's safety deficiencies are well documented, so I'll not be addressing them here.

    There are newer reactor designs, materials and technologies that could mitigate the threat of nuclear meltdowns even further.

    Personally I would worry less about dying in a nuclear reactor catastrophe and not get in a car ever again if you're that worried about your safety.

  • by sjames (1099) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @04:42PM (#35946716) Homepage

    Actually, the waste is a pretty much solved problem if the political process will kindly step aside and let us recover the 95% valuable fuel from the "waste". The remainder needs 200-500 years to decay to background levels.

    I'm pretty sure if a shut down and de-fueled reactor is in a war zone, people are more endangered by the IEDs and bullets whizzing around than by the old nuke plant.

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @04:59PM (#35946866)

    If a Tunguska sized event happened over the middle of london or washington DC we'd be wishing it had happened over some remote nuclear plant instead.

    hell if one had happened during the cold war over a city it probably would have started world war 3.

    some things are unlikely enough and catastrophic enough that we'd all be fucked no matter what energy source we use.

  • by BlueParrot (965239) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @05:27PM (#35947142)

    People keep pretending they are fundamentally different, they're not.

    A runaway nuclear reaction is quite similar to a nuclear bomb, and a poorly constructed nuclear bomb would probably produce a blast of similar yield to the Chernobyl explosion. The main difference between a runaway reactor and a bomb is that the latter is built to optimise the rate of the reaction, and that's also why it has more devastating effects. If the bombmaker is careless and makes some mistake in the design, then the reaction will not be so quick, and then the explosion will probably not be much more powerful than the chernobyl explosion. It is this latter fact that should be emphasized. The reason we expect that a reactor will never detonate with a power comparable to a warhead is not because it is not nuclear. The energy most certainly comes from the same type of reactions. The difference is simply that making a nuclear chain reaction proceed rapidly enough for the kind of devastating explosions you see from a warhead absolutely requires the conditions to be just right.

    In the same way a paper will burn, but if you grind it into a fine powder and pump air through it when you ignite the mix, the combustion will be much more rapid. Chemically speaking the difference is not that huge. It's still a combustion process that oxidises the cellulose with atmospheric oxygen. The only real difference is that the conditions under which it occurs make the reaction much more rapid.

    I guess if you assume that Chernobyl never went prompt critical then the two situations are bit more different, but we can't really tell if the main explosion was a prompt critical event or not because there is not sufficient information to determine if that was the case.

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @06:32PM (#35947640)

    Do you doubt that fires can spread radioactive contamination?

    As far as England? Yes, I think I do.

    Nobody said they felt tingling sensation when within a non-burning radioactive area, they said they felt it when fighting fires on contaminated ground.

    Question is, did he feel it because he KNEW he was on contaminated ground? Or was he only told later that it was contaminated? And how contaminated was it, really? Don't know, do you? Did you ever consider the possibility that his quote was put in there to scare people, and not to inform people?

    Look, just claiming, "Oh, that isn't a problem" is NOT going to get the public to trust nuclear power.

    Frankly, NOTHING is going to get the public to trust nuclear power. Well, except that fraction of the public that lives near nuclear power plants. They generally have no problems that way. Of course, I expect that most of them don't even know they live near a nuclear reactor, since most of them have been taught that a nuclear reactor looks like a cooling tower.

    A long time ago (~30 years), I remember an anti-nuke protest at the University I was going to at the time. The protesters spent a lot of time trying to convince the students they should fear nuclear power, right up to the point where one of their speakers asked "Well, how would you feel about living near a nuclear reactor?"

    A couple of students raised their hands, and when recognized by the speaker, pointed to the nuclear reactor that could clearly be seen from where the protest was taking place.

    This is the kind of hysteria we see on the nuclear debate - the opponents point out that nuclear power means the end of the world, the proponents start providing facts and figures, and are ignored.

    And the media helps of course. You get more ads sold and pages viewed by terrifying your readers than you do by telling them "14000 people were killed by a tsunami, but so far the damaged reactor hasn't killed anyone"....

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