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Power Science

Vast New Tomb Now Covers The Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Site (slashdot.org) 173

The final stage of the Chernobyl clean-up took over 20 years to build -- and will seal up the site for the next 100 years. Slashdot reader MrKaos writes: 30 years and seven months since the explosion...the project known as the 'Shelter Implementation Plan' has been rolled into place, sealing the crippled Chernobyl reactor. More than 10,000 people were involved in the project, which includes an advanced ventilation systems and remote controlled robotic cranes to dismantle the existing Soviet-built structure and reactor. This sarcophagus -- or New Safe Confinement -- is taller than the Statue of Liberty and larger than Wembley stadium.
Over one million people worked on the initial clean-up, the BBC reports, calling this new sarcophagus "the largest object people have ever moved," and its installation was apparently pretty surreal. "World leaders jostle with global executives and anonymous men dressed in full camouflage as platters of shrimp, foie gras and cheesecake are passed around by white-gloved staff...just 330 feet away from the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history."
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Vast New Tomb Now Covers The Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Site

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  • Documentary (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @01:43PM (#53623955) Homepage

    The BBS did an excellent documentary on this last week, well worth watching:

    https://thepiratebay.org/torre... [thepiratebay.org]

  • Isn;t this really just making a bigger headache for the people that have to deal with this in 100 years time?

    • Isn;t this really just making a bigger headache for the people that have to deal with this in 100 years time?

      That's the good thing about radioactive stuff. You can kick the can down the road, and when you catch up to it you can just pick it up and throw it in the bin.

    • by simplypeachy ( 706253 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @01:59PM (#53624055)
      The existing sarcophagus is already at end-of-life. Some of it has already fallen in and the rest is waiting to collapse. It was a rush job at the time. As well as that, it is just a simple, static covering. The new construction is weatherproofed in and out, made of much more modern materials and enjoyed the luxury of planning and worldwide expertise. It also has a remotely-operated series of cranes and platforms which will be used to dismantle the doomed interior which will mean it's not only averting another catastrophe (existing structure collapsing) it is also designed to actively "solve" the problem of what to do with the place.
    • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @02:30PM (#53624225) Homepage

      Isn;t this really just making a bigger headache for the people that have to deal with this in 100 years time?

      No.

      The original sarcophagus is falling apart. It was built by people who could only stay in the zone for a few minutes at a time and has no welds, bolts, or anything else. It's basically just a big pile of heavy stuff on top of the reactor.

      Something has to be done. Now.

      This new dome has plenty of space inside it and lots of cranes and robots built-in to dismantle the old stuff. When it's finished work a few years from now there will be easy access to the reactor, lots of space, and many years left over to think about what to do next.

      • Not only that, the new structure includes robotic cranes that will be able to continue cleaning up the site internally. This is actually a really good solution (as far as I am capable of judging such solutions).
        • by fisted ( 2295862 )

          Yeah that, and also the fact that there's a bunch of cranes and robots inside the dome, remotely operated so a to disassemble and clean up the site.

        • I wonder why they need to dismantle the old one? Why not keep it covered in case something happens to the shell of this new structure?
          • The article (one of them) suggests that the old structure is on the verge of collapse, an event that could spew radiation into the atmosphere and around. Presumably they can rebuild it now inside, if they want.
  • by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @01:50PM (#53623997)
    They were camouflaged as plates of shrimp? WTF? I doubt that will keep you safe from radiation.
    • They were camouflaged as plates of shrimp? WTF? I doubt that will keep you safe from radiation.

      Normally that'd be true... But this radiation is really, really dumb.

  • by borcharc ( 56372 ) * on Saturday January 07, 2017 @01:56PM (#53624033)

    It would nice if there were some primary sources in this post.....

  • Explosion (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07, 2017 @02:12PM (#53624141)

    It sounds impressive. There was an "explosion" of water to steam, then the reactor fire.

    Many people think the reactor exploded like a bomb. There's also many people who think that happened at Three Mile Island. It seems the media tends to exaggerate, and even lie for effect.

    Not that it matters much, it's just most people accept what they read. People are still telling me Russians hacked voting machines. And that the Speaker's Mace and Paul Ryan's logo is Nazi symbology. Even people who are normally intelligent. The internet has made things worse in some ways.

    • by SumDog ( 466607 )

      IIRC Chernobyl was uncontained, unlike .. well all American reactors. I think there's still one uncontained reactor running in Souther America.

    • Re:Explosion (Score:4, Informative)

      by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @08:29PM (#53625673) Journal

      Well the opinion seems to be that Chernobyl went prompt critical, which is more or less what bombs do. Except of course without the implosion it didn't explode in the same way exactly.

      Plus steam explosions are a real thing. The SL1 reactor also had a steam explosion due to a prompt criticality event. That causes the 12 ton reactor vessel to jump 3 meters in the air where it literally hit the ceiling of the containment vessel.

    • Also worth noting that the Chernobyl reactor had a positive void coefficient [wikipedia.org]. Basically, the more cooling water evaporated, the greater the rate of nuclear reaction and the greater the heat generation. This is an inherently unstable design since the reactor overheating increases the heat generation, making the problem worse. If the coolant starts to evaporate, the feedback loop with more heat being generated causes a steam explosion, which why Chernobyl blew up.

      Reactors outside the Soviet Union never
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Many people think the reactor exploded like a bomb.

      I think most people understand that there wasn't a nuclear bomb like explosion, but they also understand that there was an explosion and it throw a large amount of dangerous material into the atmosphere where it was carried by winds over to Europe and various other places.

      That's most people's primary experience of it - news reports on how the fallout was being blow over where they live.

  • This is Slashdot, FFS. You have to use proper units of measure. How big is it in Olympic Sized Swimming Pools?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    One failed reactor =

    25 years of cleanup effort
    $235b cost (which of course - tax payers all around Europe are shouldering)
    thousands of lives lost
    ecological repercussions for centuries to come in the region

    Stop nuclear power now before we have more accidents like these.

    • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @03:00PM (#53624373) Homepage

      To be fair, it was one reactor that would not have ever been built anywhere but in the Soviet Union (no containment dome) run by people dumber than a animated TV show (The Simpsons).

      Of course, nobody suspected that the oh-so-smart Japanese would site emergency generators where they could get flooded when the containment wall was overrun (just like their consulting geologists told them it would).

      If engineers ran the world, things would be more boring but quite a bit safer. Instead we get the Soviet Union, the Universal Kleptocracy and, god help us, Donald.

      • The only people dumber than the ones who built this reactor are the ones who want to build thousands of untested reactors all around the world. Tell me, do you have a ready-made list of excuses when design and construction flaws are exposed, and will you have a fall-back position?

    • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @04:06PM (#53624665) Homepage

      We lose more than 235bn a year from people skiving from work (and that's in GBP, not USD!).

      We lose more than 235bn a year.

      "Abolishing open borders 'could cost Germany â235 bn'"

      "20 global banks have paid $235bn in fines since the 2008 financial crisis"

      "Brexit risks losing the UK £235bn in trade"

      Those are JUST the search results for that exact number. In the grand scheme of things, worldwide, one $235bn accident every 30 years is really chickenfeed. Especially against the entire energy market and its ramifications.

      Big numbers are only scary when they are bigger numbers than anything else. And they are made more scary when, like your 235bn and some of those above, they are basically made up to sound scarier.

      • A better way to analyze the cost is to compare against the value of electricity generated. Here's a graph of nuclear power generation [world-nuclear.org] over the last 45 years. Generation has been about 2300 TWh per year for the last 20 years. The 25 years before that ramped up roughly as a triangle, so call it 2200/2 = 1100 TWh per year average.

        This gives us a total of 73,500 TWh generated by nuclear power over the last 45 years. 20*2300 + 25*(2200/2) = 73500.

        Using a global average electricity price of $0.20 per kW
        • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

          So the cleanup costs for nuclear accidents so far is about 3% of the price of the electricity nuclear generates. Or 0.6 cents per kWh so far.

          Thank you, your insights are very interesting however I think you mean those are the cost's incurred so far. It would also be interesting to map in energetic costs as well.

          Chernoby cleanup cost $235 billion, Fukushima was around $200 billion. Three Mile Island was about $1 billion.

          This is the cost to *ESTABLISH* cleaning up Chernobyl, now the work begins. We have n

    • by TopSpin ( 753 )

      Where are the Nuclear power fans now?

      Admiring this map [tmrow.co], showing the huge advantage of predominantly nuclear powered nations such as France wrt CO2 emissions.

      Stop nuclear power now before we have more accidents like these.

      No. Stop indulging hysterical thinking.

      • Actually nuclear power in the west is as good as dead. Hardly anything new is being built and huge costs for decommissioning coming up . Now in the east, you know, like china, there is construction going on. That is, where there is a lot of cooling water, meaning in highly populated areas, sometimes unstable geography. That could become interesting. I'm not enthusiastic either.

    • > thousands of lives lost

      You have a typo there. I think you meant to type "49" (38 directly, 11 from cancer). At the time, it was thought that many more people might die 20 years later from cancer (rather than 25 years later from old age, car accidents, etc) but evidence indicates that hasn't happened much - cancer rates haven't increased as much as was feared. One claim that "6,000 workers will die from cancer due to radiation" was debunked when it was pointed out that there haven't even been 6,000 T

    • Stop nuclear power now before we have more accidents like these.

      I agree. Nothing is more dangerous than nuclear power... except everything else. No, that's not even true, with no nuclear power we'd die from thirst, starvation, or freezing.

      Nuclear power historically has the lowest number of deaths to energy produced, and that is including the accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima, as well as the deaths from mining the uranium. Solar power and wind are more dangerous than nuclear power by at least an order of magnitude, but we don't hear about the occasional slip-n-fall

      • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

        Stop nuclear power now before we have more accidents like these.

        I agree. Nothing is more dangerous than nuclear power... >Nuclear power historically has the lowest number of deaths to energy produced

        I think your approach to nuclear power is to have it at any cost. Transposing idealistic notions about NP onto reality and politicizing it doesn't really respect NP for either its potential or its dangerous nature.

        Perhaps the metric is wrong for Nuclear Power. Perhaps the metric we should be using for NP is total failed births per GWh or lives destroyed per ton of radioisotope maybe we could use communities obliterated per GWh. I've never heard of a case where people are evacuated for 30 years because a

        • We are at the beginning of nuclear power's impact on the human species so perhaps we need new ways to look at nuclear power in order to understand how it is affecting us, we've just started acknowledging carbon as an externality imposed on our generation, so why not radioactive effluents on future generations?

          We don't consider the radioactive waste an issue for future generations for many reasons. First, the size of the problem is actually very small. The energy used in a single American's life could come from a lump of uranium or thorium the size of a beer can. That's not just electricity but also heating, transportation, all energy. If allowed to be recycled then the size of the problem is even smaller. If the fuel is burned in a way that the valuable isotopes can be extracted before they decay away then

          • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

            We are at the beginning of nuclear power's impact on the human species so perhaps we need new ways to look at nuclear power in order to understand how it is affecting us, we've just started acknowledging carbon as an externality imposed on our generation, so why not radioactive effluents on future generations?

            We don't consider the radioactive waste an issue for future generations for many reasons. First, the size of the problem is actually very small.

            You're right, it's just small enough to fit in a freight train that wraps all the way around the equator... and a bit more, maybe a third more. [nationalgeographic.com]

            We need to find a way to put nuclear reactors in everyone's backyard, I propose we put the big nuclear reactors right in the middle of cities, every city, lets call it the IMBY movement to force people into accepting nuclear power for their own good. We need purplies to hold down hippies and fart right in their smug faces after a chilli bacon and chipoltle pizza s

  • Wild Life (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Max_W ( 812974 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @02:31PM (#53624233)
    Strangely the wild life is booming in the Chernobyl Zone. Just google "wild life in Chernobyl zone" and see Images.

    It seems there is nothing worse than a Homo sapiens for the nature.
    • OTOH hand, moderately radioactive wildlife isn't something to be causally ignored.

      Godzilla, Spiderman... the list goes on.

      We have been warned.

    • Re:Wild Life (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @04:13PM (#53624689)

      I'm not sure it's all that strange. Keep in mind that wildlife will still likely thrive even with high birth defect rates, early deaths by cancer, and other unpleasant side-effects from living in higher-than-normal radiation. We would find such a situation appalling among humans, but nature is a bit more brutally pragmatic about such things. Human populations obviously have a much more detrimental effect on populations than radiation.

      On the plus side, this gives us a great model for what a post-apocalyptic world should look like 30 years after the bombs fall, or whatever other disaster strikes. It's sort of eerie. I've never like the Fallout aesthetic that implies nothing grows in an irradiated region, even if I understand *why* they did it.

    • A pictorial documentary which I saw in the last year or so studied the plant life within the exclusion zone. They're hanging dosimeters on tree trunks to see what their dosages are over time. It appears that in some places the natural cycle of composting and regrowth has halted. Organisms are no longer decomposing biomass, so it piles up much longer than is natural. The ecology is being starved of nutrients, so remaining growth is slowed. There are dead forested areas persistently standing instead of crumbl

    • AC: Ya know, I am actually capable of critical thinking, and if all they showed was a cherrypicked patch or two of brown grass, I probably wouldn't have mentioned it. You seem to know about the article, or a similar one to that which I'm talking about. Please post a link to it, and we can compare. Regardless, the article I read was more substantial than you mockingly retort. Ultimately, we'll only know for sure if it was credible, if we each became polyglot nuclear scientists and ecologists, and team up tog

  • by SumDog ( 466607 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @03:07PM (#53624403) Homepage Journal

    From the article:

    >Shortly after the accident, Hans Blix was flown to Chernobyl. Blix would later become better known for chairing the United Nations commission responsible for disarming Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction in the run up to the 2003 war.

    Wait what, the WMDs that didn't exist? The mustard gas that American sold Iraq and relabelling it as WMD? Why even include that bullshit BBC? You just want to keep that narrative going however you can?

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The BBC's statement is completely factual:

      Blix would later become better known for chairing the United Nations commission responsible for disarming Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction

      Blix did chair that commission. The fact that Iraq didn't have the WMDs or whatever is irrelevant, there was still a UN commission set up to disarm Iraq and Blix chaired it.

  • According to the Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] and this article [ebrd.com] it was put in place on November 29, 2016...
  • Here's a good documentary on the disaster. http://topdocumentaryfilms.com... [topdocumentaryfilms.com]

    The upshot is that 10's of thousands died fighting the fire and containing and the death toll continues to mount. Score one for safe and clean nuclear energy.

    • by khallow ( 566160 )

      10's of thousands died fighting the fire

      Yea, 49 is a big number.

      Score one for safe and clean nuclear energy.

      Because everyone runs their power plants like cold war Soviet technocrats?

      • by plopez ( 54068 )

        1) 49 is a big number if you are one of them
        2) Fire fighting, containment, and cleanup exposed some 500k workers to the site. And the actual death toll is probably underestimated: http://www.slate.com/articles/... [slate.com]

        If you watch the documentary there are a number of people who worked on the project who were in bad health. Which could be radiation, heavy metal poisoning, or a host of many other nasty things found in industrial sites e.g. PCBs, Dioxin, asbestos, etc.

        • by khallow ( 566160 )

          2) Fire fighting, containment, and cleanup exposed some 500k workers to the site. And the actual death toll is probably underestimated:

          And the answer is:

          Weâ(TM)ll probably never know.

          Hooray for stories that don't actually say or mean anything.

          If you watch the documentary there are a number of people who worked on the project who were in bad health.

          It's been 27 years. Of course there's people in bad health.

          Which could be radiation, heavy metal poisoning, or a host of many other nasty things found in industrial sites e.g. PCBs, Dioxin, asbestos, etc.

          Sounds real definitive.

      • I'd say it's fair to count the thousands who died and will still die as a result of this wholly unnecessary disaster.
        Let's not be pedantic about the far lower number attributed directly to just death by radiation, thanks.

        • by khallow ( 566160 )

          I'd say it's fair to count the thousands who died and will still die as a result of this wholly unnecessary disaster.

          Unless, of course, they're not going to die as a result of this disaster. Then I suppose it's not "fair".

          Let's not be pedantic about the far lower number attributed directly to just death by radiation, thanks.

          No, let's be pedantic for good reason. We need to remember that the "tens of thousands" is a number pulled out of someone's ass. It has no connection to reality.

  • This edifice to corruption and terrible engineering could better be called a poor quality concrete, low quality steel, leaky, pretend solution to a problem that will last for millennia.
    • They had worldwide experts for design, and the parts of the structure were built and pre-assembled in Italy.

      The only part in the Ukraine (I'm sure with many international experts onhand) was the final assembly and moving it into place.

      Rather incredible effort to me, the international partners, international construction, and the largest thing ever moved. Oh, and there was a war in the Ukraine during all of this.

      Yes, I read the article...

  • This will make the *best* video game in about 5000 years when Lara Croft's great-great-...-great-granddaughter breaks in and raids the Ancient Cursed Tomb of Chernobyl.

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