Physical Insights

An independent scientist’s observations on society, technology, energy, science and the environment. “Modern science has been a voyage into the unknown, with a lesson in humility waiting at every stop. Many passengers would rather have stayed home.” – Carl Sagan

The battle for Chernobyl.

with 18 comments

Last month I got into a discussion with some people about the Chernobyl disaster, following the 22nd anniversary of the catastrophic Soviet reactor accident, and this documentary film was mentioned:

The Battle for Chernobyl.

To put it lightly, this film is an astonishing bunch of rhetorical baloney.

I’m not trying to downplay the public health consequences of the Chernobyl accident – but I’m downplaying the inaccurate or false claims made by certain groups, as distinct from the body of evidence of real, documented and substantiated (and very significant impacts).

Despite the known public health impacts, some people continue to make claims that are either just not true or are completely unsubstantiated – for example any claim that there are children, today, with an increased incidence of thyroid cancer, which just isn’t true – any children who were exposed to the short-lived iodine-131 source term in 1986 are adults today, 22 years later, and the iodine-131 decayed away quickly, within months.

Now, to look at the video:

From the gaping hole, a spray of fire, charged with radioactive particles in fusion, sprays a thousand meters into the sky.

Right from the outset, it’s completely obvious that for the next hour and a bit, science is tossed aside, and rhetoric is the first and only order of affairs.

The radioactive fallout is going to be 100 times greater than the combined power of the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Some simplistic comments have often been made in which the radioactive release of the Chernobyl event is claimed to be 300 or 400 times that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. However, in sensible terms of radiological impacts, the two events can not be simply compared with a number suggesting that one was x times larger than the other.

Radioecology after Chernobyl – some good literature.

The total combined energy yield of both of the nuclear weapons used in Japan was about 35 kilotons of TNT equivalent – or about 41 gigawatt-hours. The Chernobyl Unit 4 reactor, with a thermal power output of about 3 gigawatts, produced that same amount of energy, and created about the same amount of fission-product activity, every 13.6 hours or thereabouts. Given that a nuclear power reactor contains fuel that has provided that kind of power output for perhaps as long as several years, of course there’s a larger inventory of radioactivity contained in the reactor fuel.

Iodine tablets swallowed to counteract the effects of radioactivity.

Iodine prophylaxis only prevents the body from uptaking iodine from the environment – which might be contaminated by radioactive iodine-131. It in no way “counteracts the effects of radioactivity”.

“The radiation level above the reactor is over 3500 R, almost nine times the lethal dose.”

3500 R over what length of time? The strength of an ionising “radiation field” in such a situation can only sensibly be expressed as roentgens (or sieverts or similar unit) per hour (or per unit of time).

0:36:40

If over six hundred pilots were “fatally contaminated with radiation”and killed, and this is known to be true, why have the Chernobyl Forum, the IAEA, the WHO, the UNDP, the UNSCEAR, Russian or Ukrainian governments never mentioned it? Can it be proven to be true, before the international community, by these people?

0:37:08

Why does none of this film show any artefacts on the film resulting from radiation damage?

0:38:20

The infamous “elephant’s foot” “magma” doesn’t look “white-hot” at this stage, although that’s how it’s described.

0:43:45

Again, the level of radioactivity is implied to be so very high – and it was high – yet it was not high enough to leave artefacts on the camera film. I don’t know exactly what sort of radiation dose is required to effect a piece of photochemical film (Remember that stuff, that was used before digital photography?), but I really expect it to show some damage under these conditions.

0:44:45

If you’ve got documentary evidence of these lives lost as a direct result of the disaster, that don’t appear in any of the UN’s findings, then I’m sure the UN would love to hear about it.

0:52:30

Oh dear – it’s “imagined” health physics, romanticised Hollywood fiction style.

“It finds a way in, and knocks you out”.

1:03:00 or thereabouts:

7000 R/hr – and still no effect on the video camera film. I wonder how strong the ionising radiation field needs to be to affect it?

1:12:30 -

“…The visit stirs up painful memories. He was fatally exposed to radiation during the seven months he spent covering the battle. Since then, he’s had to be hospitalised for over two months each year.”

He was fatally exposed to radiation? Oh, really? So you’re reanimated a dead man to interview for the program?

Chernobyl showed us the true nature of nuclear energy in human hands

No, Chernobyl showed us the potential for folly associated with the Soviet way of doing things back then. Keep in mind that the non-Soviet world has never even come remotely close to experiencing such an accident.

1:31:20:

“Inside, there are 100 kilograms of plutonium.

One microgram is a lethal dose for a human being. That means there is enough plutonium to poison 100 million people.”

Even assuming that “one microgram of plutonium is a lethal dose for a human being”, which it isn’t, I expect that somebody who is really a nuclear physicist should know how to count, and not allow such a glaring error of arithmetic to go uncorrected.

“The half-life of plutonium is 245,000 years.”

In order of descending half-life:

Pu-244: 80 million years

Pu-242: 373,300 years

Pu-239: 24,100 years

Pu-240: 6564 years

Pu-238: 87.7 years

Pu-241: 14.35 years

Pu-236: 2.858 years

The nuclides bolded are the most common ones. I don’t know about you, but Iexpect someone who is a nuclear physicist to get that right, and not just pull some nonsense number out of thin air! Again, not one of these plutonium nuclides has the half-life claimed in the film. What’s more, no credible nuclear physicist would state that “the half-life of plutonium is such-and-such” without specifying which nuclide he was talking about.

But wait – if you’ve watched the video, there are a couple more scenes that you almost certainly haven’t overlooked:

“Yet, it is thanks to these men that the worst was avoided. A second explosion, ten times more powerful than Hiroshima, which would have wiped out half of Europe.”

Yes, you heard that correctly. They claim that a  150 kiloton nuclear detonation could have happened. See below, for what I think of that.

0:34:00 – 0:35:00

The ensuing chain reaction could set off an explosion, comparable to a gigantic atomic bomb.

“Our experts studied the possibility, and concluded that the explosion would have had a force of three to five megatons. Minsk, which is 320 kilometres from Chernobyl, would have been razed, and Europe rendered uninhabitable.”

A 3 to 5 megaton nuclear detonation.

I apologise for putting this bluntly, but there’s only one thing I can say to that. What complete and utter bullshit.

They trump out the nuclear weapon explosion stock footage and everything. This is quite possibly the most blatantly shameless, ridiculous, completely falsifiable and utterly ridiculous example of shameless and absurd anti-nuclear-power propaganda I have ever seen.

Written by Luke Weston

May 8, 2008 at 3:27 pm

18 Responses

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  1. So in other words we are looking at the next ‘Reefer Madness’ that kids will be splitting their sides over in a generation or so.

    I am glad you had the sitzfleish to sit through this garbage and save me the trouble.

    DV82XL

    May 8, 2008 at 4:53 pm

  2. While criticism of anti-nuclear groups for their use of half-truths, inaccuracies and misleading exaggeration is certainly appropriate, it is unfortunate that you resorted to similar tactics regarding statements about the use of iodine tablets (actually, potassium iodide (KI)) for iodine prophylaxis. Sure, KI is no panacea, but to say only that “It in no way ‘counteracts the effects of radioactivity’” is to minimize the value of this drug in a radiation emergency.

    Whether one believes that Chernobyl led to 4000 cases of thyroid cancer (USNRC estimate) or 250,000 cases (Greenpeace), there is no question that the primary physical health effect of the accident was thyroid damage which the wide distribution and use of KI could have effectively prevented. In fact, as the US FDA, the NRC, the World Health Organization, and others have pointed out, except for thyroid damage, there is no statistical evidence of any other adverse physical effects from the accident among the general population (that is, people located at least 10 miles off-site). However, those lucky enough to get KI were protected. Further, although 18 million people did take the drug, there was not a single reported case of any serious side effects resulting from its administration.

    Yet the dismissive attitude towards KI you expressed supports the current ill-advised US policy, as dictated by the US nuclear industry, that KI provides only “negligible additional value” and which limits the availability of the drug. This assures that if it is ever needed, hardly any will be availble. Unfortunately, as history has shown, should a release of radioactive iodine ever occur (as has already happened in Japan in 1945, Windscale, the South Pacific in the 1950’s, and Chernobyl, among others) the failure to have sufficient supplies of KI will only lead to unnecessary suffering.

    Alan Morris

    May 9, 2008 at 4:44 pm

  3. I don’t think I’m “dismissing” KI at all – all of what you say is true.

    If the KI was available to the population – or it was distributed promptly – a lot of suffering could have been prevented.

    You’re absolutely right.

    But then again, if the USSR government was sensible enough to have had the KI distributed to the people near the RBMK reactors, then they might have been sensible enough to avoid the design flaws and lack of safety culture in the first place, wouldn’t they?

    But then again, nuclear power in the United States or elsewhere today is a different matter.

    Chernobyl, Hiroshima, Hanford, NTS and Windscale did result in significant I-131 environmental source terms – but not one of these scenarios are of any relevance to power reactors in the United States (or anywhere else using similar reactors). Even the worst case, the TMI accident, released an I-131 source term that was absolutely minuscule by comparison.

    So, is distributing KI to people living around nuclear power plants in the US ever really worth it?

    My suggestion for anyone living around modern nuclear power plants would be this: If there’s ever any reactor accident resulting in a significant I-131 release – which is extremely unlikely – go to the local university, high school, community college or whatever, anywhere with a chemistry lab, and you should be able to lay your hands on a bottle of KI or NaI.

    Typical dose for an adult for this purpose is about 100mg KI or so – so, one kilogram is enough to dose 10,000 people! Put it in a 50 gallon drum of water, and give every person 20 ml or so. It doesn’t have to be exact – a little overdose won’t hurt you.

    Yes – it would allow for the KI to be taken quicker if it’s in people’s medicine cabinet ready to be used – but is the expense justified, compared with the fantastically small risk of completely breaching all radiological containment associated with these power plants, which are completely different from the RBMK in terms of containment, even in the case of worst-case core damage.

    The approach I mentioned might take a little longer to do, but it should still be do-able, and the much, much smaller cost is far easier to justify, and far easier to do – even the local governments can buy a few kilograms of analytical-grade KI from a chemical supplier at a low cost, even if the feds won’t provide it.

    That seems so much cheaper than packing it into 100mg tablets, packaging it up in unneeded packaging, and having pharma companies making a nice profit selling it to the feds, and having the FDA worry about approving it – all that just seems unnecessary.

    Luke Weston

    May 9, 2008 at 5:50 pm

  4. First: A 5 MT blash would not of even lit up the sky of Minsk. What utter crapolla!

    Second: To get that kind of blast you would need a *fusion* explosion. Something that could not occur, even at a RBMK reactor with lot’s of Pu in it…it’s technologically not possible.

    Third…there was never an uncontrolled fission reaction. The fuel BURNED due to the heat from lack of cooling and the steam explosion destroying the plant.

    Luke, did you have a chance to make comments at the end of the film?

    David

    David Walters

    May 10, 2008 at 8:20 am

  5. Dear Mr. Weston:

    Your arguments against stockpiling potassium iodide (KI) range from foolish to irresponsible.

    What could possibly make you think that in a serious radiological emergency, the public’s health could be adequately protected by assuming that someone could go to a chemistry lab, “lay their hands” on some KI on a shelf, mix up a batch, and then distribute it to 10,000 good friends.

    That’s truly loony, and, by the way, it won’t work. (Despite obvious logistical issues, it would be dangerous. KI comes in 3 grades. The stuff you would find in a chem. lab is not pharmaceutical grade. It’s loaded with contaminants and additives that would retard its absorption by the body. Therefore a huge dose would need to be taken, which would lead to all kinds of problems from those contaminants and additives.) Hopefully, no one will take your good idea seriously. It would be like handing out poison.

    But just as silly is your argument against KI based on its cost. You obviously have absolutely no idea what KI tablets do cost, and would probably be embarrassed to learn how inexpensive they are. (A stockpiled child’s dose, for a year, costs about a penny when purchased by the government.) “Is this expense justified?” you ask. Well, thousands of the unlucky children at Chernobyl would undoubtedly think it is.

    But in reality, your arguments against KI have nothing to do with KI. They’re based on the sunny notion that serious nuclear emergencies can’t happen. Do you actually believe that the technology has reached the point where it’s foolproof? Certainly you are aware of the near misses that have occurred in just the past few years. Like Davis-Besse, where the only thing preventing the rupture of the pressure vessel was a thin steel veneer, which was totally inadequate for that purpose. Or how about the fact that the USNRC has reported on 12 instances in 2007 of personnel found sleeping while on duty. Do these not concern you?. Do you really believe reasonable precautions are unnecessary?

    If you think so, one can only hope, for the good of us all, that you will reconsider your career choice, and stay away from dangerous things like nuclear reactors.

    Alan Morris

    May 10, 2008 at 10:56 pm

  6. I’m talking about analytical reagent grade KI – exactly what kinds of contaminants do you think are present in it, and in what amounts? The difference between AR grade and pharmaceutical grade will be quite minimal in practice – particularly in an emergency involving radioactive iodine.

    Yes – pharmaceutical-grade ready-to-take KI tablets aren’t especially expensive – you are correct. That said, however, I agree with current US government and NRC policy in that they’re not really necessary – what it comes down to is simply the risk of a reactor accident that can actually release a significant I-131 source term.

    Perhaps, if distributing the KI to everyone increases public confidence in the NRC and so forth in the United States, and increases public acceptance of expanded nuclear energy still further, then the admittedly rather limited cost of distributing the KI is worth it for that purpose alone?

    The value judgment associated with KI basically comes down to balancing the – small – cost of the KI against the risk of any event happening that could release a Chernobyl-like source term from the plants being operated in the United States – and other countries – today.

    We know that if all the radioiodine inventory – or a significant portion of it – inside an operating reactor could be released to the atmosphere, like at Chernobyl – then the resulting radioiodine release is a very, very serious concern. But what would it take for that to be a realistic scenario at a reactor with realistic characteristics, realistic safety systems, and a proper degree of containment?

    Again – you invoke the example of the Chernobyl disaster as though it has some relevance to the risk of an accident involving a large radionuclide release at modern reactors operating in countries such as the United States – which it does not at all!

    Near misses? Near misses to what, exactly?

    Considering the infamous Davis-Besse head corrosion incident as you mention – that “thin steel veneer” you mention is an inch thick – certainly far thinner than the nominal thickness of the carbon steel – but thick enough to withstand the pressure involved.

    That 1″ thick liner is stainless steel – the boric acid could never have corroded it.

    But let’s say that it did rupture – say the pressure vessel ruptured completely.
    What would happen then?

    You’d be looking at a loss of coolant into the containment – resulting in increased radiological contamination within the containment. The LCA would be far less subtle than that experienced at Three Mile Island, and a breach that size could easily be managed by the ECCS.

    Three Mile Island basically exemplifies what is perhaps the worst case scenario for the nuclear power industry in Western nations today – with negative void coefficients and sensible containment vessels – and it released very very little radioiodine. Basically, with that containment vessel in place, you can do damn nearly whatever you please to the reactor, and the off site radiological impact is essentially non existent.

    I believe reasonable precautions are necessary – and reasonable precautions are indeed already in effect, and that’s why nuclear energy is responsible for about 20% of all the world’s electricity generation – and aside from one disaster of Cold War era Soviet Union thinking, nuclear power has never harmed or killed anybody.

    Luke Weston

    May 11, 2008 at 10:49 am

  7. And, finally, as for the sleeping guards at Peach Bottom, I’ll just leave you with this – it explains the situation very well – should we really be concerned?

    http://atomicinsights.blogspot.com/2008/02/should-we-be-concerned-about-guards.html

    Luke Weston

    May 11, 2008 at 11:09 am

  8. Alan, is your issue the iodine pills or nuclear energy? When I was young, in the early 1960s, my mom had some pills. This was handed out because radiation from nuclear testing was increasing constantly w/no end in sight until they banned it.

    We lived 10 miles down wind from Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. No one ever handedo or suggested we should have Iodine pills.

    David

    David Walters

    May 11, 2008 at 11:25 am

  9. David makes a very good point about the weapons tests.

    The many hundreds of atmospheric tests at NTS released an astonishing amount of radioactivity – many, many EBq of radioactivity, which certainly included plenty of I-131. Far more radioactive iodine was released at NTS over the years – and other radionuclides too – than was released at Chernobyl. Nuclear power isn’t a cause for concern – but those tests certainly were.

    Luke Weston

    May 11, 2008 at 12:37 pm

  10. Dear Mr. Weston:

    One of the arts in pharmaceutical manufacturing (which is what the company I work for does) is balancing the need for acceptable shelf life with high bioavailability (the speed and ability of a pharmaceutical to be absorbed by the body in order to achieve the desired therapeutic effect). Properly manufactured KI tablets achieve this balance by careful formulation and specialized packaging.

    But non-pharmaceutical KI does not have to be concerned with bioavailability, and consequently is manufactured with a large amounts of stabilizers, drying agents, preservatives and other additives designed to keep the product from deteriorating in the bottle and on the shelf. But these same additives also retard KI’s dissolution in the body and greatly reduce its bioavailability. Thus, non-pharmaceutical grade KI would make a poor protective agent. If it is ever needed, you would certainly want the good stuff.

    You are wrong about the stainless liner at Davis-Besse. It was less than 3/8 inch thick, not 1 inch. Its purpose was solely to protect against the corrosive effects of boric acid, and it is far too thin to provide structural integrity for the pressure vessel. This is supposed to be achieved by the over 6 inches of steel on the outside of the vessel, but at Davis-Besse the structural steel had corroded away leaving a hole that NRC personnel described as “football sized.”

    Had this reactor gone back into service, it is likely that the pressure vessel would have ultimately failed. But your belief that this would have merely led to “increased radiological contamination within the containment” illustrates breath-taking indifference to the consequences of this kind of an event. Water at over 500 degrees squirting out of a hole at over 2000 psi directly into the control rod mechanism would almost certainly have disabled the ability of the operators to shut down the reactor. Your soothing belief that this “could easily be managed by the ECCS” is fantasy. And your confident optimism that containment in an accident of this nature would not be breached is utterly without merit.

    But it is your failure to understand that there are key similarities between current US nuclear operations, and the past events at TMI and Chernobyl, that outweigh the differences. The melt at TMI wasn’t caused by a stuck valve, it was due to operator error. And what occurred at Chernobyl was clearly the result of its operators breaking established safety procedures, for reasons that never could have been anticipated. Surely you can’t believe that the nuclear industry has solved the problem of human fallibility, and from now on we can depend on only flawless performance from the people who run our plants, and need not be prepared in case they screw-up.

    Or do you believe this?

    You call past accidents “not relevant” to today’s operations, and clearly hold the belief that “accidents can’t happen” to today’s rectors. You seem not to understand that they are called “accidents” because they occur from unimagined causes at unpredictable times. Your belief that “you can do damn nearly whatever you please to a reactor” without fear of danger is exactly the attitude that leads to catastrophe. Indeed, you inadvertently demonstrate this relaxed disregard of danger by your cheerful willingness to believe that things like nuclear plant personnel sleeping on duty is no big deal And this, of course, only assures that one day the inevitable will occur.

    Alan Morris

    May 11, 2008 at 11:18 pm

  11. David:

    I am a strong supporter or nuclear energy, though a critic of some of the policies of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I believe that US plants are reliable, well-run operations, and that nuclear power will hopefully play a growing role in meeting US energy needs in the future. In the interest of full disclosure, I should also point out that the company I work for (ANBEX) is the primary supplier of KI tablets to the NRC, and I have been involved in this issue for over 25 years.

    My chief complaint is that while the NRC acknowledges the value of KI, they refuse to assure its availability, in the amount that would be needed, to the people who would need it, in the event of a release of radioactive iodine from any US power plant. Their current policy is to have enough only for people living within 10 miles of US plants, despite the fact that experience and their own research has concluded it could be needed for up to 200 miles. (At Chernobyl, the NRC has reported that 97% of the first 750 known cases of thyroid cancer in Belarus took place among people located more than 30 miles away from the reactor.) I further object to the fact that the NRC has decided that it is more important to protect the reputation of the nuclear power industry, than it is to protect the people who live within the potential danger zone of nuclear plants.

    That you do not have KI tablets although you live within 10 miles of Indian Point is not surprising. The program to distribute them was run by the NRC, and very few efforts were made to assure that people eligible for the free tablets were made aware of the program. Thus, only about 15% of people living near the reactors actually picked them up.

    Alan Morris

    May 11, 2008 at 11:23 pm

  12. “Water at over 500 degrees squirting out of a hole at over 2000 psi directly into the control rod mechanism would almost certainly have disabled the ability of the operators to shut down the reactor. Your soothing belief that this “could easily be managed by the ECCS” is fantasy. And your confident optimism that containment in an accident of this nature would not be breached is utterly without merit.”

    You seem awfully confident about your assessment of the likely consequences of a reactor vessel breach–can you offer some sources supporting your position?

    Sovietologist

    May 12, 2008 at 6:36 am

  13. Actually I did not mind this program. Chernobyl was certainly a major incident and it was a disaster for those who were directly at the site. The general public in the area have not had their health severely affected in the manner that many claim, but as for the liquidators, the ones exposed to the highest doses of radiation from working right at the reactor site right after it happened, there’s no denying that they got a lot higher a dose than is reasonably considered safe (Emphasis on the fact that I’m distinguishing between the first responders who were the closest and the population in general).

    The film could have been more balanced but I appreciated the fact that it showed how much the Soviet government bungled the incident, even after it happened. As mentioned, thyroid cancer did increase and this could have been lessened if the Soviets had quickly announced the accident and distributed potassium iodine. The cleanup was initially very poorly managed. Other countries which had equipment that could have helped were never informed. People were not moved out of the immediate area as fast as they should have been. Not even the Soviet Premier was fully informed of it.

    The film is not all that inaccurate. It’s not a very fair picture because it focuses on those who were in the worst case senerio. There is another film which has run on the Discovery Channel called “Disaster At Chernobyl” and I actually liked that film because it did a very good job of showing the events leading up to the explosion and the fact that there were numerous times when the supervisors violated the most basic safety procedures. I though it was a pretty good illustration of the fact that the reactor was not built to any kind of reasonable standards and was operated in a manner that was basically criminally negligent.

    drbuzz0

    May 12, 2008 at 11:57 pm

  14. Damn! Sorry I’m so late to the party.

    First off, I have to say that Alan has no idea what he’s talking about with respect to Davis Besse, and I seriously doubt that Alan knows the first thing about the difference between a small-break LOCA and a large-break LOCA.

    Aside: Of course, even a small-break LOCA can completely junk a plant, as TMI demonstrated, but we’re talking about safety issues here. Of course, Davis Bessie would have been totaled if the steel liner had ruptured. It was definitely a low-point in the history of the management of nuclear plants in the US and the owners of Davis Bessie are rightly criticized, but the industry and the regulator learned from this incident. (Sadly, they should have learned from the French, who were aware of these issues well in advance of the incident.) Nevertheless, senseless fearmongering based on ignorant speculation is also inexcusable. Learn something before commenting on what the possible consequences of an accident would have been. In particular, learn that scenarios such as this and even worse are analyzed with excruciating detail and review. [end of aside]

    Although some of what Alan says is certainly true (e.g., the liner was not designed to provide structural integrity for the vessel) and I’m glad that he claims to be a “strong supporter” of nuclear energy, I have to admit that, personally, I find his use of wild speculation and fear to hawk a few pills to be rather disgusting.

    Perhaps distributing KI pills is a good thing; perhaps it’s more trouble than it’s worth. These decisions should be based on sound risk analysis and rational thought, not on imagined worst-case scenarios and unsubstantiated claims. After all, we don’t issue a parachute to every passenger on a commercial airplane, do we? Why is that?

    As for “human fallibility” and “flawless performance” … heh … don’t make me laugh. I’m willing to bet that Alan risks his life on the near “flawless performance” of others every day. We all do this when we drive our cars or simply cross the street. Just one slip, just one slight turn of the steering wheel (or a failure in the steering or a failure in the breaks) will send a car travelling in the opposite direction hurtling into your vehicle at a relative speed of 80 mph or more. Think you’ll survive? You and your entire family could be killed in an instant. It happens to roughly 40,000 Americans every year. That’s an average of over four deaths every hour.

    Now that’s scary. Put in this context, the Davis-Besse incident seems trivial.

    bryfry

    May 20, 2008 at 6:34 pm

  15. Correction: I meant to say, “Of course, Davis Bessie was at risk of being totaled if the steel liner had ruptured.” I didn’t mean to overstate the certainty of the bad consequences of the accident.

    bryfry

    May 20, 2008 at 7:17 pm

  16. If the RBMK had a steel cage like western reactors, the yield could have been over the 0,2 – 0,3 kiltons that were.

    regards,

    tekknorg

    July 8, 2008 at 12:59 am

  17. I think a lot of the confusion people have distinguishing between Chernobyl and western style reactors comes from not knowing the differences in design. For example the Chernobyl reactor had NO containment building. It had a simple steel shed to keep the rain out. Compare this to western style reactors which are surrounded by a containment building that has heavily reinforced concrete walls that are metres thick.

    Mike Johnson

    July 29, 2012 at 9:16 pm

  18. I loved the discussion here. But what about Fukushima? Was it a “western style plant”?

    Jack

    June 28, 2013 at 9:31 am


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