The battle for Chernobyl.
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:
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).
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?
Why does none of this film show any artefacts on the film resulting from radiation damage?
The infamous “elephant’s foot” “magma” doesn’t look “white-hot” at this stage, although that’s how it’s described.
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.
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.
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?
“…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.
“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.