Thursday, June 16, 2011

Excellent documentary on Chernobyl

Must watch. This prime quality documentary contains lots of information that you and I and everyone on Earth should know about the terrible reality of a nuclear catastrophe:

Importantly (c. min 34) we are informed of an extreme danger that existed when the molten cores penetrated under the reactor (China syndrome). Tons of lead (itself poisonous but not radioactive) had to be used to cool the fire and seal the breaches in the concrete floor, otherwise the radioactive lava would have reached the water table and caused a gigantic explosion of 3 to 5 megatons that would have destroyed everything in 300 km around and rendered Europe uninhabitable. 

This same danger looms at Fukushima today, because all three cores have melted down and have broken the reactor's container, creating three China syndromes of unknown consequences. 

Among many other interesting, sometimes epic but often tragic, facts, by the end of the film we are also informed of how, while Glasnost USSR was eventually reporting transparently to the IAE, the resistance to publicly acknowledge the truth came from the West, notably France, which resorted to all kind of lies to pretend that it had magically evaded the effects of Chernobyl (actually there were people in Corsica and other places which were affected as much as people in Belarus and Ukraine). 

The forecast (estimate) of 400,000 mortal victims was reduced to 40,000 at the IAE meeting and eventually this figure became the official figure of Chernobyl-related casualties. It is an arbitrary (and surely very low) hunch because no serious official follow-up research has been undertaken since the USSR collapsed in 1991. So good for democracy.

Found at Energy News.

Related: TEPCO to build sarcophagus around Fukushima reactors, though unsure how much it will contain radiation (Telegraph).  It will take years and will be built with robot machines. Robots were a failure in Chernobyl because their circuits were destroyed by radiation (humans had to be used instead, many died or have been crippled since). It is unclear why Japan would need years for a job that the Soviets did in just months - but it is also unclear why TEPCO has not yet been intervened by the state and is taking autonomous decisions at all.

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