“This was the day, of course, when we learned we were wrong.”
April 26, 2016 9:01 AM   Subscribe

30 years ago today, a fire started near Pripyat. "The time was 1:23 a.m. The world had changed. But those sleeping just downwind had no idea." The Chernobyl disaster began on April 26th, 1986.

Reflect by reading Schofield's article or Svetlana Alexievich's heartrending Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster.

Previously on MetaFilter.
posted by doctornemo (55 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
I just read Voices and have been on a Cherynobl knowledge foray since. Just watched a BBC horizon documentary from 1996 that went inside the sarcophagus. Russian scientists wearing surgical masks not respirators. Yikes.
posted by sio42 at 9:12 AM on April 26, 2016


Related: Alexievich won the Nobel Prize in Literature last year.
posted by superfluousm at 9:16 AM on April 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


.
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 9:26 AM on April 26, 2016


The bridge they were standing on wasn’t yet known as “The Bridge of Death.” That would come later.


It's no wonder Pripyat has now become so closely associated with Roadside Picnic and Stalker in its various incarnations. This could just have easily come from the Strugatsky's novel.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:28 AM on April 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


The day global warming became an inevitability.
posted by Talez at 9:28 AM on April 26, 2016 [12 favorites]


The concentration of folly, destruction, and death makes Chernobyl so terrifying. But it's important to place it in the context of the other impacts we're having for the purposes of energy. From a Steven Chu talk, for every human death associated with nuclear power, if we had instead gotten that energy from oil there would have been 900 deaths. And if we had used coal instead of nuclear, there would have been 4000 deaths. screen grab of the slide and time

The seen has a huge emotional impact. But the unseen, yet real, can be just as important. Chernobyl was a disaster that should not have happened. But there's a continuous disaster unfolding from us even using our computers to browse the web, particularly from those of us that get our electricity from coal. Don't forget Chernobyl, but don't forget what else is going on either. The horror and revulsion of Chernobyl is playing out right now, but without a convenient geographical location.
posted by Llama-Lime at 9:29 AM on April 26, 2016 [43 favorites]


The concentration of folly, destruction, and death makes Chernobyl so terrifying. But it's important to place it in the context of the other impacts we're having for the purposes of energy. From a Steven Chu talk, for every human death associated with nuclear power, if we had instead gotten that energy from oil there would have been 900 deaths. And if we had used coal instead of nuclear, there would have been 4000 deaths. screen grab of the slide and time

It's like a fucked up version of the trolley problem. We refused to pull the lever and now the trolley is about to collect a whole lot of people.
posted by Talez at 9:31 AM on April 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


Last night I was on the phone with my Mom and this surprised me by coming up. She & Dad were in Tokyo two weeks ago, when the pair of earthquakes hit southern Japan -- "Where, of course," she reminded me, "they have two nuclear plants."

Then she reminded me how our Italian exchange student blanched at the sight of the nuke plant in Monticello, MN, as we drove past, "of course."

I asked why "of course," and she reminded me that this was in the autumn of 1986, just a few months after Chernobyl. I feebly joked that of course a leak there would only irradiate food crops, monks, and a river or two: I had never put it together before.

Sorry about freaking you out, Stefano.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:40 AM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


That may be a valid comparison of health risks during actual energy production, but statistics like that don't account for the miners who eventually died from radiation exposure, Indian communities currently sitting on land poisoned by uranium mining, and future risks to our children's children's children from waste disposal. Trading coal for uranium trades one set of environmental problems for another. It just so happens that climate change is becoming a major issue sooner and will be felt by a larger swath of the population.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 9:47 AM on April 26, 2016 [8 favorites]


The concentration of folly, destruction, and death makes Chernobyl so terrifying. But it's important to place it in the context of the other impacts we're having for the purposes of energy.

From the article:

Death toll estimates run from hundreds to millions.

Even placed in relation to coal, those statistics are bad. And, worse, these are avoidable deaths, because every death from every nuclear accident has been a result of negligence in operations or engineering. Which if you think about it, isn't accidental at all, really.

.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:49 AM on April 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Verbytska emphasizes that the mass of uranium debris inside Reactor Number 4 is now a mess that goes beyond human ability to clean up. Others dismiss the situation as a problem, but one that technology can fix.

“We don’t have the technology to fix the problem,” she says. “We don’t have the process to develop the technology to fix the problem, and we don’t have the money to support the process to develop the technology to fix the problem. The solutions for our Chernobyl problems are very much ‘seal it for now.’ We will have smart children and smart grandchildren who in 100 years or so will figure out what to do.”


Our ability to create problems (through technology) that we think have solutions (using technology!) astonishes me. We are in way, way over our heads.
posted by epanalepsis at 9:50 AM on April 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


Even placed in relation to coal, those statistics are bad.

It also seems a bit callous to say that one thing is better than another because it might kill less people. Doesn't that kind of trade-off indicate that maybe the whole question needs a rethink?
posted by epanalepsis at 9:52 AM on April 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


Animated video from RFE/RL: The Chernobyl Disaster: How It Happened
posted by Kabanos at 9:59 AM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


It also seems a bit callous to say that one thing is better than another because it might kill less people. Doesn't that kind of trade-off indicate that maybe the whole question needs a rethink?

To me this is like arguing that automobile safety standards don't matter, because we shouldn't be driving so much anyway. Which, yes, I agree that we shouldn't be driving so much, and I try to reduce the amount I use my car, but I still like having airbags and crumple zones.
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:01 AM on April 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


Physics Today: What can Chernobyl teach us?
posted by Kabanos at 10:02 AM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


It also seems a bit callous to say that one thing is better than another because it might kill less people. Doesn't that kind of trade-off indicate that maybe the whole question needs a rethink?

Like what? Doing without the power generated by nuclear and fossil-fuel powerplants would surely also kill vast numbers of human beings. And IIRC installations of new capacity are already mostly renewables, at least in the OECD.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:07 AM on April 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


The only thing more callous than "ranking" things based on deaths is ignoring that risk.

Life is not black and white, it is full of relative risks. It is unethical to make policy decisions as if that were not the case. Even stepping into the shower in the morning bears risk! Shying away from risk assessment because it sounds callous is fully backwards, it produces the opposite result of more callousness.

It's also unethical to bandy about numbers without putting them into the proper context of relative risk. So if I say that a World Bank report on China put the number at 750,000 people dying prematurely due to coal every year, it sounds shocking, just like "hundreds to millions" sounds shocking. But that number must be compared to the other alternatives. These wheezing deaths are not concentrated, but that doesn't make their deaths any less tragic. But that massive yearly death toll must be placed in the context of the alternatives. It turns out that amount of death caused by coal is actually much worse than if it were caused by nuclear energy including the uranium mining. We can't just ignore these numbers and consider ourselves ethical people.

Is saying that a death due to engineering negligence is worse than a death due to pollution negligence callous? I would think so. I don't know how to rank various types of deaths, expect perhaps years lost, but I do know that we should try to minimize them.
posted by Llama-Lime at 10:10 AM on April 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


The first anyone outside the Soviet Union learned of the accident was when Scandinavian scientists detected radiation in the air days after the event. The first time the average Soviet citizen learned of the accident was a two-paragraph article in Pravda that assured people the fire at the facility was being handled with minimal loss of life.

The real lesson of Chernobyl is not a discussion of nuclear power versus coal fired generators. The real lesson is, good government matters. The Chernobyl power plant was where it was, and it was doing what it was doing, poorly, because the Soviet Union was a terrible government that placed little value in human life. As the song goes, I hope the Russians love their children, too. Well, the Russians love their children, but the Soviet government didn't.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:13 AM on April 26, 2016 [22 favorites]


Then, in what used to be the plant’s lagoon running along the edge of the Pripyat River, he shows off the 9-foot-long catfish.

This is where my jaw dropped.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:13 AM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Look for the helpers."
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:15 AM on April 26, 2016 [14 favorites]


This is where my jaw dropped.

Is that incredibly abnormal? Catfish can grow pretty large in absence of natural predators (of which I assume there were incredibly few). I'm not saying radiation didnt have to do with it but....
posted by Twain Device at 10:17 AM on April 26, 2016 [10 favorites]


Is saying that a death due to engineering negligence is worse than a death due to pollution negligence callous? I would think so. I don't know how to rank various types of deaths, expect perhaps years lost, but I do know that we should try to minimize them.

I think the issue I'm really trying to figure out is how we can somehow use an anniversary for a disaster that killed and sickened millions as a way to promote a technology that, well, killed and sickened millions. Seems just a bit tone deaf.

Anyhow, humanity will keep making the same stupid mistakes over and over:

Chernobyl’s Silent Exclusion Zone (Except for the Logging)

What Mr. Kalmykov and fellow unofficial explorers of the Chernobyl zone, members of a peculiar subculture who are in their 20s and call themselves “the stalkers,” have found is more interesting still: vast tracts of clear-cutting in the ostensibly protected forest.

Mr. Kalmykov, a computer programmer who discovered the clear-cut areas while exploring the zone on his weekends, took his findings to Stop Corruption, one of the civil society groups that popped up in Ukraine after the Maidan revolution two years ago, events supposed to usher in a new era of clean government in Ukraine.

And yet on Ukraine’s dirtiest patch of land, Stop Corruption says, based on the stalkers’ evidence, the under-the-table dealings of the bureaucrats who manage the area are flourishing as always. Distracted by the 30th anniversary of the catastrophe on April 26 and the general turmoil in Ukraine, the group says, the Exclusion Zone Management Agency has turned a blind eye to the Chernobyl logging...

A logger, his sweaty face flecked with dust and sawdust, said he simply cut the trees marked by his bosses at the exclusion zone administration. “I don’t decide,” said the man, who declined to give his name. “They say we don’t need the burned logs.”

Asked if he worried about radiation, he said he did not, as by now the radiation had settled deep into the soil.

“We stamp it down so it does not come out,” he said, patting the ground with his boot. “Want to buy some wood?”

posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:21 AM on April 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


WidgetAlley's first link is worth a read in particular. It mentions the 3 Chernobyl workers who agreed to go on what was in effect a suicide mission, diving underwater to open some safety valves to release water. This prevented a massive explosion that would have been an even greater disaster. "The action that these three men had taken almost certainly saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people throughout Europe."
posted by Kabanos at 10:21 AM on April 26, 2016 [17 favorites]


Yes and how many places are there where humans don't exert some/a lot of pressure on fish populations? Part of what we're seeing around Pripyat is just the absence of human predation.
posted by sneebler at 10:22 AM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


What is seldom mentioned is that Reactor 3 was still in use up to December of 2000. Let that sink in for a minute. Imagine having to work inside the exclusion zone every day to support an infrastructure that once killed thousands of people.
posted by machaus at 10:22 AM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


It just occurred to me that coal, oil, and nuclear power are all the same in that we are leaving the clean-up to some future generation and their univented miracle technology that will somehow magically unfuck the planet.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:29 AM on April 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


Is that incredibly abnormal? Catfish can grow pretty large in absence of natural predators (of which I assume there were incredibly few). I'm not saying radiation didnt have to do with it but....

According to Wikipedia, the wels catfish (which is native to Europe) is usually 4 to 5 ft long, but has been known to reach up to 16 ft. So, not unheard, but still unusual and possibly linked to radiation exposure.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:30 AM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


That's assuming that the nine-foot catfish are actually nine feet long, which seems unlikely to me. Because exaggeration and fish seem almost inseparable.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:39 AM on April 26, 2016 [11 favorites]


I think the issue I'm really trying to figure out is how we can somehow use an anniversary for a disaster that killed and sickened millions as a way to promote a technology that, well, killed and sickened millions. Seems just a bit tone deaf.

I think my issue is using the anniversary of a disaster to spread misinformation about it.

A total of up to 4000 people could eventually die of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) accident nearly 20 years ago, an international team of more than 100 scientists has concluded.

Quibble with the WHO's estimate if you like; if you're going to claim three orders of magnitude higher, evidence will need to be displayed.
posted by stevis23 at 10:42 AM on April 26, 2016 [8 favorites]


.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:43 AM on April 26, 2016


The problem with the catfish isn't its size, it's that it speaks perfect Ukrainian.
posted by Etrigan at 10:43 AM on April 26, 2016 [34 favorites]


a lungful of dragon: Even placed in relation to coal, those statistics are bad. And, worse, these are avoidable deaths, because every death from every nuclear accident has been a result of negligence in operations or engineering. Which if you think about it, isn't accidental at all, really.

I'm not sure I follow what you're saying. There are nuclear accidents that happened because the people made obvious mistakes or ignored safety procedure (see Chernobyl as well as most prompt criticality incidents) But there have also been nuclear accidents from automated systems and human error in spite of competent planning, and that's the nature of running a complicated system. Nobody planning these systems wanted anything less than perfect operation, but it's not possible to engineer a 100% durable and foolproof system. In my opinion, this doesn't mean nuclear is a non-starter, but rather that it should be compared to other energy technologies. Wind and solar don't do baseline power, and coal and natural gas are even more dangerous and dirty.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:58 AM on April 26, 2016


Even placed in relation to coal, those statistics are bad.

Except this is the farthest possible thing from the truth.

Coal kills more people, creates more radiation, and generally does a better job of utterly fucking up the environment under normal operating conditions than nuclear power does under catastrophic failure conditions. Something like 5,000 people die every year in coal mining accidents, to say nothing of long-term impacts from things like black lung disease for coal miners or respiratory problems for people who live near coal plants. Even if we take the WHO's upper bound on the number of fatalities caused by Chernobyl, and assume that Fukishima turns out to be just as bad, we still end up with more sickness, more death, and more pollution from one year of burning coal than we do from the entire history of nuclear power. It's really, really hard to look at the hand-wringing over one of two major nuclear accidents to ever occur, when it completely disregards the harms being wrought right this very minute because of the hysteria generated by one accident thirty years ago.
posted by Mayor West at 11:02 AM on April 26, 2016 [33 favorites]


In the coal vs. nuclear, I fall in the nuclear camp. When I start seeing stories like this (coal ash causing birth defects in children in the Dominican Republic) about low level nuclear waste, I'll start supporting coal over nuclear. High level waste is an issue, but right now, it's an issue of harm reduction. Getting rid of coal would be better for us than shutting down every nuclear plant in existence.

I'm sure I've shared this on the blue before, but I spent a summer working for a professor who (after hitting emeritus) switched from high-energy physics to looking at radiation and risk analysis. He told me that to get a video camera (had to be a video camera, as film would be blanked out in seconds) into the area to take a picture of the melted lump that had been the core, the Soviet Union ran into a few problems. Every remote vehicle or drone or whatever they sent in got fried. Until they used a children's toy RC car.

He also calculated out his dosage and went and had a quick peak at the elephant's foot itself. I'm not quite that adventurous, but I don't figure out dosages on a regular basis.
posted by Hactar at 11:42 AM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


[A few comments deleted. Please make your point without the "Mefites suck" framing.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:54 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was 10 weeks pregnant, in Vancouver, Canada. Word went out on the news that pregnant women shouldn't drink milk, because radiation from Chernobyl had made its way into the local food chain. And just like that, the world became a very small place, suddenly and permanently.
posted by jokeefe at 1:22 PM on April 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Electrical power is such a huge mess of a thing.

Regardless of the underlying technology, it's vital to the infrastructure of every developed nation (and, in the case of developing nations, lack of electrical infrastructure is part of what's keeping them that way). And, because providing power to everyone even in itty-bitty nations is such a vast undertaking, it cries out for central control. But at the same time it brings out the worst in every type of system. My politics lead me to believe that electrical power should be a government function. But, governments aren't perfect, and unless your economy is completely centralized (not that we have figured out how to do centralized economies right yet), they'll need to rely on for-profit businesses to actually get stuff done. For profit utilities can implement regulatory capture to maintain their mono/oligopolist control. No matter how you look at it, providing power to the people is going to end up fostering cut corners, secrecy, and corruption.

And I haven't used the word "nuclear" yet, because every single way that we have figured out to produce power on a nationwide scale has these issues. Mining leads to exploitation -- of the land, of the people, or both -- we haven't figured out a way around that yet. And coal needs to be mined, so does uranium, so does the silicon in solar panels and the petroleum used to make the carbon-fiber reinforced plastics of turbine blades. Damming for hydroelectric power has huge environmental side-effects, etc, etc.

So, if we are going to have a world that runs on energy, there need to be tradeoffs, because it's all dirty -- though some things (like say, solar power or wind, were the damage from the mining is theoretically a one-time thing) would be less dirty than others, if we could just figure out how to scale them.

But conversations about nuclear power are just so fraught. Even if you could show (as I'm pretty sure is the case) nuclear power is less harmful in the aggregate than fossil fuels, that doesn't change the fact that when nukes fail the effects are catastrophic and lasting. And people are far more freaked out about radiation-induced cancers and mutated birds and fishes than they are about deaths from heatstroke, or the coral reef blanching. And I don't know how to fix that.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:39 PM on April 26, 2016 [9 favorites]


I grew up in northern Italy: I had just turned one when Chernobyl melted down. The disaster and its consequences were very much constant background noise during my childhood. Over the last 15 years or so, my cousin hosted a girl from Belarus as part of something like a health camp. Underprivileged children from highly contaminated areas spend the summer in other countries with foster families, with the goal of giving them at least a semblance of clean food and clean air.

Irina was born in the 90s, a smart and moody redhead: we all watched her grow up summer after summer. She must have been about 8 when she showed us a picture taken with her brothers and sisters on their family farm. All of them smiling, in the bright sunshine, standing in front of a patch of sunflowers. The sunflowers must have been 9 or ten feet tall, easy, with horribly misshapen seed heads. Two, three, or more, clustered and growing together like hives. Looming over the kids like molten parodies of the idea of a sunflower.

It was horrifying, the glimpse of normal life and radioactivity, carrying on.
posted by lydhre at 1:41 PM on April 26, 2016 [8 favorites]


The sunflowers must have been 9 or ten feet tall, easy, with horribly misshapen seed heads.

I'm not sure about the latter part of this, but 9 or 10 foot tall sunflowers is pretty within norms for varieties my parents probably still plant. They can get pretty intimidatingly massive.
posted by brennen at 1:57 PM on April 26, 2016 [8 favorites]


Brennan, I should have been clearer. These were a patch of sunflowers towering over the rest of the sunflowers in a field. I absolutely get what you're saying but these were Obviously Not Normal in a sea of ordinary crops.
posted by lydhre at 2:03 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


As with the 9-ft catfish above, I don't get the impression that radiation generally makes things grow bigger, but it can make things grow wrong often in a way that hits us in our lizard brains. And when you add that to the assumption that anything that doesn't look right must be the result of radiation, it makes things look a lot scarier than they are.

For example, lydhre, if it was just one patch of sunflowers in a field -- how do you know that it was the result of radiation?
posted by sparklemotion at 2:14 PM on April 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Apart from death and illnesses, the Chernobyl disaster had political impacts that continue to this day: The political fallout of Chernobyl is still toxic (TheGuardian).

Mikhael Gorbachev: "The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl ... even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later."

Declassified CIA research paper (from 1987): The Chernobyl' Accident: Social and Political Implications
posted by Kabanos at 2:18 PM on April 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yeah, radiation does weird things, but weird things also happen on their own. You can get those giant mutant-looking strawberries where multiple berries fuse together just on their own, while on the other hand pink grapefruit was created by deliberately bombarding regular grapefruit with radiation back in the… fifties?
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:31 PM on April 26, 2016


Wolves Eat Dogs is an excellent Arkady Renko novel set in the exclusion zone.
posted by Brocktoon at 5:22 PM on April 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


I was 10 weeks pregnant, in Vancouver, Canada. Word went out on the news that pregnant women shouldn't drink milk, because radiation from Chernobyl had made its way into the local food chain. And just like that, the world became a very small place, suddenly and permanently.

Possible you are conflating memories?

From a Canadian website

"The radiation dose due to Chernobyl in other European countries was less than 1 mSv. In more distant countries, radiation from the accident had no impact on the annual background doses and was considered to be non-significant to public health."
[...]Among the residents of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, as of 2005 there have been over 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer reported in children and adolescents who were exposed at the time of the accident. 15 of these cases were fatal. Long-term increases in thyroid cancer incidence are difficult to predict, but more cases are expected over the next few decades. A large number of these thyroid cancers is likely attributable to children drinking milk containing radioactive iodine from cows who had eaten contaminated grass.


This had no effect on Canadians (milk drinking or otherwise) , perhaps other than psychologically.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 6:10 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also a peer-reviewed publication states

"The mean value of the effective dose equivalent for an adult Canadian in the two months following the accident is calculated to be 0.28 microSv. As this total radiation dose is about 10(-33) of the dose from natural background during the same period, the resultant radiological detriment is concluded to be negligible."

I'm not saying "Yay Chernobyl Boom!" but a reasonable scientific perspective is one important way of looking at these events.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 6:13 PM on April 26, 2016


I was 11 when the copy of National Geographic with an extensive feature of Chernobyl hit our mailbox. Far, far away from the place, I was taken with the magnitude of the accident, and it's remained a fascination ever since.

As suggested in the FPP, I also strongly recommend a read of Voices from Chernobyl to understand it as a human tragedy

I'm sure I've shared this on the blue before, but I spent a summer working for a professor who (after hitting emeritus) switched from high-energy physics to looking at radiation and risk analysis. He told me that to get a video camera (had to be a video camera, as film would be blanked out in seconds) into the area to take a picture of the melted lump that had been the core, the Soviet Union ran into a few problems. Every remote vehicle or drone or whatever they sent in got fried. Until they used a children's toy RC car.

Also, it's important to remember the liquidators, the "bio-robots" - the humans being the only things that would work. These were people wearing immensely heavy lead vests who ran up to the roof in short bursts to hack up and/or grab whatever reactor debris they could and throw it back into the ruined reactor.

Previously: "Your eyes hurt, and there was a metal taste in your mouth. Those are the two things you felt."

If you're interested in the blow-by-blow of the aftermath - people madly tunneling and digging and containing things by hand - watch Vladimir Shevchenko's Severe Days (this is a partial clip). He died in 1987 as a result of the radiation exposure he endured as he filmed. He was shooting in colour - the black and white is the result of radiation levels - and he captured some of his footage from the roof of reactor 4.

If you can find the full version of Severe Days, I strongly recommend watching it.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:42 PM on April 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


WidgetAlley's comment above has some very good footage of the liquidators too.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:12 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Apologies if this has already been posted, but I'm on my phone and the thread is difficult to search:
Jorge Volpi's novel Season of Ash has an absolutely stunning opening chapter about the disaster. Heart-breaking and terrifying at the same time (shame the rest of the book is so dull, but what can you do).
posted by hototogisu at 9:23 PM on April 26, 2016


I was going to link the Gorbachev thing Kabanos linked above but they beat me to it.

So here is the metafilter thread about the fictional(?) motorcycle photographer exclusion zone webpage.
posted by bukvich at 6:20 AM on April 27, 2016


The radiation didn't land in just one place so one section of a field could be contaminated and another not. The scientists in one documentary spoke about going thru the actual reactor building and in the span of a step going from "safe level" to "GTFO NOW" and running.

Radiation is weird.
posted by sio42 at 9:26 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Related: Stewart L. Sinclair: Burying the Remnants of Disaster [Guernica Magazine]
posted by Fizz at 10:14 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Maybe not a disaster, but highly concerning: German nuclear plant’s fuel rod system swarming with old malware
posted by Llama-Lime at 12:30 PM on April 27, 2016


>>I'm not saying "Yay Chernobyl Boom!" but a reasonable scientific perspective is one important way of looking at these events.

Soylent, you seem to have misconstrued my comment. I never claimed that there were ill effects from Chernobyl-related radiation in our food chain. I'm not talking about actual results. I'm talking about a warning that was given about drinking milk, one which was lifted after a few days (a week?) afterwards. Just because the local concern about worldwide drifting radiation didn't result in actual contamination here doesn't mean that people were not worried.

I wrote about it in my journal at the time, it was a genuine thing that happened.
posted by jokeefe at 11:44 AM on April 29, 2016




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