Nuclear accidents

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Nuclear Accidents


Onagawa: The Japanese nuclear power plant that didn’t melt down on 3/11

When Radiation Isn’t the Real Risk (NY Times; 21 Sep 2015)

No one has been killed or sickened by the radiation — a point confirmed last month by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Even among Fukushima workers, the number of additional cancer cases in coming years is expected to be so low as to be undetectable, a blip impossible to discern against the statistical background noise.
But about 1,600 people died from the stress of the evacuation — one that some scientists believe was not justified by the relatively moderate radiation levels at the Japanese nuclear plant.

Fukushima and the Art of Knowing Clare Leppold; Huffington Post; 18 Jun 2016

When trying to evacuate, some were turned away from the homes of their families because radiation was misunderstood as contagious. I am told about the parents of young men, opposing their choice to marry a woman from Fukushima because it is assumed that she will not be able to bear healthy children. Some children themselves believe they will never be able to have healthy offspring in the future, because of what they have heard.

People should be given the freedom to go back to their homes Thoughtscapism; Facebook; 11 Mar 2016

This is madness! People should be given the freedom to go back to their homes - the risk from radiation is way below what nuclear plant staff are safely allowed to be exposed to (20 mSv/year). Some of my Finnish countrymen live with the natural radiation of 7 milliSieverts. There's a brazil beach famed for it's 'healing sands', with radiation levels of 175 mSv per year. Spots of 12 mSv/year in the Fukushima area are just *fine*.
"The radiation has not been the disaster. It's our response to the radiation, our fear that we've projected on to others, to say this is really dangerous. It isn't really dangerous and there are plenty of places in the world where you would live with background radiation of at least this level."
" If I were to stand outside here for 12 hours a day, every day of the year, I would receive an annual extra dose of radiation of around 13 millisieverts."
"...[this is] more than ten times above what the Japanese government has declared "safe" for people to return."
"There are places in Cornwall in the UK where background radiation levels reach 8 millisieverts a year.
The world's highest background radiation rate is found in the city of Ramsar in Iran, which has the astonishing rate of 250 millisieverts a year."

Is Fukushima's exclusion zone doing more harm than radiation? Rupert Wingfield-Hayes; BBC News; 10 Mar 2016]

Fukushima - Five Years On Clinical Oncology; Edited by Gerry Thomas; Apr 2016

edition of journal devoted to studies of Fukushima


The Wikipedia articles on the Chernobyl disaster and the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant give good accounts of the plant itself and the 1986 accident at Reactor No. 4.

64 people, 31 of them reactor staff and emergency workers, are confirmed to have died from radiation. Total deaths from the accident are predicted to be between 4,000 according to The Chernobyl Forum and 25,000 according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, with a report commissioned by the European Greens putting the number at up to 60,000 and a widely-discredited report by the founder of Greenpeace's Russian chapter claiming a million worldwide.

The Chernobyl accident - UNSCEAR's assessments of the radiation effects

The accident at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor that occurred on 26 April 1986 was the most serious accident ever to occur in the nuclear power industry. The reactor was destroyed in the accident and considerable amounts of radioactive material were released to the environment. The accident caused the deaths, within a few weeks, of 30 workers and radiation injuries to over a hundred others. In response, the authorities evacuated, in 1986, about 115,000 people from areas surrounding the reactor and subsequently relocated, after 1986, about 220,000 people from Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. The accident caused serious social and psychological disruption in the lives of those affected and vast economic losses over the entire region. Large areas of the three countries were contaminated with radioactive materials, and radionuclides from the Chernobyl release were measurable in all countries of the northern hemisphere.
Among the residents of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, there had been up to the year 2005 more than 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer reported in children and adolescents who were exposed at the time of the accident, and more cases can be expected during the next decades. Notwithstanding the influence of enhanced screening regimes, many of those cancers were most likely caused by radiation exposures shortly after the accident. Apart from this increase, there is no evidence of a major public health impact attributable to radiation exposure two decades after the accident. There is no scientific evidence of increases in overall cancer incidence or mortality rates or in rates of non-malignant disorders that could be related to radiation exposure. The incidence of leukaemia in the general population, one of the main concerns owing to the shorter time expected between exposure and its occurrence compared with solid cancers, does not appear to be elevated. Although those most highly exposed individuals are at an increased risk of radiation-associated effects, the great majority of the population is not likely to experience serious health consequences as a result of radiation from the Chernobyl accident. Many other health problems have been noted in the populations that are not related to radiation exposure.


Backgrounder on Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Accident U.S. NRC

Experts conclude some cancer deaths may eventually be attributed to Chernobyl over the lifetime of the emergency workers, evacuees and residents living in the most contaminated areas. These health effects are far lower than initial speculations of tens of thousands of radiation-related deaths.


Chernobyl Nuclear Accident IAEA

Chernobyl 1986 Ed Leaver; Pandora's Back Pages

Firstly, Chernobyl was most emphatically NOT a light-water reactor. Not in any conventional sense of the word. The RBMK-1000 was a water-cooled graphite-moderated boiling water design originally intended to simultaneously produce both electric power and weapons grade plutonium. This design would never have been implemented in the west. Nonetheless, it was implemented, and with catastrophic results. From Chernobyl Accident 1986 (Updated June 2013):
“The April 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine was the product of a flawed Soviet reactor design coupled with serious mistakes made by the plant operators. It was a direct consequence of Cold War isolation and the resulting lack of any safety culture.”31

Will The Truth About Chernobyl Ever Come Out? James Conca; Forbes; 26 Apr 2016

Yes, it already has, but the truth is so much more boring than the assertions of megadeath, that it generally gets ignored. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident (today April 26th) and the 5th anniversary of the Fukushima accident (March 11th). These two events constitute the only serious accidents in the nuclear power industry in history. People died as a result of Chernobyl, but no one has yet died from Fukushima. There were some less severe accidents, mostly at weapons sites, but the nuclear power industry is still the safest industry in the world by any measure.


Engineers Race to Entomb the Decaying Chernobyl Reactor [Video] John Wendle; Scientific American; 21 Apr 2016

A giant arch will enclose the crumbling sarcophagus before radiation leaks get worse, even as plans advance to turn the area into a nature preserve

They’ve Got It Covered: Enormous Arch Moved Into Place Over Damaged Chornobyl Reactor Bechtel / The Art Of The Build; 29 Nov 2016

Thirty years after the world’s worst nuclear disaster, the gargantuan structure built to confine radiation at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant is now in place after inching – literally – into position. The massive arch was slid into place on Teflon-coated steel rails. The arch, known as the “New Safe Confinement,” was built 180 meters (about 200 yards) west of the damaged power plant, the only way for the construction site to be safe enough from radiation to allow workers to build it. The 36,000- metric ton (40,000 short ton) structure began sliding to the east on Nov. 14, moving 60 centimeters (23.6 inches) at a time to come to rest atop the disaster site two weeks later.

Unique engineering feat concluded as Chernobyl arch reaches resting place European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; YouTube; 29 Nov 2016

Thirty years after the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, the radioactive remains of the power plant’s destroyed reactor 4 have been safely enclosed following one of the world’s most ambitious engineering projects.

Chernobyl’s giant New Safe Confinement (NSC) was moved over a distance of 327 metres from its assembly point to its final resting place, completely enclosing a previous makeshift shelter that was hastily assembled immediately after the 1986 accident.

The equipment in the New Safe Confinement will now be connected to the new technological building which will serve as a control room for future operations inside the arch. The New Safe Confinement will be sealed off from the environment hermetically. Finally, after intensive testing of all equipment and commissioning, handover of the New Safe Confinement to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant administration is expected in November 2017.

exclusion zone


Wildlife in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone: Bears, Wolves and Rare Horses Roam the Forests David Sim; International Business Times; 28 Nov 2014

Camera traps set up in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone have photographed many species of wildlife roaming the forests.

The women living in Chernobyl's toxic wasteland Holly Morris; Daily Telegraph; 8 Nov 2012

Decades after Chernobyl's nuclear disaster, despite the severely contaminated ground, government objections and the deaths of many fellow 'self-settlers’, a community of determined babushkas remains.

Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Resettlers thegrimfandango; Amateur Photographer; 15 Oct 2013

After the worst nuclear disaster in history at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986, over 200,000 people living within a 30km radius were evacuated to other cities, most never to return. Some, desperately unhappy with their new lives began to break back into the exclusion zone to resettle despite the risks. Although the exclusion zone is still in place and will remain so for many years due to elevated levels of radioactivity, the government eventually legalised a handful of resettlers, all over 70 years old. Ivan and his wife live happily with their cats amongst the radioactive hotspots, a few kilometers from the nuclear power plant.

Big Picture: Chernobyl Riviera, by Guillaume Herbaut Hannah Booth; Guardian; 7 Mar 2014

Each week, the Guardian Weekend magazine's editorial team choose a picture, or set of pictures, that particularly tickle their fancy. This week their choice is Guillaume Herbaut's Chernobyl Riviera


No Nukes News 26 Apr 2016

radioactive products

Iodine-131 Wikipedia

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Caesium-137 Wikipedia

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Strontium-90 Wikipedia

28.8 years