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(Reuters)   Ukraine wants Chernobyl to be a UNESCO World Heritage site. With photo that does and does not illustrate its case perfectly   (reuters.com) divider line
    More: Interesting, Chernobyl disaster, nuclear power station, UNESCO World Heritage site, Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko, great place, abandoned buildings, nuclear disaster, important step  
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733 clicks; posted to STEM » on 22 Apr 2021 at 3:13 PM (3 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2021-04-22 3:27:48 PM  
Let me guess, this would put the cost of containment upon the world, and not a cash-strapped country facing Russian invasion
 
2021-04-22 3:38:14 PM  

Ghost Roach: Let me guess, this would put the cost of containment upon the world, and not a cash-strapped country facing Russian invasion


It means that if Putin decided to shell place of no practical value, he'd have to deal with UNESCO
 
2021-04-22 3:58:50 PM  
It should be a monument of what happens when greed and bureaucracy are deemed more important than safety and science.
 
2021-04-22 4:09:45 PM  
The home of Ukraine's No Petting Zoo.
 
2021-04-22 4:12:09 PM  
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2021-04-22 4:23:50 PM  

Tyrone Slothrop: It should be a monument of what happens when greed and bureaucracy are deemed more important than safety and science.


Yes, because capitalism run rampant same bureaucracy is what caused the melt down?
 
2021-04-22 5:42:46 PM  
There's actually an interesting amount of legitimate research that could be done there--environmental wouldn't just be radiation-based, but also what happens when you abandon an entire town suddenly; archeologists would appreciate having a relatively untouched site to confirm historic records; anthropologists would be able to talk to the people nearby...

But given that their approach seems to be 'we want tourists', I'm not sure they're going for that. Or that tourism is something we should really be encouraging in a site that's still fairly radioactive.
 
2021-04-22 5:53:34 PM  

Ghost Roach: Let me guess, this would put the cost of containment upon the world, and not a cash-strapped country facing Russian invasion


That already happened. The "international community" coughed up ~$2.1 billion for the New Safe Confinement program + structure.
 
2021-04-22 7:32:23 PM  

BigNumber12: Ghost Roach: Let me guess, this would put the cost of containment upon the world, and not a cash-strapped country facing Russian invasion

That already happened. The "international community" coughed up ~$2.1 billion for the New Safe Confinement program + structure.


Yeah, for once society did its job. We're here to look out for each other, and that was a good use of money.

/I sincerely hope the US donated quite a bit
//if your neighbor's well gets poisoned, you chip in and help him seal it off. Same principle--we help our fellows.
 
2021-04-22 8:40:59 PM  
Based on the headline, I was expecting this photo
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2021-04-23 1:57:16 AM  

It'sMorphin'Time: There's actually an interesting amount of legitimate research that could be done there--environmental wouldn't just be radiation-based, but also what happens when you abandon an entire town suddenly; archeologists would appreciate having a relatively untouched site to confirm historic records; anthropologists would be able to talk to the people nearby...

But given that their approach seems to be 'we want tourists', I'm not sure they're going for that. Or that tourism is something we should really be encouraging in a site that's still fairly radioactive.


Here is a rather interesting article if you want to see the modern state of Chernobyl - Chernobyl: The end of a three-decade experiment.
Regarding the radiation -

Over Gennady's shoulder, I can see the nuclear power plant - less than a kilometre away from the reservoir bed we're standing on. Gleaming in the sunshine is the huge protective steel "New Safe Confinement" that now entombs unit 4. It was slid over the top of the accident's epicentre in 2016. Beneath it, robotic cranes are dismantling 33-year-old, radioactive wreckage.

Prof Jim Smith from the UK's University of Portsmouth, a colleague of Gennady's, is a scientist who has studied the aftermath of the disaster since 1990. Here on one of his numerous research trips to the zone, he shows me a dosimeter - a black plastic phone-sized gadget he carries throughout the visit.

It measures the external dose of radiation he is getting from the environment. Atoms of the nuclear fuel dust that were scattered here by the 1986 explosion are spontaneously breaking down. They are giving out high-energy rays as they do so, and Jim's dosimeter is detecting the dose of those that we are receiving every hour.

The readings are in units (called microsieverts) that only make sense to me in the context of other relatively "radioactive activities". At one point in the middle of the flight to Kiev - for example - his dosimeter read 1.8 microsieverts per hour.

"It's currently 0.6," Jim says. "So that's about [a third] of what we were getting on the flight." With the infamous power plant visible in the background, I'm incredulous. But, Jim explains, we live on a radioactive planet - natural radioactivity is all around us. "It comes from the Sun's rays, from the food we eat, from the Earth," he says. That is why, up at 12,000m on an airliner, with less shielding from Earth's atmosphere, we receive a higher dose.

The wildlife is thriving, without growing extra eyes.  Then you also have people who live there -

Wildlife might be making the most of what's gradually become a post-human nature reserve, but not every village was left for animals to claim. Some people still live here - deep in the 30km zone.

On my fourth day here, we visit Maria's house. She is outside in her garden when we arrive at the gate, and - as I try to introduce myself in a few stumbling words of Ukrainian - she interrupts me by wrapping me in a warm hug and kissing me on the cheek.

Today is her 78th birthday. She is expecting us and has prepared a celebratory breakfast.
Maria ushers me, Jim, his colleague Mike, and our interpreter Denis to a wooden table under a fruit tree.
It is a gloriously sunny day and pleasantly warm even at 9am. Maria starts to bring food - fatty salted bacon, a whole fish, sliced sausage and steaming hot, home-grown potatoes. There are two bottles of what appear to be spirits - one colourless, one dark red.
"If you don't like this vodka, you can have the cherry one - I made it," she says.

Maria and her neighbours make up a tiny community of just 15. Each of these self-settlers, as they are known, travelled back across a patchily enforced exclusion zone boundary and reclaimed their homes in 1986.

Almost every family forced to leave here was given an apartment in a nearby town or city. For Maria and her mother, though, this cottage, with the garden wrapped around it, was home. They refused to abandon it.
"We weren't allowed to come back, but I followed my mum," Maria recalls. "She was 88 back then. She kept saying: 'I will go, I will go'. I just followed her."

There are about 200 self-settlers in total living in the zone and, for an ageing population cut off from the rest of the country, Maria says life is not easy.
"We're all very old," she tells me. "And we take each day as it comes.
"I feel full of life when my children come to visit me from Kiev. Otherwise, it's not so interesting to live here. But you know this is our land - our motherland. It's irreplaceable."

They may be old, but haven't grown any tentacles either.  If they can live there, why can't tourist visit?  And you'd be surprised if you learned how radioactive a lot of places humans live can be.  They also might be better off where they are than some Ukraine cities - Visiting Chernobyl, Day One, The Most Dangerous Part of the Trip: Kyiv
I begun to wonder if the fog, which so poetically enveloped the cityscape, wasn't a sign of a more worrisome problem. A heat-wave with stagnant air pooling over the city? Check. Congested traffic with a large percentage of old cars, check. Culture of illegal clearing of plant matter with fires, check. Heavy industrial areas a few hours south of Kyiv, check. I decided to try to find out. I discovered a warning from earlier in the summer from the State of Emergency, declaring nitrogen dioxide levels at five times the norm (NO2 is a pollutant from traffic and fossil fuels). I also found out that Ukraine has one of the highest mortality rates from air pollution in Europe, ranking fourth in WHO statistics, after Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, and Albania.


People really don't respect the fact of how much air pollution kills.  The irony is nuclear power doesn't pollute the air, but we're so scared of it.  No event more so cemented this than Chernobyl - truly the worst case we won't see again.  A terrible design, incompetence/recklessness, and most of all no containment.  That's the worst of all cases we'd ever see.  But here is the interesting thing.

Coming from a place with good air quality, long-term exposure to levels of average Ukrainian air pollution (16.9 ug/m3 PM2.5) would increase all-cause mortality by more than 6% (WHO estimate). Short-term exposure to air pollution might not sound like a very dangerous thing, but even a few days at the average Kyiv levels is associated with around a 0.5-1% increase in daily mortality rates (more on that in a fresh study in the New England Journal of Medicine). That's still a smaller risk than regular exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke. (Ukraine, btw, is in the top ten tobacco-smoking countries in Europe.) Meanwhile, in Chernobyl? To date, there have been on the order of 200 confirmed deaths caused by radiation from the Chernobyl accident, 30 right away, and about 160 in the decades after - that's on average about seven deaths per year. The WHO's theoretical estimate of the maximum number of deaths in Ukraine, although they cannot actually be confirmed from the data (hence the 'theoretical' part), are a few thousand total. That would be on the order of 50-100 per year. In contrast, almost 60,000 people die from air pollution in Ukraine every year. Even Chernobyl liquidators, like Gennady - people who worked to help clean the acute leakage of radiation around the plant - have had but a 0.4-1% increase in their all-cause-mortality. So, unless you were a Chernobyl clean-up worker... your risk from being in Chernobyl is not likely to come close to the risks of even spending a few days in big city with less-than-optimal air quality.

So you can see how many lives - in Ukraine alone - that could be saved (ironically) by nuclear power plants.  Might be a tough sell, but that's the truth.  But the other lesson there, public perception is often very different than what real world data/statistics will tell you.
 
2021-04-23 12:28:52 PM  

bk3k: So you can see how many lives - in Ukraine alone - that could be saved (ironically) by nuclear power plants.


1) There's still some areas I see as 'not safe for humans'

2) The options are not 'nuclear power' or 'pollution'

/My biggest worry is mostly that someone will wander past the safe zones. It's not a 'radiation is scary' worry, it's a 'humans are really stupid' worry. And we have enough other sources of power so that, if we combined techniques in variation over the planet, and used batteries and such, we could probably power the whole planet with it and not create nuclear waste. I'm having this argument in another thread, if you're interested.
 
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