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Chernobyl 
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NitroForum Oldster

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Post Chernobyl
I had come across this photo essay last year and was dramatically impressed by it.

This documents some of the effects of radiation on those that survived/stayed behind or were born near Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the years subsequent to the catastrophe. I had not thought about it in a little while but it came to mind in light of our recent discussion of Solution Unsatisfactory. Since it is not specifically a Heinlein topic I am posting the link here.

You will need to watch a 30 second commercial before the photo essay begins.

Please note!! Many people may find these pictures distressing. They are graphic. Nonetheless, it is one of the best done photo essays I have seen. If you choose to watch do turn on your speakers at a moderate level as the voice commentary is important

http://todayspictures.slate.com/inmotio ... /?GT1=8019

I look forward to some reaction/discussion.


Mon Apr 28, 2008 12:12 pm
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NitroForum Oldster

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Post Re: Chernobyl
I should also mention that the photo essay piece has an introduction to the piece that is only a few seconds long and consisting of 3 or 4 pictures. After the intro piece complete a play button will appear on your screen - that play button is not a 'replay' button but the start of the full length presentation.

I suddenly remembered that when I showed this around last year some folks only played the intro piece and then commented that it was so short. So...

1. Advertisment
2. Intro to Photo Essay
3. Then click play button and then the full essay.


Mon Apr 28, 2008 4:12 pm
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NitroForum Oldster

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Post Re: Chernobyl
...mildly surprised that no one had public reaction to the essay...

Was it dismissed or did it simply stand on its own and require no further comment?


Fri May 23, 2008 2:24 am
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Post Re: Chernobyl
For me, it stood on its own, and I felt literally speechless. So much suffering, and so much courage in the face of unspeakable hardship. Then I thought of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Strangely, I suppose, none of this moves me in the direction of anti-nuclear activism. I just feel sad and somewhat numb. My only child died at age 12 of AIDS (contaminated transfusion from the public blood supply in 1980's Houston), so I know from personal experience that the adults in these kids' lives somehow find the inner resources to do whatever needs to be done. I just wish it weren't so often necessary.

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Wed May 28, 2008 3:20 pm
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NitroForum Oldster

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Post Re: Chernobyl
Mr. Henderson,

My condolences on your own situation, its impressive that you can tell such a personal thing to a number of people who are strangers or relative strangers to you. It sucks that it happened and I know that there is nothing that can be said to make it better. I did feel a need to acknowledge your openness.

As far as any anti-nuke activism...I would agree with you in a qualified way. I am not specifically opposed to nuclear power but I'm not in favor of large scale nuclear facilities in residential neighborhoods. Close to where I live is the Indian Point Power Plant. While it is questionable whether I could get away in the event of a Chernobyl style accident (I'm about 40+ miles away) - the area for a number of miles around the plant have all secondary narrow roads with a fairly dense population.

Check out this document regarding the history of problems at Indian Point
http://www.riverkeeper.org/document.php ... int_Ti.pdf

Oct 1980, May/June 1994, September 1993, Feb 14, 2005, Oct 5,2005 - these are just a sampling of dates within the above document that show problems.

I am more in favor of developing wind/solar hybrid systems...things don't tend to go so badly when they fail.


Thu May 29, 2008 12:30 pm
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Post Re: Chernobyl
Heinlein's support of nuclear power/nuclear weapons was one of the areas where I just couldn't go along. But then I also took issue with the idea that anything man does is natural because man is of nature. The real sense in which that is true doesn't counter the dangers of pesticides in drinking water and oil spills in overfished waters. Not that none of that can be done in a sustainable fashion (or nuclear either, for that matter), just that it isn't automatically going to work out just because we are behind it. I don't have that kind of faith in man's ability to take the long view (prioritizing the future over the profit) or to pull a rabbit out of the hat at the critical moment. There's a lot of culling goes into making Heinlein's future work, and this is part of the present the culling would be done in.
Admittedly, I was one of the those hippies happily using iron tools in my organic garden. I never thought we could make it without them (lots of rocks), or should. I just knew that the tractors and combines and chicken factories weren't making life better for my agricultural and ranching family, and was trying to hold on to what had been great in that life (clean air, good food, honest sweat, sound sleep) while discarding the ignorance, prejudice, superstition, and religious strictures.
Now if this post doesn't give someone something to write about, I don't know what else I can do. For or against, surely someone has something to add to this. Open invitiation....

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Fri May 30, 2008 5:28 am
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Post Re: Chernobyl
My opinion of the utility and safety of nuclear power has evolved over the years. Back in late 1970s, I worked for a utility company in Texas, and I was involved in the construction of what was called the South Texas Project, a huge nuclear power plant on the Gulf coast between Galveston and Corpus Christi. Back then, to me, nuclear power was no different than any other source of energy, except that the plant construction was enormously more complex and expensive than a conventional power plant. Then, in 1979, while the South Texas Project was still underway, the Three Mile Island incident in Pennsylvania happened. Though I continued working on the nuclear project, I did start to question the long-term safety of nuclear power. When the moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants began, it seemed to me to be a prudent move.

The Chernobyl incident was of course shocking, but it seemed to demonstrate a worst-case scenario. The Soviet nuclear plants were quite shoddy construction compared to Western plants, and were and remain accidents waiting to happen. If it had had no concrete containment structure, the Three Mile Island incident would have potentially been a disaster. Without a containment structure, there is no way to buy time to cool the reactor core if it overheats. What both incidents demonstrated was that the "China Syndrome" scenario is something of a myth.

Now, with oil at $135 a barrel and rising, and the adequacy of the world's supply of oil uncertain but probably insufficient to meet future energy demands, I believe it is imperative that nuclear power be part of the solution. We know that it works, it can be produced quite safely if proper precautions are taken, and it does not produce greenhouse gases. Solar, thermal, clean coal, wind, hydrogen, biofuel and other alternative energy sources may also be important in the future, but we know for certain that nuclear power works. I have come full circle.

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Fri May 30, 2008 6:44 am
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NitroForum Oldster

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Post Re: Chernobyl
Jack Kelly wrote:

The Chernobyl incident was of course shocking, but it seemed to demonstrate a worst-case scenario. The Soviet nuclear plants were quite shoddy construction compared to Western plants, and were and remain accidents waiting to happen. If it had had no concrete containment structure, the Three Mile Island incident would have potentially been a disaster. Without a containment structure, there is no way to buy time to cool the reactor core if it overheats. What both incidents demonstrated was that the "China Syndrome" scenario is something of a myth.



I too, have read that the Soviet plants were quite inferior and that the designs used there are simply not allowed in most of the rest of the world. I didn't recognize your "China Syndrome" reference. Googling eventually lead me to look it up on imdb.com. I see it was a movie about a nuclear accident(s) and that the movie was apparently released just a few weeks before the Three Mile Island accident occurred.

Which part of the "China Syndrome" scenario are you referring to as a myth? The nature of the accident itself or the ability of a private company to cover it up?? Or something else?? I'm not disagreeing with you - I simply haven't seen the movie and don't know if you're dismissing it en-total or just portions of it.

What I have read about is the Karen Silkwood case. She died in 1974 - I realize with the descriptor 'late 70s' you probably got started in the industry after she died - but perhaps you have an opinion on the incident?? Was it overblown? Was it pure conspiracy fodder??? I know that its certainly not in question that she was contaminated above safety levels. The question becomes how did she get contaminated. Accident? Malicious intent? Incompetency? I've even read that it was suggested that she had done it to herself intentionally - I find that one particularly hard to believe. The secondary question becomes did she really die in a simple car accident on the way to talk to a NY Times reporter?

BTW, I also have not seen the movie Silkwood either.


Fri Jun 06, 2008 5:16 am
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Post Re: Chernobyl
I haven't looked into the Silkwood incident independently. At the time it happened, it was pretty big news and the Kerr McGee facility she worked at had less-than-optimum safety procedures which probably led to her contamination. The fact that she was also a union activist led to conspiracy theories that she was murdered, but no one was ever charged. I believe her family eventually won a lawsuit against Kerr-McGee because of the plutonium contamination, but that contamination did not cause her death. It appeared that she simply fell asleep while returning from a union meeting and rolled her car.

The "China Syndrome" myth I referred to was the theory that a power plant's nuclear core, once it melts down, burns through the bottom of the containment structure until it hits the water table. Then, the nuclear material explodes and is spread over a large area, creating an uninhabitable wasteland. The area around Chernobyl is pretty much an uninhabitable wasteland, but not because of the "China Syndrome" phenomenon.

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Fri Jun 06, 2008 6:33 am
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