Skip to comments.Crumbling Chernobyl Shelter Poses Danger (Tourist trap ALERT!)
Posted on 04/22/2006 8:29:12 PM PDT by Libloather
Crumbling Chernobyl Shelter Poses Danger
By MARA D. BELLABY, Associated Press Writer
Sat Apr 22, 6:37 PM ET
An aerial view of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant shortly after the explosion of its still smoking fourth reactor is seen in this 1986 file picture. Ukraine marks the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the world's worst civil nuclear disaster, on April 26 this year. The concrete was used for the building of a sarcophagus around the shattered reactor, designed to contain emanating radiation. BLACK AND WHITE ONLY REUTERS/Vladimir Repik/Files
CHERNOBYL NUCLEAR POWER PLANT, Ukraine - Chernobyl's coffin is cracking. Birds and rainwater have gotten inside the steel-and-concrete shelter hastily built over the reactor that blew up in 1986, and officials worry about what is getting out.
The "sarcophagus" over reactor No. 4 is reaching the end of its life span. A multinational $1.1 billion project to build a new shelter a giant steel arch designed to last 100 years is still on the drawing board.
"Twenty years have already passed since the accident, but the risks and the hazards posed by the reactor are still there," said Yulia Marusych, a spokeswoman for the power station.
The sarcophagus of nearly 700,000 tons of steel and 400,000 tons of concrete was hastily built to seal in an estimated 200-ton mix of radioactive fuel and materials like concrete and sand that fused when the explosion spiked temperatures to 1,800 degrees inside.
No one knows exactly how much radioactive fuel remains since only 25 percent of the reactor is accessible. Some estimate it all was discharged during the 10 days when the reactor spewed out its insides. Others counter that as much as 90 percent is still there. Sensors constantly check for signs of new reactions taking place.
"Could it begin again? It would need certain conditions and we can say that today those conditions do not exist," Marusych said. "But the chance that a chain reaction could be triggered is not zero. The danger remains."
Didier Louvat, a radiation waste expert with the International Atomic Energy Agency who studies Chernobyl closely, sees no reason for alarm "The situation is stable ... at the moment the conditions are not a matter for concern."
Some accuse the Ukrainian government of playing up the dangers to get more international aid for the new shelter. But Yuriy Andreyev, head of the Chernobyl Union, an advocacy group, accused the government of not doing enough. He said water accumulating under the reactor is highly irradiated and could leak into the region's groundwater.
Authorities said the priority now is stabilizing the sarcophagus. The roof is not sealed properly. The water inside is weakening the concrete and metal. The shelter's original west wall is leaning precariously.
While a collapse would be unlikely to spark another explosion, it could release a huge burst of poisonous radioactive dust.
For now, while talks continue on who will build the new shelter, construction crews are working to shore up the aging sarcophagus. They have to work in 20-minute shifts to minimize exposure to radiation.
"About the danger? Well, everybody knows where he works and everybody realizes the real hazards, the real risks of working here," said Yuriy Tatarchuk, a Chernobyl official.
A helicopter dropping concrete onto the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power after its explosion is seen in this 1986 file picture. Ukraine marks the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the world's worst civil nuclear disaster, on April 26 this year. The concrete was used for the building of a sarcophagus around the shattered reactor, designed to contain emanating radiation. BLACK AND WHITE ONLY REUTERS/Vladimir Repik/Files
A wedding party crosses a street weeks after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the settlement of Polesskoe near Chernobyl in this May 9, 1986 file picture. Ukraine marks the 20th anniversary of the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, world's worst civil nuclear disaster, on April 26 this year. B/W ONLY REUTERS/Vladimir Repik/Files
A Ukrainian worker inspects the state of the 'sarcophagus' containing the closed Chernobyl nuclear station's stricken fourth reactor in this 1996 file picture. Ukraine will mark the 20th anniversary of the explosion and fire at Chernobyl, the world's worst civil nuclear accident on April 26, 2006. Picture taken 1996. QUALITY FROM SOURCE. REUTERS/Sergei Koshelev/File
A young cancer patient reads a book in the oncological centre for children in the village of Lesnoi, near Minsk, April 20, 2006. Ukraine and Belarus are marking the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster this month, considered the worst accident in the history of nuclear power, which resulted in a substantial increase in radiation-induced diseases among the general population in the areas worst affected by radioactive fall-out. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
A few recent FR headlines -
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there was just article in PEOPLE about Chernobyl.
I understand that doctors in the region are not well-trained to modern standards. They have told many patients that nothing can be done to help them, which is often not true when visiting surgeons go there to help.
The precise wonders of socialist and communist engineering and planning. Quality is not job 1.
Why do their nuclear facilities look like a Dickensian textile mill?
Man...it may be a weird desire, but I would absolutely LOVE to do the day tour of the Chernobyl area. I even have a friend who would go with me and a way to get incredibly cheap airfare to Moscow or Kiev. I just don't know how to work out the time to get over there (for a real trip to Russia/Ukraine, not just to see Chernobyl). Sounds like I should try to work something out this summer, before it's too late.
Because unlike in the Western world, Soviet nuclear power plants weren't covered in concrete domes several feet thick. The type of construction they're looking to do here to contain the radioactive waste of the disaster already exists around every nuclear power plant in the U.S. and Western Europe, both to prevent what's outside getting in (a missile or airliner would bounce off such a concrete shell) and to prevent what's inside getting out (like the radiation leaking from the unprotected #4 core at Chernobyl).
I care nothing about seeing a fried nuke plant, but I hear there is some great elk and bear hunting in Russia, I would like to go for that option.
I guess ya pays up front or ya pays later (in more than just money).
Ghost town: Chapter One of Elena's incredible and exciting story (click on the bottom of each chapter for the next chapter, a total of 27 chapters):
It's a great website, no doubt...but it's a fake. A July 6, 2004 L.A. Times article provides the details - the operator was on a regular guided tour with her husband, not alone on a motorcycle, and staged the photos to appear alone. Many other of the photos were taken from a previously published Ukranian book. As one would expect, it's neither safe nor permitted to enter the restricted zone alone or to enter in an unenclosed vehicle.
I couldn't pull up the story from the latimes.com archive, but a Google of "kidd of speed" and "Chernobyl" will probably find source material, if you're so inclined.
>>Classic illustration of the concept of externality as the radiation drifted over Western Europe. <<
Ahhh, yeah ~
Yes, I do believe that I read that L.A. Times article you refer to !
They claimed that the Kid-Of-Speed was a hoax !
I find that hard to believe, the website and its' pages are so detailed !
Hmmm, after googling the 'kiddofspeed', it appears you might be right on this story. First time I ever had anyone attach a hoax to this story. I will have to research it more later, thanks.
The non-habitation zone around Chernobyl is only 10km.
>>The non-habitation zone around Chernobyl is only 10km.<<
Yeah, I misread that article !
It would still be an interesting spooky place to visit !
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