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Japan Power Security The Military News Science Technology

Area Around Chernobyl Plant To Become a Nuclear Dump (japantimes.co.jp) 178

mdsolar quotes a report from The Japan Times: A heavily contaminated area within a 10-kilometer radius of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine will be used to store nuclear waste materials, the chief of a state agency managing the wider exclusion zone said in an interview. "People cannot live in the land seriously contaminated for another 500 years, so we are planning to make it into an industrial complex," said Vitalii Petruk, the head of the State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management. The zone is 30-km radius from the site of the 1986 nuclear accident -- the world's worst nuclear disaster. "We are thinking of making land that is less contaminated a buffer zone to protect a residential area from radioactive materials," he said. Petruk added, "We are considering building a facility for alternative energy such as solar panels" so as to utilize the remaining electricity infrastructure including power grids for the Chernobyl nuclear power plant there.
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Area Around Chernobyl Plant To Become a Nuclear Dump

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  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @05:58AM (#51774941) Journal
    This isn't exactly a feel-good story; but it's hard to say that it's a bad plan. If you've already got a serious 'brownfield' site, using it to deal with other unpleasant industrial matters rather than letting it sit idle or attempting some wildly uneconomic remediation seems sensible. Hopefully the new facilities will not inherit the legacy of...competent and safety oriented...nuclear engineering that caused the trouble originally.

    One thing I'd be curious about, though: I assume that the exclusion zone is because of a combination of nasty isotopes in the soil that make subsistence activities, kids eating dirt, and various other aspects of human habitation problematic, along with the generally low tolerance of radiation risks for civilians not working in nuclear energy/related industries; but are there any areas(outside of the interior and immediate vicinity of the Chernobyl sarcophagus) where the radiation exposure you would receive just by standing around is still intense enough to be an occupational safety issue?

    Isotope contamination can mostly be dealt with as though it were a mere chemical hazard, since you won't take much exposure unless you ingest/inhale/whatever the stuff and end up with it in your body somewhere; but your options are a lot more limited if you are being bathed in ionizing radiation just standing there. Chemical protective gear isn't a pleasure to wear; but it's doable. Radiation shielding tends to be mass prohibitive unless you are going full power armor or something.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

      Hopefully the new facilities will not inherit the legacy of...competent and safety oriented...nuclear engineering that caused the trouble originally.

      And not just originally. Remember when the first containment building was falling apart and dropping big chunks of concrete that were raising clouds of radioactive dust, and they had to build another one over the top of it? Yeah. They've already got a history of mismanaging the site. Now we're supposed to believe that they're going to do it right in the future? Nofuckingway.

      One thing I'd be curious about, though: I assume that the exclusion zone is because of a combination of nasty isotopes in the soil that make subsistence activities, kids eating dirt, and various other aspects of human habitation problematic,

      No, just walking around, just the wind blowing... you don't have do actually do much.

      I think the truly telling thing here is that when

      • Well, the first containment was built immediately after the accident, by Communists that were only there because they'd be shot in the face if they didn't. Doesn't exactly endear them to the work, and motivate for doing it right.

        The new containment structure that is (was?) built was being done by contractors from a different country, being paid quite nicely to get the job done. It's possible that they could do this properly because they aren't under the specter of worldwide attention, and I'm pretty sure

      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        And not just originally. Remember when the first containment building was falling apart and dropping big chunks of concrete that were raising clouds of radioactive dust, and they had to build another one over the top of it? Yeah. They've already got a history of mismanaging the site. Now we're supposed to believe that they're going to do it right in the future? Nofuckingway.

        In fairness to the Ukrainians and their Soviet colleagues, the first containment building was built around what amounted to a highly ac

      • They've already got a history of mismanaging the site. Now we're supposed to believe that they're going to do it right in the future? Nofuckingway

        So ... doing nothing is an option?

        And when the levees around the cooling water ponds finally fail, you'll do nothing.

        And when the relatively radioactive silt at the bottom of the ponds starts to blow around and blow off-site as the ponds finally dry out ... do nothing?

        Your argument about the management history is actually one for having competent people involve

    • I'm with you fuzzy..when life serves you corium you have to make coriumade.

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @09:12AM (#51775723) Homepage Journal

      but are there any areas(outside of the interior and immediate vicinity of the Chernobyl sarcophagus) where the radiation exposure you would receive just by standing around is still intense enough to be an occupational safety issue?

      Well, "enough to be an occupational safety issue" is not very much. You don't have to get enough radiation to get acutely sick for it to be an "issue". Still it's reasonably safe to work in the exclusion zone as long as you take precautions and monitor your exposure. In fact people do continue work there, even at the plant itself. It's a little-known fact that the three other Chernobyl reactors were operated 14 years after the 1986 catastrophe in Number 4, but in part this reflects a much more cavalier attitude towards worker safety than would be acceptable in the West. It's also little-known that the 1986 catastrophe was neither the first nor the last serious mishap at the plant. And then of course when you shut down a nuclear reactor you can't just walk away from it even in the best of circumstances. As of today people are still working in the exclusion zone to maintain the site and build the New Safe Confinement [wikipedia.org] structure.

      I have mixed feelings about the idea of using Chernobyl as a nuclear waste site. On one hand it makes sense to concentrate your nuclear hazard operations where you're forced to do it anyway. On the other hand it'd be a bad thing to simply abandon the area, because it's not really that contaminated -- not so contaminated that people can't work there at least. And people will have to continue working there. For how long? Possibly for as along as our species continues to exist, because whenever the decision comes up whether to stabilize the site permanently or build another confinement structure that'll last for a few more decades, it'll always be more cost effective to go with the temporary fix. So it's a very good thing that people will be able to move into the exclusion zone in 500 years -- if we don't mess up in the meantime.

      What you really need is a crystal ball that can show you the future. If you see a well-managed operation then this is a site which is solving problems for the rest of the world. If you see a half-assed operation then this may become site where the problems are so concentrated you can't work on them there. Everything boils down to how much you trust people to do the right thing even when it's expensive and difficult and doing the wrong thing won't cause any problems unless you're unlucky.

      • On the other hand it'd be a bad thing to simply abandon the area, because it's not really that contaminated -- not so contaminated that people can't work there at least.

        The original exclusion zone is roughly 100km in diameter, about 80miles east to west and about 60 miles north to south wide.

        We are talking about the 6miles area around the disaster places, 10km.

        While wildlife might flourish (considering a buck lives only 6 years) in many parts of the zone, it is no way safe for people to live there. Most cer

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          Living and working in the exclusion zones are two different matters altogether. Nobody can maintain the kinds of precautions you'd need 7x24.

          As for workers in the immediate vicinity of the plant, those working on the New Safe Containment structure don't seem to be using masks or hazmat suits. Images from the years following the disaster show workers in the control room or turbine hall wearing clean room style jumpsuits with surgical caps and masks, but clearly not continually worn. This might indicate a

  • by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @06:05AM (#51774965)

    Really, build some modern reactors there and run them from a remote central station. Also use it for storage, solar panels, etc...

    The worst that could happen already has. May as well make some decent power for the effort.

    • Haven't you seen any movies? As soon as a major player says those words, construction workers at Chernobyl 2 will start to die in horrific ways...

      Seriously, it could be a money pit with most typical technology breaking down or producing errors when exposed to radiation. It could be extremely costly to support even a solar plant. The waste could be improperly stored (possibly due to the same sort of systematic incompetence) resulting in a bigger mess -- but that is why they are thinking that would be a goo

    • Um ... you don't need a remote station. There are 4 reactors, and only the one failed. The other three units were operated into the 90s.

  • Simply, there's a sevenfold decrease in radiation over every tenfold increase in time. A basic rule-of-thumb for estimating radioactive decay and dose rates. Yes, there are still radiation hell areas around the Chernobyl reactor core, but the place was designed to produce weapons-grade plutonium. But typical dose rates in the area are well under a millisievert per hour. While several thousand times higher than the average dose received by the average resident of the planet, it's still well below the dose required to cause even mild radiation sickness. There is, of course, an increased cancer risk, but the increase is also small, if measureable.

    So the question becomes: what's the better risk: let it self-decontaminate via decay, or dump waste there. And if so, how will it be stored ? Surface Storage of hazardous waste materials, be they radioactive or chemically active/poisonous (or, like plutonium, both. . .) is FAR less than optimal. Ideally, storage of waste should be in engineered long-duration containers stored out of the weather in a geologically stable area, well insulated from both the atmosphere and the local water table.

    • by hankwang ( 413283 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @07:10AM (#51775135) Homepage

      But typical dose rates in the area are well under a millisievert per hour. While several thousand times higher than the average dose received by the average resident of the planet, it's still well below the dose required to cause even mild radiation sickness

      You're mixing dose rates (Sv/h) and doses (Sv) in your argument, so I'm not sure what you're trying to argue here. Some googling tells me that the dose rates around Chernobyl are typically 1 micro-Sv/h [chernobylgallery.com] (indeed, well below 1 mSv/h), or 8 mSv per year, which is only a factor 3 higher than the global average human exposure. I think those numbers sound nicer than they really are, since the Chernobyl dose rates are for people just being present and breathing air, but not actually ingesting contaminated water and food or inhaling dust.

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Friday March 25, 2016 @07:45AM (#51775243)

    Lemons turn YOU to lemonade

  • Consider CdTe (Score:2, Informative)

    by mdsolar ( 1045926 )
    Silicon solar cells degrade with time owing to cosmic ray damage. They experience more rapid degadation on orbit and the same will be true in the area around Chernobyl. It is possible that more amorphous CdTe cells would degrade more slowly owing to radiation, and in any case they are on a regimented recycling schedule owing to the cadmium content. So long as they don't them selves become low level waste through contamination, CdTe panels might be the way to go.
  • Exactly who is going to work in that contaminated environment installing solar equipment or power lines etc.? And how about the hazard of trucking in nuclear waste. There is a river there as well and i wonder what will happen if that river floods. Just think of how many things can go wrong and assume that they really will go wrong given enough time. Nuclear power as it now exists is too dangerous to be allowed at all.
  • Is Japan conquering again?

  • BLOWOUT SOON STALKERS!

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