What The Russians Did At Chernobyl

Now that Russia has failed at their three-day takeover of Ukraine, their only purpose seems to be to destroy it. There’s no other reason for the damage of the Chernobyl plant described in this Washington Post article. (no paywall)

Russians stole equipment and damaged buildings. The most dangerous part of the site, the remains of reactor number 4, is well-protected under an engineered dome that was completed a year or two ago. The article says little about the used fuel storage ponds that have received fuel from Ukraine’s other reactors. Those are also dangerous, in that an explosion within them would disperse the radioactive fuel. That didn’t happen, whether it reflected Russian objectives or Russian ignorance. The other three reactors at the site were shut down by 2000.

Ukraine is back in charge of the plant and cleaning up the mess.

Some of the stolen equipment has GPS tracking and is now moving around in Belarus.

The article has some photos of the damage. Take a look.

@Safecast volunteers are measuring radioactivity in the area.

Photo from the Washington Post article: People who work in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone wait at a checkpoint at the entrance to the plant. (Kasia Strek/Panos Pictures for The Washington Post)

Cross-posted to Lawyers, Guns & Money

Chernobyl Update

A quick update on the situation around Chernobyl.

The Russians have taken the reactor site. It contains the ruined reactor that exploded in 1986 and fuel storage ponds for fuel elements from three other reactors that were shut down by 2000.

The Ukrainian government’s network of radiation monitoring sites showed a few elevated readings that have fluctuated. The network is now down because the operations staff have left the plant. The readings never reached a level that was dangerous to human health in the area, much less in other places.

Those fluctuating readings are most likely due to the heavy military truck traffic in the area. I expect that the Russians don’t care about those low levels of radiation. Their primary objective in seizing Chernobyl is most likely to control the road to Kyiv from the north.

The ruined reactor is covered by a containment shell. The dangerous material in it is in the basement of the reactor building, protected by the remains of that building and many tons of concrete that have been poured over it. All that is under the containment shell, which is said to be robust to tornadoes. I suspect that a direct artillery hit could breach the shell and allow a small amount of radioactive contaminants to escape, but that solid mass of melted fuel elements, containing uranium and plutonium, is inaccessible.

Here’s a thread from a network of volunteers who monitor radiation around the globe.

Information here is from Twitter and other social media accounts I consider reliable. However, events are changing rapidly.

The photo is from an RFERL photo essay on the containment structure. Many more photos there.

Cross-posted to Lawyers, Guns & Money

Chernobyl Containment Slides Into Place

The enormous containment built to house the damaged Chernobyl reactor was sucessfully installed today. That link contains a time-lapse video of the arch’s movement from where it was constructed.

The damaged building and reactor are now protected from the elements, and cleanup work can take place inside the containment. Dust from the building had been subject to scattering by the wind.

European Commission statement This is some of the good stuff that the European Union does.

RFE/RL (with more video)


Popular Science backgrounder

Signs of big power divisions over Iran nuclear report

Russia and China have urged the U.N. nuclear watchdog chief to give Iran time to study and respond to allegations of possible military-linked atomic activities before he publishes a report on the issue next month, diplomats said on Friday.

Russia and China have urged the U.N. nuclear watchdog chief to give Iran time to study and respond to allegations of possible military-linked atomic activities before he publishes a report on the issue next month, diplomats said on Friday.

The move by Moscow and Beijing may be a sign of divisions among the six major powers — also comprising the United States, France, Germany and Britain — on how to best handle the long-running dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme.


We’ve heard a lot about the Solyndra loan in the past weeks. Susan Kraemer states “Obama DOE picked more energy winners than Silicon valley VCs.


The European Commission has proposed new energy infrastructure regulations aimed at boosting funding for projects that serve the European Union’s common interest.They’re launching an ambitious bid to overhaul and refocus EU rules on electricity transmission systems and natural gas pipelines. The centerpiece is the creation of a $69 billion “Connecting Europe” financing facility — $12 billion of which would be used to encourage energy grid projects the EU deems necessary to contribute to the growth of a trans-European infrastructure.