Sunday, 15 March 2015

Reactor No4

Reactor No4; about the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, and the Sustainable, Clean, Green and Life-Friendly alternatives ~

I started this project because I encountered a virtual reality model of the Ukranian town of Pripyat near to Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, called Everwinter Post Apocalyptic Theme Park and made by Lauren Bentham, which prompted me to look again at the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster of April 26th 1986.

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation identified fewer than 60 immediate deaths from trauma, acute radiation poisoning and thyroid cancer - non-governmental organizations contrastingly claimed up to a million deaths were caused.
Nearly nine tons of radioactive materials - 90 times as much as the Hiroshima bomb - were hurled into the sky,  forty hours later the 50,000 residents of Pripyat were ordered to evacuate.

There have been other nuclear power plant leaks, accidents and disasters before Chernobyl and after - including Fukushima 2011, which has resulted in a nuclear meltdown of three of nuclear reactors...

With 437 Nuclear Power Plants worldwide + 71 under construction, the possibility of future incidents cannot be ignored.
In a world where polluting emissions and climate change have become a bigger concern, nuclear power remains a significant piece of the energy-production puzzle.

Yet the UK alone now has enough radioactive waste to fill the Royal Albert Hall five times over, with no safe way to dispose of it.

There are safer alternatives which spring direct from the Earth’s natural resources - sunlight, wind, waves, tides and geothermal heat, all are versatile, adaptable, abundant and renewable energy sources that will never run out. Significantly, they do not cary the threat of radiation, disaster and death,
but offer a sustainable and environmentally balanced answer to our energy needs - protecting the present so that the futrure will be worth living in.

Located within the Chernobyl disaster zone, Pripyat, Ukraine, was ground zero for the worst nuclear disaster in history when an accident destroyed a plant reactor on April 26, 1986. Nearly nine tons of radioactive materials - 90 times as much as the Hiroshima bomb - were hurled into the sky. The explosion took place at around one in the morning while the neighboring town of Pripyat slept. Only forty hours later, the residents of Pripyat were ordered to evacuate, and most never returned. The exclusion zone of 30 km (19 mi) that was set up around the reactor is still in place today. Almost 30 years later, radiation levels remain too high for human habitation..

237 Chernobyl workers were taken to hospital with suspected acute radiation sickness; 134 of these cases were confirmed; 28 were fatal; about 20 other workers have since died from illnesses considered to have been caused or aggravated by radiation exposure; two workers died from other causes at the time of the accident and another disappeared - presumed dead.

Suffering from thyroid cancer, Oleg Shapiro, 54, and Dima Bogdanovich, 13, receive care at a thyroid hospital in Minsk, where surgery is performed daily. As a liquidator, Oleg was exposed to extreme levels of radiation. This was his third thyroid operation.

On top of that, it has been estimated that about 4000 people will die (or may already have died) from radiation-induced cancer, including workers exposed directly to radiation, and members of the public exposed to the huge release of radioactive material from the reactor. About 4000 cases of thyroid cancer, which typically kills about 5 per cent of people who get it, have been attributed to inhalation and ingestion of radioactive iodine by children.

The accident
The accident happened during unauthorized reactor tests. A sudden power output surge took place, and when an attempt was made at an emergency shutdown, a more extreme spike in power output occurred which led to the rupture of a reactor vessel as well as a series of explosions. This event exposed superheated internal reactor components to the air, causing them to ignite. The explosions and fire created a huge plume of radioactive fallout to float up into the atmosphere and out over an extensive area. The plume drifted over large parts of the western Soviet Union, Europe and elevated radiation levels were recorded as far as the west coast of the United States and Canada.

The zone of alienation
Only after a soviet investigation team from Kiev had reached the site and reported very high radioactive values the people of Pripyat were informed about the accident. The evacuation began at 2 p.m. on 27 April. To speed up the evacuation, the residents were told to bring only what was necessary since the authorities said it would only be temporary and would last approximately three days. As a result, most of the residents left most of their personal belongings which can still be found at Pripyat. 

Workers wearing plastic suits and respirators for protection pause briefly on their way to drill holes for support rods inside the shaky concrete sarcophagus, a structure hastily built after the explosion to isolate the radioactive rubble of Reactor #4.

Reactor No4
The sarcophagus that currently encases Unit 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is a giant metal concrete and structure quickly constructed as an emergency measure in 1986 to halt the release of radiation into the atmosphere following the explosion. The official Russian name is “Obyekt Ukrytiye” which means shelter or covering. It is estimated that within the shelter there is 200 tons of radioactive corium, 30 tons of contaminated dust and 16 tons of uranium and plutonium (source Wikipedia). In 1996 it was considered impossible to repair the sarcophagus as radiation levels within it were as high as 10,000 röntgens per hour (background radiation in cities is around 20-50 microröntgens per hour, a lethal dose being 500 röntgens over 5 hours). A decision to replace the sarcophagus with a “New Safe Containment” was taken and construction of the new structure is now well underway. Originally planned to be in place by 2005, the New Shelter is expected to be completed by the French consortium Novarka in 2015.

Chernobyl New Safe Confinement.
A structure of gigantic dimensions, 108 meters high, 162 long, 257 wingspan.

The Red Forest:
While the reactor was burning, the adjacent pine forest absorbed most of the released heavily radioactive dust. 10km² of woods were affected by the radiation and died, turning the forest to color red. The radiation levels here are several times higher then near the reactor core.

The Pripyat amusement park was scheduled to open only four days after the Chernobyl accident, but this never happened. The ferris wheel, swings, bumper cars and the merry-go-round were never used and are now rusting away, a stark Orwellian reminder of the Nuclear disaster and shattered innocence that fell here. ( )

the empty schools and kindergarten rooms in Pripyat – once the largest town in the Exclusion Zone with 50,000 inhabitants – are still a silent testament to the sudden and tragic departure.

Because people are forgetful, but Radiation will last at least 1000 years - 
follow this link for
The 10 Worst Civilian Nuclear Accidents in History - 
so far......

In consideration of the various alternative energy sources,
Some alternatives seem more promising than others.
Biofuel appears to be a self defeating option under the worlds present population levels, as food crop land, limited and in increasing demand, is destroyed to grow crops that will be used as fuel.
Whilst  wave power looks like a great alternative source of energy, it may also destroy marine ecosystems and communities both human and otherwise that rely on them.
Other than watermills, the use of water as a power source through creation of massive hydropower plants is less promising because of the potential environmental damage to natural waterways, wildlife, and communities.

Solarpower and Windpower are arguably the best energy alternatives, since most countries already have the technology and they create arguably minimal disruption environmentally - without the threat of decades long disasters to follow.

In terms of collective and cooperative good, projects undertaken on a community level would lessen the burden of expensive infrastructure costs as can be seen in Germany over the last few years.

Home construction could focus on sustainable living and even going 'off grid' as growing numbers of people are beginning to do. Smaller homes using recycled and local resources for construction with solar panels and small wind turbines generates sufficient energy for our modern needs with minimal storage demands.

This can be accomplished on a municipal level, too. Rethinking how we use space in urban settings to include self-sustaining energy production and food production. In terms of energy, both solar and wind are affordable to individuals, developing communities, and established municipalities.

Many of the emerging studies in the U.S. show that establishing decentralized energy production and distribution sites using solar and wind (because we already use them and have the technology in place) is more efficient, less loss of energy in the distribution process, and eliminates CO2 pollution as created by use of fossil-fuels. This system also eliminates the dangers associated with nuclear energy.


Greenpeace Energy (R)Evolution
Economics of Grid Defection
Beyond Utility 2.0 to Energy


  1. Incredible film you have made on a maddening subject. I live within 30 miles of Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania USA and when that almost melted down many people including my family fled north upwind. I worked in the hospital so felt the responsibility to remain in the area. Luckily it did not explode and melt down but we dodged a bullet for sure. I still ring a Shinto bell once a week to the victims of Fukashima., a disaster much worse than the government will admit. There is this Big fusion reactor that heats the whole earth called the Sun and it is only because you can't put a meter on it that the powers that be do not pursue solar technology more aggressively. Hopefully in my lifetime i will see major changes, but that depends on we the voters who supposedly set policy in this country. Blessings to you.

    1. Thank you blausternschlonge - hopefully we will all see environmentally responsible changes in our time, glad you survived the Three Mile Island disaster !! Best Wishes to you ~