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Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster

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Winston

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All Soviet civilian power reactors were inherently dangerous pieces of junk and there were many serious accidents before Chernobyl, all kept top secret. They are described in this excellent book as the lead-up to Chernobyl:

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster - 4.8 stars with 4,753 ratings


Chapter 2 of another great book, Chernobyl 01:23:40, is even better at describing what horrendous pieces of crap the Soviet reactors were:

Chernobyl 01:23:40


RBMK reactor series




Google map of Chernobyl exclusion zone. Collapse the annoying, obstructing map legend on the left. Zoom in to see place markers. Then, for instance, check out the cafeteria (knife & fork icon) images:


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A few examples of other Soviet radiation incidents:

Kyshtym disaster


The Kyshtym disaster or Kyshtym incident was a radioactive contamination accident that occurred on 29 September 1957 at Mayak, a plutonium production site for nuclear weapons and nuclear fuel reprocessing plant located in the closed city of Chelyabinsk-40 (now Ozyorsk) in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union.

The disaster was the second worst nuclear incident (by radioactivity released) after the Chernobyl disaster. It measured as a Level 6 disaster on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES),[1] making it the third highest on the INES (which ranks by population impact), behind Chernobyl (evacuated 335,000 people) and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (evacuated 154,000 people) which are both Level 7 on the INES. At least twenty-two villages were exposed to radiation from the Kyshtym disaster, with a total population of around 10,000 people evacuated. Some were evacuated after a week, but it took almost two years for evacuations to occur at other sites.[2]

The disaster spread hot particles over more than 52,000 square kilometres (20,000 sq mi), where at least 270,000 people lived.[3] Since Chelyabinsk-40 (later renamed Chelyabinsk-65 until 1994) was not marked on maps, the disaster was named after Kyshtym, the nearest known town.


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Mentioned in one of the Chernobyl books, at one time one could get a lethal gamma dose just by standing at the lake's shore for an hour.

Lake Karachay


Lake Karachay (Russian: Карача́й), sometimes spelled Karachai or Karachaj, was a small lake in the southern Ural mountains in central Russia. Starting in 1951, the Soviet Union used Karachay as a dumping site for radioactive waste from Mayak, the nearby nuclear waste storage and reprocessing facility, located near the town of Ozyorsk (then called Chelyabinsk-40). Today the lake is completely infilled, acting as "a near-surface permanent and dry nuclear waste storage facility."[1]

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Soviet submarine K-431


Soviet submarine K-431 (originally the Soviet submarine K-31) was a Soviet nuclear-powered submarine that had a reactor accident on 10 August 1985.[1] It was commissioned on 30 September 1965. An explosion occurred during refueling of the submarine at Chazhma Bay, Vladivostok.[2] There were ten fatalities and 49 other people suffered radiation injuries. TIME magazine has identified the accident as one of the world's "worst nuclear disasters".[1]

K-431, completed around 1965 as unit K-31, was a Project 675 (Echo II)-class submarine with two pressurized water reactors, each 70 MWt capacity and using 20% enriched uranium as fuel.[3] On 10 August 1985, the submarine was being refuelled at the Chazhma Bay naval facility near Vladivostok. The submarine had been refuelled and the reactor tank lid was being replaced. The lid was laid incorrectly and had to be lifted again with the control rods attached. A beam was supposed to prevent the lid from being lifted too far, but this beam was positioned incorrectly, and the lid with control rods was lifted up too far. At 10:55 AM the starboard reactor became prompt critical, resulting in a criticality excursion of about 5·1018 fissions and a thermal/steam explosion. The explosion expelled the new load of fuel, destroyed the machine enclosures, ruptured the submarine's pressure hull and aft bulkhead, and partially destroyed the fuelling shack, with the shack's roof falling 70 metres away in the water. A fire followed, which was extinguished after 4 hours, after which assessment of the radioactive contamination began. Most of the radioactive debris fell within 50–100 metres (160–330 ft) of the submarine, but a cloud of radioactive gas and particulates blew to the northwest across a 6 km (3.7 mi) stretch of the Dunay Peninsula, missing the town of Shkotovo-22, 1.5 km (0.93 mi) from the dock. The contaminated forest area was later surveyed as 2 km2 (0.77 sq mi) in a swath 3.5 km (2.2 mi) long and 200 to 650 m (660 to 2,130 ft) wide. Initial estimates of the radioactive release were about 74 PBq (2 MCi) of noble gases and 185 PBq (5 MCi) of other fission products, but most of this was short-lived isotopes; the estimated release inventory one hour after the accident was about 37 TBq (1000 Ci) of non-noble fission products. In part because the reactor did not contain spent fuel, the fraction of biologically active isotopes was far smaller than in the case of the Chernobyl disaster.


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Not nuclear, just another impressive Soviet disaster. An FAE [Fuel Air Explosive] incident.

Ufa train disaster


The Ufa train disaster was a railway accident that occurred on 4 June 1989, in Iglinsky District, Bashkir ASSR, Soviet Union, when an explosion killed 575 people and injured 800 more.[1][2] It is the deadliest rail disaster in peacetime in the Soviet Union/Russia.

At 1:15 am, two passenger trains of the Kuybyshev Railway carrying approximately 1,300 vacationers to and from Novosibirsk and a resort in Adler on the Black Sea exploded, 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) from the town of Asha, Chelyabinsk Oblast.[3] Without anyone knowing, a faulty gas pipeline 900 metres (3,000 feet) from the line had leaked natural gas liquids (mainly propane and butane), and weather conditions allowed the gas to accumulate across the lowlands, creating a flammable cloud along part of the Kuybyshev Railway. The explosion occurred after wheel sparks from the two passenger trains heading in opposite directions ignited this flammable cloud. Estimates of the size of the explosion have ranged from 250–300 tons TNT equivalent to up to 10 kilotons TNT equivalent.[1][4] Many of the victims died later in hospital; official figures are 575 dead and over 800 injured,[5] but an unofficial estimate of the number of deaths is approximately 780.[1] 181 of the dead were children;[2] many survivors received severe burns and brain injuries.
 

Winston

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BTW, I'm 100% pro-nuclear power as is the author of Chernobyl 01:23:40 and for the same reasons. They just can't be inherently defective or ancient designs run by idiots as at Chernobyl and Fukushima.
 

boomtube-mk2

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What about these Thorium reactors I read about all the time?
Has anybody built and operated one, even as a "Proof of concept"; or is it still pretty much "Pie in the sky"?
 

Winston

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What about these Thorium reactors I read about all the time?
Has anybody built and operated one, even as a "Proof of concept"; or is it still pretty much "Pie in the sky"?
It's far beyond proof of concept.

I read a few years ago that the Chinese allocated one billion dollars equivalent to the effort. Italy has also worked on it.

One of the problems, even though we developed the technology long ago, is that the nuclear reactor business works on the razor/razorblade business model. That is, the main profits aren't made in building the plant, they're made in supplying the very specialized, expensive to create fuel modules.

Now, how much profit is to be made in simply supplying bags of thorium salt and other ingredients, not requiring any particularly special equipment to produce? So, you can see that in a uranium-based profit system, there is a disincentive to switch to anything else.
 
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Winston

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Not thorium based, but proved the molten salt reactor concept:

This film was produced in 1969 by Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the United States Atomic Energy Commission to inform the public regarding the history, technology, and milestones of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE). Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Molten Salt Reactor Experiment was designed to assess the viability of liquid fuel reactor technologies for use in commercial power generation.


LFTRs in 5 minutes - Thorium Reactors


Thorium Debunk [actually a debunking of the debunking]

Thorium, element 90 on the periodic table, is a fertile material. When struck by a neutron, it will change (over time) into Uranium-233. Uranium-233 is fissile, and can fission into energy and fission products. Claims have been made regarding both thorium's energy potential, and counter claims that it holds no particular advantage over uranium as a nuclear fuel. This video seeks to clarify this dispute.

 

TSMILLER

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Little off topic but close to...
I've long been fascinated by Chernobyl and its operating City of Pripyat. More so on what the environment does to reclaim the area with out human intervention.
Even with the exclusion zone there are people that never left, and due to the war in the east refugees are finding it is a cheaper safe haven than living in the constant shelling between the Russian Separatist and the Ukraine forces.
Mrs best friend grew up in an area very close to Chernobyl and I maintain that has a great deal to do with her personality and thinking. She has said her family lived only off what they could grow and produce on a small garden plot. She is a great gal in small doses, but seems to have the personality and traits of someone 12 to 15 years old.
I've wanted to visit the area since 2001 yet Mrs is still adamant that I NOT do so!
 

Zbench

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The last video embedded above is definitely worth watching. Also not surprising that the existing nuclear industrial complex would throw shade on any competing design. Encouraging to see that there are so many startups looking to revisit the work from the 40s. I hope it becomes commercialized. Can’t be worse than the existing energy planning cycles.
 

Winston

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Generation IV reactors


Excerpts:

Generation IV reactors (Gen IV) are a set of nuclear reactor designs currently being researched for commercial applications by the Generation IV International Forum. They are motivated by a variety of goals including improved safety, sustainability, efficiency, and cost.

The molten-salt (MSR) reactor, a less developed technology, is considered as potentially having the greatest inherent safety of the six models.

Another notable feature of the MSR is the possibility of a thermal spectrum nuclear waste-burner. Conventionally only fast spectrum reactors have been considered viable for utilization or reduction of the spent nuclear stockpiles
["spent" meaning the 99% "unburnt" nuclear waste from our past and current incredibly inefficient antiques - W] The conceptual viability of a thermal waste-burner was first shown in a whitepaper by Seaborg Technologies spring 2015. Thermal waste-burning was achieved by replacing a fraction of the uranium in the spent nuclear fuel with thorium. The net production rate of transuranium element (e.g. plutonium and americium) is reduced below the consumption rate, thus reducing the magnitude of the nuclear storage problem, without the nuclear proliferation concerns and other technical issues associated with a fast reactor.

So, even when not in a 100% LFTR design, plentiful thorium, currently disposed of as waste from rare earths refining, can be useful.
 

Steven

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On a slight tangent, there is some film footage showing 'flashes' and static on the actual film of Chernobyl. This is what the moon hoaxers are seeing on the moon landing photos. It's degradation of the film caused by radiation. Both environments had it.
 
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