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Workers Raise First Section of New Chernobyl Shelter 149

Posted by Soulskill
from the giant-portable-stadium-roofs dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this AP report: "Workers have raised the first section of a colossal arch-shaped structure that eventually will cover the exploded nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power station. Project officials on Tuesday hailed the raising as a significant step in a complex effort to clean up the consequences of the 1986 explosion, the world's worst nuclear accident. Upon completion, the shelter will be moved on tracks over the building containing the destroyed reactor, allowing work to begin on dismantling the reactor and disposing of radioactive waste.'"
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Workers Raise First Section of New Chernobyl Shelter

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  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @05:37AM (#42115119)
    In the words of the great William Topaz McGonagall [mcgonagall-online.org.uk]:

    I must now conclude my lay
    By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
    That your central girders would not have given way,
    At least many sensible men do say,
    Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
    At least many sensible men confesses,
    For the stronger we our houses do build,
    The less chance we have of being killed.

  • Nuclear... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Would be an awesome powersource. For some other species that isn't driven by profit above all else.

    • For some other species that isn't driven by profit above all else.

      Isn't this the same driver that prevents all the current living species from going extinct?

      • Re:Nuclear... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @08:25AM (#42116017)

        No. Because it doesn't. Species go extinct all the time, and always have done, in spite of their "profit first" behaviour.

        Bacteria do nothing but eat and make more bacteria. They can get away with this because their world is so vast and the resources so plentiful compared to their unit size - even then, they eat themselves into a corner and die from a lack of resources.

        Humans are now running up against the edges of their own Petri dish, as a direct result of the intelligence that has made us so adaptable, which let us slip our environmental constraints for a while. We're starting to run into some new ones.

        The one distinct survival advantage humans have is they can out-think evolution. Alas, we seem to be mostly engaged in trying to out-stupid it.

        • by Hartree (191324)

          "Alas, we seem to be mostly engaged in trying to out-stupid it."

          Add to that large numbers of groups each saying "You must implement only our plan for the future or disaster will occur".

          However the plans seem to be different for every such group.

        • by Synerg1y (2169962)
          out think evolution? with what... cancer & aids? I think you mean out-think instincts & natural order.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by qazsedcft (911254)
      Um... in case you weren't aware Chernobyl was run by the Soviet Union and certainly not driven by profit.
      • Re:Nuclear... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Spazztastic (814296) <spazztastic@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:20AM (#42115301)

        On top of that it wasn't because of profits that the incident happened. They intentionally disabled multiple safety triggers to perform an experiment and that's what caused it all.

        • by Elros (735454)

          Correct. In fact, Accident is the wrong word. World's worst nuclear _incident_, maybe?

      • Re:Nuclear... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by siddesu (698447) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:41AM (#42115393)
        You're wrong, it was most certainly driven for its beneficial economic effects. The Soviet planning system was most certainly counting the inputs and the outputs of its nuclear power stations more or less along the lines of a Western corporation. Believe it or not, they were even using double entry accounting.
        • it was wholly a perfect representation of a totalitarian regime.

          A western corporation, any corporation, is held in check by the governments it operates under, which can rarely be said about most government controlled groups. Yeah I am quite certain people can dredge up problems that corporations have caused but there was someone you could go to about it to prevent it from happening again.

          When the watcher is the offender your pretty much betting against time something bad will happen.

          • by siddesu (698447) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @09:42AM (#42116767)

            socialist enterprises were under tight government control, but organisationally separated from the government.

            the things that were markedly different from a Western private corporation were that instead of sales and marketing you'd have a "planning" department which would coordinate production and sales goals with a ministry; instead of getting capital from a VC you'd get it from the government; a loan would not only be approved by the bank, it'd be approved by a ministry official as well and then given to you by the bank; that surplus would not be retained or distributed to shareholders, but go into the government budget at the end of the fiscal year, and, of course, that personnel decisions at high levels would involve the party.

            Other than that it was much the same crap.

      • by ByOhTek (1181381)

        Profit isn't only driven by currency.

        Look at ever despotic socialist country out there (N. Korea comes to mind).

        Even if you ignore that Soviet era Russia used money (I have a couple Soviet era ruble and kopeka coins to prove it), can you honestly deny that the higher ups in the party have/had it better than the workers? Just as with capitalism, greed and profit is still factor that breaks the system, the difference is how it is represented (less focus on currency in socialism) and how you move up (luck, eff

        • by Sulphur (1548251)

          The more the upper echelon saved in work and money on labor, the more they could afford on themselves.

          From the era :

          We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.

      • the Soviet where about performance over safety.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Do you really believe that or are you trolling?

        The entire Soviet Union was run as one big profit making enterprise. It was state capitalism at its finest. The whole point of the test that caused the failure was to increase the profitability of the Soviet State.

    • You do realize what you're talking about, huh?

      • by BeanThere (28381)

        Blaming Chernobyl on the profit motive, that is 'just wow' ... I nominate GP post for "stupidest slashdot comment ever".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Lets hope it stays that way.

    • I think you underestimate the severity of Fukushima.. the Japanese government has been shown to be downplaying the amounts of radiation there, and there's plenty being swept across the Pacific as we speak.

      • all measurements inside and outside the reactor done from multiple impartial sources is a walk in the park compared to Chernobyl. Still... I wouldn't recommend the sushi without checking it first.
    • by ledow (319597) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:10AM (#42115257) Homepage

      It might be the worst nuclear accident but it's nowhere close to the world's worst nuclear "deliberate", of which there were at least two with much more cost.

      To be honest, for the world's worst nuclear accident, it shows how scared we are of nuclear power.

      There are men in the pictures, assembling a structure to trundle over the top of the reactor in the background. They no doubt have exposure limits and suitable apparatus but the fact remains that they are standing around it. There's a 19 mile exclusion zone. That's about equivalent to the zones put around nuclear testing sites anyway (and there are even tourist trips into that exclusion zone on a regular basis).

      Sure, there *was* fallout and biological effects, and it's not something you want to ever repeat - that's undeniable, but in terms of taking out countries, or killing millions, it hasn't exactly worked out that way even under the shoddiest of safety regimes. It can be argued that all of the worst nuclear accidents combined are significantly "safer" than the best output from modern coal plants combined, in terms of long-term damage. Hell, it's safer than cars, which are currently being linked to everything from asthma to autism.

      We just need to handle it sensibly. Put a 25 mile exclusion zone around them. Site them away from centres of population. Encase them in the equivalent of the measures being put around Chernobyl already, by default - rather than waiting for an accident before you do so. And stop being sloppy when running them (admittedly the hardest to do).

      The fact is that, even with Chernobyl, the knock-on effects aren't Armageddon as predicted. Fukushima had a fecking tsunami wash over it and similar ineptness in terms of safety (the only other "Level 7" accident ever), and the deaths were almost exclusively due to the tsunami itself, not the reactor, and all the local population (again... grrr....) were not exposed to a radiation level that affected health (only a couple of workers who were on the site). And, again, outside of the ten miles exclusion zone, not much happens at all.

      No-one is saying they're "safe". But because their danger is much more visible when exposed, they get a worse rap than some silent gases being spewed off into the air for decades on end and killing us and the atmosphere. They are "safer" still. Still.

      Keep building them, keep decommissioning old ones, and make sure you stick them out of the way and suffer the transfer losses BY LAW before you build new ones. By modern law, you wouldn't be allowed to have a 1960's coal power plant within that distance of a population anyway (if at all) because of the same amount of hazard to health. We just need to get them AWAY from people and accept that out of over 400 power stations currently in operation (not including those that have been decommissioned) worldwide, there have only been a handful of incidents and the vast majority of those have little, if any, impact. And even the "big" accidents are no worse than a pretty minor natural disaster.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        there have only been a handful of incidents and the vast majority of those have little, if any, impact

        Lies.

        List of civilian nuclear accidents [wikipedia.org]

        List of civilian nuclear incidents [wikipedia.org]

        List of civilian radiation accidents [wikipedia.org]

        List of crimes involving radioactive substances [wikipedia.org]

        List of military nuclear accidents [wikipedia.org]

        List of nuclear and radiation accidents by death toll [wikipedia.org]

        Accidents involving nuclear waste [wikipedia.org]

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tp1024 (2409684)

          The Rwandan genocide was conducted with a few container loads of cheap Chinese machetes, clearly, we must ban the production of steel and any material that can be made to have a sharp edge.

          Most explosives contain nitrogen compounds that can be made in fertilizer production. Explosives and fireguns are the main weapon of choice in conflicts all over the world, killing hundreds of thousands each year. Clearly, we cannot allow the pest of nitrogen fertilizer factories to spread over the planet. The naysayers w

        • by MachineShedFred (621896) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:52AM (#42115809) Journal

          And here's another list for you:

          Number of people killed due to wind power in 2008: 41
          Number of blade failures from wind power in 2008: 39
          Number of wind turbine fires in 2008: 110 (in which nothing can be done, since the fire is 300+ feet in the air)
          Number of wind turbine structural failures in 2008: 60
          Number of wind turbine "ice incidents" in 2008: 24
          Number of people killed in the US by candles per annum: 126
          Number of people killed in the US due to nuclear power in 40+ years of reactor operations (currently 104 generating stations): 0

          More people die from candles in one year, than have died from 40 years of commercial nuclear energy. Having reliable electric generation could save those 126 people, because they could use a light bulb instead of a candle.

          • by dbIII (701233)
            This accident probably happened before you were born, the problems are still being dealt with, yet you are pretending it was insignificant and bringing up some irrelevant crap about a different industry, and a fairly immature industry at that? It's telling us more about your own shortcomings than anything else.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              That's an incredible list of assumptions that you're making.

              1. In no way does anything in my post suggest anything about age. You, however, seem to think that disagreeing with your views means that someone was born after 1986.

              2. In no way does my post suggest that the Chernobyl disaster wasn't a massive disaster, with lasting consequences that will far outstrip both of our lifetimes. You, however, assume that I'm in some kind of denial, where there is no actual reason to think so.

              3. As a matter of fact

              • by dbIII (701233)
                My assumption of age was based on the lack of maturity in the comment. If you are older then you should know better.
          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            More people die from candles in one year, than have died from 40 years of commercial nuclear energy.

            But during that time nuclear energy has caused hundreds of billions of Euros of damage, where as candles have maybe burned a few buildings down. Deaths are not the only measure of safety, or even the most important one when dealing with relatively small numbers.

        • by X.25 (255792)

          Lies.

          List of civilian nuclear accidents

          List of civilian nuclear incidents

          List of civilian radiation accidents

          List of crimes involving radioactive substances

          List of military nuclear accidents

          List of nuclear and radiation accidents by death toll

          Accidents involving nuclear waste

          Would you like me to link you to lists of car accidents, for example?

          He's talking about impact, not about stupid Wikipedia lists.

          • Not to mention the VAST majority of those have NOTHING to do with nuclear power plants. A lot of them are laboratory incidents.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Alexei Ananenko
        Valeri Bezpalov
        Boris Baranov

        Were it not for the efforts of these three men Europe could have quite possibly been wiped out due to fallout. We are should be forever fortunate they decided to lay down their lives.

        Just because the world's worst accident didn't go a wrong as it could doesn't negate that the way we were constructing plants was horrendously stupid.

        I believe Nuclear has a place, even a prominant one, in fulfilling our energy needs. But let's not think that people don't have a right

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Europe wiped out?
          Please show your work. Was there even enough fissile material for that to occur?

        • by bobbied (2522392)

          >

          Just because the world's worst accident didn't go a wrong as it could doesn't negate that the way we were constructing plants was horrendously stupid.

          Just to make sure... The RUSSIANS where the ONLY folks building and operating plants of this design. These plants would not have been legally acceptable in most of the industrialized world, at least for power generation. This is not to say that such designs are "stupid" or that such plants cannot be operated safely, they can. Only that it wasn't that everybody was using this kind of reactor design (Stupid or not).

          How stupid the design was is an open question that can be argued both ways. There where reaso

      • by coofercat (719737) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @08:18AM (#42115979) Homepage Journal

        The fact this blew up in 1986 and it's still being sorted in 2012 tells you how dangerous it is. I don't disagree with much of what you say, but a coal power station can be dismantled in a few years without breaking too much of a sweat.

        Personally, I don't think nuclear is nearly as terrible as it's perceived to be. However, we humans are pretty rubbish at anything 'abstract', and so will never run nuclear power safely in the long term. Either we'll do safety badly, or we won't have saved up enough money for the decom, or we'll push the limits of the design too far, or whatever else. I don't know why, but we just will. So with that in mind, I'd rather less nuclear than more.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          I think what it really tells us is that the original fix was no good. Which most of us already knew.

          You can dismantle a coal power plant, but what do you plan to do with all the collected waste material? It is full of heavy metals.

          Once you dismantle the coal plant, you still have not removed all the pollution it let out.

          I agree with your over all point about people, but I disagree that coal power is a solution to that.

        • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @09:58AM (#42117007)

          "but a coal power station can be dismantled in a few years without breaking too much of a sweat."

          There are lots of toxic areas left behind by coal power plants or coal mines a century after the plant has been closed. And that's with normal operation.

          • Coal burning also releases more radiation than nuclear power does. If the same safety rules were applied equally to both types of power, nuclear would come out way ahead.
            • by nospam007 (722110) *

              "Coal burning also releases more radiation than nuclear power does. If the same safety rules were applied equally to both types of power, nuclear would come out way ahead."

              I don't care about safety rules. Come back when you can get the same insurance for a nuke that you can get for a coal one. Then we'll talk.
              I live in Luxemburg and I still can't eat as much mushrooms from the forests here as I want, still too much nasty isotopes from that old thing thousands of miles away.

              • What about the nasty isotopes which didn't come from "that old thing"? Don't you worry about those? That's my point.
              • by ceoyoyo (59147)

                I come from Canada and I'm not supposed to eat too much tuna, no matter where in the world I am or it comes from, because of the nasty isotopes from the coal plants, in many cases thousands of miles away.

                You're going to use insurance as a standard? If coal plant operators started getting sued for the subtle health problems and mortality they cause coal plant insurance would go up WAY higher than nuclear. Coal, depending on what part of the world you're in, is either by far the most dangerous source of pow

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            Only because you allow it. In the UK we do now require full clean up of the site after decommissioning, and while the waste is toxic it is possible to handle and safely dispose of it. Our nuclear sites, on the other hand, currently take 80 to 90 years to decommission because we are still developing the tools needed to do it and have to wait decades for radioactive decay to make some parts accessible. Even after those 90 years the waste itself requires secure storage for 100,000+ years.

            To put it another way:

            • by ceoyoyo (59147)

              When coal power was the same age as nuclear is now you guys were sending children down mines to get it for you. That's great that you require coal plants to clean up the site though (I assume you also require nuclear plants to do so). Do you also require them to clean up all the toxic waste products that are conveniently dispersed on the wind?

              Issues with decommissioning nuclear plants and safely storing (or better, reusing) waste aren't trivial but suggesting coal is safer because you don't have store the

          • by Solandri (704621)
            I ran the numbers a few years ago. The waste generated from running a single nuclear reactor for a year is about enough to fill a bathtub. The solid waste from generating the same amount of power from coal would fill about 4-6 oil tankers.

            And that's ignoring the waste vented to the atmosphere. You know how you can't eat too much tuna because of the high levels of mercury? Did you ever wonder where that mercury comes from? That's right - burning coal.
        • by jittles (1613415)
          I don't know how it is where you are, but in the US, you pay an extra charge per KW/h of nuclear energy that has to be saved for decommissioning costs. Now its possible that the money gets embezzled (though I think the DoE holds it in trust?), or the costs exceed expectations, but otherwise the people who use the power pay for the decommissioning over the life of the plant.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by onyxruby (118189)

          The fact this blew up in 1986 and it's still being sorted in 2012 tells you how dangerous it is. -

          Wrong - all it tells you is how incompetent the original Soviet government was. If it had been dealt with from the beginning correctly it never would have happened (multiple safety features were disabled that would have prevented it to begin with).

          More to the point if they had correctly cleaned it up to begin with they wouldn't have this mess today. The Soviet Union and their vassal states had a deplorable envi

        • by tp1024 (2409684)

          No, it tells you just how fucked up the Soviet Union was after it fell apart. Hint: life expectancy dropped to levels not seen since the Stalin era, some 3 million people starved, froze to death or died for lack of access to medical care. Russia declared bankruptcy a mere 7 years later and neither Belarus nor Ukraine fared any better. Unlike Russia, they didn't have any resources to export, but instead were dependent on Russia for theirs.

          The fact they are still working on the reactor is a result of the fact

        • by mcguiver (898268)
          Yet it still isn't as bad as what people will often tell you. Often ignored are the people who still live inside the exclusion zone [telegraph.co.uk] around Chernobyl and are doing just fine. One of the major fear factors with nuclear accidents is that we really just don't know what effects continuous exposure to low-level doses of radiation will have on the human body. There are those who claim that there is a linear-no-threshold relationship to high doses and that any radiation received is bad. There is also the camp
        • by Pecisk (688001)

          But world has moved on long time ago - investigations happened, and they indicated what exactly went wrong. World has learnt from this incindent. And still does.

          So, how dangerous it is? Because world still can't get their shit together about dangers of coal and fossil in overall.

          Also it's still sorted out in 2012 because Soviet Union collapse happened. In Western sphere cleanup would have happened long time ago.

      • by qazsedcft (911254)
        I agree with your post in general, except:

        We just need to handle it sensibly. Put a 25 mile exclusion zone around them. Site them away from centres of population.

        In the US maybe, but in Europe this is hard to do as population density is pretty high everywhere except way out in the North. In a country like Germany you won't find a large mostly empty area far from any population. But if you ask me I'd rather live next to a nuclear reactor than next to a coal power plant.
      • by Magada (741361)

        There are men in the pictures, assembling a structure to trundle over the top of the reactor in the background. They no doubt have exposure limits and suitable apparatus but the fact remains that they are standing around it.

        The structure is assembled off-site. Fucktard.

        • by Dins (2538550)

          The structure is assembled off-site. Fucktard.

          Yeah, actually if you RTFA and look at the pictures included with it, they are assembling it on site. Yes, the trusses themselves were constructed elsewhere and brought in assembled, but the structure itself is being erected next to the reactor and will then be moved into place over the reactor on rails once it is completed.

          • by Magada (741361)

            IOW only the track-laying work involved anyone going anywhere near the actual sarcophagus.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        The reason there is a 19 mile exclusion zone is because the land in that area is heavily contaminated. The people inside the area are told not to touch of eat anything and clean themselves thoroughly when they leave. Obviously you wouldn't want to live there or allow children in.

        A lot of people on Slashdot don't seem to understand the risks of nuclear contamination. Sure, the overall level of radiation may be below safe limits, but if it gets inside you and sits in your organs for years or decades and espec

    • by Hentes (2461350) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:55AM (#42115463)

      It's not the worst, but it was the one detected by Western countries so the Soviet Union couldn't keep it a secret like they dd with the Chelyabinsk accidents [wikipedia.org].

  • In Soviet Russia, shelter raises you!

  • by will_die (586523) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @05:58AM (#42115211) Homepage
    There are no plans to dismantel the reactor at this time, except some parts that prevent the cover from getting into place. The new cover will allow dismantelling of the current sarcophagus and protect the reactor and what remains of the building from the weather.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The original plans certainly include a pair of large rail-mounted cranes inside the Safe Containment Structure, that will be used to dismantle the Sarcophagus once the SCS is in place. The biggest risk isn't the reactor itself, it's the Sarcophagus collapsing.
      • by will_die (586523)
        That is still planned. They are not planning to remove the reactor as the article says.
  • "Originally, that was intended to be destroyed. But I think this (shelter) will be so impressive that even in 100 years people will come to look at it," Yeah, sure: "Honey, let's go take the kids near that radioactive site that was they covered by a shelter some guys build a 100 years ago" Seriously...?
    • by afidel (530433)

      Actually, if I was planning to travel to the Ukraine the exclusion zone would certainly be on my todo list, it's a cool piece of history and the pictures that have been shot around there are fascinating. The radiation levels are pretty insignificant everywhere but directly around the sarcaughous and in the cooling pond. If you want to see how minor the radiation is see this [pbs.org] documentary about the naturalists working in the exclusion zone.

    • by j2.718ff (2441884)

      "Originally, that was intended to be destroyed. But I think this (shelter) will be so impressive that even in 100 years people will come to look at it,"
      Yeah, sure:
      "Honey, let's go take the kids near that radioactive site that was they covered by a shelter some guys build a 100 years ago"
      Seriously...?

      I agree, that the shelter itself won't be nearly that exciting as a piece of architecture. But people will continue to visit it. Heck, I vacationed in Kiev not long ago, and made a point to also visit Chernobyl / Prypiat.

  • by boristdog (133725)

    Sweet monkey Jesus that thing is big.

    How long until we have one over Fukushima?

  • They better watch out for those radioactive bears (as seen on slashdot)
  • I can't believe it took them 26 years to start working on a proper containment shelter. The original sarcophagus was meant as a temporary solution and wasn't supposed to be relied upon for 26 years.
  • I recently saw a documentary about how the remaining populace of Pripyat are not only surviving but in some form thriving. Clearly all of the reactors shown still have their containment buildings intact.
  • It's been over a 1/4 century, and this is just getting done.

    WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Radiation levels drop considerably over the first few decades as the short half life, intensely active elements decay. Why not leave it for 25 years? It hasn't been hurting anyone and waiting will probably save several lives and lessen the cost of this phase of the cleanup.

      • by heypete (60671)

        Because the existing structure was intended to be only temporary and is not structurally sound. A collapse of the existing structure would release large amounts of radioactive dust and other crap into the atmosphere.

        If stuff inside the existing structure starts to settle or move (for example, the Upper Biological Shield is held in place only by debris), dust can be released.

        This new structure encloses the existing one in a way that (a) doesn't disturb the existing stuff and (b) is designed for long-term con

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          The original structure was estimated to last for 25 years... which is why they're replacing it now. People sacrificed their lives to get that initial containment in place so that today it could be replaced without anyone dying.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Wow... the things that will set off crazy Slashdot downmodders.

  • FTFA: "There's no room for error ... the schedule is very tight," said Vince Novak, director of the EBRD's nuclear safety department, who added that staying within budget is also a concern.

    30 years to get this figured out and they still wait till the last possible minute. Seems to illustrates the fundamental problem with a lot of problems we face today.

    • by jandrese (485)
      That would have been a true statement regardless of when they did it. I'm sure they have just barely enough budget to pay people and equipment rentals and whatnot with the assumption that everything goes perfectly smoothly. It's not like Chernobyl is going to explode for a second time if they don't get the dome on it by 4:45 next Thursday.
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @02:10PM (#42120669) Homepage

    I'm impressed. That structure was proposed over 20 years ago, but the USSR didn't build it and Ukraine couldn't afford it. Navarco, from France, is building it now, and the European Union is putting up most of the money.

    It's badly needed. The containment structure the USSR quickly put up (using 500,000 people in shifts) after the disaster is in bad shape. With protective gear, people can go inside for short periods, and they can see daylight.

    Only 47 people were killed directly. Maybe 4000 to 9000 had their lives shortened by radiation exposure.

    "We could deal with the cancer problem after a nuclear war by failing to rebuild the tobacco industry."

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