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Science Technology

Workers Raise First Section of New Chernobyl Shelter 149

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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  • Nuclear... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:37AM (#42115127)

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

  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:10AM (#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:Nuclear... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by siddesu ( 698447 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:41AM (#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.
  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:55AM (#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 [].

  • by tp1024 ( 2409684 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @08:01AM (#42115493)

    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 who claim they are needed for food production are just lackeys of the weapon industry.

    Cars kill 1.3 million people worldwide each year. Clearly, this technology must be banned.

    You have no sense of proportion.

  • by coofercat ( 719737 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @09:18AM (#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.

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

    by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @09:25AM (#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 siddesu ( 698447 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @10:42AM (#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 ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @10:58AM (#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.

  • Re:Seriously... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @11:02AM (#42117041)

    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.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments