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Chernobyl Update

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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 Russian 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 Nuclear Diner

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