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[–]anyahatzi 1056 points1057 points  (83 children)

I'm glad they're optimizing the zone. When visiting Chernobyl last winter the guide told us that they're planning on restoring the biggest hotel in the city of Pripyat. The guide assumed the idea was crazy but the authorities are now working on it. I really wonder about the outcome.

[–]madpiano 460 points461 points  (41 children)

Well, the zone is pretty optimised already. Nature is thriving as it stays undisturbed and the animals in there cannot be hunted due to contamination. It's like a giant national park without tourists.

On the other hand some solar panels shouldn't have too much of an impact (other than that nothing grows underneath them).

[–]The_Real_JT 129 points130 points  (25 children)

Here's a question. How far away can you start hunting again because animals move around obviously. You could be outside the contamination zone and any animals that live there could be fine but the area could be visited by contaminated animals you unknowingly hunt

[–]mrbibs350 154 points155 points  (8 children)

According to this National Geographic article some people are already illegally poaching in the area.

Biological magnification should increase the concentration of nuclear isotopes as you go outward in the food web. So predators will be worse of than herbivores. But, the article mentioned that migratory animals like wolves spend less time in contaminated areas than sedentary species.

So there's no simple answer to your question. Different species will accumulate radioactive particles at different rates depending on their diets and lifestyles.

[–]jableshables 77 points78 points  (6 children)

So if predators are bad to eat, definitely don't eat Chernobyl poacher meat

[–]derpderp5000 71 points72 points  (5 children)

They’re def gonna need some Rad away

[–]LeoUK 19 points20 points  (2 children)

This is Chernyobyl, so they would need some anti-rad. Damn I want to go and play STALKER again

[–]totallynotaltaccount 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Or some vodka.

If you want to play stalker with a new feel, try downloading the latest Last Day. It's really hardcore (which is fun) but the translation from russian, as it's a russian modpack, is not 100% done (which is not fun, if you don't know russian at least).

[–]j1308s 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Is this like killing the kings deer in medieval England, except that they're killing Putins 3-headed squirrels?

[–]dala-horse 32 points33 points  (6 children)

"In 1986, a nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine exploded, irradiating the surrounding region, including Belarus, Russia and the rest of the Ukraine, and sending a cloud of radioactive material over northern and central Sweden. At the time, Swedes were warned against eating potentially nuclear berries and mushrooms. But no one told the wild boars about irradiated fruits and fungus, and three decades later these Swedish animals show exceptionally high levels of radioactivity because of mushrooms rooted deep in ground that remains radioactive. " Radioactive wild boars in Sweden are eating nuclear mushrooms

How far away can you start hunting again?

The problem is accumulation. If you eat meat too often from wild animals you are risking your health even in Sweden. Usually the problem is not to eat contaminated meet just once, but it's a relation on how often you eat and how much contaminated the meat is.

This map may help you to see where the fallout happened: Chernobyl fallout

[–]miss-izzle 6 points7 points  (3 children)

How did it bypass some areas and get worse further away in almost all directions? I see a lot of green in between really dark shades of red.

[–]zrnzrnzrn 14 points15 points  (1 child)

Im no expert but I can imagine that some dust/isotope or whatever has been blown in a very high layer of the atmosphere and has been driven in other directions than the main part which spread differently and it might have taken some time till it reached ground again. The way wind travels can be rather wierd and as an example, IIRC, rarely you can have little pockets of sandstorms which came from Africa to reach Europe

Edit: in addition, it might be that some of the contaminated particles met with rainclouds, bounded with watervapor and partly rained down.

[–]Mobileswede 19 points20 points  (2 children)

What if it's fenced off? I have no idea if it is, but the Soviets were big on fences.

[–]Yasea 32 points33 points  (3 children)

other than that nothing grows underneath them

With sufficient space between the panels, even that's not an issue. Dual use of the land seems very viable.

[–]madpiano 12 points13 points  (0 children)

That's pretty cool! Here in southern Germany they plant them low to the ground and so much valuable farmland is now growing solar panels instead.

[–]Caboose2828 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Holy moly that's pretty sick. I really hope that catches on around places it is available to be implemented. I'll have to research this more

[–]compEngr 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Farmland in the exclusion zone? Selling and consuming such produce is illegal in Ukraine.

[–]Mrglrglrlrg 24 points25 points  (5 children)

Sounds like the perfect ground zero for some crazy mutated disease/viruses*.

[–]heathy28 20 points21 points  (1 child)

get out of here stalker!

I did see a documentary about wolves in Chernobyl the ppl tagging the wolves said they had to be carful not to injest any fur because they are still covered in alpha particles.

[–]o_-_-_-_-_-_-_o 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Only the alpha wolf's fur though

[–]anyahatzi 9 points10 points  (2 children)

There're legends on the monster of Chernobyl, it's described like an alien-like being with animal claws. I grew up in the south of Ukraine, and I remember these stories from childhood, total bullshit though ;)

[–]lurkrphotos 46 points47 points  (24 children)

Think about how much the construction crew would be paid...

[–]MCvarialMSc(ElecEng)-ReactorOp 23 points24 points  (9 children)

Average radiation levels around Chernobyl are 1µSv/h, if you stayed there for a whole year 24/7. You'd get a dose of a little under 9mSv, the legal limit for radiation workers is 20mSv. No health impact below 100mSv has ever been observed. An average US citizen is exposed to 6.24mSv each and every year. In other words there's no extra risk to speak of, hence a higher paycheck is unlikely. Perhaps a bonus for working far away from home but thats it.

[–]Zientolekk 19 points20 points  (0 children)

It's Ukraine, so not that much in any western currency.

[–]anyahatzi 16 points17 points  (0 children)

Ohhh man, true

[–]DutchDK 11 points12 points  (2 children)

No need to pay them. Every three months just change to a new batch of workers. The prior batch will die of radiation related sickness before the courts can settle any unpaid salary cases. Profit.

[–]Walkin_mn 10 points11 points  (8 children)

There's a lot of people who travel around there just for the curiosity, so it makes sense to put a hotel

[–]anyahatzi 17 points18 points  (7 children)

Well there is a hotel in the city of Chernobyl, so if permitted, the tourists stay there. The hotel that they try to restore today is the "Polissya" Hotel in Pripyat itself, which is in ruins man, very bad condition.

[–]24Nano 15 points16 points  (2 children)

Holy shit, restoring hotel Polissya would attract some crazy tourist numbers.

[–]anyahatzi 10 points11 points  (1 child)

The numbers are big already. Every week they make two tours ish, each tour includes two mini-buses of tourists usually, one of them being for Russian speakers one for the foreign guests.

[–]OBZOEN 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Nuclear annihilation ain't bad for the tourism business, I guess. Tucson could use a good ole nuclear catastrophe.

[–]im2old_4this 2256 points2257 points  (135 children)

That is a fantastic idea. Good on them for finding a positive way to use that space

[–]somethingoddgoingon 1805 points1806 points  (104 children)

Might as well build a new nuclear reactor there while we're at it.

[–]cclloyd 1013 points1014 points  (84 children)

And you don't have to worry about contamination so you can do away with all those pesky safeguards.

[–]Whatsthemattermark 265 points266 points  (81 children)

Pretty sure that happened the first time round..

[–]FallOutFan01 333 points334 points  (75 children)

Nope.

It happened because someone decided it was safe to ignore safe operating protocols and basically said fuck it I know nuclear physics better then those egg heads and essentially turned the dial past eleven.

[–]cited 92 points93 points  (23 children)

It was the egghead running the test who said, "Sure, do it anyway even though we missed our window."

The design was fundamentally flawed in numerous ways. We've learned quite a lot since then about design. Even back then, non-Soviet reactors had much better safety controls than Chernobyl did. That's why Fukishima could get hit by a tsunami and everything went wrong and still no one died.

[–]PassMeTheLighter 35 points36 points  (10 children)

Fukushima got hit by an earthquake and a tsunami. It was designed to withstand either, but not both at the same time/in succession.

[–]Hypothesis_Null 69 points70 points  (7 children)

Actually, no. Fukushima survived all of that just fine. Nothing external did any damage to the Fukushima reactors. It wasn't being hit by one thing, or two things, or ten things that did it in.

The Tsunami/Earthquake combo wiped out all the external stuff. That is, the backup batteries, the backup generators, and the external electric grid. This put Fukushima into a total-blackout-state.

Now, fission stopped immediately when the seismic sensors detected the Earthquake, before any person ever felt it and 45 minutes before the Tsunami hit. But even once fissioning has stopped, the fission products that remain are radioactive and are emitting a good amount of heat from their decay. This heat needs to be actively removed, or it will start to heat the fuel rods, which can lead to them melting. Since they had no electricity to run the pumps, the rods melted after several days into a blob of corium, and started melting through the bottom of the reactor. Even if this more neutron-positive configuration there was essentially no fission going on, but a blob is a lot harder to cool than a number of rods, and a hole in the reactor was created.

There are some other details, but all the damage and danger at Fukushima was inflicted by the uncooled fuel rods inside the reactor.

Arguably, Fukushima would have survived just fine if it simply kept generating power internally to run its own pumps instead of scramming itself. Not that I'm advocating that exactly - hindsight is 20-20, but there was nothing that killed Fukushima except a loss of power.

What the Tsunami-Earthquake combo did was, after wiping out all the power backups, it devastated the surrounding area. The entire electrical grid was shot, tens of thousands of people were dead or injured, roads were destroyed, etc. This made it difficult/impossible to address the nuclear plant fully and properly. If there was no disaster zone surrounding Fukushima, then external power from the grid could have been pumped in. If the electric grid was down, then they should have been able to truck in a brand new generator and fuel within a day or two, clear away some external debris to hook it up, start up the pumps, and there would have been zero issue.

New reactor designs, incidentally, have long-addressed this active-cooling requirement, and have various ways of passively cooling the reactor in the event of shutdown for long or indefinite time periods.

[–]z_y_x 8 points9 points  (2 children)

Since you seem to know quite a bit about this, what are these ways to passively cool the reactors in new designs? If you don't mind.

[–]Hypothesis_Null 22 points23 points  (0 children)

I don't mind, but it's a little hard to describe in text.

Here's a video of the step-by-step process of passive cooling in the AP 10000. And Here's a similar video but with the large egg-shell structure of the plant, to show how the cooling circulation works with the outer shell and the water reservoir on top, which can be easily refilled by fire-hoses and such.

I guess the main thing to say is that passive-cooling isn't actually hard in principle. It's just not how the Gen II reactors were designed. They wanted to keep as much heat inside the reactor as possible, since any heat lost somewhere other than the heat exchanges was a waste. To get passive cooling, you've already got a large amount of heat being generated (or there wouldn't be a problem) so you just need to design your pipes' geometry so that this heat automatically drives circulation of the coolant water.

The AP-1000 passively cools to the outer reactor shell, which cools to the outside. That shell cooling can have its cooling enhanced by evaporation from a water reservoir on top. That reservoir has enough water for ~72 hours, after which the heat being generated for removal will have decreased dramatically. If further evaporation cooling is somehow needed after 72 hours, they can refill the reservoirs by pumps, or fire hoses, or even helicopter air-drops indefinitely.

The AP-1000 is called a Generation 3.5 reactor. The Gen 4 reactors haven't been built, except for a few prototypes. Many of the Generation 4 reactors would be passively cooled in the same manner as the AP-1000, with heat driving convective flow of the coolant automatically. One of the alternative ways has to do with a radically different configuration prototyped back in the 1980's.

That Gen 4 configuration is a liquid-fueled reactor. Instead of having solid fuel rods filled with ceramic uranium and a liquid coolant/moderator (water) , the uranium (or thorium or plutonium) is dissolved into a molten salt, and uses a solid moderator like graphite. Instead of water circulating, moderating the fuel rods as they pass by and taking away the heat, the fuel salt itself circulates, fissioning when its inside the reactor near the moderators, and giving up its heat at the heat exchanger.

Because the fuel is a liquid, you can actually move the fuel. So instead of worrying about running coolant past solid fuel rods fixed in place, you can just drain the fuel salt into holding containers. Unlike the reactor, these containers would basically be un-insulated stainless steal that would maximize surface area and just pull the heat away like a hint sink on your computer. They could make these think sinks arbitrarily big, so that you don't even need a fan blowing air past them or anything.

One safety feature they're very proud of in this configuration is the passive-drain method. Sure, moving the fuel away to somewhere it can cool down is great, but how do you make sure it moves if there's an accident? They make 'freeze plugs'. They have pipes that lead directly to the drain tanks open and hooked into the main salt loop. Then they blow cold air over them to make a solid frozen salt plug (these salts need to be at ~400o C to be molten in the first place). If your regular drains aren't working, or you lose power entirely, power is cut to the coolers, the freeze plugs melt, and the fuel drains away.

You can actually even design it to veto human error. If you under-design the air-coolers, they won't be able to keep the plugs frozen even during a non-emergency when some idiot tries to run the reactor too hot. So the fuel drains away regardless, and the reactions stop.

I can go into further detail if you like, but that's the gist of it. Just design the pipes and the chambers so that reactor heat drives circulation.

[–]6h0573d 48 points49 points  (45 children)

Derp. Except it was the construction and design of reactor four. Read the popular mechanics cover on the specifics of the reactor 4s design which increases the probability of human error even when following protocol.

Furthering it should not have been running in the first place because at that time it was never even finished construction. Not a single nail was used in rector four the entire thing was constructed with friction method at that point. Huge gaping holes birds could fly in and out it wasn't safe to begin with.

It also didn't happen when in the USSR but the end of it; this article alone is riddled with misinformation. The soviets at their fall had handed an incomplete nuclear plant to the Ukraine territory and said have at it. Again, reactor 4 hadn't even been completed and had no business running yet period.

[–]ArenVaal 65 points66 points  (5 children)

Um...I'm not sure what you're talking about here.

What led to the accident was a flawed reactor design that had a positive void coefficient--ie, steam bubbles in the coolant made the reactor hotter--combined with control rods whose bottom portion was made of graphite (the moderator), and inexperienced operators running a risky experiment when the reactor was operating at too low of a power level, and removing all but the equivalent of eight control rods to try to compensate.

What made the accident into a disaster was the fact that the reactor was constructed without a containment vessel in order to allow faster and easier refueling, and the fact that the power supply for the main coolant pumps was switched off as part of the experiment.

When the reactor experienced a criticality excursion, it flashed coolant water into steam.

That steam blew the pressure vessel open, allowing superheated hydrogen produced by the reactor to come in contact with fresh air, causing a secondary hydrogen explosion close in the heels of the first one. The lack of containment allowed pieces of the reactor core to be scattered all over the landscape, and the lack of cooling water to what was left allowed the core to melt down--at which point the lack of containment again becomes a factor, allowing the now-molten core (corium) to burn and melt down through the basement and into the Earth beneath the facility.

I have no idea what you mean by no nails, and holes big enough for birds to fly through. If the reactor vessel had such holes in it, it would never be able to generate the steam-pressure necessary for electrical generation, and the entire staff of the facility would have quickly been killed by the resultant radiation leakage. Also, I seriously doubt nails are used in the construction if the reactor itself--mostly welds and rivets, I would think.

Second, the accident happened in 1986, fully five years before the fall of the Soviet Union. Construction on the plant actually began in the 1970's, well over a decade prior to the collapse of the USSR . The Soviet government was still firmly in control at the time of the accident.

Edit: Originally said all but four control rods; in actuality, enough rods we're partially inserted that the plant had the equivalent of eight fully-inserted rods.

[–]anthony785 16 points17 points  (4 children)

God damn dude I don't know who to believe anymore. You seen like you know your shit

[–]ArenVaal 14 points15 points  (0 children)

I've done a bit of research. On top of that, there was This post in r/askscience about six months ago that sums it up nicely.

[–]MalcolmGunn 2 points3 points  (0 children)

That is correct information, believe that.

To add a little more detail, the reason they removed all those control rods was that they had unintentionally reduced reactor power too far, leading to xenon production, which is a poison (it reduces the rate of production of neutrons). To bring the power level back up to where they wanted it would've taken hours of slowly working back up to a higher power level to compensate for all the xenon. They instead removed the extra control rods, but were still at the bottom end of where they wanted to be.

This whole test, which wasn't even testing the reactor but a capability of the turbine generator, was terribly planned and horribly executed.

[–]sehns 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I reckon its probably this dude and not the "holes big enough for birds to flow through" guy.

[–]caulfieldrunner 91 points92 points  (8 children)

The Chernobyl Disaster happened in 1986. That was a full five bloody years before the USSR fell.

[–]jubway 63 points64 points  (17 children)

It also didn't happen when in the USSR but the end of it

What? Cherobyl happened under USSR control. It was towards the end of the USSR, but it was a USSR facility within the USSR.

[–]Kazinsal 73 points74 points  (1 child)

Reactor 4's design was a massive cock-up, yes. Compound that with the Soviet equivalent of people competing for the highest number of negligent OSHA violations per day and you have the recipe for a runaway excursion.

It's almost like when you don't build your reactors in terribly vulnerable ways and then you staff them with people who are competent and well-trained, you don't have accidents.

[–]errorsource 15 points16 points  (6 children)

specifics of the reactor 4s design which increases the probability of human error

I’d say having a dial on it that goes “past eleven” fits this description nicely.

[–]wise_comment 21 points22 points  (5 children)

I honestly hold the Soviet engineers, and the workers at Chernobyl personally responsible for the ridiculous amount of carbon emission we have now. If that hadn't happened we'd have not abandon the nuclear so completely in the US. We have much fewer coal related deaths, and we would have been on the bleeding edge of Technology, instead of trying to maintain the old systems (that have yet to have actual issues, I'll point out)

Three Mile Island would be heralded as exactly what it is, everything going wrong but the safety measure still preventing the worst

[–]Vio_ 9 points10 points  (1 child)

Anti-nuclear power groups were around decades before 3MI and Chernobyl.

[–]hooahmont 13 points14 points  (0 children)

Why is /u/6h0573d being upvoted? Nothing he just said is accurate...

[–]DoxBox 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Everything that you just said was wrong. Except that the reactors were of poor design.

[–]Speedracer98 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Huge gaping holes birds could fly in and out

did they grow a new head when they came out?

[–]no-mad 12 points13 points  (1 child)

Going to get a lot of false readings from radiation monitoring. Is that the nuke station or some just someone kicking up dust outside?

[–]EpicFishFingers 29 points30 points  (12 children)

Seriously, they should. The original rbmk reactors, of which there were 4 and number 4 blew up, produced 1000mw of power each. Reactor number 3 was still running in the early 2000s, even though it was attached to the blown up reactor. They obviously don't give a fuck, so why not open a new reactor not of the rbmk design?

The new solar panels will never proud e anywhere near as much power, as good as they are

Edit: 100mw to 1000mw

[–]Magnesus 14 points15 points  (1 child)

Drilling and digging is not allowed though and you would need to do that in order to put a new reactor.

[–]icebergamot 3 points4 points  (1 child)

I’m pretty sure they produced 1000 MW each.

[–]Basuliic 2 points3 points  (0 children)

There is three nuclear plants that were just stopped, no needs to build new ones

[–]Nixod321 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Why? All the finished ones but No. 4 still work, they only stopped using them in 2000.

[–]farmallnoobies 14 points15 points  (3 children)

It seems like it would add some legal and procedural complications to service intervals of the solar grid.

[–]IGrimblee 16 points17 points  (1 child)

It's not nearly as contaminated as you think, sure you probably don't want to live there year round but having to perform maintenance for at most a few days a week wouldn't be a huge issue

[–]fartonmyballsforcash 5 points6 points  (0 children)

There are people currently working right next to the reactor pretty much every day right now and believe it or not it’s a pretty big tourist destination.

[–]Jalfaar 177 points178 points  (4 children)

So the title makes it sound like the solar plant is really huge. It's not, 3,800 panels really is not much. It us super cool that this is happening there. But it's just a small solar plant.

Source: I work for a solar company.

[–]NinjaKoala 49 points50 points  (0 children)

As an example, the Topaz Solar Farm in California has 9 million panels.

[–]HotPocketDisaster 6 points7 points  (1 child)

Yeah I was looking at 4 acres, and thinking, that would be a great size yard to have, but that's not that much land at all. 4 acres is barely enough for a horse

[–]Jalfaar 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Exactly. We just did a 400+ acre site, 200,000 plus panels.

[–]loricasegmentata 512 points513 points  (99 children)

"Massive" solar plant built at Chernobyl, cool let's see how much power it produces.... 1MW...... What??

[–]Stefanxd 271 points272 points  (19 children)

This is about 1/3 of a wind turbine I believe

[–]hippopig 210 points211 points  (17 children)

You’ll be seeing 8 MW turbines installed this year (offshore).

They’re only getting bigger too.

[–]flashin_leather 98 points99 points  (10 children)

"Massive"

"3.95 acres"

K.

[–]NotSoGreatGonzo 21 points22 points  (6 children)

“Massive” as in “not hollow”.

[–]mortiphago 8 points9 points  (5 children)

As in "Not made out of photons"

[–]Strood 27 points28 points  (5 children)

Ukraine is pretty bad for solar in general. If you need a reference point the best side to have your solar facing in Germany produces less than the worst side in Australia.

[–]pasernik 6 points7 points  (1 child)

You're absolutely right, i don't understand the hype around this post. Wind farms would be much better if you consider the region/climate.

[–]OmniumRerum 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Or a new nuclear plant built to modern safety regulations so that it WONT melt down this time.

[–]ewild 2 points3 points  (0 children)

So, as for initial step, moving the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Object Shelter and its surroundings to Australia would sound reasonable for granting Chernobyl Supermassive Solar Plant ultimate effectiveness.

[–]carlwinkle 57 points58 points  (39 children)

It can't be right, surely you barely need more than a handful of solar cells for 1mw of power, hopefully they meant gw

[–]loricasegmentata 50 points51 points  (13 children)

I think it is right because they mention it being enough for a medium size village. Unless that village is full of budding Nikola Teslas 1MW is about right.

[–]zndrus 37 points38 points  (12 children)

1MW isn't as much as you think it is. Turns out there's a far bigger difference in typical power usage between US and Europe than I thought. /EDIT 1MW at peak efficiency works out to 5MWh in a day on average. Let's call it 10MWh for absolute best case no clouds always summer solstice scenario.

10,000kWh per day/2,000 homes = 5kWh per day, which works out to an average of 200W an hour. And in this best case scenario, that 5kWh per day is still less than 1/10th of what I used per day on average last month (and we didn't run A/C).

In other words, that village doesn't use much electricity in the first place if 1MW is all it needs to power 2,000 homes. However, the article does state that it uses 3800 panels to produce the power for that village, which is about 260W per panel (assuming total output is 1MW). Depending on their size, that is entirely reasonable.

[–]ASubtleSloth 11 points12 points  (0 children)

Agreed. Especially considering lower tech energy consumption and heating from gas

[–]cyberdork 2 points3 points  (8 children)

WTF are you running? The average energy consumption for a 1 person houselhold (in central europe) is around 1500kWh per year, which is around 4kWh per day.

[–]OJezu 19 points20 points  (16 children)

There is only a few solar power plants with power capacity of 1 GW or higher in the world. It's not one of them.

[–]carlwinkle 6 points7 points  (13 children)

Sure, but the majority produce more than 1mw, I mean they are replacing a nuclear power plant here. 1mw is enough for about 750 homes

[–]Ralphasaurus13 22 points23 points  (7 children)

The purpose isn't necessarily to replace the nuclear power plant as much as use the exclusion zone for something productive.

[–]Luno70 14 points15 points  (2 children)

This is Ukraine. The sun never shines.

[–]thaisofalexandria 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Ahem. As I learned in the Ukraine long ago 'всегда будет солнце!'.

[–]Luno70 3 points4 points  (0 children)

всегда будет солнце

Like any Swedish and Norwegian children's book or tourist pamphlet: always sunshine with braless women in almost see through summer dress dancing barefoot through the country side. The worse a country weather is the more summer is praised. Edit. I just found the song on Youtube, it's a beautiful anti war peace song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2S14wZCKIVw Lyrics in English:http://www.sovmusic.ru/text.php?fname=maythere

[–]OJezu 7 points8 points  (0 children)

1/1000 of the block that boomed output, and 1/4000 of the highest nuclear power installed at the plant.

[–]moozaad 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Yeh 4 acres is not much at all.

[–]ItsNotBinary 681 points682 points  (152 children)

It's surreal Chernobyl is still a thing, I remember I wasn't allowed to play in my sandpit because of the nuclear fallout

[–]no-mad 416 points417 points  (136 children)

Next time kids will be able be able to play in Chernobyl sandpits will be in 24,000 years.

[–]kv_right 270 points271 points  (53 children)

Radiation is not distributed evenly there. There are quite some areas with safe level of radiation as well as some really bad spots.

Currently Chernobyl area is interesting for the wildlife taking over abandoned human settlements. Przewalski's horses, eagles, lynxes, bears, wolves, dears, moose etc feel particularly ok there without hunters. Many of these species are not common (if ever exist) elsewhere in the wild in Ukraine, save for some hundred kilometers from the capital. There are even few locals that turned back and live there for many years despite the ban.

It's not like you get there and immediately get a serious doze of radiation. But yes, kids are not playing there anytime soon.

Edit: there were proposals to setup a hotel there amid the wildlife. So there probably are safe enough places for humans to live.

[–]Wondrous_Fairy 87 points88 points  (8 children)

The problem is that the wildlife checks in, but they don't check out again. I read a really positive article a few years ago that was all happy-go-lucky about how animals were thriving there. Then, as always, another team of serious scientists did a study which showed that although they're perfectly able to move into the area, they're still not radiation resistant and their young suffers the same exact problems that any other animal suffers.

[–]kv_right 45 points46 points  (6 children)

they're still not radiation resistant

I don't think anyone supposed they would be. But I haven't heard of serious problems with their health, save for mutations. Probably the point is the exclusion zone is much larger than just the dangerous spots, and those spots are a small percent of the whole territory. So on average the animals wandering around don't get much exposed to radiation.

Also, they say catfish are really big there because there's no one to catch them.

[–]Wondrous_Fairy 27 points28 points  (2 children)

Well, the really interesting part (which sadly I won't be alive to see most likely) is going to be how these animals evolve in this area over the decades. There was talk about a fungus that thrived in the reactor, but they're still trying to wrap their heads around that.

[–]kv_right 31 points32 points  (0 children)

I remember reports like a decade ago with photos of mutations on trees and plants which were attributed to radiation levels in the zone. Later there was a report about the same mutations found in locations with normal ambient radiation too.

Point is, life has been exposed to radiation on the whole surface of Earth since the beginning. So the chance that somewhat "hotter" places like Chernobyl will suddenly produce something outstanding are probably not very high.

[–]Vio_ 7 points8 points  (2 children)

*save for mutations is a pretty big exception.

There are also high cancer risks which don't normally affect animal and plant populations in quite the same way as humans.

[–]in5idious 53 points54 points  (2 children)

I saw a family of horses wandering around when I went on a tour in the exclusion zone. It was totally bizarre.

[–]Rankstarr 3 points4 points  (1 child)

there is a documentary that mentions this - the horses were placed in chernobyl and tagged - to track animal movements and migrations.

[–]Veshter 42 points43 points  (6 children)

You forgot to mention artifact hunters, bandits, duty, freedom, the army, bunch of scientist, bunch of ex. scientist known as Clear Sky, some folks that wanna find the wish granter and apparently there have been rumors about some cultists. But yeah, kids won't be playing there any time soon.

[–]GawainSolus 25 points26 points  (69 children)

Hardly that's how long it takes for radiation to decay completely but that's not how long it takes for it to return to 'safe' levels have you seen pictures of hiroshima recently?

[–]Spartaness 62 points63 points  (0 children)

Chernobyl and Hiroshima are very different circumstances. You'd be better off comparing Fukushima and Chernobyl.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki's radiation levels dropped 90% in the first 7 hours. Reports from US Army from a month later indicated that Hiroshima was back to safe levels. Today, the background radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is the same as the average amount of natural radiation present anywhere on Earth.

The Chernobyl explosion put 400 times more radioactive material into the Earth's atmosphere than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. However Chernobyl's radiation is also a lot longer lived than the nuclear warheads due to the different materials they use.

Here's a link if you want to know more: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Chernobyl_and_other_radioactivity_releases

[–]no-mad 38 points39 points  (62 children)

I am quoting from the article.

The soil in the area remains heavily contaminated, and Ukrainian authorities have said it would take more than 24,000 years before people could safely return to live there, but the new plant shows that this vast area of sealed-off land can be put to good use.

[–]kpobococ 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hiroshima was bombed. Radiation-wise, totally different to nuclear reactor meltdown.

[–]Alikont 34 points35 points  (1 child)

The power plant was operational until 2001.

[–]CowboyProgrammer 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Same here. We also switched to powdered milk.

[–]firthy 3 points4 points  (3 children)

Where do you live? Kiev?

[–]ItsNotBinary 10 points11 points  (2 children)

Nope, Belgium, so pretty far. I also remember that a lot of my dad's birds died as a result of that. The cloud spread all over Western Europe

[–]rinnip 234 points235 points  (2 children)

Just do that 3999 more times and they'll produce as much as Chernobyl's original nuclear plant. When the sun shines.

[–]WrinklyPotato 34 points35 points  (0 children)

Down on me

[–]stevey_frac 11 points12 points  (0 children)

For all Chernobyl cost, they could...

[–]Caputtohsi 177 points178 points  (41 children)

Looks like they're blaming the dangers of nuclear power for a incident that was a result of doing something incredibly stupid.

[–]Kazinsal 145 points146 points  (3 children)

Pretty much.

Nuclear power is incredibly safe when you're not designing your reactors around cutting corners and then staffing the plants with people who aren't trained or paid enough to give a shit.

[–]Saoirse-on-Thames 13 points14 points  (0 children)

Exactly this. Safety is not an issue with NPPs, especially if you're in the West. The problem is cost and big upfront investment needed, and that cost problem goes down once you start building ~10+ to a standardised design.

[–]MalcolmGunn 100 points101 points  (26 children)

Not to mention using a reactor and support systems that were very poorly designed. We can and have done nuclear safely, I keep pointing out the US Navy. On average, the same or more operating reactors than the US commercial industry, for a longer period of time, without ever having a reactor accident. It would be even safer today with new reactor designs if people who actually knew something about nuclear power were in decision making positions. Unfortunately, public opinion is afraid it's going to be a nuclear bomb (it cant) or bore a hole to China when it melts down (it cant). At this point though, solar is gaining ground, and it works. Nuclear will probably never pick up again outside of warships.

[–]BeautyAndGlamour 20 points21 points  (13 children)

I thought the biggest argument was all the nuclear waste. Not those strawman arguments.

[–]MalcolmGunn 23 points24 points  (11 children)

Nuclear waste is a funny thing. One of the main reasons we have so much of it is that we use incredibly inefficient reactor designs. Commercial reactors only consume a small percentage of the fuel that they use. The issue is that once you start using that fuel, the concentration of fissile material decreases, leading to reduced power output. To get this "lost" material back you have to remove the fuel, reprocess it to remove the useless material, then turn it back into usable fuel. However, there are more modern designs which are much more efficient, and entirely different types of reactors (look up liquid fluoride thorium reactor) which have their fuel maintained in solution within the core, allowing them to be refueled while operating just by maintaining the chemistry within the core. The reactor technology in use today, at least in the US, is literally decades old. It hasn't changed much since the 1950s and 60s. We've missed out on a lot due to fear and misinformation, regardless of whether or not solar is better today.

As for what to do with the waste, its definitely not ideal, there's no arguing that. However, if we had a purpose-built repository for this stuff, like Yucca Mountain, you would package it, store it, and largely forget about it. Inspections and maintenance would be done of course, but the idea is that once its there, it doesn't need to be moved again.

[–]Hypothesis_Null 11 points12 points  (3 children)

Also, the waste can still be reprocessed and used for said breeder-reactors.

There's 24x as much energy sitting inside those dry cask storage containers as we initially got out of them before they became 'waste'.

The volume it exists in is pathetically small. After running 20% of the country's power grid for ~40 years, the amount of waste we have could all be stacked inside a single high-school football stadium.

If it were reprocessed, like Japan or France or Russia or Sweden does regularly, it'd be dropped to 3% of that volume. And if it were just used as fuel instead, without mining another gram of uranium, we could power the entire country for 200 years. Not 20% of our grid, but 100%.

Actually, taking the initial enrichment into account, we could run the country for ~800 years off the stuff we mined for commercial nuclear so far.

Waste is not a problem. It's safely and easily stored, it takes up virtually no volume, and it can always be reprocessed at a later date to get massive amounts of energy later. That it's a problem is basically a meme that's been successfully pushed by anti-nuclear organizations for 30 years. The same organizations that tend to protest and shut-down all the attempts to 'deal' with the waste, from reprocessing plants to Long-term storage facilities.

[–]kaelne 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I heard they were building a nuclear waste repository in Finland. Ideally, I'd like to shoot the stuff into the sun and be rid of it from this planet, but I think Finland's found a nice solution for now--until we really start producing too much.

[–]Benaresh 5 points6 points  (0 children)

And the incredible costs of doing anything nuclear. Between the infrastructure needed the preference for the cheapest alternative LWR instead of more efficent methods and others i can't find from the top of my head.

"Radiation is not something to be feared but must command your respect" and i think a lot of people ain't respecting radiation enough.

[–]minigunman123 28 points29 points  (7 children)

Solar "works" but it's inefficient for land area and it's expensive as hell.

Nuclear is fantastic though. Lots of buddies of mine (and a relative) served in the Navy on nuclear powered vessels. It's pretty incredible the stories they have.

[–]Gsgs23 8 points9 points  (1 child)

What kind of stories? I would be super interested to know more about them.

[–]minigunman123 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Just sea stories - nothing crazy. My Dad was an officer nuke ("nuke" in the Navy, when referring to people rather than actual missiles, refers to people that operate and work on the reactors, such as engineers on carriers, every officer on submarines, and many enlisted folks whose specialty involves the operation of the reactors), and several friends I have were enlisted nukes; I also enlisted to be one but it turns out I have osteopenia and got several stress fractures in my legs in training, my body never developed the bones properly because of vitamin D deficiency, so I got kicked out after 3.5 months >_>

Sea stories are always fun though. Stuff like talking about repairs they had to do while underway, or shenanigans they did with their buddies; my Dad for example went scuba diving in Guam once, which sounds dope as hell. Actual operational stuff like what they were doing is not typically something they share or that I'd share on the internet. I also used to live next to, and do yard work for when I was younger, a retired Captain who was a submariner, and he was super cool, but never told me specific details about stuff he did.

I've also been on several different vessels as a civilian and been on several Naval Stations as a contractor doing cable installation after I got kicked out of the Navy and they are fucking cool. Seeing jets take off from Whidbey Island never got old.

One funny story I heard while in recruit training was from one of our instructors, he mentioned that some of his guys once fell asleep while on watch, while they were on deployment. So he unbolted the chair and whoever had that watch assignment had to stand for many hours because they couldn't be trusted to sit down without falling asleep. That one was kinda funny.

[–]Mrwright96 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Think of it like this, Solar power is like a car, and Nuclear power is a plane. A car can be reliable for short distances, and can be fixed with relative ease. A plane breaks and you need to fix it fast, or else it goes to shit.

[–]Walkin_mn 3 points4 points  (1 child)

I think it could be a thing again in like 50 years when people forget about Fukushima. But it's an interesting phenomenon that an energy tech is almost in extinction not because of safety but because of fear from the people making decisions.

[–]dsguzbvjrhbv 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Nuclear power was on the way back when people understood how many easily preventable failures had lead to the disaster but then the second incident happened and several well built reactors that were supposed to shut down in case of total power failure overheated instead

[–]dingdong2300 58 points59 points  (5 children)

4 acres is not large at all guys ... "massive" seems a bit of an overstatement

[–]HermitPrime 18 points19 points  (1 child)

No, no it is not. I feel like people don't get how small an acre is.

[–]NinjaKoala 9 points10 points  (0 children)

The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is about 1000 square miles, or 640,000 acres, so yeah. But perhaps they'll do more over time.

[–]O_Apples 72 points73 points  (23 children)

That makes a lot of sense. We can’t exactly use the space anyway. I do wonder if Chernobyl gets enough sunlight though. I have no idea what latitude it is on.

[–]LimEJET 60 points61 points  (3 children)

It's about level with Southern Germany. Solar works great there.

[–]ohnoezzz 25 points26 points  (10 children)

If it didnt get a decent amount of sunlight why would they ok this idea? lol

[–]Emil_Spacebob 24 points25 points  (0 children)

Solar panels are still profitable in the north even though we get much less sun

[–]anyahatzi 2 points3 points  (0 children)

In Ukraine we have severe winters but hot summers, so from mid April to September we enjoy a lot of sun :)

[–]Perunsan 8 points9 points  (1 child)

It makes sense if you're a mayor and get a cut from the project also you get to choose the people who you want to work with which also will pay you money . Any city project makes sense cause you get double payments for it .

[–]Guinness 7 points8 points  (0 children)

In Chernobyl. Sunburn is year round.

[–]moronmonday526 2 points3 points  (1 child)

51°22'53.3"N 30°07'09.5"E

copy/paste into Google Maps

[–]hon_uninstalled 16 points17 points  (1 child)

I guess Chernobyl was a lot smaller than I thought it was. These panels cover area of 125 meters times 125 meters and they are already almost complete...

I wonder why this subreddit has so many of these threads with over hyped titles. People only read the title and don't give any thought about it and up vote it to front page....

[–]-Xyras- 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I always wonder the same thing, I always wanted it to be a more layperson friendly verison of r/science but its mostly just hype and masturbation about Musk :(

[–]ipoppo 16 points17 points  (0 children)

i see why there is a sea of solar farm in blade runner

[–]OliverSparrow 35 points36 points  (17 children)

Thus gilding the warthog. Talk about tokenism: four acres in northern latitudes. Until its unpleasantness with Russia, the Ukraine was an immense gas importer and trans-shipper. In 2014 total electricity production was 183 TWh, of which 8 TWh was exported to Europe; 88 TWh from nuclear, 71 TWh from coal, 13 TWh from natural gas, and 9 TWh from hydroelectricity. Chinese companies have, for some reason, invested in the Chernobyl plant, presumably to earn karma and get rid of their over-supply of solar panels.

[–]sometimes_interested 29 points30 points  (13 children)

It's a start. The cool thing about solar is that it can be small. A nuclear power station or even a coal fired station costs billions to make from scratch. The equivalent power capacity in solar can be installed in thousands of smaller installations that are basically crowd sourced.

[–]icebergamot 19 points20 points  (12 children)

Nuclear can be small too. NuScale is a company in Oregon with a passively safe small reactor design. That means that there is no plausible accident that can cause the core to melt. Each reactor can produce 50 MWe 24/7/365 for at least two years straight and the whole power plant footprint is the size of a grocery store.

Solar is great but you have to blanket the land to get any kind of meaningful power and even then the sun only shines on sunny days at moderate latitudes. That’s not power that nursing homes, hospitals, factories, businesses can rely on without some kind of carbon based backup (natural gas combined cycle plants mainly).

[–]firstroundko108 2 points3 points  (1 child)

What happens after two years?

[–]icebergamot 3 points4 points  (0 children)

The reactor is shutdown and refueled. Current plants aim for about 3 weeks downtime. I think NuScale is aiming for 2-3 weeks. Usually this is timed to take place in the fall or spring when grid load is lighter.

[–]no-mad 6 points7 points  (2 children)

Excellent advertisement. Replaces damaged nuke facility with safe solar.

[–]dec7td 4 points5 points  (0 children)

At roughly 7 acres per MW, this is a tiny, not massive, power plant

[–]D_r_e_cl_cl 5 points6 points  (0 children)

3.95 acres is massive? I could fit that in my back yard.

[–]WRFinger 4 points5 points  (0 children)

3.95 acres is nothing! Those are rookie numbers! Seriously, the exclusion zone is enormous and they need to utilize more of it.

[–]TheUnchosenWon 4 points5 points  (0 children)

1 MW when the skies are clear and the suns out. Not very impressive, but atleast this gives me something to stroke my intellect to with my fellow redditors

[–]btcftw1 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I thought this article was silly because how much open land they have all around Chernobyl they have. Then I read that the Solar panels are facing down.

[–]mattdocks 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Cool, but 3.95 acres of solar is not “massive”. That’s gotta be 1-2MW at most right?

[–]PacificaDogFamily 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Not massive at all! I built solar plants that cover 600 acres. But mine did face the sun.

[–]QuadrumanousCuddler 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Massive solar plant? 4 acres?! That far north it barely powers its own guard shack.

[–]TalibanBaconCompany 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I don't understand. There isn't 4 acres of land somewhere else in Ukraine that isn't being used and somewhat less radioactive than Chernobyl?

It's like some weird fetish we have to cram solar power into these strange places as if we're punishing ourselves for trying to use it.

[–]WeTrudgeOn 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Um, yeah that's really nice but 4 acres is not even big solar installation these days let alone "massive".

[–]mkashtaev 9 points10 points  (7 children)

I wonder if radiation can be used to generate electricity. Does it matter what wavelength the light is to produce electricity?

[–]arons4 20 points21 points  (0 children)

I wonder if radiation can be used to generate electricity.

Use it to heat water and run it through a turbine.

[–]MalcolmGunn 12 points13 points  (1 child)

Not all radiation is created equal. You're talking decay of fission products here, so it's alphas, betas, and gammas. Alphas and betas are subatomic particles, not photons. Gammas are very high energy photons, but I can't say if they'd interact with photovoltaics. Though, I would hazard to say that the amount of gamma radiation that would generate appreciable energy is probably going to be extremely hazardous, if not deadly, to anyone operating or maintaining the site.

[–]a_cute_epic_axis 1 point2 points  (0 children)

It very much can, many spacecraft are power by radiation because solar cells won't work at the distance they operate. Notice Voyager 1+2 don't have solar array? They've been used to power remote radio facilities as well. Look up RTGs on Wikipedia.

Capturing the heat generated by decay in this case would probably be more difficult then is practical/possible. But theoretically we could do it.

[–]Prodnovick 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Yes, in a nuclear reactor.

[–]Oddlymoist 12 points13 points  (12 children)

Tangentially related https://cleanfutures.org/projects/dogs-of-chernobyl/

I donated to them, poor lil dogs. Apparently the government told people they'd be allowed home soon after evacuation and to leave their pets but in reality weren't allowed back

[–]marlzei 28 points29 points  (6 children)

you donated to wild animals.

all the pets are long dead, their descendants may be alive and doing stuff but they are wild animals now. not pets.

[–]Oddlymoist 18 points19 points  (5 children)

I donated to an organization that is doing catch and release neutering and spaying plus general care. Workers have been taking care of some of the dogs but don't have time and resources to really help. The project is trying to help long term, mostly by reducing the population and relocating.

Did you look at the site?

[–]Kerrovitar 9 points10 points  (1 child)

FIY, all ex-USSR countries have wild dog problems, for a very simple reason: unlike dead bodies, the sterilization cannot be checked, so corrupt officials, green activists and the veterinarian clinics form alliances and steal impressive amounts, for example Moscow spent about $30Mil on dog spraying in 2007, more than they spent on orphans - with zero results.

[–]SolarHVAC 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Aww wow there could be super mutant dogs

[–]IrritatedSquirrel 3 points4 points  (3 children)

Interestingly enough they don't specify how much power this can put out but it does say they recently completed one nearby rated at 4.2 megawatts. Just for comparison, the original Chernobyl plant put out 4000 megawatts. With our current tech, consider how many solar panels would be needed to put out that much. Nuclear power is the future IMO.

[–]lammy82 2 points3 points  (1 child)

It's in the first sentence: one megawatt. One thousandth of the power output from each reactor (there were four in operation).

[–]Jibaro123 5 points6 points  (0 children)

A little perspective is in order I think:

The article mentions a similar installation in the contaminated zone that produces 4.2 megawatts. This proposal is just under four acres. So roughly speaking, one acre of solar panels produces one megawatt of electricity only while the sun is shining.

The nuclear reactor there produced 4,000 megawatts 24/7/365.

So you would need 4,000 acres of solar panels to equal the reactor's output. Again, only while the sun is shining.

I'm all in favor of renewable energy, but it isn't like you can replace a turbine installation with solar panels within the same footprint.

My father used to buy coal and oul by the barge full for a number of power stations. A large steam boiler (12 stories tall) that I toured burns something like 1,200 gallons of oil a minute. With the aid of a welding mask, I looked into an inspection port of said boiler (called a glory hole- seriously). The volume and intensity of the flames has to be seen to be believed, and would be impossible to replace without nearly covering the earth with solar panels and wind turbines.

Conservation must play a much bigger role in our energy plans than the general public realizes. Most building codes have been updated to reflect this mandate, but retrofitting older homes is still very important.

Power companies often have programs where they will come to your house, perform an energy audit, retrofit some doors with air sealing gaskets, give you a bunch of light bulbs and a store credit of $100 towards a new refrigerator as long as it's an energy star appliance. They will do this for free because reducing energy use age in each household means they won't have build that new power plant.

Then the Trump administration took over the reins of power and one of the first things they did was to scrap the energy star program.

I don't know how much more of this forward thinking regime we can take. /s