Here's a Reuters link of the same damn thing from six months ago: https://www.reuters.com/world/chernobyl-staff-record-rise-nu...
The journal article they refer to was from work done in 2020. https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2021/ta/d0ta0...
Work done to better understand the decay process going on in the post-meltdown structure is interesting, but none of it notes any real risk of significant criticality in the remnants of the core.
They know exactly why - in the Reuters article they say it's because of the lost moisture from the rain (there is now shelter above the reactor) and that it was expected :D
What a piece of journalistic crap...
Ie, they have no idea. Both A and not-A are being hypothesised.
The meetings must be quite confrontational. If only we had two Chernobyl to run A/B testing on.
Managing neutron flux in a deliberately designed structure via water immersion is what nuclear operators do every day on water-moderated reactors. But the core is no longer in a designed state, it's a combination of portions of the fuel mixed with all the other metals and bits of concrete from the lower portion of the reactor.
The people monitoring know basically what it's doing, but they give considered answers like ""Based on predictive estimates, it is expected that in the future there will be an increase in the neutron flux density, which will be determined by the process of moisture loss" -- Ukraine's Institute For Safety Problems Of Nuclear Power Plants
(and of course, the science is good, they aren't stupid, and both A and not-A can be true, and not in conflict in the wider scheme of things-going-wrong-in-chernobyl)
(Or you reject the Law of the Excluded Middle, but that's not cool.)
Anyway, I don't know why I even write on HN about this topic since most of the crowd is pro-nuclear anyway and will either ignore this article or play it down and praise the technology…
The fact that it is still leaking power is a testament to how much energy there is in this tech. The upsides are unfathomable.
EDIT And my advice is abandon the waste argument. We've got 40 years of experience with it. It just hasn't turned out to be a problem. It isn't important enough to solve, the problem is tiny.
We bury them under forests, so they become a lost territory, the forest is filled with cameras and drones. Not a problem for the inhabitants? Their life is also changed by the invasion of militaries and cops in the closest village (Bure). When we bury them underground, then the drinking water is at risk, some territory is closed… this impacts people.
Then we are thinking in sending the waste to space? Wow O_o And what do I not know?
That is comparable to the number of Biosecurity level 4 labs in the world. The ones that research biological weapons. That is the sort of activity that can be threatening when there are 80 of them globally. Not 80 small piles of toxic garbage.
How many unspeakable waste dumps are there in the world? More than 80. More than anyone can count.
The waste issues of solar panels are going to be substantially bigger - because there is actual volumes of waste produced there. Waste issues from coal are already substantially bigger. Oil is substantially bigger. Hydro might produce less waste, but sterilises large areas and does a lot more ecological damage. Waste issue from any industrial process that is useful globally is going to create bigger waste problems than nuclear. The globe is big.
You can lose a plant's nuclear waste in a parking lot if you don't demarcate it (the part of the waste that is scary, anyway). There isn't a lot of waste. It is hard to describe how small that is compared to all the land and sea we have available and sitting unused.
Proponents of nuclear power often don't want you to think about what happens when nuclear power has to be doubled, quadrupled, and so on. Nor are the risks really computable at all, with really small chances of extremely bad things happening. And the potential for bad actors at any time.
Which wouldn't be newsworthy if it wasn't for how it was handled - the local authorities outright refused to even entertain the idea of even temporarily shutting the plant down to check if everything is okay.
This incident isn't serious, but I'm afraid that should a serious incident happen, we won't know until it gets out of control.
Yes, it can be very dangerous. But so can many industrial and technological processes. The questions are rather can we make it safe? and, if so, can we reliably do it? The answers are 'yes' to both.
Even "very little waste" is quite a big problem if you don't know where to put it. And proponents of nuclear power want to scale it up by a few times, then run the scheme for a couple hundred years.
Essentially, what we are currently doing to improve.
Besides, according to what I heard from people who actually build plants, it takes about 20 years from starting the process to producing electricity. If that is true, at this point it might be too late to bet on nuclear. Had we started the process of building new nuclear 10 years ago, some new reactors might have been on-line soon-ish, and they be contributing in time to hit our current targets. But if we start the process now, the reactors will be standing, at best in 2030, probably more like 2040. That is too late to hit the Paris agreement targets.
Meanwhile, we see that wind and solar (in Europe) are getting ever bigger. This is meaningful progress about curbing carbon emissions, which is what we need short term.
With that come rightful questions of at what percentage of power coming from wind and solar does the unpredictability, uncontrollability, and instability of those sources becomes to big of an issue. There are probably ways to get that percentage up by adding more storage, but we can probably not push it to 100% solar and wind. So 'what do we do long term' is an important question.
However, it is a different and less pressing question compared to "how do we drop emissions right now, as soon as possible".
For the long term, my guess is massive over-production of renewable electricity going into large, cheap but inefficient storage for both short-term and seasonal dips. I think there will be minor gains from people choosing to use their electricity when there is much excess, but only minor. Similarly, I don't think more reliable sources like gas, or nuclear will have a place. Simply because I think they will not be capital-efficient compared to dumb cheap inefficient storage.
By cheap inefficient storage I am thinking about 50% efficient methods that can easily store MegaWattHours. Things like hydrogen, air-pumped tunnels, liquid metal batteries, seem interesting. When you get payed to take out electricity, and also get payed to deliver it back, you can afford a 50% round-trip loss.
Global development and reduction in poverty means demand for electricity will increase.
Continued, though slowing, population growth means demand for electricity will increase.
So "just reduce energy consumption" sounds like a completely out of touch suggestion.
We need ways to produce vast amounts of electricity cleanly and reliably. By all means let's push renewables wherever and whenever possible but in many cases nuclear is a necessary complement as things stand.
Regarding the storage capacity: Yes, it's not possible without drastically reducing energy consumption.
Realistically, greatly reducing energy consumption is not possible without drastic changes to our lifestyle, which many will surely oppose. This is also in contrast to the current trend of electrifying everything as much as possible: from transport to heating and manufacture. We can try to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and engines, wasting less, but it's not going to reverse the trend of growing energy demand.
Nuclear power by comparison is much less dangerous, much better for the environment, has a solved waste problem (modulo protests from "environmentalists" / fossil fuel boosters), and much more stable and reliable sources (Canada and Australia alone have 1/3 of known uranium).
It’s a false choice, we can choose to not use fossil fuels, and decrease the risk of nuclear meltdowns and dirty bombs at the same time.
I've been hearing the pro-fossil-fuel misinformation that nuclear is 10 years too late for the past 20 years at least. Many of the same people saying this were also the ones 5 years ago insisting that coal was dead and renewables killed it.
Take a look at thermal coal prices, https://tradingeconomics.com/commodity/coal and look up global coal consumption and realize we may not even have hit peak coal yet, let alone any real prospect of a massive short term reduction rather than a very long slow decline.
They were wrong about that too.
Knowing that it's a likely scenario that the world becomes wildly unpredictable, it's not responsible to also build nuclear reactors that require stability and maintenance to be safe.
Coal might be around peak just now, but it's largely been squeezed by oil and gas, not renewables. Which are at least better than increasing coal usage, but not solving the problem. Coal prices have also been strong in part due to rising oil prices making coal more viable. This does not look like an energy source that has been destroyed by renewables as we had been promised 5-10 years ago. Just continuing to claim renewables will solve everything without actually asking what went wrong with the earlier claims, and continuing to ignore nuclear which has been a proven solution to the problem for 50 years, is a huge, arrogant gamble when we are facing as massive a problem as climate change.
There is also a very real possibility of just no viable shift away from fossil fuels and coal, or at least a very long tail of decades more of greenhouse gas emissions that exceed even today's record numbers. 2050 net zero is widely claimed by many big polluters, but there is a real question of whether they are willing or able to actually meet it, and apparently already signs its just kicking the can down the road.
The problem with all the "stick" approaches is that nobody really wants to do them. Yes renewables are great and improving, and maybe they continue to make breakthroughs soon enough to the point most countries are willing and able to replace all fossil fuel electricity in the near future. It's crazy to make such a risky gamble though, in my opinion.
I don't think there is no prospect of coal consumption going down. I think the safest and least risky path to shrinking the carbon footprint of electricity generation as fast as possible while supporting growth and additional electrical demand from decarbonizing other industry includes nuclear.
It doesn't address the main issue of nuclear — it's incredibly dangerous. For nuclear to be safe you need human security, human experts, funding, you need to not have tsunamis, earthquakes, pandemics, wars, terrorism, economic collapse.
That's not a promise nuclear can make — especially given that we've almost certaintly have passed tipping points that will make unrest and extreme weather likely.
At this point it's not about stopping the climate crisis, it's about limiting the damage, and preparing society for the inevitable consequences.
No, you couldn't. That is not my argument! My argument is that nuclear is a proven technology to be able to replace carbon based electricity generation on nation-wide scale. France. It's electricity is cheaper and lower carbon than comparable countries in Europe. By 2050 France's electricity generation is actually forecast to increase in carbon intensity by almost 20% due to shutting down of nuclear
Why do you think the "environmentalist" / fossil fuel proponents have been repeating for the past few decades "oh well nuclear would have been great 10 years ago, but now it doesn't make sense"? It's because nuclear is proven, they know it, they can't address it (except by baseless fearmongering), and so they're misdirecting to keep fossil fuels on top. Why would France's emissions intensity of generation increase that much by 2050 if renewables were strictly superior to nuclear? Doesn't make any sense does it?
> It doesn't address the main issue of nuclear — it's incredibly dangerous.
That's just denial of reality. The facts aren't on your side I'm afraid. Nuclear is safer even without looking at the effects of carbon emissions.
> At this point it's not about stopping the climate crisis, it's about limiting the damage, and preparing society for the inevitable consequences.
That doesn't seem to add anything to the discussion. I don't know what you're getting at. At this point it is about reducing carbon emissions into the atmosphere, as it has been at previous points, and as it will be in future points. Fossil-fuel industry talking points aside, that clearly calls for nuclear electricity generation.
I'm explaining why I'm against building nuclear power plants — it's a very simple point really:
- Do nuclear power plants require stability to be safe?
- Is the world becoming more or less stable?
All the other stuff sounds like a conspiracy theory.
Of course it’s safe! This explains why Fukushima has such a thriving beach front community — and why three-mile island is such a tourist hot spot.
I guess that means dirty bombs aren’t dangerous? I guess nuclear weapons aren’t dangerous either!! Someone tell the CND, they’ve been wasting all their time protesting.
Wait, this is huge, the biggest conspiracy of all time. what about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they must be in on it too. Did they fake it?! Was the Cuban missile crisis an inside job? Is the Bikini atoll an advertising ploy for two-piece swimwear?
Does e=mc^2 or are Oppenheimer and Einstein sipping mojitos in the Bermuda Triangle with Elvis and Tupac?
Not any more or less than any other form of power generation, no.
> Is the world becoming more or less stable?
Definitely more stable. This is the safest, most crime free/stable the world has ever been.
And that doesn't take into account that occasionally you have to write off large inhabited parts of a country due to an accident, which really doesn't happen with fossil fuels.
The goal is to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, and maybe eventually some saner version of nuclear power and fusion. No easy solutions there.
Also, oil spills make huge tracts of land unlivable, and unfortunately it's almost always fragile marine areas. Whereas the 'nuclear disaster zone' around Chernobyl is now teeming with life. Turns out humans are worse for wildlife than radioactivity...
I'm simple that way. Stuff that can kill me right now is a lot scarier to me than stuff that will raise the average temperature over the next few decades. I'd also prefer most of the governments in the world not to have ready access to fissile or even large amounts of radioactive material, just as a general precaution.
Not that many people died in these incidents - because those zones were evacuated at great cost.
And to try and project the risk from accidents that happened so far is just foolish. The risk is really not computable because the chance is small (fat tail) and the consequences catastrophic. Additionally proponents want/need to scale up nuclear power (and thus the risk) by orders of magnitude to make a dent in carbon emissions.
And then, on top of all that, any small amount of actually bad intentions or simple incompetence throws off all the careful risk calculations.
The risk of a disaster is a different matter I don't want to get in to, I think people just fear what they don't understand. By this point, the people making and running the things know what they are doing in my opinion.
As the world gets more unstable due to climate change — an increased risk on pandemics, civil unrest, extreme weather events — do we really want abandoned nuclear power stations added to the mix?
So, don’t do either. use way less energy, rely on renewables and batteries for the rest.
I don't even like China engaging in large scale nuclear engineering, particularly because of how they screw up other sectors of industry.
All of which has happened. In my opinion, the risk of nuclear power in its current form can't be computed, even within a robust regulatory environment. Without a robust regulatory environment, or even instable regimes and regions, I don't think there is even a question to the answer of: No, please don't.
I can't tell to what extent you're being sarcastic. Your final sentence seems to have suffered during editing, but I gather you hold it as absolute that no unstable regime should have access to nuclear power, and that it is impossible to determine the difference between the risk of an unstable regime and a stable regime holding nuclear power, from which I infer that you hold it absolute that stable regimes should also not have access to nuclear power.
Are you seriously saying that someone wanting nuclear power is legitimate grounds for war? If you were the leader of some country that would have about a 50% chance of success, would you declare war on Australia, now that they've announced they intend to pursue (limited, though surely particularly risky) nuclear power?
I don't want to categorically endorse nuclear weapon programs (or even civilian programs) as a reason to go to war, but I can understand why some countries believe so. Particularly in the case of Israel, when countries like Iraq and Iran have specifically and repeatedly said they want to destroy Israel. The nuclear programs in the hands of Iran, Pakistan and China are already troublesome. Their current governments might seem relatively "rational" about the whole thing, but they are authoritarian and who knows what will happen with their next crop of unelected leadership.
In less egregious cases, highly radioactive material is sufficient to build dirty bombs. A simple regime change, civil war or whatever in an unstable region with nuclear power could lead to a nightmare. Even less sinister, simple incompetence can lead to a mismanaged reactor or waste disposal, which in turn can have wideranging and catastrophic consequences.
Living with the risk of another "Chernobyl" is bad – but a global climate catastrophe would probably be much worse.
It is more something like
probability x cost x liquid_captial / (liquid_capital - cost)
Essentially if the cost is so high the insurer would take a massive hit. This is the same reason why normal people by health-insurance. Essentially the 'value' of money is not linear. The less money you have the more value a single dollar has.
It goes into multiple "we don't know, but here's an option" paragraphs which give no useful information.
Bullshit. The uranium is contained and not a threat to anyone. Even in the same building (reactor 3) it's quite safe.
What makes the city dangerous to live in is the cloud of particles that spread over the wide environment immediately after the accident, something that wouldn't have happened if only the Soviets had added a containment vessel.
Nuclear power is just about making steam isn’t it? Its ultimately about using heat to boil water, isn’t it?
Why can't they continue making steam from this reactor? Its not exactly cooling down, is it?
Moreover, a normal reactor has two loops. The first is an internal loop that moves heat from the core to a heat exchanger. The second is an external loop that takes heat from the heat exchanger and turns it into steam that goes to a turbine.
This is done because the internal loop gets rather contaminated with radioactive materials. Turning that contaminated water to steam and venting it to the outside world is... bad.
There is no reactor anymore, it's just melted fuel that flowed into rooms under the reactor vessel but it cooled quickly and now it's just a warm rock.
Nuclear reactor is constructed in a way that the neutrons from fission are reflected back to the fuel to cause more reactions so the reaction rate is kept stable at a very high level. When the reactor was blown out by steam it lost most of it's power in seconds because the structures that kept the chain reaction running not existed anymore.
The conditions at the spot where the fuel is deposited may change due to environmental factors, for example when rainwater sinks into the fuel or it evaporates or runs off (water is a neutron moderator). That may cause temporary surge in fission reactions but it's still nowhere close to an operational reactor.
It’s the next 9,950 years that no one has been able to complete successfully.
Today: cric, cric, cric...
Always the same history. Sigh.