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Radiation spikes in Chernobyl (twitter.com/oalexanderdk)
324 points by stiray on Feb 25, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 192 comments

Russians came from Belarus and with their tanks disrupt the radioactive soil and create dust [1]. The internal systems and the reactors themselves are in nominal state without changes.

1. https://www.businessinsider.com/ukraine-says-chernobyl-radia...

The thing with radioactivity is: it may be invisible but it is luckily very well detectable. Gamma ray spectrometers are super sensitive but that does not mean the detected levels are actually posing a threat to humans.

nice of them to leave breadcrumbs everywhere.

It depends what you mean by radioactivity. There are particles that rarely ever interact with matter, like the neutrinos, and are virtually impossible to detect except in highly sensitive experimental conditions.

I think in the context of the conversations it's obvious that we're talking about the kinds of radiation that are dangerous to animals (including humans)

Sure. The nice thing with these particles is that they do not cause any health concern. Luckily, because we are constantly bombarded with billions of them.

What is relevant here is either alpha (stopped by a couple of cm of air), beta (stopped by a sheet of plastic, heavy clothing, or a couple of micrometers of metal) and gamma radiation. These are the radiations we measure to monitor fallout.

So, the Russian soldiers are all probably breathing this dust and their equipment will spread it to where ever they deploy in Ukraine? That doesn't sound good at all.

Considering that they're mostly just passing by, and that the levels are not really high, it won't be that bad.

I didn't do the math, but the radiation levels for driving past there, or staying there for a day or two, would probably be very low, and comparable to a lot of other stuff we do without thinking (plane rides, xrays etc.)

The problem with breathing the stuff is that it may stay with you for quite a while. This isn't the worst thing with gamma radiation since most radiation will just pass through the body, but beta or alpha radiation could be worrying if that's still present (I don't know if it is, but disturbing the ground in Chernobyl and breathing the resulting dust doesn't sound like the safest way to find out)

They are soldiers in an active war zone. They have far more serious and pressing concerns than a slightly elevated radiation dose.

They will breath the dust and get some internal radiation though. Not really a problem for the others if they move after that, but not very good for them.

One might argue that’s a price you pay when murdering innocent civilians in land that isn’t yours, no?

Yeah, but Putin's not the one breathing it - the foot soldiers are.

I am drawn to the words of Stephen Decatur.

"In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong."

I am sure there are many perspectives tonight with the same focus.

Perhaps it is a great impediment to what must be done for our species, but it is hard to let go.

Not to be a apologist of what Russia is doing (really really against the current invasion/occupation) but from what we've seen around social media, it's not clear that the actual soldiers on the ground understand that they aren't "liberating" the Ukrainians from actual Nazis. They are fed misinformation on a daily basis and at least some of them see themselves as the "good guys".

It does not excuse anything really, but I wouldn't wish them pulmonary cancer.

Eh, the soldiers know... it's for "power", against nato, and to get a bit more of the land.

Look at every past conflict, every american soldier in iraq knew, that they were going in to get the oil, everything else was just propaganda for the taxpayers.

> Look at every past conflict, every american soldier in iraq knew, that they were going in to get the oil, everything else was just propaganda for the taxpayers.

What do folks exactly mean by "get the oil" because it certainly wasn't for domestic consumption. About 72% of US foreign oil comes from Canada and Mexico - mostly Canada. The rest, a broad smattering of countries without any meaningful concentration. Iraq accounts for only 3%. Considering the cost of the Iraq war was $2T that's a heck of a price to pay for just not that much oil. [1]

If America just wanted oil would it not go for the single largest proven reserves of oil on the entire planet, in Venezeula, and deposit some freedom there? The government there is equally hostile, and particularly unstable. In Civ parlance, the warmonger penalty would be low. [2]

[1] https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/oil-and-petroleum-produc...

[2] https://www.worldometers.info/oil/oil-reserves-by-country/

Oil is fungible so increasing or decreasing the global supply still impacts US prices. This is because unlike say concrete US suppliers can easily ship oil to the France if people in France are willing to pay more than US consumers.

Now that doesn’t mean the second Iraq war was about oil, but it does explain why we care more about the Middle East than say Africa.

Iraq was a lot more about making Hussein pay for various personal bs, expending vast amounts of built up ordnance, and getting the next set of officers combat experience than oil.

I always assumed it was just Bush Jr settling the Bush Sr vendetta for having not finished the job in the first Iraq war.

That’s fine but the Iraqi government was already exporting their oil no?

There where sanctions between the first and second Iraq war, so somewhat. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanctions_against_Iraq

Double checking and it does look like they increased after the war, though not to an extreme degree. Things had largely returned to normal by 2000. https://tradingeconomics.com/iraq/crude-oil-production

Yeah this war is to try to stop NATO expansion, especially into Ukraine. In a way, it may do that.

It’s just silly because countries have considered joining NATO because they don’t perceive Russia as a good friend, and in response, Russia doubles down as a bad friend.

Sounds like a significant-other who is paranoid, and then when you leave them because they are crazy, they use it to justify their paranoia and become a stalker.

Okay, not really a good analogy but sorta good

The Russians know. They are not stupid. Also, more than half of all of Russia's army has been concentrated along the border. There is no way they were thinking they were going to a picnic.

Roughly 50% of Americans believe what Trump says. They would have no difficulty to choose different media.

In Russia different media do not exist for the average citizen. I have no idea how many percent believe the official propaganda at least in its main message that NATO is threatening Russia. But it's probably significant. Even for those not believing it, saying so or actively acting against is dangerous.

Yeah, I realise after some reports today that I was over-estimating the organisation of the Russian army, and that they seem to be much more confused than the rest of their country. Unbelievable.

For further clarification this is NOT a war to stop NATO expansion as Ukraine was no where near that and it could have been stopped diplomatically. This is a war started by a dictator who has aims to restore the USSR before he kills over or is deposed in the next 10 to 15 years. This war is about nothing more than Putin's ego. Just for clarification.

The last thing Putin needs is another quagmire like Afghanistan in the 80s for the USSR, and the 2000s/2010s for the US. If anything he'd probably like to see Luhansk and Donetsk become globally recognized independent states. Ukraine is certainly strategic. Russia has recently INCREASED gas supplies through Ukraine even though they are at war. The idea that he's a madman looking to get the old commie band back together is kind of far-fetched. This is about money and influence, and specifically Nordstream2, which I imagine will go online sooner rather than later.

It's typical that troops are kept in the dark about mission details.

I think that's perfectly fair. In most of the West we may lament one-sided networks or echo chambers on & offline, but our access & awareness of alternative opinions seems much higher. Whereas Russian media outlets are much more constrained, and Russian misinformation try to poison the well by throwing out so many things that there's no way for the average person to easily sift through it all. Throw in few small kernels of truth and the fact that no one really want's to see themselves as villains & I can see how the misinformation may take root. Given a dozen narratives along with no choice but to follow orders in the military, why not latch on to the narrative that doesn't cast you as a villain?

Although it's a lot more difficult to defend & give such a benefit of the doubt to soldiers like the ones in the tank that went after & drove over a car [0 video 0]. Thankfully there's another video I came across showing a crowd of people dismantling & literally chiseling away at the wreck to save the person miraculously still alive. It's hard to describe the feeling when you see, in a single situation, the absolute worst and the absolute best of human nature.

[0 video] https://www.thedailybeast.com/ukrainian-man-miraculously-sur...

> In most of the West we may lament one-sided networks or echo chambers on & offline, but our access & awareness of alternative opinions seems much higher.

This simply isn’t the case. We are fed gobs of nonsense on a constant basis. The American elite and American media are utterly shameless.

Did you notice Putin’s jab at the American elite’s claims that Iraq had WMDs? In his speech, he accused Ukraine of building WMDs. Obviously nobody actually believes that, including himself, but everybody also knows the West can’t question his accusation without only humiliating themselves. He was 100% reminding Western leaders how full of shit everybody knows them to be. And he was exactly right to do so.

Have you ever discussed politics with a Russian? As it happens, I did pair programming practice with a Russian peer 3 days ago and we discussed the conflict. She said she was surprised to meet an American with “some political sense.” She was more conscious of worldly affairs than almost any American I know. And she wrote a perfect BFS pathfinding algorithm in a handful of minutes.

This simply isn’t the case.

I heard prominent counter opinions over invading Iraq & WMD's in the lead up in 2003. An NPR interview with a retired Marine general at the time sticks out in my mind, and was very influential in my skepticism of the invasion. NPR is, in part, publicly funded by the US government. I don't think that any media funded by Russia is voicing similar skepticism over the Ukraine invasion.

Also don't ignore the matter of degrees. I'm not saying that media isn't influenced, that Western leaders don't attempt their own manipulation. I'm saying that Western media is at least a little (often a lot) more open than Russian media with respect to POV's that disagree with the "state".

By saying "this simply isn't the case" you are casting it as a black & white issue, when in reality it's all shades of gray. And if accurate information is the lighter side, then Western media is shifted towards lighter shades of gray than Russia.

I was countering a claim of Russian peoples’ awareness vs American peoples’ awareness. I can very confidently say that Americans, in the aggregate, are vastly more ignorant and unaware of any given political issue or how to responsibly think about any given political issue. The causes of that can be up for debate, but the difference is too stark to debate whether or not it is the case.

I'm not going to comment on American ignorance. My statement was in regards to access to information or the ability to speak/publish it without reprisal, specifically in comparison with Russia.

How people make use of that, or ignore it all together, are a separate topic.

Information access is has diminishing relevance in an attention economy.

That's actually an excellent point. I don't concede my overall argument that having access is still superior, even if rarely used (compare to this [0]) but your comment-- simply stated but deeply meaningful-- raises an important question: how much does the distinction between access & active suppression matter when other forces render the outcomes substantially similar? Trying to answer that with any substance is probably beyond the scope of a message board, so I won't try except to give my brief opinion that yes, the distinction still matters.

But thank you for revealing the question to me with such clarity.

[0] from the "live" log on WaPo, so I don't have a direct link to this entry: "MOSCOW — Russia’s tech and communications regulator launched a probe Saturday into 10 independent media outlets that have not parroted the Kremlin’s line on the invasion of Ukraine

> Not to be a apologist of what Russia is doing [... apologism]

I live in the balkans...

The main sentiment here, especially amongst the older people is, "russia is strong enough, that they can do the stuff america has been doing for decades now", but due to media influences, it's not a "war for democracy" and "saving the locals", as the americans would paint eg. attacking afghanistan after a few saudis flew a few planes into a few buildings.

My personal and very contraversial opinion is, that every country that currently has soldiers as a part of an occupying force in any country, should just shut the fuck up, and clean up their own messes first.

Whataboutism isn't an argument and these are also false equivalencies.

Hundreds of thousands of us were out in the streets protesting when western countries attacked Iraq. Most of us are the same people angry about Russia in Ukraine.

Did it make a difference either time?

Yes, my country (Canada) did not participate in the invasion of Iraq. And in large part to the vociferous opposition and protests against it in the days leading up to the decision.

Glad to hear it! Here in the US, the ‘wag the dog’ was pretty obvious almost immediately (Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, but that didn’t stop anything), and the protests didn’t seem to do much either.

Difference is here we have more than two parties. The "centrist" Liberals are always in fear of losing voters to the left wing NDP, which is always anti-militarist. The size of the protests were indicative that a bunch of Liberal ridings would have been under threat if the Liberals had joined what was clearly going to be an unpopular war.

In the US, with only two parties to choose from, so-called "centrists" and "liberals" in the US almost all fell in line and nobody could do anything to punish them. "Who else are you going to vote for?"

Similar dynamic in the UK. Labour ("New Labour") was in power and supported the invasion for god knows what reason. Hugely unpopular move, but what were voters on the left going to do about it?


I have no compassion for the Russians invading Ukraine, it wouldn't be a terrible at all if they all keeled over dead in an instant due to Big Daddy In The Sky doing something right for once.

U ok, hun?

Being sent into war is also not very good for them. The radiation is probably the least of their worries.

They aren't just passing by. There's an ongoing fight for the control over this terrain. And, in the unlikely event of Russian troops retreating, I wouldn't put past Russia bombing it.

Considering the whole reason for this crisis is Russia's proximity to Ukraine, wouldn't that mean contamination spreading to Russia too?

Wind in this area is primarily a westward one.

There's an invasion on, nothing about it sounds good!

The danger is mostly for themselves. Bringing tiny amounts of dust with them is not a huge problem. However, having alpha emitters in your lung and intestines because you breathed, drank and ate in a contaminated environment is a death sentence.

Dose makes the poison. It’s very unlikely the amounts they’re getting will make any difference.

Alpha emitters in your body will kill you. Dose pretty much does not change that, only the time frame. Particularly if the dose is lodged next to cells that divide very quickly, like those lining the lungs and intestines (which have to renew frequently because of their role as barriers protecting the organism from a whole lot of bad things).

“Dose makes the poison” sounds good and is a good rule of thumb in most cases, but 1) it is not absolute, and 2) some things have an unbelievably small lethal dose.

Thanks for agreeing with me I guess?

Or do you have any concrete information that the risk to then is actually higher from this than catching a bullet (or a mine) from the Ukrainian army or resistance?

Because there definitely are already a lot more dead Russians from the Ukrainians than from radiation sources they exposed themselves to a part of this invasion.

Compared to the other things the soldiers will likely be doing, this sounds like an irrelevant problem.

Most wartime deaths are not combat deaths. Disease, dehydration, accidents, etc. have always been the greatest source of casualties.

Unless someone goes into the main containment building and starts licking things, this is unlikely to do much of anything.

Getting shot by Ukrainians however, is very real danger.

If they have any sense they'll be wearing NBC suits and filtering respirators.

They (or their leadership) may not have any sense.

According to https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/ukraine/chernobyl/histor... , there was light rain in Chernobyl since Thursday. This should reduce the dust hypothesis, no?

It depends on the particular isotopes, most aren't water soluble but some would precipitate out of the air on rain. So it's hard to say.

> Russians came from Belarus and with their tanks disrupt the radioactive soil and create dust

Dust from soil doesn't explain why the readings from sensors around the reactors themselves has been sharply increasing over the last couple of days:

- https://mobile.twitter.com/DrEricDing/status/149701116634159...

- https://www.saveecobot.com/en/radiation-maps

What are the environmental / health risks of this radioactive dust getting kicked up?

Unless there is a strong wind it likely will settle back, especially since it is a thick forest around the station.

I don’t know about where you live but here in Europe there have been storms warnings with pretty strong winds in the last week. Not a meteorologist and I have no idea how that would impact radioactive dust spread.

Are the prevailing winds are typically West to East?

According to https://www.meteoblue.com/en/weather/historyclimate/weathera... they're blowing from the West to the East so it's blowing from Europe towards Pripyat, so at least there is that.


> There is blame on both sides

Say what now?

> One thing I understand about Western European culture is that they will never tell you no outright as it is rude to do so.

Generally speaking, no, this is not one thing you understand about W. E. culture.

You have never been to western europe?

Berlin is famous for this.

Guess I encountered the wrong German ladies, then.

and HN is the epitome of Dunning-Kruger effect

> One thing I understand about Western European culture is that they will never tell you no outright as it is rude to do so. Any sort of hesitancy is to be construed as a no and unlike America/East Germany or Scandinavian countries tough to get a straight answer most of the time.

This is a ridiculous overgeneralization. If you compare e.g. the Dutch with the Southern U.S., you'll find the Dutch are much more eager to directly tell it how it is.

well as long as the contrasts are obvious, generalizing was the intent

>> if Russia is kicked off SWIFT, it would be removing any sort of restraint they've displayed so far.

I don't think they care much about that. They have already assumed they would be. There are several other options for them. It most hurts Europe and their investments/payments, as well as our intelligence tracking of high net worth individuals.

> Japan is the worst outright making you question even a solid yes mixed with non-subtle and impossible to read vocal/posture

How can it be both non-subtle and yet impossible to read?

Seems like GP means it’s noticeable but difficult to interpret?

But how likely is this? 39 years of weather and you drive for a few hours about and the dust from your vechicles raised the radiation levels? It’s winter now and I can’t imagine dust is raised so easily. Either the amount was not significant or something else happened.

It's wet soil, there is no dust.

Tangentially, if you appreciate being able to read raw, unfiltered OSINT like OP (@OAlexanderDK) dug up, you'd be interested to know Twitter mistakenly suspended his account twice in the past three days [0] -- one among a large number of legitimate OSINT people covering Ukraine. The existence of this kind of HN thread is fragile.

You can also read Twitter Site Integrity's apology and response [1], or independent reporting about this [2].

[0] https://twitter.com/OAlexanderDK/status/1496513006657839108

[1] https://twitter.com/yoyoel/status/1496544199478583297

[2] https://www.ft.com/content/5b23938b-49b8-426f-97af-640ba40c9... ("Twitter admits it mistakenly removed Ukraine open-source intelligence accounts")

To add to the list of unfiltered OSINT straight from Ukraine/Russia, Telegram channels/groups are invaluable (but treat everything as unconfirmed rumors until confirmed elsewhere):

- https://t.me/uniannet

- https://t.me/ukrpravda_news

- https://t.me/istorijaoruzija

- https://t.me/dumskaya_net

- https://t.me/idelator

Beware, some of these are literally Russian propaganda, so again, don't take anything being said/shared as truth until verified elsewhere.

In case you need a translation service for the channels, I wrote a Telegram bot that translates anything you send to it/forward to it to English (via DeepL, so higher quality translations than Google Translate), accessible here:

- https://t.me/transtel_bot - Source: https://codeberg.org/CapableWeb/transtel

> don't take anything being said/shared as truth until verified elsewhere.

Then what is the possible value of following it? I spent an hour or so trying to get updates on twitter and spent the whole time flagging the same fake videos posted over and over.

> Then what is the possible value of following it?

The same value you get from following any other news source?


> I understand why my dad urged me to not go voluntarily to artillery.

Can you explain this further?

He told me that armour is not protection.

It is instead a death trap:

It is loud, valuable for the enemy and if they shoot at you using shape charges you'll be roasted alive.

Thanks. I’d assumed that ‘artillery’ would be back from the frontline and slightly safer than some of the other ground based roles.

Yes, I'm mixing the words here.

Heavy artillery stays behind, tanks advance.

However heavy artillery is also a target for the opponents heavy artillery, airstrikes etc.

I fail to see what purpose posting gore such as this serves. Nobody needs proof that war is bad.

It needs to be shared and break through cognitive dissonance.

So many people sit comfortably in their chairs at home opining and spew thoughts online without any real idea of how bad things really are.

This is real life.

I'm afraid a lot of people have no clue. Their only idea is action movies and FPS games.

I don't have much more myself.

But I do care deeply and this - while tragic for the poor souls and their poor parents back in Russia - isn't that bad.

> I'm afraid a lot of people have no clue. Their only idea is action movies and FPS games.

The horrors of war is like half of the history classes. It's hard to miss.

Not everywhere.

I remember intense descriptions of the death camps in primary school books (pictures of a bulldozer moving a pile of corps, detailed descriptions of murdering etc) but about war it always focused on the terror of the civilians (rape, killings, famine, becoming refugees), not the terror of the soldiers: flame throwers, the endless waiting, the fear of killing someone innocent, ambush, mine fields etc.

I think a whole lot of people think of war through the lens of the Battlefield series and CSGO where there is Valhalla style mechanic where you go out to fight every day, get slain and become alive to feast in the evening before starting the cycle anew next morning. Also there are no stench, no terrorized faces om of friends or enemy fighters etc.

Real war is brutal on a whole different level than games.

Note: I'm not saying we shouldn't teach the horrors civilians face, just that I think people have extremely unrealistic views of what war is like. If anyone is in doubt: stay out of wars if you can avoid. And a very effective way is to 1.) train for war so you become a scary target 2.) don't start a war.

What the actual flying fuck happened there, that's intensely horrible. War is hell.

What happened is Russian soldiers, either cocky or terrified depending on how much they knew came driving down the road and suddenly the entire thing shook violently,

(the rest is my best understanding based on things I learned years ago):

temperature rose quickly to become unbearable as the missile stuck the the armour and the warhead sent a payload of molten brass (or something) through the solid metal. As the poor blokes try to escape it seems like something more has gone ablaze as you can see they are frozen while trying to run.

Russians going into Ukraine should just as well put sunflower seeds in all pockets and write "this side up" on the front, then at least the grave can look nice in the summer.

It's insanely ugly and I have tears in my eyes even if this is the best outcome.

Edit: read for yourself, seems the Javelin missile kills the tank crew somewhat more humanely by just sending a multi atmospheric shockwave into the box instead of how these seems to have had time to fear and try in vain to escape.

Edit 2: My bigger point is, if you can somehow avoid being part of the attempted invasion of Ukraine it might be worth going some distance to avoid it.

> temperature rose quickly to become unbearable as the missile stuck the the armour and the warhead sent a payload of molten brass (or something) through the solid metal. As the poor blokes try to escape it seems like something more has gone ablaze as you can see they are frozen while trying to run.

Sounds like a shaped charge[1]. I know a man who was drafted during the Korean War and at first he thought it would be lovely to be in a tank protected from harm. Then he got trained on using shaped charges on old German panzers and decided he was happy to be infantry.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaped_charge

Exactly. I had forgotten the name. And yes, the man you knew probably had learned the same lessons as my dad.

Again, this was years ago and I was never equipped with one of these but based on what little I learned and what I see it seems those poor guys where roasted, not knocked dead.

I support OSINT but this particular person has repeatedly been wrong and alarmist - plus he toots his horn for being right even when he's wrong:


This particular case is likely armor kicking-up radioactive dust, and since the ground is wet it's not much of a problem:


>he's wrong

It's a bit surreal that the 3rd entry down in the more "more tweets" suggestions (for me*)for that link is as follows:

Credit it where it's due: Hyundai have knocked it out of the ballpark with the Potato Storage Capacity (PSC) on the Ioniq 5

Good job there Twitter, really hit the nail on the head trying to surface other relevant tweets.

*And that's me not logged in, with no Twitter account at all, cookies cache etc. cleared.

(With respect to this particular person, being wrong or alarmist still shouldn't be sufficient to get banned. Heck, a few days ago there were reasonable people saying that speculating on a Russian invasion was alarmist. [0] She has expressed regret for that view now, though she still claims [1] that U.S. raising the alarm is possibly what caused the invasion. It's a strange line of reasoning: "Putin was just putting 100k+ troops there, not invading, but because you think he was going to invade he now had no choice" )

[0] https://www.democracynow.org/2022/2/22/nina_khrushcheva_on_p...

[1] https://www.npr.org/2022/02/24/1082746202/did-the-u-s-push-p...

OSINT should be imagery and/or audio with a place and time, speculation should be limited and reasoned. Here are some accounts doing that instead:




I agree that's a good ideal, but it doesn't mean that everything else isn't OSINT, or that it should be subject to algorithmic suppression as misinformation.

Spreading unwarranted panic is dangerous misinformation. One should be combatted the other encouraged.

Also agreed, but I think there's a difference between a pessimistic opinion (alarmist) and one that will induce panic. I'm not going to try and classify this particular Twitter use in either category though-- I don't have the knowledge of this situation required for that-- so my comment is intended in the general sense, not this user.

> You can also read Twitter Site Integrity's apology and response [1]

What apology? Vague explanation but no even “sorry for the inconvenience” at the link you shared:

We’re closely investigating — but mass reporting is not a factor here.

A small number of human errors as part of our work to proactively address manipulated media resulted in these incorrect enforcements. We’re fixing the issue and reaching out directly to the affected folks.

The "reaching out" part included directed apologies. (Is this really the important part?)

https://twitter.com/OAlexanderDK/status/1496452673008279552 ("...we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused")

> Is this really the important part?

I'm not sure if I'm understanding you right, but if you're asking whether I think it's important that twitter either apologized or at least "apologized," I do indeed.

The major social media institutions have touted themselves to be champions of getting the word out and a replacement for all other avenues of communication, leading to the demise of self-hosted (or, at least, self-moderated) blogs, websites, irc, regular discussion forums, and everything in between. But they continually screw up this responsibility at the times when it matters most, and we have to hold them accountable for this. Look at how all of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accidentally blocked OSINT coming out of Israel and Palestine after similarly being DDOS'd with "report this tweet/image/post" from either employees of intelligence agencies, paid shills, or just "the other side" to hide the ground truths.

It's not OK for this to happen. It keeps happening. The lack of remorse indicates that regardless of intention or motive, there's no real vested interest in actually keeping avenues of grassroot journalism open on these platforms (it's probably not the kind of content that makes them muchmoney, so no surprise there).

In this case, there was no public apology (or "apology") - the "sorry for the inconvenience" was in one-on-one correspondence with the blocked OSINT account.

>apology and response

Twitter: We do not trigger automated enforcements based on report volume, ever

That really isn't reassuring when whichever methods Twitter uses failed nonetheless. And they merely stated that volume isn't the trigger for automated enforcements. I'd be very surprised if it wasn't one of the factors considered. Regardless, it comes down to either bad algorithms or bad human interpretations, or both.

This is ridiculous panic. They haven't cracked open the NSC or anything like that. It's just dust. Long lived radionuclides kicked into the air that emit alpha and beta radiation - practically harmless unless you're playing around in it like a sandpit. Please don't let your attention be diverted from the matter at hand.

Yeah, most people don't have a proper mental model of radiation - it tends to be discussed either as a virus, or as a poison. It's neither - it doesn't multiply, it is not transmissible, dilution works perfectly well; and as a bonus - it gets less dangerous on its own with time

There's a followup tweet with a possible explanation: https://twitter.com/WillyWaugh/status/1497157722663391233

Though I am not 100% sure of this since the USSR had removed the topsoil back then but I suppose more of it could have spewed back in to the soil over time.

I don't think they removed the top soil for the whole exclusion zone, that'd be an insane feat

From 1986: https://www.upi.com/Archives/1986/12/02/Workers-have-removed... They removed the topsoil from Pripyat. It wasn't perfect, but they pushed it into 800 trenches. https://xcdsystem.com/wmsym/archives//2013/papers/13526.pdf

Japan is about halfway through this process in the Fukashima area

I was in chernobyl, you could pick up reactor core debris everywhere there by just looking for it with a dosimeter for a few minutes.

Even now?

I was there 2019, I assume not much has changed since then

- "Data from the automated radiation monitoring system of the exclusion zone, which is available online,"

Where is this official source?

Other comments mention some sources, here are two more:

- EU-EC JRC - Radioactivity Environmental Monitoring - https://remap.jrc.ec.europa.eu/Advanced.aspx (not granular enough to detect anything)

- SafeCast - https://map.safecast.org/?y=51.361&x=30.123&z=11&l=0&m=0 (does detect high levels right now)

The Safecast link displays higher radioactivity levels within some of the core road network in and around Chernobyl relative to road networks further away - that's to be expected, I think? If so, it doesn't necessarily indicate (nor disprove) an upwards trend.

The EU-EC JRC map does provide visibility into recent historic data and trend charts; currently neither of the three nearest stations (UA33231, BY33124, UA33236) seem to indicate an upwards trend in the surrounding environment over the past 48 hours.

As you say, granularity is important - perhaps there's something going on at a very localized level in-or-around the sensors at the Chernobyl nuclear storage facility; whatever it is doesn't yet seem to indicate any broader effect, as far as I can tell. It's certainly worth staying wary, but also worth being careful about how the situation's communicated and how people react to the news.

I had checked those already, but neither have the Chernobyl dataset. (They don't have any recent data either -- nothing that could independently confirm stuff).

- "(does detect high levels right now)"

Those aren't recent measurements: right-click on the map to see their timestamps ("Query Safecast API Here").

This HN comment says archive.org never saw that radiation map before yesterday:


I tried some further searches: Google didn't crawl the subdomain /en/radiation-maps before 2022, nor did the see the string "saveecobot.com/en/radiation-maps" anywhere on the internet.

Their twitter account is 5 years old and has a screenshot showing they launched a radiation map 2020. https://twitter.com/SaveEcoBot/status/1339958096232329216/ph... So it didn't appear recently, maybe it was not popular enough to be indexed or linked to since launch (only 22 Twitter followers).

I see the "gamma-radiation monitoring" on this 2020-timestamped tweet. Good find!

> That site is suspect. The "radiation map" page did not seem to exist before today: https://web.archive.org/web/20220224230609/https://www.savee...

Just because it wasn't in the Archive.org's archive doesn't mean it didn't exist. Many websites are not indexed until someone links to them (shocker), and since no one really cared too much about Chernobyl until yesterday/today, it's not that weird that they (Archive.org) didn't come across the website until today.

The other side is from www.srp.ecocentre.kiev.ua (currently down)

Not the source shown, but the Ukrainian Parliament has tweeted a similar radiation map: https://twitter.com/ua_parliament/status/1497108007863435279

Yes, that's the tweet I quoted and am asking about.

(It's the tweet that's double-RT'd by the tweet that's the HN submission).

Oops, my bad. But I would think that most people would consider the Parliament of Ukraine an official source - surely they have direct access to radiation data?

That doesn't terminate my curiosity.

https://dazv.gov.ua/en — UA state agency for management of the exclusion zone.

Their online map seems to be... offline: http://www.srp.ecocentre.kiev.ua/MEDO-PS/index.php?lang=UKR

I really thought that Russia would avoid the exclusion zone. It was just so obvious that everyone benefits from keeping fighting out of that area.

It has two advantages for the Russians:

1. It's one of the most direct paths from the Russian border to Kyiv.

2. It's not likely to get bombed by anybody.

What strategic purpose would taking Chernobyl have other than maybe securing the site and preventing someone from blowing a hole in the sarcophagus?

Take a look at the map. Chernobyl sits right on the border of Belarus, 130km to Kyiv on the western side of Dnieper river.

They didn't take Chernobyl to take the reactor, they took it because it is extremely strategic if the goal is to assault Kyiv.

Also, it's a pretty unpopulated region and for that reason easier to move large forces through without trouble.

And as a minor consideration, "We captured Chernobyl, protecting you good Russians from Ukranian nuclear threats" can be used as propaganda.

This is most certainly the correct answer. It's the shortest shortcut to the enemy's capital, despite being an exclusion zone.

You hold a position to launch attacks from that are hard to counter attack.

Setup your artillery there and they can’t just shell the area back out of fear of causing a nuclear disaster.

IMO, the UN should have stepped in and taken control of the nuclear zone. There is a global risk here.

From some russian sources I’ve read that Chernobyl has been taken by Belarus soldiers, not russians. Because Belarus guys are sensitive to anything going on around Chernobyl and want to secure the site.

Isn't Belarus a dictatorship? If so, that's such a nice thing for a dictator to do.

Self interest. Belarus is one of the places that will feel the worst effects if anything happens at chernobyl

They are working as puppets for the Russians so they're essentially Russian invaders for the 90% estimation.

The Russias attack Kiev came from Belarus.

If Belarusian soldiers are involved that is a greater escalation that simply allowing Russia to invade another nation through their territory.

Belarus being a Russian pawn at the moment anything is possible I guess

I've read both reports that Belarusian military is in Ukraine, and also not. I can't find a legitimate top AP or similar report. The not sources seem to be repeating video put out from Russia so I wouldn't buy any side right now.

Either way Belarus are defacto participants having done military drills, allowing tanks to move through their checkpoints into Russia.

Regardless of whether they are or are not shooting right now, Belarus is 100% a pawn of Russia.

That is the model Putin is trying to create in Ukraine.

Well put.

Also, take the following with more than a grain of salt as I'm in no way really knowledgeable about such systems, but I would imagine both the area itself and temporarily disturbing it could be valuable as cover for nuclear weapons. One valuable tool for keeping track of them involves detecting and analyzing escaped isotope traces, and that's going to be harder to pick out and make sense of against that noisy background.

As I understand it, nuclear weaponry still features prominently in Russia's military doctrine and it's worth noting that not only the military but Russia's whole citizenry have been trained and prepared for nuclear fallout, to a much greater extent than most nations seem to prioritize today.

In addition to artillery I imagine for instance certain kinds of anti-air systems might be attractive to put on a site like that. Any further suggestions? They could have taken weeks to bring equipment in during the "military exercise" with Lukashenko's troops, so I guess few things are truly off the table.

"could be valuable as cover for nuclear weapons"

You can't hide a nuclear blast, we have satellites in orbit that detect the flash. Chech the vela incident - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vela_incident

"Russia's whole citizenry have been trained and prepared for nuclear fallout, to a much greater extent than most nations seem to prioritize today."

That's not been the case for like 40 years

I believe etiam means a higher level of background radiation means it's easier to move nuclear weapons, not use them.

They are not detectable anyway - if you put a nuclear warhead in a truck, there is no way to detect it from a plane or a satellite,

In fact you probably could put a nuclear bomb inside a lead-lined shipping container and send it from China to US, across all US railways, and back across the world on another ship, and probably no-one would ever know.

Also why would Russia move nukes by land through chernobil, when they have bombers and complete control of the airspace?

It is “high ground” in the sense that it can not be safely assailed.

The Chernobyl complex still houses a key power distribution center for the Ukrainian power grid, so it does hold strategic/logistical importance.

Building fear in the West.

That removes fear in the West in the context of battles raging around it. Russia has enormous nuclear capabilities, they don't need Chernobyl for anything other than to secure it from being used against them in some manner (whether stunt propaganda, or some kind of radiation threat). Chernobyl being secured by Russia relieves that risk for the West.

Isn’t it still generating electricity (with the reactors that didn’t melt down) for the region despite everything? I guess as an invader, you’d want to control the power plant.

Wikipedia says all the other reactors were used for some time after the accident, some for quite some time, but now all reactors at the site have been shut down.


That was shutdown a few years ago. Though I suspect that there is other infrastructure still in/through the area.

Primarily roads and solid surfaces through the area allows Russians an easier way to invade in order to murder innocent Ukrainians.

It still has functioning reactors, so I’d imagine it’s the same as the time-old military strategy: secure the supply lines. In modern times, electricity is vital to an enemy’s defensive capabilities, so depriving them of it forces them to use generators with exhaustible fuel supplies.

The last reactor to shutdown was Unit 3 in December 2000. The whole facility has been undergoing cleanup and decommissioning since.


Drifting slightly off topic but it always seemed amazing to me that they kept the other reactors running even in the immediate aftermath of the Unit 4 explosion. Literally just down the hall, units 1, 2, and 3 ran for years afterwards. These were all manually controlled reactors that needed humans in the control room. No "working from home "on these.

I think the main reason they did that, was there was simply not money in Ukraine to build replacement power plants during the 90s after the USSR collapsed. They had no other option than to keep the plant running, or risk their entire grid collapsing. Very scary to think about having to make that decision.

Unit 3 was just behind a wall, but 1 and 2 were quite far away (300-500m).

They all had multiple serious incidents before and after the Chernobyl Disaster (1982 - partial core meltdown at #1, 1984 - incidents at #3 and #4, 1991 - fire at the turbine hall of #2). This was the most unsafe nuclear power plant in the whole USSR and the operators were in grave danger all the time.

There are still 8 reactors of the same type (RBMK) active in Russia, though they have been retrofitted with changes to reduce the risk of another Chernobyl scenario.

Blacking out a good portion of the country for years while other power plants were being built probably wasn't an option if they could more or less keep the others running.

The posh ruling elite in Moscow and StP want to deceive the West into thinking Russia is a mad dog that is too dangerous to bother. They want to scare the West from imposing total economic sanctions. They want to scare the West from supplying the Ukrainian resistance.

Always remember Russia is a rational actor no matter how much Putin and Lavrov are fear mongering about sanctions leading to a nuclear WW3. The French foreign minister was the first to call out their bluff yesterday. I hope more Western leaders will follow.

I'd point out that being irrational in order to scare the west into thinking you're irrational is still an example of being irrational.

We can only call their bluff so many times before they feel the need to demonstrate that they are indeed willing to be crazy. Which they've done here with this whole Ukraine situation.

I wish I knew how to tell.

In game theory there are games that the crazy person wins. "Chicken" is the most famous. If both players are crazy, both lose. Unfortunately the discipline offers no way of diagnosing insanity. Committing to what looks like a crazy plan can be rational. Putin's speech on Monday certainly seemed unhinged, but he might be a good actor.

Chernobyl has a nice road that happens to be the shortest road between Kyiv the Ukraine capital and Russia. It also still has several active reactors only 1 of them melted down so that gives some strategic merit byt the road is 99% of it.

All reactors at Chernobyl have been shutdown since 2000. I have been amazed lately at how many people are unaware of this and think Chernobyl is still an operating nuclear power plant.

It's quite crazy though that they left it running for 14 years after making the area around it inhabitable and causing fallout over whole Europe

It is pretty crazy. I would assume that they really needed the energy it was producing, although I admit that I don't have much further knowledge on the topic.

I had the opposite perception and thought no reactors were active since the explosion.

It was long one of those "surprising fact" sorts of things.

A few weeks ago there's a cartoon where a guy sits in front a computer, and a speech bubble above him says "After 2 years of being an epidemiological expert, I am now a geo-political expert."...

So are soldiers from both sides, either on foot or in vehicles in full radiation suits??? If not, aren't they at severe risk of radiation poisoning (in addition to rapid on set lead poisoning)?

Not to mention if they continue past chernobyl into other regions, aren't they just gonna carry all that radiation with them?

>aren't they at severe risk of radiation poisoning

No. Radiation effects are based on time and exposure level, and even with dust kicked up they're not likely to spend enough time there that it makes them sick at all.

Breathing in radioactive material from the dust is a bit more of a problem, but I'd expect they're wearing at least basic masks outdoors.

No radiation suits, though.

They'll carry some dust with them wherever they go, but like dust from anywhere else, it will slowly be dispersed on roads and in rain gutters. It's not "instant death dust" so while it will increase background radiation somewhat where it lands, unless someone eats or breathes a lot of it, they won't be affected.

So, still not a good thing, but not something that's a huge problem compared to flying bullets.

Now, if they punch a hole in the new safe confinement and a lot of water gets in, that will be much more of a problem.

> If not, aren't they at severe risk of radiation poisoning?

The Chernobyl exclusion zone extends miles outside the reactor, and gets tourists. I think the danger level is more like "don't live here or you'll get cancer" than "don't walk here or you'll die". And don't pick up sketchy looking things because they might give you cancer. Inside/near the sarcophagus is a different story (that I don't know, but assume is much worse).

For example, the local wildlife is apparently doing better now than it was before the meltdown, because of lack of human activity. Not counting right next to the reactor where things died.

Hopefully the Russian troops don't interfere with ongoing cleanup efforts...


I find this radiation spike very suspicious. What is the mechanism? Did they open the sarcophag, did they stop taking care of spent fuel from other reactors? What happened?

I don’t buy the story that they raised radiation simply by disturbing dust with their vehicles. There have been 39 years since the nuclear accident and I assume enough winds and rain and snow to raise all the dust that could have been raised.

Imagine this for a movie plot

Russia stages the invasion as a cover to recover something from deep under Chernobyl

What do you think that thing might be....

They bored straight into hell (an actual recent movie that came out The Superdeep)

edit: that's not a spoiler btw, the plot is pretty neat

Honestly the elephant's foot is the closest real-life thing I can think of to the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark. It's just that everyone already knows that it has no practical applications and they don't want it.

Chernobyl was a geo-nuclear power plant sited on top of a natural column of subcritical fissile material that extended down deep into the Earth’s crust. The plan was to seed the column with just enough nuclear fuel to bring the upper part to critical mass, and thence draw material upwards into the reaction zone, thus creating a virtually unlimited supply of fuel and energy.

Unfortunately, the accident caused a meltdown which is still going, three decades later. When it hits the mantle, its energy output will begin to grow exponentially as it consumes the greater concentrations of nucleotides at that depth. Eventually, it will explode, triggering global supervolcanism, which will destroy most of human civilization, and potentially drop ash on Putin’s car. He’s only just had it washed, so he sends in the troops to retrieve the melting core, and save the world.

Does someone have any insight on why Russia would expend resources taking this site? AFAIK it doesn't have anything useful or produce any power, except maybe the possibility that mishandling it could invoke the terror of regional disaster. (Unless that's the point?)

Others have already mentioned the location between Kyiv and the Belarusian border. Another reason could be that there are huge wetlands on the Ukraine–Belarus border, with only a few major roads across. If Russia wants to move troops and supplies in that general region, they have to pass by Chernobyl.

It's on the way to Kiev, the exclusion zone means there are no large urban settlements to fight over, and it's also using the West's weaknesses against itself - reality: topsoil has somewhat elevated levels of radiation compared to normal background radiation. The sarcophagus around the molten core is basically indestructible. public perception: radioactive cloud will make all Europe uninhabitable

- shortest path to Kyiv from Belarus - you can't really bomb them now at this location in order to push back

Very likely a dumb question, but would the Russians be carrying depleted uranium ammunition? Could that be what's causing the detectors to see spikes?

Depleted uranium generally are used by 30 mm autocannon rounds carried by CAS planes or helicopters, though depleted uranium APFSDS tank shells do exist. Detectors are most definitely not detecting depleted uranium ammunition due to how radiation intensity falls off swiftly with distance, and the low radioactivity of DU itself

So we will have another massive die-off of endangered saiga antelopes this spring.

Could they be deploying nukes? Chernobyl would be the perfect cover.

lol Russia doesn't need to "deploy" nukes. They can hit any spot on the planet in a matter of minutes without moving anything at all.

Be careful out there S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

Hehe. I had a laugh. For those who miss the reference, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalker_(1979_film) + https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

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