Forest burning at Chernobyl

Another small nuclear incident: Forest fire at Chernobyl causes radiation spike..
Ukrainian officials have noted a spike in radiation levels in the area surrounding Chernobyl after a forest within the exclusion zone caught fire. Burning trees and foliage would create radioactive smoke so yeah, sounds legit. The blaze started on Saturday close to the site of the world’s worst ever nuclear disaster ‘Bad news’: radiation 16 times above normal after forest fire near Chernobyl. A little bit nasty at close distance, but I would not expect to be anything serious at longer distance from site. Yep since Saturday, red forest on fire same as April 2015 and June 2015 but almost nobody talked about it.

News on fire on this:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/06/bad-news-radiation-spikes-16-times-above-normal-after-forest-fire-near-chernobyl
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/chernobyl-radiation-levels-spike-dramatically-forest-fires-burn-exclusion-zone-n1177681

https://www.unilad.co.uk/news/radiation-spikes-16-times-above-normal-near-chernobyl/?source=facebook

the radiation maps of Europe at https://remap.jrc.ec.europa.eu/Advanced.aspx and http://gmcmap.com/. Generally those look fine, but the history data of Debrecen looks a bit scary: http://www.gmcmap.com/historyData.asp?Param_ID=58082455939.

Does not seem to affect radiation levels in southern Finland corona virus isolation zone (around 1000 kilometers from Chernobyl). My own measurements are in line with official government published results at https://www.stuk.fi/aiheet/sateily-ymparistossa/sateilytilanne-tanaan. There is no indication of extra radiation so nothing to worry about too much. Emergency over coronavirus is now urgent.

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Situation is pretty different to what happened in 1986 Chernobyl disaster: at that time we got here considerable amount of radiation raining here to eastern part of Finland – I did took a measurement sample to the physics class, and the reading was considerably higher than what teacher expected it to be..

22 Comments

  1. Andre says:

    Thanks for that! Incidentally I am working on a gamma spectrometer as found some nice copper foil. With the various metals I have here including nickel, lead, tin etc it should be simple enough to make a lead pig to hold my test tube(s) and move a half wheel with the various filters using a servo.

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is on fire and radiation levels are spiking
    https://www.livescience.com/chernobyl-fire-spikes-radiation.html

    Part of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone where the infamous power plant explosion occurred in 1986 is on fire, and radiation in the area is spiking

    Geiger counter near the fire reading 2.3 microsievert per hour, a measurement of ambient radiation. The normal reading in the area is 0.14 μSv/h, which is significantly higher than typical radiation levels in other places.

    key radiation-carrying elements — cesium, iodine and chlorine — can get picked up by plants and animals in the region and end up in ash when they burn.

    “But this is only within the area of the fire outbreak,”

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Village evacuated as forest fires in Chernobyl exclusion zone continue to burn
    https://www.euronews.com/2020/04/10/village-evacuated-as-forest-fires-in-chernobyl-exclusion-zone-continue-to-burn

    Winds from the Chernobyl fires have been blowing smoke north towards the border with Belarus, according to the NASA Earth Observatory.

    In midweek however, smoke spread towards the capital some 100 kilometres to the south, as illustrated by an image taken from NASA’s Aqua satellite.

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tšernobylin metsäpaloilla tyly seuraus: Kiovan ilmanlaatu on nyt maailman huonoin
    https://www.iltalehti.fi/ulkomaat/a/ac35cb23-0a72-4fb2-ba52-94ca9cba9b0a

    Nyt tuulet ovat puhaltaneet pienet partikkelit suoraan pääkaupungin päälle, ja samalla Kiovan ilmanlaatu on romahtanut tällä hetkellä maailman huonoimmaksi.

    Tilanteeseen toki vaikuttaa myös se, että yleensä rankingkärjestä löytyvissä intialaiskaupungeissa on nyt puolestaan poikkeuksellisen puhdas ilma koronarajoitusten takia.

    – Kiovaan ja sen ympäristöön on muodostunut savusumua. Se ei kuitenkaan muodosta kemiallista tai radioaktiivista vaaraa. Taustasäteilyn taso on täysin normaali, viranomaiset tiedottavat.

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ukrainassa roihuavat metsäpalot lähestyvät uhkaavasti Tšernobylia – ”Paloja ei ole saatu hallintaan”
    https://www.iltalehti.fi/ulkomaat/a/5856987f-b7ef-4343-9ced-ead6761a65ed

    Britannian yleisradioyhtiö BBC:n mukaan yksi metsäpaloalue olisi jo saavuttanut Prypjatin aavekaupungin.

    Ympäristöjärjestö Greenpeacen Venäjän-haaran Rashid Alimov varoittaa mahdollisesta säteilyvaarasta.

    – Palo, joka lähestyy ydinvoimalaa tai ydinjätelaitosta, on aina riski.

    Wildfires ‘edge closer to Chernobyl nuclear plant’
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-52274242

    He said it was now just 2km (1.24 miles) from where the most dangerous waste from the plant was stored.

    Greenpeace said the fires were much bigger than the authorities realised.

    The NGO’s Russia branch, quoted by Reuters, said the largest fire covered 34,000 hectares, while a second fire just a kilometre from the former plant was 12,000 hectares in area.

    Police said the fire had been burning since the weekend of 4 April, after a man set fire to dry grass near the exclusion zone. It has since moved closer to the nuclear plant.

    More than 300 firefighters with dozens of pieces of special hardware are reportedly working at the site, while six helicopters and planes are attempting to extinguish the fire from above.

    Smoke from the fire is now blowing towards Kyiv.

    Chernobyl nuclear power station and the nearby town of Pripyat have been abandoned since 1986, when the plant’s No. 4 reactor blew up.

    People are forbidden from living within 18 miles (30km) of the power station.

    Chernobyl continued to generate power until the plant’s last operational reactor was finally closed in 2000.

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    UNIAN: ‘Red level’ of air pollution prevails in Kyiv
    https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/unian-red-level-of-air-pollution-prevails-in-kyiv.html

    As of April 17 morning, Kyiv ranks second in the Air Quality Ranking as the world’s most polluted city after topping the list Thursday night.

    Kyiv tops Air Quality Ranking as most polluted city on April 16
    Read more on UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/m/kyiv/10962650-kyiv-tops-air-quality-ranking-as-most-polluted-city-on-april-16.html

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fire raging near Ukraine’s Chernobyl poses radiation risk, say activists
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-chernobyl-fire-idUSKCN21V1QW

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    http://www.chernobylgallery.com/chernobyl-disaster/radiation-levels/

    In Europe, average natural background exposure by country ranges from under 2mSv annually in the United Kingdom to more than 7mSv annually in Finland.

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requires that its licensees limit human-made radiation exposure for individual members of the public to 1mSv per year, and limit occupational radiation exposure to adults working with radioactive material to 50mSv per year (3-25 uSv/hr).

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Wildfires in Chernobyl-contaminated forests and risks to the population and the environment: A new nuclear disaster about to happen?
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412014002608

    Reply
  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Another radiation increase from other reactor?

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/radiation-scandinavia-nuclear-power-plant-russia-a9589301.html
    Low levels of radiation spotted in northern Europe may have come from a malfunctioning nuclear power plant in western Russia.

    Nuclear safety officials from Finland, Norway and Sweden have all announced earlier this week they have detected increased radioactive isotopes across Scandinavia and in some Arctic regions.

    Reply
  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The threat can’t be ignored. As water continues to recede, the fear is that “the fission reaction accelerates exponentially,” Hyatt says, leading to “an uncontrolled release of nuclear energy.”

    ‘It’s like the embers in a barbecue pit.’ Nuclear reactions are smoldering again at Chernobyl
    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/05/nuclear-reactions-reawaken-chernobyl-reactor

    Thirty-five years after the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine exploded in the world’s worst nuclear accident, fission reactions are smoldering again in uranium fuel masses buried deep inside a mangled reactor hall. “It’s like the embers in a barbecue pit,” says Neil Hyatt, a nuclear materials chemist at the University of Sheffield. Now, Ukrainian scientists are scrambling to determine whether the reactions will wink out on their own—or require extraordinary interventions to avert another accident.

    Sensors are tracking a rising number of neutrons, a signal of fission, streaming from one inaccessible room, Anatolii Doroshenko of the Institute for Safety Problems of Nuclear Power Plants (ISPNPP) in Kyiv, Ukraine, reported last week during discussions about dismantling the reactor. “There are many uncertainties,” says ISPNPP’s Maxim Saveliev. “But we can’t rule out the possibility of [an] accident.” The neutron counts are rising slowly, Saveliev says, suggesting managers still have a few years to figure out how to stifle the threat.

    The specter of self-sustaining fission, or criticality, in the nuclear ruins has long haunted Chernobyl. When part of the Unit Four reactor’s core melted down on 26 April 1986, uranium fuel rods, their zirconium cladding, graphite control rods, and sand dumped on the core to try to extinguish the fire melted together into a lava. It flowed into the reactor hall’s basement rooms and hardened into formations called fuel-containing materials (FCMs), which are laden with about 170 tons of irradiated uranium—95% of the original fuel.

    The concrete-and-steel sarcophagus called the Shelter, erected 1 year after the accident to house Unit Four’s remains, allowed rainwater to seep in. Because water slows, or moderates, neutrons and thus enhances their odds of striking and splitting uranium nuclei, heavy rains would sometimes send neutron counts soaring.

    Chernobyl officials presumed any criticality risk would fade when the massive New Safe Confinement (NSC) was slid over the Shelter in November 2016. The €1.5 billion structure was meant to seal off the Shelter so it could be stabilized and eventually dismantled. The NSC also keeps out the rain, and ever since its emplacement, neutron counts in most areas in the Shelter have been stable or are declining.

    But they began to edge up in a few spots, nearly doubling over 4 years in room 305/2, which contains tons of FCMs buried under debris. ISPNPP modeling suggests the drying of the fuel is somehow making neutrons ricocheting through it more, rather than less, effective at splitting uranium nuclei. “It’s believable and plausible data,” Hyatt says. “It’s just not clear what the mechanism might be.”

    The threat can’t be ignored. As water continues to recede, the fear is that “the fission reaction accelerates exponentially,” Hyatt says, leading to “an uncontrolled release of nuclear energy.” There’s no chance of a repeat of 1986, when the explosion and fire sent a radioactive cloud over Europe. A runaway fission reaction in an FCM could sputter out after heat from fission boils off the remaining water. Still, Saveliev notes, although any explosive reaction would be contained, it could threaten to bring down unstable parts of the rickety Shelter, filling the NSC with radioactive dust.

    Ukraine has long intended to remove the FCMs and store them in a geological repository

    Reply
  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Nuclear Fission Reactions Are Happening at Chernobyl Again
    Scientists are scrambling to neutralize the threat.
    https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/a36364988/chernobyl-nuclear-reactions/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social-media&utm_campaign=socialflowFBPOP

    A melted amalgam of nuclear fuel at Chernobyl is beginning to react.
    The issue is rainwater, which has activated materials buried deep within the closed plant.
    The reaction could burn out naturally, but it could also require human intervention.

    On April 26, 1986, Reactor No. 4 exploded at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, causing the worst nuclear accident in history. Now, thirty-five years later, smoldering nuclear “embers” are still buried within Chernobyl site, raising questions about just what might happen there—and what’s at stake.

    Ukrainian scientists recently realized that leftover nuclear fission fuel made of uranium has begun reacting again in an “inaccessible room” deep within a damaged area of the shuttered plant. The telltale sign is increased readings of neutron activity—a measurable byproduct of nuclear fission

    Inside the reactor hall, everything is a dangerous mess. Science’s Richard Stone reports:

    “When [the] reactor’s core melted down, uranium fuel rods, their zirconium cladding, graphite control rods, and sand dumped on the core to try to extinguish the fire melted together into a lava. It flowed into the reactor hall’s basement rooms and hardened into formations called fuel-containing materials (FCMs), which are laden with about 170 tons of irradiated uranium—95 [percent] of the original fuel.”

    It’s important to note that experts don’t fear a second Chernobyl disaster, as there isn’t enough viable material or surrounding collateral for that kind of threat or damage. But the right kind of small nuclear activity could bring down the Shelter itself, which is 34 years old and “rickety.”

    Scientists believe rainwater leakage has caused similar higher neutron readings in the past, and they’ve since installed special chemical sprinklers that can stanch neutrons in most of the interior of the Shelter. But some basement rooms are just out of reach even for the sprinklers.

    One of the NSC’s great purposes is to finally, fully block out the rain. But water from before has still leached into the farthest reaches, where water helps to slow the neutrons and make them more likely to interact with the remaining nuclear fuel. Scientists figured the threat would decrease as the amount of water dried and receded, but somehow, the opposite has happened.

    So, what are the next steps? The ISPNPP scientists say the growth in neutron activity is low enough that they still have a few years before they’ll need to act either way. In that time, they say, the incipient reaction could very well sputter out on its own—especially once the water supply fully dries out. Now that the NSC keeps the rain out, there isn’t any fresh water flowing in to continue to fuel new reactions.

    But if the reaction doesn’t run itself out, the scientists are discussing their options.

    Reply
  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The secret Soviet radar hidden in Chernobyl’s shadow – BBC REEL
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGSlpQjV5SU

    In a remote forest, a few kilometres from the Chernobyl power plant, the huge Duga-2 radar tower stands as relic of Soviet mismanagement.

    Reply

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