1. Honestly, I don’t know what to believe, or make of this. It is such a huge endeavor, at such astronomical cost, I can’t help but believe the “need” for it must have been hotly debated, researched, and argued over. You don’t just throw billions of dollars at an unnecessary project of this scale. Plus, if un-needed, I’m perplexed by the international participation. With so many contractors, investers, and governments involved, there must have been a widespread concensus that determined this building was necessary.

    Also, I don’t understand why the area, if safe, hasn’t been repopulated. What does the russian government gain by keeping the area closed to inhabitation? You would think, if safe, they would be pushing for utilization of the land.

    1. Re: “You don’t just throw billions of dollars at an unnecessary project of this scale.”
      Surprising comment from one who is so cynical.

      Re: “What does the russian government gain by keeping the area closed to inhabitation?”

      The site is in Ukraine.
      That isn’t merely a point of geographical trivia.
      Ukraine is very poor and they often do the bidding of richer nations.
      Thus, deference to radiophobia by Ukraine is analogous to African nations (e.g. Zimbabwe) that turn away needed food for their hungry people because the food is “GMO” and the EU thinks that GMO food is deadly.

    2. I do know what make of this, it’s based on a totally inaccurate conception of what the risks from ionizing radiation actually are. Most of the most intensely radioactive isotopes have long decayed to ground state, which mean they’re no longer producing ionizing radiation. the rule of thumb is ten half lifes and a radioactive isotope is effectively gone from the environment. Iodine 131 for instance will be undetectable within 80 days – 8 days half life.

      There were many emergency responders working near the exposed core and material ejected from the core of the Chernobyl reactor. Of those 134 were diagnosed with Acute Radiation Syndrome, a certain death sentence based on the mentality that says you need to cover the site now with a massive impenetrable structure you can probably see from space.

      Well not quite.


      Of those 134, 29 died in the months immediately following the accident, most – 19 – from infections from surface beta burns on their skin, the kind of infections that are such as risk to any burn victim. The serious risk then was from radiation that no longer exists in the location, you’d have to physically approach the remains of the melted core and stay there for a length of time to receive a lethal dose of ionizing radiation, something that is easily prevented by securely locked doors and basic metal shielding to keep any gamma radiation from penetrating. Something that would be harmless just a few hundred meters from the source anyway without shielding. Beta and alpha don’t aren’t penetrating, it’s why the responders at Chernobyl received such bad surface burns.

      Building this thing is something that is clearly based on ignorance of what the actual health risk at Chernobyl is and that is anyone physically approaching closely to the remains of core and staying there for the length of time needed to do significant damage from the radioactive isotopes still present in the core. Most of which has much longer half lifes which means far less radiation per unit mass. It takes much longer to produce a dangerous dose and you need to get closer.

      All the truly nasty stuff is gone because what makes it so nasty also makes it decay very quickly. So when people like Helen Caldicott talk about the risk of Iodine 131 still remaining at Chernobyl they obviously don’t have a clue of the actual science. All the iodine 131 or any short lived highly radioactive isotope decayed to something else years ago.


      If the people behind this project were listening to the huge amount of misinformation generated constantly by people like Caldicott then it explains why they may think they need to protect against what is a non-existent risk.

      This project wasn’t based on good science, it was based on dangerous superstition of the kind that led to thousands of women across the region to aborting their fetus after the Chernobyl accident for fears of birth defects. The mothers were already subjecting their children to far more ionizing radiation than they would ever receive from an accident hundreds or even thousands of miles away.


  2. Hi Rod,

    I am afraid you’re a bit wrong here what the sarcophagus is supposed to. It’s main goal is to finally dismantle the reactor. And to do that they need to bash down the existing concrete shell and while they’ll be doing it, there will be dust. And in that dust lots of activated graphite from the moderator and eventually they’ll get to the melted reactor core. And I guess you would not suggest doing that in the open.
    So yes, it could have been built cheaper (probably). But I still prefer getting the crumbling thing under control and finally dismantling it over the next century.

    p.s.: I am big fan of yours

    1. “Eventually get to the core”

      Then what??

      I wonder if this huge building idea is being marketed to the japanese? Does it make sense to build a temprary sarcophagus, like was done at Chernobyl, only to have to build a larger structure eventually?

      The questions about this whole thing are myriad. Are the reactors at Fukushima too hot to be enclosed by a building at this point? Are there plans to bury them in concrete? What exactly IS the game plan at Fukushima?

      I really don’t see how a lay person like myself can react to this building with anything other than questions. It doesn’t answer anything, it only creates more mysteries.

      Snd I note the workers installing this structure are only wearing particulate masks, and don’t seem to have any other protective gear on. Will the same low level of protection be prudent inside the structure when the demo starts, or will we then be talkin’ moon suits?

      1. @poa

        In my opinion, the best way to “deal” with the core is to leave it in place, put a barrier around it and post signs that say, “Do not enter.” (And when I say a “barrier,” I’m not referring to a giant, billion dollar engineering marvel.)

        It’s not doing anyone any harm and it will not harm anyone who simply avoids coming too close.

    2. @radfan

      When do you think the dismantling will begin? Where will the removed material be sent? How much do you think will be spent to move the material from one place where it isn’t hurting anyone to another place where it won’t hurt anyone? Once that long and expensive process is complete, do you think the site will be reused?

      This BBC article from 2013 provides some insights about the project in its early stages and helps illustrate the kind of fear-based language that was used to explain the need for the project. It also contains a quote that helps to illustrate why my characterization of the project as unnecessary is met with disagreement from many others who work in the nuclear industry.

      Grinning with enthusiasm as he stares up at the roof, Mr Kelly points out Turkish workers in harnesses far overhead. “For anyone in the nuclear business, this is the place you want to be: the biggest, most exciting project in the world right now,” he says.

      I guess I’m just wired differently from people like Mr. Kelly. I’m not motivated by working on big, exciting projects; I’m motivated by work that empowers other people through improving their understanding and control of the world in which they live.

    3. @radfan,

      I watched the video that Rod included of the move. I have been waiting to see what this thing would look like and how they would move it. I am a huge fan of big projects, both as a mechanical engineer and project manager. Could spend every day working on super large projects like this one and die happy. However, there is a time and place for big projects and I am not so sure this was necessary especially after reading your comments.

      The concern that airborne would be released can be handled in a multitude of ways. Building a monstrous, mobile sarcophagus to take down concrete walls seems to be overkill.

      Also building this structure for the specific purpose of dismantling the reactor 30 years after the event begs more questions. Such as why? Again the airborne can be handled several different ways. Rad levels are low now and will continue to decrease as time passes, so workers could install and move standard temporary barriers without personal harm.

      Understand the need for replacing the existing structure but I have concerns about the optics of this new structure. Now everything is “hidden” behind this huge, monstrous sarcophagus. When will the satellite pictures of the thing be put on the internet? At that point in time, the anti-nukes will have another baseball bat to use against nuclear power.

      “OMG did you see what they had to do with Chernobyl? Do you want that in your backyard?”

      6 months? 12 months? Who knows, but it will happen and again those of us who support nuclear power will be explaining again why Chernobyl is not representative of nuclear power outside of Russia. Except that Russia has signed treaties with several South American countries.

      Don’t mean to throw stones your way but the nuclear industry really needs to push back against things like this, push back against the politicians and bureaucrats and rethink their stance on radiological controls. Because things like this sarcophagus are just anchors for the industry.

      Now if the money had been spent cleaning up the surrounding countryside and dismantling the buildings that are decaying and rotting away, then I would have been all for that. But no, those buildings are not being touched so we will be subjected to pictures of the new sarcophagus AND the decaying buildings every year. Or when Greenpeace, NRDC, Sierra Club, etc need donations.

  3. Whereas it is not clear whether moving the activated material to another location would be a valuable exercise, I would like to see the coreum sequestered a bit more securely. By that I mean less subject to long term weathering issues. And if they can economically remove the UNspent fuels from the coreum for future use, that would be nice too.

  4. When it comes to pointless spending of billions, you could cite the refurbishments of Fessenheim, France’s oldest reactor complex, which recently had 2 billion Euros spent on it, much of which would have been to bring the reinforced concrete baseplate up from 1.5 metres thick to 2 metres, and to install a ‘ core catcher ‘ , so that if the whole core melts down in an accident it will be channelled into a containment tank. This notwithstanding the fact that with the four pressurised water reactors that have experienced meltdown ( Three Mile Island unit 2 and Fukushima Daiichi units 1, 2 and 3 ) the melted fuel didn’t make it out through the containment. The control system was also completely replaced with a new digital system and additional cooling installed. Despite this expenditure, French President Hollande has still declared his intention to close the plant. To do so, the government will also have to pay 445 million Euros to Electricite de France in compensation for forcing an early shutdown. It’s a good thing the country is so flush with cash and they have so much surplus generation available.

    1. Hollande is stepping down, or at least not running again, and will be replaced. Who can say if the replacement will be an improvement? We can hope he sinks from sight before any shutting down actually happens. On the contrary hand, despite Hollande’s anti nuclear rhetoric he’s mostly managed not to actually do anything, as far as I know. So maybe he’s actually pro-nuclear and had to mouth the anti words to keep his coalition together.

      Similarly (in reverse), I suspect that Obama actually thinks he’s pro-nuclear but is, in reality, deeply ignoant on the topic and relies on his advisors for actual policy. With Holdren as his “Science” advisor, we get positive speechifying and negative action. He probably even believes that Holdren’s advice is pro-nuclear.

    2. Technically, the reactors that experienced core damage at Fukushima were Boiling Water Reactors, not Pressurized Water Reactors.

      This detail overall has zero to do with your comment……which I totally agree with. It’s as wasteful as my plant spending 80 Million on Fukushima mods. A plant that’s 3.5 hours away from the coast.

  5. For a science article, the title of the article linked is a giant circular logic: the giant box was built BECAUSE of the impression of danger at Chernobyl. By that very metric, it, therefore, CANNOT be proof that Chernobyl is dangerous.

    What kind of cock and bull science website would put a giant circular logic as an article title?

    1. @Mikel Syn

      Please do not confuse the word “title” with that of “headline.”

      Academic journal articles require some amount of accuracy in titles and abstracts. Headlines are usually chosen by specialists who are rewarded for attracting readers (or at least clicks). They are usually not the same person who wrote the article and is rewarded — I hope — for the accuracy and usefulness of the information provided in the article.

  6. One aspect that could perhaps stand some clarity is who pays for all this? Rod you say “The world is spending €1.5bn …” So I take it that this is an international endeavor so Ukraine isn’t shouldering the whole cost. Presumably the EU is kicking in, as I would hope Russia, whose predecessor actually created the mess.

    As for whether the effort is worth the cost versus leaving the mess as is, I understand from a CBC program that water is creating leakage issues. The program didn’t explain the level of water leakage concerns. But the water leakage concern leads me to connect those to water leakage concerns at nuclear waste repositories. Since most nuclear detractors get bent out of shape by any sort of minuscule nuclear waste storage containment leak, how could governments not react in this case?

  7. This is WAY too excellent an article to be be caged up in a “off-manstream’ blog. Sadly So!!! Either way, the reporting of this issue in the media doesn’t do nuclear power any much good. This is why president-elect very seldomly mentions nuclears and hawks clean coal — and can you blame him (or any pol)? A businessman knows both appeals and frightens people of a product and people are infinitely scared S-less of anything nuke than fossil. The MM news blogs’ public reaction to this Chernobyl story is of great consternation, not any hope toward nuclear power. It damn doesn’t help when the greater nuclear community doesn’t step up and straighten the media and public out with the facts instead of nuke engineers musing their navels about the next whizz-bang nuclear technologies. So I really really can’t blame anything the fossils on nuclear’s plight and likely U.S. downfall here in the very country that first released it. Unlike other energy sources, nukes ought be regarded American as apple pie.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  8. My questions on this topic are not tongue in cheek. If they are stupid questions, they should be easy to answer. I would hope someone here has the answers.

    One more question. What is the alternative to this monster box? Just let the reactor, its failing old coverage, and its core, languish, untouched? For how long?

    I don’t get it. What becomes of the core? When does it become something than can be dealt with?

    1. As another semi-layman, I saw the following in a previous entry:

      “Also building this structure for the specific purpose of dismantling the reactor 30 years after the event begs more questions. Such as why? Again the airborne can be handled several different ways. Rad levels are low now and will continue to decrease as time passes, so workers could install and move standard temporary barriers without personal harm.”

      It appears that dust collection is the issue. Several years ago, I had a bit of training in asbestos removal. HEPA filters, tents, particulate sensors and appropriate protective clothing are what is used there. I would surmise that this waste could be handled similarly.

    2. “I don’t get it. What becomes of the core? When does it become something than can be dealt with?”

      With how amazing the human race is with discovering new Technology, it could probably be dealt with in the near future….however, the real radiological danger decays away a little each year. In a couple hundred years when most of the high energy gamma fission products have decayed away, this dealing with the core would be much easier….and safer.

    3. @poa

      Though it wouldn’t satisfy very many people, there wouldn’t be any harm to anyone if the facility was left to crumble in the same way that the factories all around the globe are often left to crumble. Sure there are materials inside the buildings that will require some care and attention someday, but that is almost universally true for former industrial facilities.

      Chernobyl is a well used and familiar tool for those who oppose the use of nuclear energy instead of other energy sources. The big new cover and the expensive effort invested in its construction simply makes the facility a bigger and scarier mystery to many.

      I’m not dismissing your other questions; I’m just not in a position to answer them in any real detail. The bottom line is that there are a lot of “interests” involved and most of them prefer to go with the myth that Chernobyl is an especially hazardous place where billions should be spent on clean up.

      1. Please do not compare the DESTROYED core at Chernobyl with the damaged cores are Fukushima. Fukushima’s damaged fuel has been contained in the pressure vessel……Chernobyl blew their pressure vessel, along with their fuel into the atmosphere. See the difference, or are you just as dense as John Q (a term which, IMO you have severely overused)

        “If you can’t deal with a melted core for hundreds of years, perhaps thousands, you MAY have just lost me”

        While not suffering the same amount of damage, TMI’s core damage has been resolved. TMI’s damaged fuel was contained inside the pressure vessel…..see the connection now?

        1. The primary radiation hazard associated with the core is the gamma radiation associated with the fission products. The two primary and longest lived are Cs-137 and Sr-90. Now Sr-90 is a high energy beta emitter due to its Y-90 daughter (in the 2 MeV range) when a high energy beta is in the vicinity of dense material which corium certainly is you get Bremsstrahlung gammas. The half life of the two fission products is around 30 years in 10 half-lives (~300 yrs) the dose rates coming from the corium would be easily dealt with using conventional construction technology. In addition when the fuel melted it solidified with the sand that was part of the biological shield and created a ceramic like substance which is not going to degrade in the basement areas of the plant. The primary issue now is the potential collapse of the 300 ton reactor vessel lid which is resting on rusting steam lines. If the lid collapses the loose surface contamination that is in the plant could create a significant cloud of radioactive material however that as we have heard in this discussion can be dealt with in a variety of ways.

  9. Recently Ive been reading up on “moral panics” and think the Fukushima coverage as well as the Chernobyl aftermath coverage and even the motivation behind this monstrosity is paralleled rather well by the term.

    The wiki isnt the best, and its a vague and broad term, but its interesting re-starting point in understanding the anti nuclear movement and worth a read I believe ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_panic ).

    I feel we are probably in a time that can best be described as being constantly stringed along one marketed moral panic to another, specifically tailored to group identity and political leanings. I used to call our media fixations ” conspiracism ” but that doesn’t convey the strong dichotomous moral associations and arguments seemingly attached to all issues now, but perhaps also that has always been the case.

  10. So let me get this straight, over 1 billion Euros has been spent to protect us all from the ionizing radiation that is coming from the melted Chernobyl reactor core?

    A couple of thoughts.
    – People worked in the same building for years AFTER the accident without growing an extra arm or eye or dying from some horrible disease.
    – Everything is radioactive, people spending any time in a granite structure like NY’s Grand Central Station of the US Congress are subject to more radiation than in most places in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

    Providing containment to keep people from approaching too closely to the still dangerous material from the core is fine, but that takes little more than the same kind of armored shielding you’d find on SNF dry casks.

    Everything is radioactive including people, as a hefty guy I’m probably emitting more than 5,000 A SECOND of ionizing radiation from the potassium 40 in my body alone. About 10% of that penetrating gamma radiation which means I’m radiating anything around me. Everybody does.

    What’s next, special suits so we be safe from all the those “dangerous” humans out their frying each other? What a colossal waste of money that just keeps people paranoid about something that has always been and always will be an intrinsic part of what they are.

  11. Does someone need a hug ? No ? perhaps not.

    Its a radiation shield over the old reactor for radiation that isnt so much an issue now. If it was intended to stop particulate matter form escaping/being washed away there are cheaper and better ways to do that. Thats all I can fathom.

    As a artist I can deal with this kind of object as a semi aesthetic piece of conceptual art but it needs more umph I think.

    A alter high atop to sacrifice chickens to appease the radiation demons would have been nice touch.

  12. What in the holy hell are you blathering about? Chernobyl’s core hasn’t directly harmed anybody in 30 years. There is no legitimate urgency to solve anything. Every year the fission products (along with their high energy gammas) decay away making their mess less and less radioactive from a lethal standpoint. I answered your question. You, just like John Q, cannot differentiate between the severity of Chernobyl and Fukushima or TMI no matter how many times you are told. I haven’t been “dishonest”….these are facts.

    Just the other day I read an article on the 10 worst manmade disasters all time…..Nuclear Power occupied 3 spots.

    TMI Explosion – For one there WAS NO EXPLOSION!! For two….it didn’t harm a single soul. The Utility was screwed out of a fairly new reactor.

    Chernobyl – Terribly designed reactor operated by complete Soviet idiots. Its utterly incomprehensible what they “tried” to do with that reactor. Its physically impossible for a USA designed PWR or BWR to create a explosion similar to Chernobyl’s. Still, only ~68 people were killed.

    Fukushima – Hit with a EPIC earthquake and tsunami that killed 20,000. 5 1/2 years later…..still radiologically hasn’t directly harmed a single soul.

    So, there you have it. 3 HORRIBLE Nuclear disasters that have killed 68 people……ZERO outside of Soviet Russia.This is what Nuclear Power has to deal with everyday and these kind of articles are out there by the hundreds.

    1. “What in the holy hell are you blathering about?”

      I haven’t “blathered” about anything. I have asked some pretty specific questions, some of which seem a bit “uncomfortable” for this blog to answer.

      “…core hasn’t directly harmed anybody in 30 years”

      Gee, with such a robust and thriving population in its immediate area, thats pretty amazing, isn’t it?

      “Terribly designed reactor operated by complete Soviet idiots”

      Well, I guess we better hope we don’t have any idiots operating our reactors, eh? I’d hate to see an accident happen because someone was looking up “pizzagate” online, when they shoulda been paying attention to their job.

      “Fukushima – Hit with a EPIC earthquake and tsunami that killed 20,000. 5 1/2 years later…..still radiologically hasn’t directly harmed a single soul”

      Nope. Tell those displaced that the harm they have suffered is ok because it wasn’t radiological. You might not like how society and government reacts to “accidents”, and it might not be justified, but it is reality. Do you really think a similiar event at Diablo would result in different reaction from government and the public? And you really should drop that idiotic premise of an “epic” earthquake occurring in one of the most active seismic zones on the planet. Everyone you talk to isn’t an idiot.

      The NE energy sector has stepped on its own —-. And with spokespeople, and advocates such as you, and others here, it will continue to do so.

      1. @poa

        Amongst the anger and frustration, I hear that you don’t think we should discuss whether or not the building was actually necessary.

        How can we help change overreaction into something more productive?

        1. How long did it take this project to grow wings, Rod?

          So here you are, saying…

          “We shouldn’t have done this, and heres why….”

          Instead of….

          “We shouldn’t do this, and heres why……”

          I’m not saying you shouldn’t explain your reasoning. I’m saying its too late, and the very existence of this building, in the public’s eye, will most probably be seen as proof of its neccessity.

          Explaining your reasoning, at this point, has to overcome the visual specter of this giant monolith, has to discredit the spending of billions, and has to question the integrity of the myriad of governments, scientists, and contractors that contributed to this endeavor.

          If you think that sugar coating the issue of the melted core is going to do this, good luck. If you think ignoring the issue of the melted core is going to do that, good luck again. If you think treating those like myself, (who have questions about the melted core), like idiots, as many here seem to think we are, again, good luck.

          Frankly, I’m sick of presenting an occassional questioning or dissenting opinion here, and having people spit in my face, figuratively. If the purpose of this site is to inform, sway, and advance advocacy, you might wanna ask yourself why you aren’t landing any participation of more people like myself. You ain’t gonna spread the word by preaching to the choir. And just because some of us haven’t fully joined, doesn’t mean we’re all singing off key.

      2. @poa,

        So a 25yr+ ecological disaster only happens in the nuclear arena?


        Valdez is still an ongoing cleanup operation, and as shown in the graphic above, not all species are expected to come back.

        There are other examples of long running cleanup operations such as Berkeley Pit mine in Butte Mt.



        These just two examples in the US that aren’t getting the press they used in the past.


        One word —– RADIATION.

        No radiation from the Valdez cleanup to scare people. Potentially lost species due to toxicity of crude oil not radiation.

        No radiation from Berkeley Pit. But we are losing and will continue to lose snow geese and other migratory birds to the toxic brew that exists in the water that has filled the pit based on the news article, but not due to radiation.

        There are other examples of the hypocrisy of the international self-proclaimed ‘environmental’ groups where they have walked away from the disaster cleanups once the cameras have been turned to the next crisis because toxic events are not easy to portray as being scary.

        Then there is Chernobyl and now Fukushima. Those are dead horses the NGOs will just keep kicking and kicking and kicking because of radiation. And by maintaining the fear factor on high, they are able to funnel millions of donor dollars to keeping nuclear scare articles front and center.

        So while you may be “sick” of presenting a differing viewpoint, many of us who come here regularly see your points as the end result of decades worth of scare mongering on the part of the hypocritical “environmental” NGOs. IOW the anti-nuclear NGOs are getting value for their investment since many people like you are still beating the drum against nuclear power.

        On the other hand you could join the likes of Stewart Brand, Michael Shellenberger, Racheal Pritzker, and Gwyneth Cravens just to name a few environmental advocates who have broken through the rhetoric and scaremongering from their anti-nuclear pasts to come around to see how nuclear power can be beneficial in many ways.

        1. Just scweek or so back I commented, strongly, on the gulf disaster. And consistently, here in this sight, I have pointed out how fear of radiation, founded, or unfounded, drives the publics perception of nuclear energy. At no time here have I ever insinuated the NE is the only energy source with a history of, and a potential for, long ranging ecological and environmental disasters.

          Nor have I “beat the drum” against NE. I disagree with many here about the potential of renewables, and I refuse to adopt the viewpoint that partisan politics, concerning energy issues, or any other issues, is anything other than a carefully nurtured ploy designed to rob the populace of the ability to arrive at a concensus.

          Your entire comment grossly misrepresents my participation here. Of course, if you can actually quote comments of mine that are consistently anti NE, pro fossil fuel, or dismissive of the damage that the use of fossil fuels wreaks on our environment, have at it. But don’t expect me to be supportive of NE when I have unresolved questions about NE, or see NE advocates skirting questions, blaming one side or the other of the political aisle for NE’s fall from grace, or showing a complete lack of honesty or integrity in their attempts at advocacy. If someone here blathers some nonsense about an issue such as “pizzagate”, do you really think that if their next utterance is a claim about NE it should automatically be deemed credible? Would you buy a car from a salesman that claims he saw the Easter Bunny on his way to the sales lot?

  13. Have you seen the latest estimates for what the Japanese intend to spend cleaning up Fukushima Dai-ichi? None of that measly little 1.5 billion, now…

  14. You could paint that building red, and do a piece daily on CNN about it for ten years, and not do as much damage to your energy darling as you do with the obnoxious, condescending, and pretentious horse crap manner of PR so many of you think is somehow “constructive”.

    Whats reality? Reality is that the building got built, and there it is. And when the global public sees it, they have questions. Good luck if you ignore the questions, or insult the questioners. And if the public thinks you are just lying when you explain why the building isn’t needed, between insults, theh won’t THINK you are lying, they will KNOW you are lying.

    Now, who is the IDIOT in that scenario?

    1. Or we could hold an election and the kind of people that would do this could lose. Thats going to never get old.

  15. A follow up to my previous post:

    In 1992, the design criteria were apparently developed for an open competition that was initiated by the Ukrainian government to come up with the “best” idea for replacing the quickly erected sarcophagus.

    – Convert the destroyed ChNPP Unit 4 into an environmentally safe system (i.e. contain the radioactive materials at the site to prevent further environmental contamination)

    – Reduce corrosion and weathering of the existing shelter and the Unit 4 reactor building

    – Mitigate the consequences of a potential collapse of either the existing shelter or the Unit 4 reactor building, particularly in terms of containing the radioactive dust that would be produced by such a collapse.

    – Enable safe demolition of unstable structures (such as the roof of the existing shelter) by providing remotely operated equipment for their demolition.

    All good and reasonable criteria. However, open competitions for solutions to large, complex engineering problems are a way for organizations or governments to not have to pay for ideas. So, asking for-profit companies to task their best engineering and project management talent to develop concepts for solving big, thorny problems in an open competition format has proven to be a less than desirable way to achieve true project success.

    Anyway, it appears an architect came up with the arch idea from what little background search I been able to accomplish so far. Another standard practice with large projects such as this. Architects are called upon to dream up some solution that then gets hardwired into proposal documents. Then civil, mechanical and electrical engineers are called upon to figure out how to make the grand idea work but usually heavily discouraged from supplying alternate ideas since government officials have already staked part of their political career on the “grand solution”.

    What doesn’t appear in any of the literature I have skimmed is a debate on IF a sarcophagus was necessary or if other solutions would work. It just seems to have become written into Ukrainian governmental documentation that the sarcophagus was the one and only solution. So in this case, it appears to be more an issue of design criteria established in 1992 when rad levels were high was never revisited over a decade later when money was available from the G7 countries to fund the effort of replacing the original, decaying sarcophagus.

    So the first of many questions I have regarding architect who came up with the arch concept is in regards to his background in nuclear cleanup work. He was from Great Britain but what background did he and his firm have in working with radiation and contaminated areas? Alternately, would the final design actually meet his expectations? Maybe he had a different, not-so permanent idea in mind. So many questions on how the design of this thing got to the this point which will probably never be answered.

  16. Well, my view is that the worldwide nuclear community are long to join hands in a common aggressive and relentless PR promotion and malinformation clear-up campaign. Consternation and jitter press stories like on this Chernobyl wrapper shouldn’t ever go unexplained and defused or unchallenged as the case might be. What happens in Chernobyl and Fukushima doesn’t PR-wise or politically stay in Chernobyl and Fukushima which are given as loud examples to obliterate Indian Point here — yes, the “Chernobyl coffin” got lots of totally unrebuked fear play here (“they’re moving Godzilla into a new cage”). The nuclear power answer is stop being PR ostriches and hit the public with dark mystery-blowing education! It’s not Saturn-V science! It’s silly to see windmills sprouting up in northern Japan like daisies when a little nuke public education could spare then lots of angst and bucks and scenery. This education and PR MUST be internationally supported and pushed by all nuclear communities for reasons cited. There are NO fears when it comes to pollution and fear. I just have a feeling that the nuclear community hasn’t really a true clue of just how edgy the greater unwashed public is to anything nuclear or radiation. Nuclear’s Darth Vader image is not technical problem but a people problem and as Carl Sagan quipped, engineers have extreme difficulty wrapping their slide rules around that.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  17. A word or two about “epic” earthquakes in extremely active seismic zones.

    The question isn’t “will they happen”. They are an inevitability. Could be tomorow. Could be 500 years from now. But to tout a major quake, in a seismic zone such as the ring of fire, as a historical anamoly, is dissingenuous. Its an excuse for poor planning, poor design, or poor site location.

    Fact is, we can cite examples of “epic” quakes and tsunamis occurring, globally, on a fairly regular basis. And, we can with fair accuracy predict the areas that will experience these “epic” catastrophes.

    Above, we see the notion advanced that one serious accident was the result of poor reactor design, operated by “idiots”. Apparently, there are many here that attribute TMI to bad fecisions made in the heat of an emergency. And this latest, Fukushima, nobody’s fault, it was simply an unpredictable event. (That was not only predictable, but inevitable as well.)

    Well, with such specious rationalizations and blame shifting, why shouldn’t the industry’s claims pertaining to safety, operator competence, site location, and disaster preparedness be suspect?

    Ok, so if Diablo suffers some sort of catacalismic failure, perhaps it wouldn’t be as bad as it will be made out to be. Does that mean I want that failure in my backyard? Not on your life. Particularly knowing that the industry will simply blame it on an unpredictable event, circumstance, or situation that, in truth, was not only predictable, but inevitable.

    Bad operators. Poor design. Natural events. Never heard of ’em, I guess. Hows that working out for you?

  18. Has anybody estimated what thickness of soil would you need to reduce the radiation level to something like 100 mSv/year for a person living on the surface?

  19. Apparently, they’ll never put one of these giant quanset huts on United States soil.

    Why not??? Well, because, most likely, there won’t be any reactors left to experience a meltdown.

    Why not?? Well, because in reading about past shutdowns, and possible future shutdowns , there seems to be a fairly consistent piece of data mentioned. It seems that a NPP shutdown results in the lost energy being replaced, to the tune of 75%, by NG produced energy. This 75% figure seems to appear from various sources, repeatedly, so I assume it is fairly well researched.

    Now. I ask you. With an incoming presidential administration picking cabinet members, such as Pruitt to head the EPA, that are joined at the hip with the fossil fuel industry…

    Whats this bode for NE? Do you think that the fossil fuel industry is going to turn their backs on that 75%, ignore the ramifications, the immense profits, to be had by hitting the “off switch” of an NPP?

    Nope. There ain’t no giant quanset huts in our future. But then again, there ain’t gonna be any reactors either.

    Oh, and by the way. Iran wants NUCLEAR ENERGY. Remember, now, that means THE BOMB. You know…radiation, nuclear summer….bomb shelters….

    So remember, kiddies….


    Tell me, how’s THAT gonna work out for you?

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