1. Has any research been done on how to clean up areas contaminated by nuclear accidents? Searching for a chemical that would bind to strontium or caesium (but not calcium or potassium) would be the obvious first step, as Cs-137 and Sr-90 are the main contaminants that would have a half-life that is long enough to be problematic but also short enough to actually be dangerous…

    1. There’s bio-remediation.  Some fast-growing plants have affinities for certain undesired chemicals and ions.  Just grow a bunch of them on the contaminated land, and harvest and remove them.

      You may get a secondary product out of this.  For instance, fast pyrolysis of biomass produces bio-oil, ash and char.  The metal ions will mostly be in the ash and char, which are far less bulky than raw plant matter.  Bio-oil is in some demand as renewable fuel, and Japan could burn even lightly contaminated bio-oil in its thermal plants when the winds were off-shore.

      OT:  Rod, is there any way to either get the comment-throttling to work BEFORE one has spent the effort to write something, or not delete one’s work when hitting the “back” button?

      1. @Engineer-Poet. I’ve given up fighting this problem, my work around is to write anything that may be long or i might want to edit before posting in MSWord. then i copy/paste it into a comment. extra step, but keeps my BP down. mjd.

      2. OT: Rod, is there any way to either get the comment-throttling to work BEFORE one has spent the effort to write something, or not delete one’s work when hitting the “back” button?

        From many years of experience writing and commenting on blogs, I recommend doing the composition in a separate editor program, and then “cut-and-paste” the final result into the text box within the browser. In that way, you don’t lose what you have written should things not go well with the web browser.

        Personally, I typically use Emacs for this task (because I’m a geek). Someone else here has recommended MS Word. Use whatever works for you. There are plenty of options available.

        1. When I use my wifi or land internet connection, I have issues.

          When I use my wireless function, it works fine.

      1. Even if the dangers of radioactive contamination are exaggerated, wouldn’t it be a very good thing PR-wise if we actually knew how to clean it up, because the antis would no longer be able to claim that hundreds of square miles of land would be rendered permanently uninhabitable in the case of an accident?

        1. Contamination remediation suffers from the same disadvantages as renewable energy – it is diffuse, and it covers a lot of land, therefore it is expensive. Of course, the material is eventually self-decontaminating through decay, but the inherent delay does not provide an entirely satisfying solution.

          As E-P said, the easiest thing to do is point out the blatant falsehood of the “uninhabitable”, claim and undermine anti credibility on yet another count. Calling out radiophobia for the mental aberration it is, and highlighting the limits and irrationality of LNT, are the keys to success.

          1. I have a zero dandelion policy on my property.

            I have 10 employees working full time to keep things clean.

            Dandelions kill.

          2. My point being, a lot of wasted money has been expensed to clean up Chernobyl to ridiculous levels.

            The same is happening with Fukushima.

          3. Archaeologists exploring ancient Egypt sites still have to be aware of poisonous barbs and snares meant to “discourage” tomb robbers back 3,000 years ago (and provides that peril in movies and books), so the idea that nuclear wastes are somehow uniquely dangerous by longevity are in the toilet.

        2. Unfortunately, there is no level that anti’s would accept as being clean. Another example of the temporary nature of radioactive contamination is Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These are thriving cities with a very closely studied population. If there were problems we would know.

          1. I wish Pandora’s promise would have taken a radio acticity reading from either cities.

            That would have been a blast.

          2. Lars,
            The radiation of those bombs was almost all gamma radiation which vanish very fast.
            Chernobyl and Fukushima deliver a.o. Cesium-137 fall-out, spread over a huge area (depending on the winds).
            That fall-out generates bèta radiation during ~300 years (each 30 years the amount of generated radiation is about half of that 30 years ago).

            So apart from delivering xxx times more radiation, those disasters also deliver it during hundreds of years.
            Hence the Kyshtym region is still not inhabited while that disaster happened 56years ago (1957).

          3. “The radiation of those bombs was almost all gamma radiation which vanish very fast.”

            LOL, such a poor understanding of science.

            Fallout from a nuclear weapon contains significant quantities of both Cs137 and Sr90. And due to the local winds caused by the explosion the fallout from a nuclear weapon will spread over a much huger area than Chernobyl or Fukushima.

            So reactor accidents don’t deliver ‘xxx times more radiation’ (unless xxx is <1) and the time period over which both weapons and reactor accidents deliever radiation are about the same.

          4. @Daniel : I think both Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been fully cleaned, and don’t have any significant emission anymore. However that’s even more interesting as they both certainly have received very significant fall-out, both fission products and raw plutonium and uranium 235 from the explosions.

            I’ve unfortunately never seen to this day a document that tries to put precise numbers on how important they were.
            In theory after the explosion the heated air from the lower layers of atmosphere goes up and transports the fission products away, however it’s well known that there has been rain shortly after them that massively brought back the radiative products to the ground, in what has been called the black rain (“kuroi ame”). As a result, it’s complex to estimate precisely how contaminated the area was, but it’s likely to be quite strongly.
            See here a description of this http://atomicbombmuseum.org/3_radioactivity.shtml

    2. Prussian Blue has been studied extensively as a radionuclide sequestration compound; it’s non-toxic and it works well, particularly against plutonium.

      There are literally hundreds of compounds that will scavenge radioactive materials in the body, to one degree or another, from soluble fiber to chelating agents. However, there are no magical cures — and no incentive to make this medical subdiscipline better-known.

  2. Dr James Conca made a fascinating observation.

    With the 2nd amendment in the US, he asserts that no one would have abandoned their homes in a Chernobyl or Fukushima scenario. I agree.

    Japan and Ukraine citizens operate on a different social paradigm.

    1. I don’t know about that – 2nd Amendment or not, if a SWAT team shows up at your front door, most people are going to do whatever they say. We can only hope that the politicians directing them are beneficent and sensible.

      1. @atomicrabbit

        Do you really believe there will be SWAT teams sent with orders to shoot people who refuse to evacuate? I don’t think we have descended that far into the tyrannical abyss.

        1. Not as a first option – the point is, if a governments wants you to do something badly enough, they have the means to make it happen. The threat of force stands behind, and is implicit in all government mandates.

        2. Rod,
          Those that stay behind may go on the rampage (compare New Orleans). Many cannot withstand the temptation of all those empty houses.

          1. The stereotypical characteristic of those who cannot resist the temptation is politically incorrect to mention, but here’s a picture of Lootie for you:

          2. Bah, can’t embed and the worthless software won’t reject and let me edit (Rod, can you get something less brain-dead?).  Linky.

          3. Engineer-Poet,
            Just saw your nice innocent picture.
            In New Orleans the flooding prevented effective looting.

            With fall-out looters do not have a transportation problem.
            So the can load a truck with nice expensive items (TV’s, etc) and then sell it elsewhere, spreading the radio-activity further.

            Visions of such stories on TV, will force authorities to enforce evacuation more strict than in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. So probably they will really check that the whole city is empty.

  3. I concur with many who scream that vital evidence and factoids like this MUST get outside to the masses! I hope Conca carries this ball!

  4. Despite being ~50 when, those ~1500 returned, which implies far less vulnerable for radiation than young people, now only a hundred or so live.
    Even for Ukraine (and taking into account their age), that is an exceptional high death rate.

    So not strange that after the initial group of about 1000 people nobody moved into the zone!

    All animals that reproduce fast and abundant, go well. As then enhanced early death rate of e.g. 20% doesn’t matter.

      1. Just from an article in the Telegraph a year ago (you can find more):

        Hanna was among some 1,200 returnees, …
        Today 230 or so self-settlers remain…

        Sorry that I didn’t remind the number quite well.
        But it is clear why no people followed, despite free housing, etc.

  5. It could be that these people living longer because they are under less emotional stress because – there are fewer people! After all, a lot of people can be aggravating.

  6. Thanks Rob for this amazing video.

    This is the best proof against the so call “toxic land” around the power plants accidents. Also you can see in the video all plant life that is abundant in the area the same as can be seen in Fukushima.

    1. Of course there are lots of plants and animals, that is because there are very few People! Now, if you are a people person like Rod is, you don’t like that but all other forms of life do. As for the women who live there, not being around people like bas and having a high fiber diet helps you live a long life.

  7. Remembering I read somewhere that there were only ~100 survivors left, I checked.
    So found more figures regarding the death rate of these 1200 returnees:
    2009: 386 survivors;
    Summer 2012: 230 survivors;
    Okt 2013: fewer than 100 survivors.

    Wikipedia delivered slightly different info:
    Past 25 years more than 900 deaths. 1999: 612 survivors. 2007: 328. 2009: 271. 2012: 197
    Real numbers difficult as no counting (often in those areas).

    Taken into account the 20-50 years latency period before harm of low level radiation shows (similar with smoking and asbestos), these death rates are worse.
    It is an indication the radiation levels there are not ‘low level’.
    Checking at Wikipedia delivered levels of ~100mSv/a. So that fits very rough with the high death rate.

    Yet the CNN report gives a different picture; suggests it would be healthy there.
    This type of info manipulation worries me, as it delivers wrong decisions with serious negative consequences.

    It is the same as the one that lead US into the war with Irak. A war that delivered a great boost to Al-Qaeda, ~100K deaths, a ruined Irak, and it did cost US a great amount of goodwill.
    Real cause probably only the inferiority complex of Bush (alcohol problems, etc) facing his father. Over-compensating, he wanted to show he could do it better than his father.

    1. Bas, as is written in the Wikipedia entry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samosely the average age of the returnee was 63 in 2007, which is the life expectancy of men in Ukrainia, 74 for women.
      There’s no hospital in the area, no doctor, they will therefore tend to wait until they are seriously ill to go see one outside, they have a harsh life with little of modern life conveniences, you can not expect that most of them will live to a very advanced age.

      Also we don’t have a single information about what they died of, or even if some just left the area to go to a retirement home since they realized they were not able to withstand that life anymore (they don’t look like the retirement home kind, but we nevertheless don’t know at all what happened, and not even one of the testimony talks about any of them dying a visibly non-natural death).

      They are too 3800 Chernobyl plant workers and 3000 Zone workers entering the area everyday, so who receive basically about as much radiation.

  8. My guess is that the Chernobyl returnees are self-sufficient for food, housing and energy. What that means is that they don’t have ready access to vodka and tobacco, which drastically reduce the life spans of many Russians.

    1. I don’t know about life spans, but it definitely drastically reduces the quality of life of many Russians.

  9. You know something that is very much ignored is the big contamination cleanup that is taking place in this country. I’m talking Hanford, folks. You don’t hear too much about this place, but the DOE spends a lot of money there. You remember Hanford, the FFTF was there. They made plutonium there in World War II. It’s a big environmental cleanup job now.

    A few years back they had an Elk herd of about 300. They hired hunters to thin it out. Nobody was allowed to eat the meat. Elk are big animals. It made me wonder if the place was as bad as was touted in the papers.

    Then they found out that tumbleweeds actually can remove certain radio-nuclides from contaminated soil. They are pulled out and properly disposed of leaving behind cleaner earth.

    Photos of Chernobyl often show plants and animals reclaiming this “dead wasteland.” Maybe nature is more resilient than it is given credit.

    1. @Eino

      You don’t hear too much about this place, but the DOE spends a lot of money there.

      There is another way to view that statement – DOE money pays a lot of salaries and provides a decent profit to the contractors that are overseeing the cleanup. How large is their motivation to complete the task? Do they stop at a level that is “clean enough” or do they accept ever tighter standards that approach zero because it makes the task more difficult and creates jobs with the kind of permanence that can be passed from generation to generation?

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