Fallout from Chernobyl

400 million people exposed in 20 countries

Chernobyl’s political fallout
• Stimulated Gorbachev’s glasnost (openness)
• Stimulated nationalism in Ukraine, Belarus, and other
republics that lost clean-up workers.
• Growth of environmental opposition
• Questioning of the heart of technocratic power
– Soviet leaders were engineers, not lawyers
– USSR collapsed within 5 years.

conjoined stillborn twins -reduced immunity -genetic damage .Radiation and Health • Health effects as a result of radiation exposure: -increased likelihood of cancer -birth defects including long limbs. brain damage.

one/third of them children .000 deaths in 14 years 3.5 million sick.8.

by Luda .My grandmother.

Death of my life. by Marina .

Chernobyl is war. by Irena .

Beauty and the beast. by Helena .

by Irena .Nothing escapes radiation.

Chernobyl. our hell. by Eugenia .

Self-portrait. by Natasha .

graphite reactor • Also Soviet reaction to Three-Mile Island.“It Can’t Happen Here” • U. reaction to Chernobyl. pressurized-water reactor • No technology 100% safe – Three-Mile Island bubble almost burst . 1986 – Blamed on Communism. 1979 – Blamed on Capitalism.S.

PA 1979 .Three-Mile Island.


. and leukemia rates increased 2 to 10 times in areas within 10 miles downwind • Farmers received severe monetary losses due to deformities in livestock and crops after the disaster that are still occurring today. hair loss. hundreds of people reported nausea. vomiting.Health around TMI • In 1979. Many pets were reported dead or showed signs of radiation • Lung cancer. and skin rashes.

Plants near TMI -lack of chlorophyll -deformed leaf patterns -thick. flat. hollow stems -missing reproductive parts -abnormally large TMI dandelion leaf at right .

or daddy-long-leg spiders – Pheasants and hop toads have disappeared.Animals Nearby TMI • Many insects disappeared for years. certain type caterpillars. . – Bumble bees. carpenter bees.

cannot explode like a bomb .Nuclear reaction • Chain reaction occurs when a Uranium atom splits • Different reactions – Atomic Bomb in a split second – Nuclear Power Reactor more controlled.

tests hydrogen bomb 1955 – First U. uses two atomic bombs on Japan 1949 – Soviets develop atomic bomb 1952 – U.History of nuclear power 1938– Scientists study Uranium nucleus 1941 – Manhattan Project begins 1942 – Controlled nuclear chain reaction 1945 – U.S.S. nuclear submarine .S.

canal-building. exports First commercial power plant.“Atoms for Peace” Program to justify nuclear technology Proposals for power. Illinois 1960 .

Economic advantages • The energy in one pound of highly enriched Uranium is comparable to that of one million gallons of gasoline. . • One million times as much energy in one pound of Uranium as in one pound of coal.

1 million tons of sulfur – 2.Emissions Free • Nuclear energy annually prevents – 5.4 million tons of nitrogen oxide – 164 metric tons of carbon • Nuclear often pitted against fossil fuels – Some coal contains radioactivity – Nuclear plants have released low-level radiation .

Early knowledge of risks • 1964 Atomic Energy Commission report on possible reactor accident – – – – 45.000 injured $17 billion in damages Area the size of Pennsylvania contaminated .000 dead 100.

States with nuclear power plant(s) .

.S.Nuclear power around the globe • 17% of world’s electricity from nuclear power – U.S. U. about 20% (2nd largest source) • 431 nuclear plants in 31 countries – – – – 103 of them in the U. firms have exported nukes. Push from Bush/Cheney for new nukes.S. Built none since 1970s (Wisconsin as leader).

755 12.784 58.170 .657 19.843 15.Countries Generating Most Nuclear Power Country USA France Japan Germany Russia Canada Ukraine United Kingdom Sweden South Korea Total MW 99.720 10.679 11.002 8.493 38.875 22.



or Radioactive waste disposal – Low-level in commercial facilities – High level at plants or underground repository .Nuclear fuel cycle • • • • • • Uranium mining and milling Conversion and enrichment Fuel rod fabrication POWER REACTOR Reprocessing.

Front end: Uranium mining and milling .

Uranium tailings and radon gas Deaths of Navajo miners since 1950s .

Uranium enrichment • U-235 – Fissionable at 3% – Weapons grade at 90% • U-238 – More stable • Plutonium-239 – Created from U-238. highly radioactive .

Radioactivity of plutonium Life span of least 240.000 years ago Neanderthal Man died out 30.000 years ago .000 years Last Ice Age glaciation was 10.

Portsmouth. . Oak Ridge. • Risk of theft of bomb material. OH • Cancers and leukemia among workers – Fires and mass exposure. KY. electricity – Paducah. TN. – Karen Silkwood at Oklahoma fabrication plant.Risks of enrichment and fuel fabrication • Largest industrial users of water.


Reaction converts water to steam. which powers steam turbine . • Bundles must be SUPERCRITICAL.Nuclear Reactor Process • 3% enriched Uranium pellets formed into rods. will overheat and melt if no control rods. which are formed into bundles • Bundles submerged in water coolant inside pressure vessel. with control rods.

Technology depends on operators .

• 1999 Tokaimura. East Germany – Near meltdown of reactor core . England – Graphite reactor fire contaminates 200 square miles. Ontario – Partial core meltdown • 1957 Windscale. Alabama – Plant caught fire • 1976 Lubmin. Japan – Nuclear fuel plant spewed high levels of radioactive gas .Other reactor accidents (besides TMI and Chernobyl) • 1952 Chalk River. • 1975 Browns Ferry.


United States .

Risk of terrorism (new challenge to industry) 9/11 jet passed near Indian Point .

Nuclear Reactor Structure • Reactor’s pressure vessel typically housed in 8” of steel • 36” concrete shielding • 45” steel reinforced concrete .


Michigan – Partial meltdown nearly causes evacuation of Detroit • 1973 Shevchenko. . U.S.Breeder reactor “Breeds” plutonium as it operates Uses liquid sodium metal instead of water for coolant – Could explode if in contact with air or water • 1966 Fermi. Russia – Breeder caught fire and exploded • Controversial proposals in Europe.


Reprocessing • Separates reusable fuel from waste – Large amounts of radioactivity released • 1960s West Valley. NY – Radiation leaked into Lake Ontario • 1970s La Hague. France – Released plutonium plumes into air .

water seepage .Back end: Radioactive wastes • Low-level wastes in commercial facilities • Spent fuel in pools or “dry casks” by plants • Nuclear lab wastes – Hanford wastes leaked radiation into Columbia River • High-level underground repository – Yucca Mountain in Nevada to 2037 – Wolf River Batholith in Wisconsin after 2037? – Risks of cracks in bedrock.


Yucca Mountain .

Transportation risks • Uranium oxide spills • Fuel rod spills (WI 1981) • Radioactive waste risks .

.“Mobile Chernobyl” to Yucca Mtn.

thousands of cancers reported . 1957 Orphans – Explosion at Soviet weapons factory forces evacuation of over 10. – Area size of Rhode Island still uninhabited.000 people in Ural Mts.Kyshtym waste disaster.


. Much was recycled into products without consumer knowledge. 15.000 tons of metal were received by the Association of Radioactive Metal Recyclers . • Depleted Uranium munitions for military. • In 1996.Radioactive Waste Recycling • Disposal of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants and weapons facilities by recycling it into household products.

which are active for hundreds of thousands of years.Summary • Nuclear energy has no typical pollutants or greenhouse gasses • Nuclear waste contains high levels of radioactive waste. . • The controversy around nuclear energy stems from all parts of the nuclear chain.