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24 Years ago...


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Ok, I'm a few days off; but 26th April marked the 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl reactor disaster, the only level 7 nuclear incident reported thus far. As one of the grey hairs loitering around the forum, I can remember very clearly first hearing about the reactor having gone up; the news came out of the USSR at a very late stage - the radioactive cloud was already drifting over mainland Europe when they eventually went public with the announcement. Not only noteworthy for the grim side of the story, but also for the bravery and sacrifice of many pilots, firemen, engineers and miners who just managed to control the situation, a lot of whom gave ther lives or their future health in the effort - a large portion of eastern Europe would have been destroyed outright, and much more rendered uninhabitable if the radocative material been allowed to reach an unstable state. The reactor is still in the midst of an exclusion zone unfit for human habitation which has gone back to the wild in the meantime. Within eight months the reactor was cloaked in a containment vessel of reinforced concrete, known as the sarco****us, pictured below. An international effort is in the process of designing and construction of a new more permanent confinement measure - the concrete was originally estimated to have a life of ten years, but has proved more effective in practice, but has shown some fatigue, and was patched in 2009. An estimated 95% of the radioactive material is still buried and active below the sarco****us.


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