Saturday, September 22, 2007

Chernobyl Fungus Feeds On Radiation

The fungus Cladosporium sphaerospermum can use dangerous radiation to grow.

Read about it here.

Crazy stuff! Like something from a science fiction novel. But then again, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. When I went to Chernobyl, everything reminded me of something from a science fiction novel.

I'm surprised the article didn't mention whether or not the radiation-munching fungi could potentially be used to clean up contaminated areas. That was the first thing that popped into my head when I read it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More over, Pixar: Chernobyl 3D movies

Some wonderful videos about SIP:

Want to know more about the conceptual design and construction plan of the New Safe Confinement shelter? Watch here:

Want to know more about shelter stabilization? Watch here:

Parlez-vous Français?

$505 Million Deal for Chernobyl Shelter

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian officials signed a $505 million contract with a French-led consortium Monday for construction of a new shelter for the Chernobyl reactor, the site of the word's worst nuclear accident.

The project, financed by an international fund managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, will be designed and built by the French-led consortium Novarka, which includes the companies Bouygues SA and Vinci SA.

The new shelter — an arch-shaped steel structure 345 feet tall and 490 feet long — will enclose the concrete sarcophagus erected hastily after the 1986 accident. That structure has been crumbling and leaking radiation for more than a decade.

"I am convinced that today, possibly for the first time, we can frankly tell the national and international community that the answer to the problem of sheltering the Chernobyl nuclear plant was found today," President Viktor Yushchenko said at the signing ceremony, according to the presidential Web site.

The plan is to eventually dismantle the sarcophagus and the exploded reactor inside the new shelter. Chernobyl's reactor No. 4 exploded on April 26, 1986, spewing radiation over a large swath of the former Soviet Union and much of northern Europe. An area roughly half the size of Italy was contaminated, forcing the resettlement of hundreds of thousands of people.

Ukraine has repeatedly asked for money from the European Union and other Western sources to fund a new shelter.

Anton Usov, a spokesman for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, said it will take about 1 1/2 years to design the shelter and another four to build it.

The entire project of sheltering the reactor, which began in 1997 and also includes strengthening the existing sarcophagus, monitoring radiation and training experts, is estimated at $1.39 billion, Usov said.

Officials also signed a $200 million contract with New Jersey-based Holtec International for decommissioning the power plant. The project includes building a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel from the plant's three other reactors, which kept operating until the station was shut down in 2000.

That undertaking is also financed by international donors in a fund managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

"The successful implementation of the project depends not only on the progress of the construction work, but also on the continued commitment of both the Ukrainian authorities and the international community," European Bank for Reconstruction and Development President Jean Lemierre said in a statement.

In the first two months after the disaster, 31 people died from illnesses caused by radioactivity, but there is heated debate over the subsequent toll.

A 2005 report from the U.N. health agency estimated that about 9,300 people will die from cancers caused by Chernobyl's radiation. Some groups, such as Greenpeace, insist the toll could be 10 times higher.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Collateral damage

There have been some interesting articles recently about the effects of Chernobyl in Scandinavia.

Evidence of Chernobyl nuclear accident still in Finnish fish and mushrooms

"The toxicity of predatory fish and mushrooms still exceeds the EU recommendations in Western Finland. The fish and mushrooms tested in the southwestern town of Vammala still exhibit elevated levels of the radioactivve isotope caesium-137 and mercury, even 20 years after the Chernobyl nuclear accident."

Is Chernobyl behind academic slump in Sweden?

"It is 21 years since the nuclear plant at Chernobyl went bang, and the extent of the damage wrought by the radioactive fallout is still becoming clear. According to a report in Chemistry World, US researchers have discovered that Swedish children who were in the womb at the time of the accident might have been mentally damaged by their exposure. The findings, which suggest the developing foetus may be more sensitive to radioactivity than previously thought, are based on a survey of the academic achievements of more than 560,000 Swedish children born between 1983 and 1988. "
It's truly disturbing how widespread the affects of Chernobyl are. Clearly, Ukraine and Belarus are not the only countries suffering from the disaster.