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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Nuclear flight Stockholm-Kiev, April 26

(on photo: town of Chernobyl, view from air. Source: http://pripyat.com.ua/)

I usually do not believe so much in things one can not explain. Like for instance, how come did my trip home turn into an extensive discussion on nuclear power and many other things.
Having booked the flight on the 26 of April was not planned specially, was convenient because it's on Saturday. 22nd Chernobyl anniversary was something to reflect upon for me just the day before when I posted some materials related to the date. With those things in mind, I was boarding my flight. Near the same gate, there was a small group of people, obviously Ukrainians and (I guessed so and I was right) some kind of officials. As I found out a bit later, they were from a State Nuclear Regulatory Committee of Ukraine. We started talking with one of the ladies, finally we took seats next to each other and spent a nice 3 hour flight talking and discussing things. I still have an impression that there is too little information that the ordinary citizens have about the radiological state of the environment around them in Ukraine. And not only in Ukraine - even the "secure" Swedish Forsmark has quite large radioactivity leakages every time one of the reactors is shut down. In Sweden, for sure, all this is monitored much more careful, but still, very little is reported to the public.
One of the things we discussed was the problem of nuclear waste storage in Ukraine. The Swedish storage which my flight companion has just visited, left a great impression on her, so secure, pure and isolated in was. Ukrainian waste, in particular radioactive water remains (fuel blocks themselves are taken care of by the Russian supplier TVEL), is stored in temporary places, not for longer then 30 years, and what will happen after, is not yet decided. How come a country having 15 reactors in operation does not have a single permanent storage? Means this task will be left for our descendants.
We we slowly going down to reach Borispol airport, and Chernobyl site could actually be seen from air if not the clouds.
"You know, - said my companion, - I suspect all this (here: Chernobyl accident) was done to us intentionally. It was made for this country should never rise to prosperity. Huge sum of money is sucked out of our budget by Chernobyl. Those testings of reactor with all security switched off were made according to higher orders. If the person operating the plant that night have said "no" to those orders, it would never have happened."
We landed, left the plane, passed passport control and waited for a while for our luggage (welcome to Ukraine - too many flights and too little luggage lines, Borispol is quite a small airport). Then we parted, but I suppose we will meet again some day - we exchanged cards, and as soon as I am in Kiev next time, I was invited to visit the Committee and possibly write something about their international projects. That would be an interesting thing to do I suppose.
That was my April 26 this year, 22 years after.


Sovietologist said...

That's a pretty impressive conspiracy theory there--that the Soviet government would destroy one of its nuclear reactors on purpose, seriously damaging its own territory and international credibility, just so that Ukraine, then an integral part of the USSR, would "fail to reach its potential."

Rod Adams said...

The theory of purposeful destruction is not as far fetched as one might imagine. The Soviet Union was close to bankruptcy in 1986, not just because of Reagan's defense build up but also because of gas and oil prices that were at the bottom of a long fall.

Throughout its history, the Soviet Union had one major source of "hard currency" - the sale of oil and gas to Europe.

It, of course, could have been purely an accident that destruction of a large nuclear power plant turned Europe almost completely against nuclear power and halted a number of very interesting projects like the Thorium High Temperature Reactor. It is certainly possible that the directors of the evolution that resulted in the Chernobyl accident had no idea that they were operating with a set of parameters that were known to cause plant instabilities. It is also very plausible that the people that responded to the accident by massive evacuations and scary, confusing press releases had no idea what they were doing.

Then again, it would make a pretty good story to believe that a nation of chess players would recognize that sometimes sacrificing a pawn is the only way to achieve ultimate success in a high stakes game.

Alexandra Prokopenko said...

This theory and many others that are still being heard in form of gossips all over the European ex-USSR part (Belarus, Ukraine, Russia) have one thing in common - they confirm once again by their existence that we are never told the truth. People in general when it comes to accidents like Chernobyl tend to seek something uncovered or try to reconstruct the situation and the reasons why all that happened and on what purpose.
One curious fact - when Chernobyl exploded, the cloud was actually heading in the direction of Moscow, and they had to get it down on the ground using military aircrafts that were spreading chemicals causing rain. That shows at least that the situation was out of control even if it was done intentionally, and that puts the whole theory of a secret Moscow plan under question. Once again - we just do not know.

Rod Adams said...

Please note: I never said that it was a complete plan, or even one that existed. All I said was that there was some amount of "motive" and opportunity plus a strange series of events.

It is POSSIBLE that there were a few people who thought that it might be a good idea to break a reactor. If so, they probably had no idea what would happen afterwards, but they might have thought that the propaganda effect was worth the risk.

Anonymous said...

One thing is for sure, Russia is making money hand over fist selling natural gas to western Europe.


Alexandra Prokopenko said...

Moreover, Russia is earning hell a lot on selling natural gas to Western Europe, and has significantly risen the prices for gas even for the neighboring Belarus and Ukraine that could buy gas much cheaper for several years ago. Energy becomes in such case a political instrument.

Rod Adams said...

Russia is also the world's second largest oil exporter. In contrast to the US, Russia is running a very large budget surplus each year.

As a former Cold Warrior, that is a bit unnerving to me since I know what they are likely to do with the extra money.

Alexandra Prokopenko said...

For sure they do not give the extra money to the hungry kids on Chukotka :))) or at least e veeery small part of it.