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not far from where I had lived until 11 years before.

jimbob (mail):
www.slate.com has a phenomenal piece on the lasting damage
4.25.2006 1:01pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I remember listening to the Radio Moscow accounts of it, comrades, in the days before internet when shortwave was the thing.

First few days: nothing happened. This is all western BS.

Next few days: OK, something happened. It was minor and all blown out of proportion.

Next days: our gallant teams are working to contain this disaster.

Always wondered how the Radio Moscow people kept a straight face during stuff like this. Or their discussion of how all Soviet workers were paid just great, had months of free vacations, etc. Or how wonderful it was that lawyers and doctors were helping construct an underground subway terminal... great, you're having a structure built by people who have never poured concrete in their lives and don't know rebar from a carbide drill.
4.25.2006 1:31pm
ZZYZX (mail):
I feel worst for the people in Belarus.

When we lived there a few years back, I was struck by the maps that showed the contaminated areas. They all had magically protected "clean" pockets, which happened to show the major population areas were perfectly safe.

I should have been more shocked, I suppose.
4.25.2006 2:16pm
M (mail):
Additionally, the absolutely shameful treatment of the liquidators is one of the most obvious sins of post-communist Russia. Their treatment by the state, not just under Putin, either, has been, quite literally, disgusting.
4.25.2006 3:51pm
guest:
I lived in Germany when this happened. We didn't get the worst of it, but it's not a good feeling knowing you were exposed.
4.25.2006 4:47pm
Bruce:
The series "Seconds from Disaster" had a good episode on the Chernobyl explosion, on the National Geographic Channel, if you get it. I highly recommend PVR-ing it. Basically, it was due to a botched exercise, and the core temperature got away from the controllers.

There's a few gruesome pictures of the guys who went in to put out the fire, with minimal radiation gear. Those people were heroes.
4.25.2006 4:50pm
Chris Bell (mail):
This disaster left a lasting scar on the great possibilities of nuclear power. New American style reactors are built on a negative feedback principle. (As the reaction heats up, it also slows down.) Old Russian reactors were built on a positive feedback design with complicated controls to contain it....

Oops.
4.25.2006 5:26pm
Steve:
I remember listening to the Radio Moscow accounts of it, comrades, in the days before internet when shortwave was the thing.

First few days: nothing happened. This is all western BS.

Next few days: OK, something happened. It was minor and all blown out of proportion.

Next days: our gallant teams are working to contain this disaster.


Reminds me of nothing more than how the EPA hastened to assure New Yorkers that the downtown air was perfectly safe to resume business in the days after 9/11.
4.25.2006 6:23pm
Bruce:
Old Russian reactors were built on a positive feedback design with complicated controls to contain it....

I don't remember the precise details, but the controls required two operators, one to raise or lower the control rods, and the other to regulate coolant. Apparently as the situation worsened, signals got mixed between the two operators, so that they were working at cross purposes -- one was raising the control rods (thus increasing reaction speed) while the other was reducing coolant flow.
4.25.2006 7:02pm
TO:
This entry has a bit more detail.
4.25.2006 7:35pm
Sha_kri:
Anyone try and look for it on google maps?
4.25.2006 7:53pm
subpatre (mail):
The best description of what happened are Elena's rides through the Chernobyl dead zone.
4.26.2006 12:36am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
The Wikipedia article linked by Professor Volokh has a Google Maps link at the bottom of the page under "External Links" - here is a closeup of the Chernobyl plant.
4.26.2006 5:00am