2011-08-31

Contact

As I have received a large number of questions already, I decided to create an address to which you can direct all things suchlike. You may write in Swedish, English or Russian to;

projekttjernobyl@gmail.com

2011-08-30

Rounding up the Swedes

It is obvious that my presense is required at the exhibition. Having caught a cold, I could not be there this afternoon as planned, but two friends who visited the exhibition told me about the mess that had occurred; the banner detaching from the wall and the library personnel loading a lot of junk around it all. As this came to my knowledge late in the afternoon, of course I had no choice but to go there and take care of these nuisances. 

The disturbances were easily gotten rid of, and I could then find the peace to enjoy the flowers sent to the exhibition. Yes that's right, someone actually sent flowers to the exhibition all the way from Stockholm and it was a very pleasant surprise. There was a card attached as well, with a greeting reading "Hoping for a radiating success!"

A few days ago, I was made aware of that some have gotten the impression that this blog was only due to the exhibition and that I would quit writing after that and I admit that I might have stated something that may have encouraged such impressions, but the truth is that... it's not true: I will keep on posting in this blog for as long as there are things to be told.



Hans Blix visiting all-Union Scientific Center of Radioactive Medicine


Some days ago, I decided to write a letter to Hans Blix. Mr. Blix was the chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency between 1981 and 1997 and the first foreigner to visit Chernobyl after the disaster ( as early as in May 1986) where he would discuss the matter of safer nuclear power in the Soviet Union. 

I figured that Hans Blix may be able to answer some of my questions, also because of knowing the political climate of that period (unfortunately politics are inevitable even in this matter) and when a friend actually presented me with proper contact information to Hans Blix, I realized that I would not have to go through with the usual "journalist's routine" but could rather get on straight ahead. 

Blix also met Valery Legasov, the nuclear chemist send from Moscow to investigate the Chernobyl accident (who committed suicide on the anniversary of the disaster in 1988). Also Legasov is an important key in the Chernobyl  jigzaw  and there are details that haven't been written, so when and if I manage to establish contact with Hans Blix, now 84 years old, there are chances that it'll all mean an important deal to my research.

A few weeks ago I contacted the nuclear power plant in Forsmark, who first discovered the Chernobyl fallout, asking to get in touch with someone who worked at the NPP at the time. I received a name and an address. Anders Markgren, assistant information officer at the Forsmark NPP, is now also on my list.



As you can see, I have no intentions of ceasing this.
Today, my father asked me if anyone closely involved ever wrote anything objective and truthful about the disaster. I could only mention Valery Legasov and say that it's possible that his writings are the closest to the truth as we can get, but he is -unfortunately- dead and dead men doesn't answer questions. 
I intend to find out how close to the truth you can get 25 years later. 




[Note: The photo is from profimedia.si]



2011-08-29

At last

This morning, the rain was pouring down.
Having slept far too little, I dazedly looked out the window whilst drinking my coffee and wondering how on Earth I'd be able to get my stuff to the City Library without having it all instantly soaked. The answer was found in a large, black plastic trash bag, which I cut open and wrapped around the case containing most of the exhibition material. Then I left for the Gothenburg morning.

The library does not open till 10:00 on weekdays, but after having phoned a number given to me, a friendly janitor showed up and let me in and the work could thus begin.

After approximately one and a half hours of climbing ladders and ledges, I had finally finished this part of the work. More features are to come, but they'll require my presense so it will be on delay till tomorrow.

Last but not least, I'd like to thank all of those who in one way or another have assisted me concerning this part of the project as well as concerning my other research. May it be for providing me with facts, all kinds of practical assistance or inspiration - it's all equally worth to me.


Vlad Bustorshin
Andre Friesen
Yevgen Goncharenko
Lennart Guldbrandsson
Magnus Hagerman
Marcus Harrison
Nicolas Huck
Lars-Göran Johansson
jsbid
Aleksandr Konevalov
Oleg Petrenko
Arkadiusz Podniesinski
Josef Pollak
Oleksandr Rybak 
Aleksandr Strannik
Vladimir Umnyakov
Anton Usov
Janne Wallenius
Yuri Zaritsky
Johan Åstrand



...Thank you!


The exhibition will be on from today till the 18th of September.

Monday - Friday: 10:00 - 20:00
Saturday: 11:00 - 17:00
Sunday: 11:00 - 17:00



Admittance: Free.

2011-08-28

The day has come...

Making a case for all the stuff to bring...
Well, not quite yet, but close enough. 

This afternoon I returned after a few days out of town to take care of the final preparations and tomorrow morning I will get up at 6 am (that's why I probably shouldn't drink the insane amounts of strong coffee that I'm ingesting as I type this) , be at the City Library at 8:00 and set up things because at 10:00 my exhibition finally opens.

What else can I say about it? You already know that it's been a dear work to me and that it will not end with this. There's more to Chernobyl than I can put on a wall. I will continue with my research until it can take me no further, but something tells me, and I think I've said this before, that I've barely began to scratch the surface.

If you have the chance to visit the exhibition, I wish you a warm welcome.

2011-08-24

Pripyat - A Brief Subjective Perspective of Home

Rannebergen and Pripyat, or the other way around?
I travel a lot. Or at least I try to do it as much as I can, because having spent over 25 years in the same vincinity started to take its toll already several years ago. My family moved to Mölndal, the nearest town south of Gothenburg, when I was five years old and thus I grew up in the surroundings of Gothenburg.

When I left my parents' home to live on my own, I ended up in a concrete block, where I still reside. Being a student at that time, I never found the time to make myself a proper home, but this was a place to study and to sleep. Eventually I came to greatly dislike this place, spare for in summer time, because in the summer, it's truly beautiful here with the forest, lakes and ..swamps. If you bother to walk further into the woods.

I always loved traveling and as soon as I was old enough to go on my own, I did. In the beginning I would return to my home with a sense of excitement and joy from the new impressions, because of that home is sweet home. August 2003 was the last time I sensed that feeling. Nothing happened - time just caught up with me and I realized I didn't like it here and since then I've returned to this city, from every journey, not thinking "home sweet home" but rather "not again..."

My return from Ukraine and the Zone in May this year happened during a rainy night. It was dark and cloudy. The next day, when visiting my mother, I saw the wind tear the trees just like that day in the Jupiter plant. There was no thunder but it was almost the same. Or was it just that my mind hadn't left the Zone? It felt surprisingly nice to be back. A few days later, it struck me why. I was on the bus, approaching my block on the hill, almost covered by trees and growth, and I was made aware of how it all resembled Pripyat. Whilst still in Ukraine, I published this video. One friend gave his feedback: "It looks like Angered" (Rannebergen is in the Angered region) and another one said "I thought it was Mölndal" but not until weeks later I understood what they meant.

What happened to me in the Zone?
Did anything at all happen? If so, I didn't notice it. It felt quite natural for me to be there, especially in Pripyat. There was nothing threatening about these old, decaying buildings; nothing fearsome. On the contrary, it was all very peaceful. In my  travel report I've mentioned how I deliberately avoided sticking to our group. This was because that I wanted to explore and examine the Zone without any cameras clicking around me all the time. I wanted to feel it. And I did. Through each building I went through on my own, images became clearer. But always interrupted. We must move on.

And that's another reason why I must get back there. I haven't seen half of it. And every day that I return to my concrete block on this hill, I'm reminded of it. 






2011-08-23

A Brief Story About Pripyat.


Welcome to Pripyat. The monument on the road to Pripyat still remains.

The town of Pripyat was founded in 1970, to be inhabited by future employees of the nuclear power plant that at the time was under construction about 3 kilometers away.
Pripyat was refered to as an "atomgrad", that is an "atom town" (in the Soviet Union there were nine atomgrad, each of them connected to a nuclear power plant and founded for the purpose to house the workers) and would eventually come to be inhabited by close to 50 000 people from 25 ethnic groups.

In 1977, the first of the ChNPP's four reactors was ready to operate and två years later, Pripyat was officially proclaimed as a city.

Pripyat is commonly and often spoken about as a "young" city, where the average age of the citizens was 26 years. Most of the inhabitants were of course employed at the NPP, but naturally, the town also had an evolved infrastructure with factories, a hospital, schools, police office, fire brigade, culture centers and so on.

May 1st celebrations in Pripyat. From pripyat.com
A solid education was highly valued and in Pripyat there were no less than 15 elementary schools, five secondary schools and one training school. Any higher education than that was not offered, but neither was there any direct need for it, as it was natural for the inhabitants to stay, settle and live their lives in Pripyat rather than look out into the rest of the world. As a matter of fact, it was a question of the opposite; every year approximately 500 people arrived from different parts of the Soviet Union, to become citizens of Pripyat.

Pripyat offered its people a good life. There were all the attractions and comfort that a modern Soviet city could offer, and more. The small city was before its time and thus in many ways manifested the Soviet ideals of happiness through work and ideological connection and fellowship and even today you can see many traces of the old communist Soviet - especially in the school ruins, where Lenin still lives on and the walls are still decorated by sayings and epigraphs like:



"The quality of knowledge today is the high efficient work of tomorrow"

Pripyat was also a city of architectural and cultural innovation. New projects were designed and put to be tested in Pripyat before being adapted to the Soviet standard and many new constructions were on blue prints. A shopping center; an arts gallery; recreational and educational centers for children ("Pioneer's Palace"), and a hotel were all planned to have opened by the end of 1988. 

After the explosion in the 4th reactor, many Pripyat inhabitants gathered on the railway bridge, just outside of the city, to watch what was happening at the nuclear power plant. . They saw beautiful flames in all the colours of the rainbow - it was the graphite burning and the flames reached higher than the pillars of smoke, but what the onlookers didn't kow, was that the radioactive wind that swept right towards them, exposed them to a dose equivalent to 5 Sv (500 Roentgen. Exposure to 750 Roentgen/h, that is 7,5 Sv, is a certainly lethal dose for a human being). They had been told not to worry - all levels of radiation were perfectly normal. 
Of the people standing on the railway bridge (nowadays also known as "death's bridge") that night, no one survived.

The citizens of the city were urged to continued calm; they were again informed that there was absolutely nothing to be alerted about and it took just over 36 hours before Pripyat was finally evacuated. The following is the information that reached the people on Sunday the 27th of April:

"Attention, citizens of Pripyat! The City council informs that due to the accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the radioactive conditions in the vicinity are deteriorating. The Communist Party, its officials and the armed forces are taking necessary action to combat this. But, with intentions to keep people as safe and healthy as possible, prioritizing the children, we need to temporarily evacuate the citizens to the nearest towns of the Kiev region. For these reasons, starting from April 27, 1986 14:00 every apartment block will have a bus at its disposal, supervised by the police and city officials. It is highly advisable that you bring your documents, vital personal belongings and a certain amount of food with you, just in case. The senior executives of the public and industrial facilities of the city have decided on the list of employees who will remain in Pripyat to maintain these facilities in a good working order. All resident buildings will be guarded by police during the evacuation period. Comrades, as you will be leaving your residences temporarily. please make sure you have turned off all lights, electrical equipment and water, and shut the windows. Please keep calm and orderly in the process of this short-term evacuation."

And indeed the evacuation of Pripat was handled  orderly as well as efficiently and  within only a few hours the city was completely emptied, spare from soldiers and the workers and officials that had been oredered to stay. Believing that the evacuation would last for only a few days, people only brought their most necessary belongings, but most of them would never see their homes again. There were those who tried to return, having realized that Pripyat was forever lost, to fetch belongings of affection. Some succeeded, but many more encountered alarm wired buildings and armed military.

Not only Pripyat was evacuated, but at all, about 100 000 people were forced out of their homes, of which approximately half were from nearby villages. Of these villages, many were completely destoryed, but to where the houses remained, some people would choose to return; most of them old people who neither could nor wanted to adapt to a new life at a new, to them strange place, and thus they returned to their old houses and farms.

Resident buildings of Pripyat, May 2011
Today Pripyat is a ghost town. Nature has made its re-entry; roads and streets are almost completely over grown and the windowns of the buildings gape dark and empty and the most of it has been plundered and destroyed by the passing through of outsiders. 

The official frequency of visitors to the Zone is approximated to a couple of thousands per year, but no one knows for sure how many illegal visits are performed every year. 

To gain access to the Exclusion Zone (the 30 km radios around the ChNPP), special permission is needed, but nonetheless many have ignored this and instead found other ways to enter, often motivated by the "adventure", but also to gather "souvenirs" and trophies, and thereby also more likely to cause even greater destruction than the "normal" tourism, which is held under relatively strict control.

Pripyat is decaying naturally, just like any other place created by man that's left unattended, but the destructive tourism is increasing the effect.

"Take nothing but photographies,
leave nothing but footprints."

Since the 20th of June and forth, the Ukrainian government have closed the Zone for all tourism.

2011-08-21

What will come?

On my way to reactor blocks 5 and 6. Last day in Chernobyl, It was one kind of ending.
As I write this, a little almost 26 hours have passed since I completed my work for the exhibition. I'm now ready to set it all up. But realizing I had finished, didn't give me a sense of accomplishment; rather was I sad that it had all finally come to an end, and the feeling stays with me, even more than one week prior to the exhibition. This has come to  make me wonder about the purpose of it all. -Was all this work really for the exhibition or was the exhibition just an excuse to perform this work? Both are true, and at the same time neither is true.

The more I've learnt and come to know about Chernobyl and the many branches that spread from there, the more I realize how much more there is to find out. The exhibition was and is a solid goal and at this point I am questioning myself, because I want to see beyond that, and currently it only feels like things have come to an end. 

As any creating, researching person, I'm used to this and I know that it will pass, but at this point I can only think of that I need to get back to the Zone, and that I need to find out more. And I need to find out, if I don't already know, about the impact that Chernobyl has had on me, as I suspect that it may be larger than I ever imagined. I'm not regretting anything, I'm merely curious.

The other day I met a good friend. We had lunch, and amongst all the subjects of our discussions, I briefly aired my loose thoughts of eventually writing a book about Chernobyl. My friend seemed very interested in this, but as he is an author, he needed to ask me why I want to do it, and what reason people have to care about Chernobyl.  I admit to have been confused by this question, because what reason do people have not to be concerned? 

Maybe I became spoilt. Maybe I received too much encouragement and maybe I didn't meet enough people asking me about why I care about the old disaster. 

I started to answer his question. "Because I need to" wasn't an answer good enough, but before I knew it, I had given more reasons than I was even aware of that I had and in the midst of all that, my friend was suddenly pleased, because in his opinion I had mentioned things, reasons,  that are valid enough for people to care outside my biased sphere. "It's the unknown" was one of those answers given and it's true. I many aspects, Chernobyl was, is and will be a mystery, just as it has its past, present and future. It's come to develop a life of its own and many people who have encountered the Zone, regardless of profession, are bound to agree. They may be nuclear physicists, biologists, zoologists, physicians, artists, writers,  journalists or tourists - no matter what profession or title, we can all agree to one thing: It's largely unknown, and to us it's dangerous, because no one knows what will come.

And thus I don't know what will become of this. I only know that the Chernobyl project continues.






2011-08-20

The death of Vladimir Pravik

Vladimir Pravik.
Lieutenant Vladimir Pavlovich Pravik, born on the 13th of June in 1962, doesn't seem to leave my thoughts. Of all the people who died when trying to save the world from what might have become its perhaps largest disaster ever, the memory of firefighters' captain Pravik, or rather the impression of someone I never met, stays with me. 

This morning, whilst trying to wake up, drinking coffee and working on something completely different, I wanted to try to find something about Pravik that I didn't know. I found more than I thought I ever would.

On April 25th, Vladimir Pravik soon to turn 24 years old,  went to his work at the ChNPP fire station, where the hours were spent with the normal routines of theoretical and practical firefighting education and when the duties of daytime were over, the men played volleyball, watched TV, rested and relaxed. 

At 1:30 am, on the Saturday of the 26th of April, the alarm sounded; something had happened at the nuclear power plant and Pravik and his men headed to fulfill their duty

In the west, we haven't seen reports of such as what I found, but there are official memoirs of a physician at the time working at the Moscow hospital no. 6 (where the first victims were brought), whose name for me is still unknown, and he told about Vladimir Pravik and his comrades:

"Through the microscope, it was impossible to get a proper view of their heart tissue. The cells' nuclei had formed clusters and there were fragments of muscular tissue. This was a direct effect from ionizing radiation rather than a consequense of secondary biological changes. To save these patients is impossible."
Pravik and his collegues were given morphine and other drugs to ease their pain and they went through bone marrow transplantation, but it was all futile. At this time, Vladimir Pravik was showing severe symptoms of  acute radiation syndrome, suffering from difficult gastrointestal problems; pneumonia and leukopenia. He had lost his hair and his skin flaked and after some time, his tongue was so swollen, and his salivary glands had ceased to function, so he could no longer speak.

"Vladimir Pravik lies naked on an iclined bed, under the metal frame of lamps. The entire surface of his body is burnt by radiation and fire and it's hard to tell what is caused by the fire and what is caused by radiation. It all comes together. There are enourmous internal and external swellings: Swollen lips, mouth, tongue, esophagus... 

This is nuclear pain - atrocious, unbearable and ruthless, bringing shock and unconsciousness. The whole body of this firefighting hero is overflowed by nuclear pain. Then shot through with morphine and other drugs to ease the pain. Pravik and his comrades have gone through intravenous bone marrov transplantation, and we've injected liver extract to try to stimulate haematopoiesis. But... Death is not retreating.  

Vladimir Pravik stoically endured the pain. This Slavic hero would have survived and death would have lost, if hadn't his skin been killed in its full depth...
And it seems as if in this state, his thoughts were not with worldy pleasures or in grief but with his comrades. While he still could speak, Vladimir Pravik tried to learn from nurses and doctors about the state of his friends. How were they? They were alive, right? He wanted them to fight, and with his courage, to help them.  

The radiation came to affect his salivary glands; his mouth went dry like a desert and thus Pravik was unable to speak any more. He could only stare with those expressive eyes, blinking bare eyelids, refusing to submit to death. Then his internal resistance forces began to weaken and gradually dry up. Pravik began to die. The loss of flesh from his eyes. He began to melt. Dry. Fade. This mummified skin and irradiated tissue. For each hour, for each day, this human being ceased - ceased, ceased, ceased! Damn this nuclear age! It's not even possible to die in a human way. Deceased - blackened, withered mummy..." 
Vladimir Pavlovich Pravik died just a few days before his 24th birthday. His remains rest in a sealed zinc coffin in the Mitinskoe cemetary in Moscow. He posthoumously received the medals of the Order of Lenin and hero of the Soviet Union and today his name is mentioned in and featured on several memorials. Vladimir Pravik prefered to live









2011-08-17

Bad Facts

Knowledge is power. -Especially in the sense that it prevents you from being fooled by errors and mistakes made by others. However, knowledge is not always the essential, say rather that an even more important key lies within critical  thinking which have learnt you not to trust everything you see or hear. With this quality added, you're not as likely to be deceived as without it.

Starting about 2 years ago, I periodically engage in searching for literature and documentaries concerning Chernobyl and by now I can say that I've seen a large amount of documentaries and docudramas. What ties these together, is following a common story - the same story that we all now know was what happened at the Chernobyl NPP and what became the consequenses. I have been surprised to find most of these documentaries almost perfectly neutral, as a director would have all the chances in the world to hand out backbites in such a subject, but most of them have chosen a direct approach to tell the story "as it is". 

For some reason the American documentaries are different. I'm not going to speculate in why, but one example is the documentary "Chernobyl: Nuclear Meltdown" where the narrator seems more interested in criticising the Soviet Union than telling about the disaster and circumstances around it. This was for me no big business; having shaked it off as a typical example of bad, sensationalist journalism, I was more shocked to find that even National Geographic had failed to make a proper documentary. 

This film by NE, an episode of their documentary series "Seconds from Disaster" was produced and aired in August 2004 and is angled to such a degree that you, watching it, will doubtlessly start to wonder whether they just want to point out a scape goat, in this case Leonid Toptunov [Toptunov was a young engineer and the operator responsible for amongst other things, the movement of the control rods of reactor 4 on the night of the accident] who is pictured as an ignorant commander of the safety tests run in the 4th reactor block that night, and his superiors, Aleksandr Akimov and Anatoliy Dyatlov - two important persons on location as well as in the aftermaths, aren't even mentioned. 

For a long time, Akimov and Toptunov (who both died from irradiation three weeks after the accident) were the popular men to blame the disaster on, and the later imprisoned Dyatlov (being found guilty for criminal mismanagement of potentially explosive enterprises) even more so, but you cannot interview dead men, so instead National Geographic chose to enhance the role of Boris Stolyarchuk, the senior control engineer of reactor 4 that night, who is still alive. (Also Stolyarchuk was accused for being responsible for the accident, but was later freed from all charges). We can here clearly see an example of  changing the angle of a story due to convenience. The parts of the operating personnel of the 4th reactor on April 26th, 1986 have simply been altered. 

The above is probably the largest error of this documentary, but there are many more. For example, NE promise to "reveal" how the Soviet nuclear power plant and its reactors functioned, but that doesn't happen. They might as well be describing the basics of how any nuclear reactor works.
Also, according to NE, a Pyotr Khmel was a firefighter chief, but really - his name was Grigory Khmel and he was one of the fire engine drivers. It's highly annoying to see how NE obviously have spent a greater effort on digital effects and heavy metal guitars than bothered to check up sources of proper information, even for such a small detail. Had it only been this, they may have been able to get away with it all, but there is simply too much negligence and carelessness involved in this film to make it acceptable, and the following quoting of the narrator is really pushing it all over the edge of the roof and into the reactor core along with the graphite:

"After 10 days the toxic cloud has reached the United States and Asia, and there's a threat to other countries as well."
It is true that the US, nine days after the Chernobyl disaster measured radioactive particles in the atmosphere, but the amount was so small that it hardly opposed a threat to anyone. In spite of normally trying to write in a sensible and objective way, I must make an exception this time as I can't refrain from commenting on how utterly stupid this is. As this documentary is 45 hastily produced minutes of too much faulty information, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, but if you're curious and still want to watch it, you may find it here: 









2011-08-16

1986: Descending

Under the 4th reactor, in the so called bubbler pool (a reservoir for the emergency cooling pumps), and in the basement underneath it, a large amount of water had accumulated; according to some sources, it was a matter of  approximately  20 000 metric tons of water, but as I cannot verify these sources I ask you not to pay too much attention to this number.

The water had assembled in the concrete room under the 4th reactor as a result of assumedly ruptured water pipes and definitely the first attempts to put out the fire in the reactor core, and the active fuel had already reached partly through the concrete floor when it came to attention that if it would reach the water, there would be a great risk of a thermal explosion that would make all of the nothern Ukraine and most of Belarus uninhabitable for a long time to come. Naturally then, the water would have to be removed.

A common mistake is obviously to assume that firefighters performed this drainage but perhaps that common mistake is understandable, as the facts and information concerning this matter are quite vague. In any case, the water had to be drained manually, by opening the floodgates at the bottom of the room. This meant that divers had to descend into the now highly radioactive water. The official story tells that three men volunteered, but what's for certain is that their names were Aleksey Ananenko, Valery Bespalov and Boris Baranov.

Ananenko was an engineer who had helped in the design of the floodgates, why he had to lead the way. Bespalov was a colleague, also employed at the ChNPP and Baranov, who never descended, was a soldier of the Red Army, whose function was to light their underwater way. However, Baranov's lamp failed and thus Ananenko and Bespalov were forced to find their way by feeling and following a main pipe.

To the lost workers of Chernobyl
Eventually they found the floodgates and managed to release the water and afterwards, the basement underneath could be drained by using fire brigade pumps.

Having been exposed to lethal doses of radiation 15 Sv (15 000 Roentgen), the three men involved in the bubbler pool operation, all suffered of acute radiation syndrome. Aleksey Ananenko and Valery Bespalov died shortly after. There are no known reports concerning Boris Baranov - we can only assumed that also he's no longer alive. 

The heroes of Chernobyl are many and the majority of them will never get a mentioning, but nonetheless they all helped to save the world.

2011-08-11

The time draws near

Still 2,5 weeks remain till the opening of my Chernobyl exhibition, but already now I estimate the state to be critical as there's still artwork to accomplish, and as I currently have another official tasks as well, the time is limited.


Today, however, I reached something of a breakthrough, finally getting all the printed matters done, so as soon as I've finished setting the layout of it all, I'll be able to proceed with the artwork. On the picture you can see some elements  that will be featured, in a big mess. At this point, my apartment is a construction site in so many ways. 


Wish me luck, comrades!



2011-08-10

Breaking the news in Sweden - page 6

Here's page 6 refered to in the previous post. As I'm translating it, I notice that they've made some proof reading errors, but I will not correct them here's almost exactly what it reads. Also I find it quote interesting that the sources give different information and no one has corrected them, but questioning Swedish old media will be another issue, some other time. 


Finally I would like to point out the tone of this article and how the insecurity, suspicion and lack of knowledge concerning Soviet and their doings very much reflect the atmophere of that time, that had only just begun closing in to the end of the Cold War

Big nuclear accident in Soviet

By Harald Hamrin,
DN-correspondent

Moscow: The Soviet Union did on the Monday evening officially admit that there's been an accident at a nuclear power plant in Ukraine. No information was however released concerning the time of the accident or concerning the exact extent. 

A message from the official news agency TASS however indirectly reveals that there has been damage to humans related to the accident.  A government commission has been appointed to investigate the cause of the incident, which is the first of its kind that the Soviet Union admits to. 

- There has been an accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, TASS announced with their first short press release, about nine o' clock on the Monday evening, local time. One of the reactors has been damaged.

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant lies 150 kilometers north of Ukraine's capital Kiev.

According to TASS press releases, actions have been taken to eliminate the consequences of the accident.

- Aid will be given to the affected, announced the news agency, that thereby indirectly confessed that the accident has craved victims to some extent.  At the same time TASS announced that a government commission has been appointed, obviously to investigate the cause of the accident.


Patterns

According to experts of the west, at least one serious nuclear accident has happened in Soviet. It concerns a plant near the town of Kystym in the Urals where radioactive leakage appear to have occurred related to an accident in the late 1960's. This has however never been admitted by Soviet officials, and even during the Monday evening, TASS firmly claimed that such accidents did never happen in Soviet.

On the other hand, the official new agency gave a detailed  report concerning nuclear accidents in other countries. Only during 1979, no less than 2300 nuclear accidents happened in the U.S, according to the TASS press release, quoting the American organization "Critical Mass":

- "The prime reasons of the dangerous situation is the bad quality of the reactors and of other types of equipment, as well as insufficient  control of the technical state of the equipment, negligence of the personnel in matters of safety, and insufficient professional training" writes TASS.


No information 

The news agency especially recalls the Harrisburg accident in 1979, and another in Zion, Illinois when 40 000 litres of radioactive water leaked out. 

Nowehere was there to be found, in any of the two messages that TASS sent out on Monday evening, even a hint of when the Chernobyl accident happened. Lacking of official Soviet information concerning this, only thorough and time demanding meteorological studies of wind direction and wind speed, during the coming days, will be able to determine when the accident happened.

In Moscow, experts from the west however tell DN that approximately 24-72 hours should be counted backwards from the time when of the first increased readings of radioactivity were measured in Sweden.

This should mean that the time of the accident was some time between Friday morning and Sunday morning. 


Light Water Damage

The reactor now topical concerning the Chernobyl accident, is a kind of graphite moderated light water reactor. It has an effect on 1000 megaWatt. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant started operate in 1977 and today they have at least four reactors of the same kind operating. A fifth reactor may recently have been brought into operation and yet another reactor is under construction. At all, the Chernobyl NPP will thus be fully equipped with six reactors, with a total output of 6000 megaWatt. 

The Chernobyl reactor is one of the two reactor types that are currently at disposal of the Soviet Union. About 15 graphite moderated light water reactors are estimated to be currently operating in the Soviet Union. The most powerful of these, with an effect on 1500 megaWatt, is situated in Latvia's capital Vilnius. Added to these, are about the same amount of pressurized water reactors.


30 Reactors

The at all approximately 30 reactors currently at Soviet disposal  are gathered in barely twnty nuclear power plants. The major amount of these are situated in the European parts of Soviet, where the power necessities are high  and conventional energy sources are already almost completely emptied. 

Large nuclear power plants, except the already mentioned, are situated in Leningrad on the Kola peninsula, outside Kursk in the southwest of Russia, outside Zaporozye in Ukraine and near Minsk in Belarus.

However, in Siberia, there are new efforts made concerning water power. At the Communist Party's 27th congress of February and March this year, decisions were made concerning further expansion of the Soviet nuclear industry. Amongst other things, it was decided to make further investions in the now unfortunate 1000 megaWatt graphite moderated light water reactors, as the Soviet standard rector. 


Atomic cloud over Sweden

By Micke Jaresand and Bo Westmar

Soviet has faced their Harrisburg, although worse. Most likely, a nuclear meltdown has occured at the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, north of Kiev, the capital of the Soviet republic of Ukraine. A radioactive cloud, caused by the accident, made the levels of radiation increase in large parts of Scandinavia.

The accident was confirmed by news agency TASS on the Monday evening. It's the first time the Soviet goverment admits a nuclear accident to have occurred. 

The calculations of wind directions that SMHI [Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute] have made, indicates that the accident occurred early during the Saturday.

-The core is heavily damaged. The particles we've found, show that they were exposed to very high temperatures, that can only be reached at nuclear meltdowns, an initiated source tells DN. 

Amongst other elements, they've discovered niobium, lanthanum and neptunium in the fallout.


Leaks  

Differently from the reactor breakdown in Harrisburg, in the U.S, large amounts of radioactivity have leaked from the reactor in Chernobyl. The reason is that the Soviet reactors are lacking of the solid "shell" that for example Swedish reactors are equipped with. 

- The Swedish reactors are constructed for an over pressure equivalent to five Earth atmospheres. These Soviet reactors can barely take any over pressure at all. 

In Chernobyl, in northern Ukraine, there are now three, maybe four, operating reactors, each having an effect on 1000 megaWatt, each of these bigger than the Swedish reactors. 

In the Soviet reactors, the fuel rods are lowered into graphite and cooled by steam under high pressure. The Swedish are water cooled. 

- What can be suspected, is that the cooling channel with fulel rods doesn't work, and that the fuel rods have molten, and thereby maybe also the graphite, a reactor expert tells Dagens Nyheter.

A similar accident happened during the 1950's with a graphite moderated reactor in Windscale, England.

In Soviet, there are similar reactors, also in Leningrad there are four and in Ignalina, Liuthania, there are two operating and two more planned. 

It was early on the Monday morning when the first signs of increased radiation levels were discovered in Sweden. Workers that were passing through the routine controls at inter alia the nuclear power plants of Forsmark and Studsvik, had radioactive particles on their clothes. 

At Forsmark, was first feared a leakage within their own facility, but measurings made contradicted this.


Radioactivity

In Studsvik, thoroughly measuring the radiation, increased levels were measured even on cars' tyres as well as on several employees.  The measuring showed results twice as high as the normal background radiation.

Also at the nuclear power plant of Barsebäck, raised levels of radiation were measured, about 4-5 times the normal readings. 

Measuring the inner city of Stockholm, showed twice the normal readings .

In Helsinki the readings were even higher. Already on the Sunday evening, levels up to six times as high as the normal state were measured.

According to the first measurings, Gotland was the most affected area in Sweden, but on Monday morning, Fårösund was controlled and it showed that readings were not higher than in the rest of eastern Sweden.


Wind   

During the latest days, a steady wind has blown over the country, coming from the south-east,  and already early on the Monday, you could assume that the radioactive fallout come from Soviet. 

- It's not the first time radioactive fallout from Soviet is discovered. The same thing happened three years ago, and also last year. This time, however, it's about significantly higher readings. 

The levels of radioation are higher than those measured during the bomb tests of the 1960's and are similar to the levels of those after the bomb tests in China during the 1970's.

Gunnar Bengtsson at the RPI wants to downplay the risks of the fallout that Sweden is exposed to:

- The radiation isn't even reaching the highest levels [approved at the Swedish nuclear power plants]. People who live in Radon houses are exposed to far more radiation than the levels measured today. 

Late on the Monday evening, the RPI still registered a slow increase of radioactivity in the air and ground. This indicates, they still have a leakage from the damaged reactor in Ukraine.

Evironment and energy minister Birgitta Dahl is pleased about how the Swedish safety organization worked after the alarms of increased radiation levels. 

- Primarily it was about protecting people in Sweden. That's why it was necessary to make sure that the emissions didn't come from a Swedish nuclear power plant, says Birgitta Dahl. 

Birgitta Dahl turned to Hans Blix, the chairman of IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency and asked him to ask ambassadors from other countries concerning the fallout. At the same time, the Swedish embassy [in Moscow] sent out the same question [to the Soviet government].

When Moscow confirmed, the [Swedish] embassy had already other questions to follow: 

- We will require detailed information about what has happened.  It's important to get to know the extent of the accident, and whether there's a risk of further emissions, or if it's all over, says Birgitta Dahl. 

The enivronment and energy minister will also repeat a several years old demand that all civilian Soviet nuclear power plants should be put under international surveilance.


The food can be contaminated

Av Roland Gyllander

Of the elements that may be spread throughout our atmosphere and rain down on our environment after nuclear explosions and accidents at nuclear power plants, caesium, iodine and strontium, are the most important.

Through grazing animals, these [elements] may easily contaminate meat and diary products and through our daily intake be stored in the human body, 

Caesium-137 is well know in this coherence, as this element could be traces all over Earth after American hydrogen bomb tests in the 1950's. 

In 1963, shortly before the test ban treaty, very powerful loads were detonated and the consequense was that the , increasedlevels of caesium-137 in Swedish diary milk two years later increased to the highest levels ever measured - a half of a billion parts Curie (1 curie = 3.7 x 1010 bq). 

The elements now found in Swedish measuring facilities -  iodine, caesium, strontium, ruthenium and molybden -  indicate emissions from a nuclear power plant. 

In Stockholm 1 Bq (bequerel) of iodine [131] was measured per m³ air, which means one decaying iodine atom per second and it's approximately 1% of the levels of 1965. 

The emission levels are currently from a health aspect non significant compared to the ionizing background radiation we are constantly exposed to, partly from kaluim-40, emitted from our own bodies, partly from the cosmic radiation from the sky, and partly from radioactive elements from the bedrock or buildings. 

Radiation damages living cells partly because of that the radiation dicrectly affect the cell functions, partly due to that natural body elements are transformed into poisonous substances. 

The degradation mechanisms may be very complicated, and it's often pointless to try to classify one radioactive isotope as more dangerous as another. 

Plutonium is mostly harmelss at skin contact but deadly to inhale. Some isotopes of iodine have a half life of a few hours but are still concidered as very dangerous as they affect the thyroid glands.


Criticism towards preparedness

*Lacking information
*Insufficient evacuation organization
*Only one geiger counter for measuring radioactivity

The criticism concerning the evacuation from the 600 Forsmark NPP workers, grew as the line grew longer and longer outside the  Norrskedika sports ground, a few kilometers south of Forsmark.
A few minutes past 11:00, speakers asked the employees, consultants and temporary visitors to leave Forsmark and go to Norrskedika. Only the group who are responsible for reactor operations during incidents and breakdowns will remain.


The announcement, lasting for half a minute, promised more information at Norrskedike. Further, that measuring of potential radioactivity would be performend, but the problems began already during evacuation. The road block set up to prevent traffic to Forsmark, also blocked cars from leaving the nuclear power plant.
- We had to wait for at least half an hour by the road block, says Inga Tellander, a temporary visitor from Stockholm.




The radio


When those who were at the nuclear power plant eventually arrived at the assembly point, they received no information whatsoever concerning what had happened. Some in line had radios and could follow the broadcasts from Radio Uppland.


Inside a room at the sports grounds, the workers' outer garments were measured, but no garmets showed any radioactive readings. On the other hand their shoes, measured by smaller geiger counters, did. In those cases the geiger counters reacted, the shoes were decontaminated with water and alcohol.


But because there was only one measuring station set up, it took a long time to perform the control. At least half of all the shoes measured, showed radioactive readings.
- At least twice as high as the normal radiation. It's obvious that the  radiation comes from a reactor of some kind, told Ero Mattilainen, responsible for the measuring and decontamination in Norrskedika.




Irritation


While their shoes were decontaminated, no one was allowed to leave the building. Everyone also had to leave their names and phone numbers in order to be available for contact during the coming 48 hours. But the irritability increased, there was no information explaining why no one could exit the premises.


In Uppsala, the county administration gained knowledge regarding the abnormally high radioactivity, a quarter past eleven. Managed by governor Ingemar Mundsbo, a preparedness organization began to operate. But the preparedness group rather fast notet, that there was not much they could do: The radioactive emissions did not come from Forsmark. At half past three, operation manager Karl-Erik Sandstedt, announced that the operations [at the NPP] would proceed without any restrictions and with full staff. 


The county administration opened up ten telephone lines to be able to keep worried people informed, but only very few calls were received and the population around Forsmark thus took it easy regarding the radioactivity alert.


Left, is however the criticism concerning deficiency of information and organization. And the question: What would have happened if the emissions were caused by a serious failing of one of Forsmark's reactors?