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,

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?

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