24 November 2006


This film shows the distribution of Cesium 137 bearing clouds over Europe in the days after of the Chernobyl disaster. I was living in the states at the time, in the senior year at high school. I had class mates who had relatives in Ukraine. This being the bad old days before the perestroika, fall of the soviet communist regime and the breakup of the soviet union so their families were desperately trying to contact their relatives only to find when they finally got through that their families that they didn't know anything about the explosion.

One of the subjects I was doing at high school was physics, the teacher immediately changed tack so that we could study the causes of the explosion and rigged up the school's Geiger counter so that it was measuring the radiation of the air. Of course being so far away there was no perceptible change over the time that he monitored it. It was quite a scary time mostly because of the lack of information coming out of the Soviet Union, not knowing what was true and what wasn't or whether there were more reactors ready to go off like this.

Nuclear power is back in news as it is being touted as the only way to provide all our power requirements if we are to reduce carbon emissions. But it is so expensive, has a huge footprint in terms of time and when it goes wrong it contaminates land for centuries. Maybe the electric windmills and other renewable sources can't replace oil, gas and coal yet so we do need to have a nuclear power station building programme but we will need to be so so cautious in order to avoid future 3 Mile Islands, Windscales and Chernobyls.

No comments: