MovieChat Forums > Chernobyl Discussion > Forbes nails it for rampant inaccuracies...

Nice article.

Yeah I thought the whole acting-like-radiation-poisoning-was-contagious meme to be the most ridiculous angle of the sensationalism.

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Yes, if they are going to bother to make a movie where they really do not have a lot of true information about what happened they could at least pepper it with the truth about what really happened. What happened in the reactor, why it burned. Why it had no containment vessel, what radiation really does and how it works. What I saw was awful so I did not finish the first episode ... BUT, not only was it awful, but it was boring.

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If you want to skip the sensationalist dreck to the true information you could just watch the fifth/final episode. The star Russian scientist Legasov played by a too British Jared Harris provides a technically accurate breakdown of exactly what happened and who was responsible while testifying for the prosecution at a Soviet show trial of the plant operators.

The trial presentation giving the how and why of the meltdown was factual even if the theatrics of the hero deciding to conscientiously come clean by also impugning the Soviet government's culpability in the flawed design of the RBMK reactors was pure Hollywood and really over the top.

In reality such an act of heroism at a secret Soviet trial in a Stalinist state with no free press to get the word out would have been pointless and silly. The real Legasov did no such thing. But the crises of conscience that moved him to commit suicide one day before he was scheduled to announce his state censored Orwellianized findings was accurately depicted and did end up serving as a catalyst that forced Soviet authorities to accept responsibility and repair the flaws in their other reactors.

It was also true that the plant operators on trial did bear responsibility for the meltdown. They deliberately overrode many of the numerous built in safety features designed to shut down the core in order to complete a test inspection while keeping most of their staff in the dark about what they were doing. But they definitely didn't bear sole responsibility as the Soviet state desperately wanted to tar them so as to avoid global humiliation from exposure of their own incompetence.

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I am skeptical about everything I hear about this, but it is not the plant that malfunctioned according to my understanding. They tries to start up the reactor too fast, and Chernobyl was a design that had no pressurized containment structure to protect against runaway temperature. My understanding is that it was the operators; faults for not following procedure. The design of those reactors was not good, but other reactors of this design operatored for a long time after Chernobyl without blowing up.

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And thats exactly whats explained in the series.

It was a combination of human error and the graphite tips at the end of the boron moderation rods that caused the explosion.

So maybe you should watch it again to understand it.

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Maybe you should, or take a physics or engineering class.

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Awful and boring? Wow okay then

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i haven't watched chernobyl yet, so i have to reserve judgement on it.
but every time there's a representation of nuclear power in pop culture or in the news, there inevitably will be a chorus ululating over how terribly dangerous it is, that use of it is tempting fate, it will be a disaster.

to which i always say: look at the facts.
the facts are that nuclear power is by far the safest & most reliable power source available to us.
if you take climate change seriously (you should, & i do personally) then you should be doing everything you can to encourage govt & industry to adopt nuclear power wherever it's feasible.

https://ourworldindata.org/what-is-the-safest-form-of-energy

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Nuclear energy is safe and reliable but the problem is human's and their capacity to make stupid mistakes. Chernobyl should have never happened, but it did. Fukishima should have never happened but wow, it was just 8 years ago wasn't it? But I do see your point, nuclear power can be safe if done correctly and maybe we can get fusion power plants online by the turn of the century.
However, I'm not so sure climate change is really as severe as the media and climate scientists make it out to be. I've done my own research and it looks to be about 1/10th as bad as NOAA and NASA make it out to be, they've altered/faked their data(and been caught doing so) so much it's not even funny. Look at the Maldive Islands, should have been underwater by now but not even a 1/10th of an inch rise.

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let's leave climate change aside. even if you just look at the level of pollution and deaths that come from the oil & coal industry, you'll see that the deaths from those energy sources far outstrip nuclear, & that includes the stats from chernobyl & fukushima.

and a point that really ought to be driven home about fukushima: it was a very bad incident, & undeniably a disaster, but did you know that the death count from radiation released is zero. not a single person died from radiation. it's possible that there may be an increase in cancer due to the incident, but even that isn't certain that will be the case, because the japanese did what the soviets failed to do - get iodine to people. if the soviets had stopped the people in the rural areas from drinking milk from cows & done their diligence at getting iodine to the population, the estimated 5k cases of thyroid cancer would have been prevented.

and another point that really needs to get emphasized is that coal, the most dangerous energy source by far, actually emits much, much more radiation into the environment than nuclear power. it contains both uranium & thorium, and those go out into the air as ash when coal is used as a power source.

i don't mean to prattle on. i certainly agree that humans are indeed capable of making very stupid mistakes. but i think the stupidest mistake would be to let our irrational fear of nuclear power prevent us from adopting the safest, most reliable power source available to us.

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I do agree we should use more nuclear power, and some countries will adapt, I think China is building several of them now. However, nuclear power in the U.S. and other countries just don't seem politically viable. What is the solution to an ever growing need for power? The scary thought is there just may not be one. After all, this discussion has been going on for decades and decades and we're still using the same system. I don't even want to discuss wind or solar, it's simply a joke.
What's funny is every single politician says the same thing, they're going implement their energy policy to bring us affordable, clean energy etc. Every time I hear this I just think in the back of my head "this is the same exact thing I heard in 1978 lol".
I kind of shudder to think what's like going to be like in 2050.

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Safest how tho? Read that article carefully.

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i'm not sure i understand your point.
it's the safest in that it is by far the least dangerous in terms of deaths caused & impact on health & the environment.

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Potentially disastrous though obviously

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well, even the biggest disaster in chernobyl doesn't compare to the death count with coal.
you would have to have a dozen accidents as bad as chernobyl (impossible) each year to match the approximately 800,000 people who die every year from coal mining & pollution related deaths.
and that's just coal.

there have been nuclear power plants in operation for over 60 years. the number of deaths & illnesses associated with them is vanishingly small. it has the best safety record of any power source, & the fear of the possibility of a bad accident far outstrips the reality.

800k people die from coal every year.
no one died from radiation from fukushima.

the only reason people died from fukushima was because authorities panicked & evacuated the area.
the current estimate is that there may be 400 additional cancer related deaths due to higher radiation levels.
400
vs 800000.
https://ourworldindata.org/what-was-the-death-toll-from-chernobyl-and-fukushima

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Unfortunately the article itself allows no comments, so i will post mine here.
It seems the author M. Shellenberger is on the payroll of the nuclear energy industry. He critizes the series for creating unneccesary fear of nuclear power. He cites a lot things the series allegedly did not show correctly or wrongly exxagerates the danger of nuclear energy.
I will name a few claims of his that are simply wrong and itself blatant desinformation.
To state that the Chernobyl accident and the subsequent radiation poisoning did not do any harm to newborn children is a despicable lie. One simple Google search like "Chernobyl birth defects" or "chernobyl ration children" will display hundreds (!!!) of results with articles and photos of deformed babys with having underdeveloped limbs or disfigured
skulls and body parts. Their mothers were pregnant with these children while being in the chernobyl area during or after the accident and were exposed to dangerous level of radiation.

The baby girl of Vasily and Ludmilla Ignatenko did indeed die shortly after the birth as a result of the radiation poisoning. Whether that is a result of Ludmilla visiting her husband and ignoring safety precaution or she and the baby had already recieved too much radiation in the time between the accident and the evacuation of pripyat is insignificant - she lost her child due to being overly exposed to nuclear radiation.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deaths_due_to_the_Chernobyl_disaster (search for "ignatenko")
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/09/chance-show-truth-into-heart-of-chernobyl-nuclear-disaster (2nd Paragraph)

-to be continued -

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On the contagiousness of radiated people: There's a debate whether contaminated people can contaminate other people.
The information on this topic is controversial. The general idea is, if you are decontaminated quickly enough, the radiation cannot go deep enough inside your body, it remains on the upper layers of your skin, where it can be washed of. If this procedure is also applicable if you are exposed to high radiation levels, is unclear.
These questions arise:
- Why were the bodys of the highly contaminated victims (first responders, fire fighters, plant personell) buried in special zinc coffin and entombed in a block of cement, if their mortal remains do not radiate?
https://www.businessinsider.de/chernobyl-hbo-whats-true-myths-2019-5?op=1 (section ignatenko)
https://medium.com/war-is-boring/all-the-men-and-women-who-marched-to-their-deaths-at-chernobyl-ef98b5c10df ("They were buried in welded zinc coffins to prevent their corpses from contaminating the surrounding soil.")

- There are numerous videos on Youtube, where people went into the basement of the pripyat hospital and took radiation measurements of the firefighters' clothing (which is still piled up on the floor und left untouched since 1986). Their measurements reveal dangerous levels of radiation from the contaminated clothing. So, if contaminated clothing can still radiate after over 30 years, why should contaminated humans do not?

- the plant worker Nikolai Gorbachenko carried his heavily contaminated colleague Vladimir Shashenok through a long corridor (which is shown in the series). By doing so, the plant worker had a severe radiation burn on his back where the hand of his colleague rested.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Individual_involvement_in_the_Chernobyl_disaster (section Shashenok)
https://medium.com/war-is-boring/all-the-men-and-women-who-marched-to-their-deaths-at-chernobyl-ef98b5c10df (section about shashenok)

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The suffering of all these people cannot simply being wiped away by claiming "there's no scientific evidence" while the evidence is staring in your face. This is the generaltopics of the entire series - ignoring the obvious truth, because it doesnt fit your agenda and by doing so endangering other people. This is contemptous. This is the "cost of lies":
the suffering, the sacrifice and - in many cases - the death of innocent human beings.

There are still details about the Chernobyl catastrophe, which were not mentioned or dramatised in the series:
- A few days after its detection, Hans Blix, the director general of the IAEA came to Chernobyl to inspect the accident site. His appearance is completely left out of the story.
- When AZ-5 could not fully re-insert the control rods, Legasov describes the state of the reactor as a "nuclear bomb". This is scientifically not correct. A nuclear reactor cannot explode in the same way a nuclear bomb does, because the fission reaction inside the fuel rods cannot accumulate a "critical mass", which is necessary for an uncontrolled fission chain reaction resulting in maximal thermal energy release.
- Since the lack of definitive proof about the events leading up to the catastrophe and a lack of knowledge about details of RMBK-Reactors, there are a lot of narratives out there concerning the "Graphite tips" of the control rods. Due to ruptures in the control rod channels, the rods could not be reinserted fully by pressing AZ-5. They were blocked halfway in and stayed in a position, in which the boron part could not yet inhibit the reactivity, but their graphite part accelerated the reaction leading to prompt supercriticality. The graphite portion of the control rods are indeed part of the design and must have been known to the plant workers. Whether this may have lead to problems in the past and if so, whether these problems has been concealed by the KGB as being a state secret is also not fully revealed yet.

- to be continued -

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One small detail. In English the term 'bomb' has quite a literal meanings, but there's languages where it can be used as a metaphor of something important or huge. There's a similar case in English in the expression 'time bomb'. Lisenov was speaking in Russian, and it's possible that the sentence doesn't refer to a literal bomb. Only a Russian-speaker can say.

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- "...Until the entire continent is dead" - one suggestion to deal with the problem was to let the reactor burn out, which would have taken 3 months.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptIWmCloxyg (23:18 - in german)
If nothing would have been done to confine the radiation, in these three months the gigantic amount of emitted radioactivity would have spread over the european continent, contaminating and killing everyone and everything

Mister Shellenberger, with all due respect, but you should be ashamed for mocking the pain and suffering and death of probably thousands of people.
I hope you got a good payout for writing this article.

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