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Monday, June 14, 2021

Taishan Nuclear Plant Leaking Radiation

A Chinese nuclear power station is leaking radioactive gas and could become a major disaster, according to secret US intelligence reports.

Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, located in southern Guangdong province, is thought to have been leaking for at least two weeks after a French firm that co-owns the facility flagged the issue to Washington.

American agents have spent the last week monitoring the situation and have concluded it has the potential turn into a major disaster but that facility is not currently at 'crisis level'.  

That is in stark contrast to the message being put out by the power plant's Chinese state owners, who insisted in a report published Sunday that everything is 'normal'. 

Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, in southern China, has been leaking radioactive gas for two weeks and is at risk of becoming a disaster, US intelligence agencies have privately warned.Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, in southern China, has been leaking radioactive gas for two weeks and is at risk of becoming a disaster, US intelligence agencies have privately warned

Problems at the power plant first came to light in late May when French firm Framatome reached out to US intelligence agencies to alert them of it, according to documents sent to the Department of Energy and seen by CNN.

A follow-up memo sent on June 3 identified the issue as a 'fission gas leak' and asked for the DoE to share intelligence that might help solve the issue.

Fission gas is a radioactive biproduct of nuclear fission, where heavy atoms are split into lighter ones - a process which releases energy but also creates the waste gas.

Framatome apparently got no response and so sent another memo on June 8 asking for their message to be urgently reviewed.

U.S. assessing ‘leak’ at Chinese nuclear plant

In that note, they described the problem as 'an imminent radiological threat to the site' and warned that Chinese regulators had increased the 'safe' levels of radioactivity allowed around the plant.

Increasing the 'safe' limit means China has been able to keep the plant running instead of shutting it down to resolve the issue.

Framatome claimed China more-than doubled the limit, and that the new limit exceeds the current safety standards in France.

The French firm which co-owns the plant (file image) warned US officials of the threat two weeks ago while asking for help to fix itThe French firm which co-owns the plant (file image) warned US officials of the threat two weeks ago while asking for help to fix it

The June 8 memo was picked up by the US State Department, setting off a flurry of activity over the last week that included meetings of senior figures on the National Security Council to assess the threat.

They concluded that while the plant could turn into a major disaster, they believe it is not in immediate danger of becoming one and it is more likely the issue will be resolved without seriously endangering the public.

It is not clear from CNN's report whether the intelligence agencies shared the information that Framatome were seeking.

The French firm openly acknowledged the problem on Monday, saying they are working to fix a 'performance issue' at the site.

Meanwhile French energy giant EDF also put out a statement on Monday, saying there has been an increase in noble gases detected in the plant's cooling system.

Noble gases are one of the biproducts of nuclear fission, and their presence in the cooling system may indicate a leak in the reactor.

EDF insisted the presence of noble gases in the cooling system 'is a known phenomenon, studied and provided for in the reactor operating procedures.'

The operator of the power station, state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group, said in a statement on Sunday evening that 'the environmental indicators of Taishan Nuclear Power Plant and its surroundings are normal'.

The French firm which co-owns the plant (file image) warned US officials of the threat two weeks ago while asking for help to fix itThe Chinese state-run firm which owns the nuclear facility insisted in a report published on Sunday that everything is 'normal'

Powered up in 2018, the Taishan plant was the first worldwide to operate a next-generation EPR nuclear reactor, a pressurised water design that has been subject to years of delays in similar European projects in Britain, France and Finland.

EPR reactors have been touted as promising advances in safety and efficiency over conventional reactors while producing less waste.

The plant's state owners said one of the two reactors on site then completed an 'overhaul' and 'successfully connected to the grid on June 10, 2021.'

It did not say why the reactor was overhauled or what exactly had been done to it.

Nuclear plants supplied less than five percent of China's annual electricity needs in 2019, according to the National Energy Administration, but this share is expected to grow as Beijing attempts to become carbon neutral by 2060.

China has 47 nuclear plants with a total generation capacity of 48.75 million kilowatts -- the world's third highest after the United States and France -- and has invested billions of dollars to develop its nuclear energy sector.

Last month Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping hailed close ties between their countries as they launched work on Russian-built nuclear power plants in China.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Fukushima To Dump Contaminated Water Into Pacific Ocean

Tsunami-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that the time is ripe to decide the fate of the treated radioactive water stored at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant, despite strong opposition from fishermen over its release into the sea.

In a meeting between Suga and Hiroshi Kishi, president of the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations, the fisheries association chief reiterated concerns over the reputational damage that the discharge into the Pacific Ocean may inflict on fisheries products from Fukushima Prefecture.

After the meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office, Kishi quoted Suga as saying, “The disposal of ALPS treated water is unavoidable and experts have recommended that the release into the sea is the most realistic method that can be implemented. Based on these inputs, I would like to decide the government’s policy.” ALPS refers to the process used to treat the water at the tsunami-stricken plant.

Kishi said fishermen across the nation are still firmly opposed to the plan.

But if the government decides to release the treated water into the ocean, Kishi called on the government to take measures to address reputational damage for the industry and provide ample explanations on its decision — including by discussing safety concerns — to fisherman and the broader public.

Suga’s administration has pledged to make a formal decision on the fate of the accumulating water as soon as possible, given that it will take two years of preparation before it can be released. The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., which has accumulated more than 1.2 million tons of treated water, expects to run out of tank storage capacity around the fall of 2022.

Trade minister Hiroshi Kajiyama, who joined the meeting with Kishi and other fisheries officials, said that Suga has asked for their understanding and cooperation for the government’s plan to decide the policy on the treated water.

“What to do with the ALPS treated water is a task that the government can no longer put off without setting a policy,” he told reporters after the meeting.

Media reports say Suga is likely to call a Cabinet meeting on the fate of the treated water as early as next Tuesday, but Kajiyama said no date has been set yet.

The treated water has been building up because more than 100 tons of groundwater seeps into the wrecked reactor basements every day, mixing with highly radioactive debris. Tepco uses the purification system called ALPS that removes dozens of radionuclides to levels in line with national standards but cannot remove tritium.

A Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry panel in February 2020 recommended that the water be released into the sea, saying that it is a common practice for nuclear plants around the world. Resolving the water issue would pave the way for the plant’s decommissioning to be completed sometime between 2041 and 2051. There has been mounting concern that more than 1,000 storage tanks spread out across the plant would hinder the decommissioning work, including the extraction of nearly 900 tons of melted reactor debris from the three wrecked reactors.

The government is considering releasing water in small quantities at a time into the Pacific off Fukushima Prefecture over a period of about 30 years, after diluting the concentration of tritium to about one-fortieth of the maximum set out by national standards. It says the move is not expected to impact human health.

Still, the public’s support for the discharge remains low. An NHK survey showed last month that 51% of respondents are against the release, compared with 18% who support it.

The plans have also invited stiff criticism from neighboring countries including South Korea. According to Fukushima Prefecture, 15 countries and regions, including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, still enforce import restrictions on food from the prefecture, though 39 nations have lifted such restrictions in the years following the nuclear disaster.

The government was on the brink of formally approving the release last October but the plan was pushed back after facing strong opposition from local fishermen and the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations.

Source: (May Need Registration To Read) by Osamu Tsukimori and Satoshi Sugiyama.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

[2021] Radiation levels at Fukushima plant far worse (10 Siverts)

Exceedingly high radiation levels found inside crippled reactor buildings at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant were labeled by nuclear regulators as an “extremely serious” challenge to the shutdown process and overall decommissioning of the site.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said a huge amount of radioactive materials apparently had attached to shield plugs of the containment vessels in the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors.

Radiation levels were estimated at 10 sieverts per hour, a lethal dose for anyone who spends even an hour in the vicinity, according to experts.

Radiation levels at Fukushima plant far worse than was thought
Radiation levels at Fukushima plant far worse than was thought
The finding would make it exceptionally difficult for workers to move the shield plugs, raising the prospect that the plan to decommission the reactors will have to be reassessed.

Toyoshi Fuketa, chairman of the NRA, noted that removing the highly contaminated shield plugs added to the enormous difficulty of retrieving nuclear fuel debris, the most daunting part of the decommissioning process.

“It appears that nuclear debris lies at an elevated place,” he said at a news conference earlier this month. “This will have a huge impact on the whole process of decommissioning work.”

A shield plug, made of reinforced concrete, is circular in shape and measures about 12 meters in diameter.

It has a triple-layer structure, with each layer about 60 centimeters thick. It is placed above the containment vessel like a lid on the top floor of a reactor building.

The shield plug blocks radiation from the reactor core at normal times.

When nuclear fuels need to be replaced, workers remove a shield plug to gain access to the interior of the containment vessel.

In a study that resumed in September after about a five-year hiatus, the NRA carried out fresh measurements of radiation levels in the vicinity of the shield plugs of the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors.

The study was undertaken following investigations by Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the plant, and other entities, which had shown extraordinary levels of radiations there.

The NRA’s study found that the amount of radioactive cesium 137 was estimated at 20-40 petabecquerels between the space between the top and middle layers of the shied plug of the No. 2 reactor.

That works out to more than 10 sieverts per hour based on readings of radiation levels nearby. Radiation at such levels can kill a person if they are exposed for an hour, according to experts.

The estimated figure was 30 petabecquerels for the No. 3 reactor.

In the triple meltdown triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, the shield plug of the No. 1 reactor slipped out of place and was damaged by a hydrogen explosion that occurred at the reactor building.

As larger amounts of cesium 137 leaked from the No. 1 reactor through the damaged plug, the amount of the radioactive material attached to its shield plug was estimated at 0.16 petabecquerels, considerably lower than for the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors.

In contrast, the shield plugs for the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors remained relatively unscathed, blocking a huge amount of radioactive substances that leaked from their containment vessels from escaping into the atmosphere, according to the NRA.

TEPCO announced Dec. 24 that the removal of nuclear fuel debris will be postponed to 2022 or later, rather than the initially scheduled 2021, due to a delay in the development of equipment to carry out the work.



Friday, February 17, 2017

☢ [2017] Chinese Embassy Issue Radiation Warning ☢

The Chinese Embassy in Japan have issued a radiation warning over Fukushima radiation last Sunday, February 2017 causing some panic in China. But in Japan, everything went on normally, tourists and residents remain largely unaffected by the radiation matter.

In recent years, as the popularity of Japan as a tourist destination increases, Chinese people have
developed a love-hate relationship with their neighbor. Any political rift or societal change between the two countries can cause large-scale effects

Fukushima China Syndrome
Fukushima China Syndrome
An update of an old issue in Japan has sent ripples across the East China Sea to shake China. After Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced it's latest analysis of the inside of its crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima that showed the radiation level there has seemingly now risen from 73 sieverts per hour to 530 sieverts.

A lethal radiation dose is considered to be around 10 sieverts exposure for only a few minutes! With a slow death to follow from radiation sickness..

However the news of Fukushimas deadly 530 sievert radiation record that might I add puts the 1986 Chernobyl disaster to shame have been traveling fast on the Chinese Internet.

Last Sunday, the Chinese Embassy in Japan issued a safety warning in reaction to this announcement, telling Chinese citizens to manage their travel plans to avoid potential radiation risks that may come if nuclear material leaks out into the surrounding environment. The warning caused even more discussion and when rumors started spreading, many Chinese became worried, some even canceling their trips to Japan.

Business as usual

A couple of weeks after the news came out, people in Japan seemed as calm and reserved as ever. There are still many Chinese tourists on the streets and in shops. According to Chinese tourism agencies, their business has been basically unaffected.

The director of a large Chinese travel agency told the Global Times last Sunday that Fukushima wasn't a regular travel destination for Chinese tourists anyway, and the company doesn't offer any travel packages there.

Li Dan, manager of a branch of the Beijing-based Tianping International Travel Agency, said that there haven't been any tour groups traveling to Fukushima since the 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami. She also said that even tourists who travel independently do not usually go to Fukushima.

Last week, Will Davis, a member of the American Nuclear Society, refuted claims that radiation levels are soaring at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant as "demonstrably false." In a post on the society's blog, Davis wrote that the readings have not changed and that TEPCO's reported 530 sieverts per hour estimate was not "unimaginable" or particularly worrying.

His argument is that rather than a real increase from 73 to 530 sieverts, the 530 reading is simply a more accurate estimate of the radiation level at a particularly affected area that has remained relatively unchanged over the past few years.

Compared with China, news of the radiation levels in Fukushima has not generated much discussion in Japan. The responses from the media or public to the Chinese safety alert are also few.

For people living in Tokyo, three hours' drive from Fukushima, life has continued as usual. While they feel a little concerned whenever such reports come out, they are not actively worried in their daily lives, several Japanese white-collar workers said.

For people trying to get their lives back to normal in the affected area, their biggest headache and frustration is the bad reputation and rumors that dog their agricultural products.

In supermarkets, consumers who are concerned about radiation contamination choose more expensive products from different areas over cheaper product from Fukushima. Local residents, NGOs and governments are still working to scrub the stain off the reputation of food produced in Fukushima.

"I am concerned about the long-term effects on our bodies," said Zhang Chen, a sociology student at Sophia University of Tokyo. "Even if they were to call off the alert, I would still be worried." Despite these concerns, she said she would continue to stay in Tokyo for the time being and try finding a job in Japan.

Meanwhile, several Chinese residents in Japan the Global Times interviewed expressed their faith that the Japanese government and media would keep people accurately updated on the Fukushima situation and any potential dangers.

Zhao Xue, a Chinese woman who works for a Japanese company in Tokyo told the Global Times she hasn't seen much focus in the newspaper headlines concerning this matter, the big stories recently are Trump and Toshiba's financial problems.

"Why would we panic over something like this? It's an updated version of old news," she said.

Others said as long as one stays out of the evacuation areas the Japanese government designated around the nuclear power plant, one has nothing to worry about. Besides, Tokyo is more than 300 kilometers from Fukushima and as so little radiation can reach there, there's nothing much to do besides go on with one's daily life.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

[ART] What's Next Fukushima

Some nice looking art made by paintedtrains displaying tsunamis and the most recent nuclear disasters with the words "What's Next?".

Fukushima Art by paintedtrains
Art by paintedtrains - For more go to Instagram @paintedtrains

paintedtrains on Instagram

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

☢ [PHOTOS] After Chernobyl Rural Life Vanished ☢

30 years after the Chernobyl disaster it's shadow still lies heavy over Belarus. No other country was hit so hard. 70 percent of the radioactive fallout landed there, and one in five residents suddenly found themselves on poisoned land. Entire villages were buried in the ground to prevent people from returning. The disaster destroyed an entire rural culture.

Chernobyl Radiation Warning Sign
Chernobyl Radiation Warning Sign - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

Anna-Lena Laurén and Beatrice Lundborg
Text and Photo by Anna-Lena Laurén and Beatrice Lundborg
The following text originally written by Journalist Anna-Lena Laurén have been translated from Swedish to English.

It is important to look for the apple trees. Where there's apple trees, there have once been a home.

Buried under the soil, overgrown with hazel bushes and newly planted pines.

The only thing that stands upright in this former village is a silver statue of a Soviet soldier, he stands at attention at the entrance as a kind of absurd symbol of a past buried under last year's dry leaves and pine plantations.

Chernobyl Apple Trees
Chernobyl Apple Trees - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg
Sometimes you find small hills in the countryside. There lies the demolished remains of a house. Or "chutar", as they say in these parts - a Belarus peasant cottage with spacious porch, worn stairs and ornate window frames.

I try to imagine how it once was out here. The cottages, barns, sheds. The sandy village road, which continues to the cemetery a short distance away. The graves are still there and every year villagers from Starinka gather there in early May to celebrate radunitsa, the Orthodox Church holiday when honoring their dead by eating and drinking on the grave yard. Sometimes even dance and sing to. Fistfights also occur. This is a region where the relationship with the ancestors and family's land is concrete and tangible, the ground and the trees are considered to be inspired, to leave them is like leaving a man. Not to speak of burying them.

"I'll tell you how our grandmother said goodbye to our house. She bowed to the barn. She went around and bowed to every apple tree. And when we left our home our grandfather took off his hat."
From: "Pray for Chernobyl" By Svetlana Aleksijevitj

In hundreds of Belarusian villages the farming community survived and remained well into the 1980s, despite the forced collectivization. Many had never left their home and among the elderly, it was still not unusual to not be able to read and write. April 26, 1986 catapulted this archaic society into the atomic age when the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded two hundred kilometers to the south.

The wind was blowing to the north and 70 per cent of the radioactive fallout ended up in Belarus, a country with more than ten million inhabitants. Over two million people were exposed to radioactive fallout, over twenty percent of the country's territory were soiled. There was no other country than Belarus that was proportionally hit so hard by the Chernobyl disaster.

In the buried village of Starenka where we now are the measuring instruments, known as a dosimeters, are showing that the dose is 3.2 microsieverts per hour. As a comparison, the Japanese authorities after the Fukushima accident evacuated residents from areas with a radiation higher than 3.8 microsieverts per hour. In Sweden it is considered 0.1 to 0.3 microsieverts per hour to be normal background radiation. In Belarus levels seen at 0.2-0.4 are now normal, according to our local guide.

Starenka located in the so-called "zone", 600-kilometer-wide area affected by radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl disaster. Here on the Belarusian side, where most of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is located a total of 70 villages have been buried.

The area is in turn subdivided into several zones. On the map it looks like a patchwork quilt. In the deep red zone, nothing appear at all, the radiation level is too high. In the red zone the levels are so high that no one is recommended stay there, but many have returned. In a third zone, the authorities have declared safe even when the radioactivity is elevated. The authorities say they monitor the situation. The fourth zone is located at the tip and have slightly elevated radioactivity.

South Belarus Towns Deserted
South Belarus Towns Deserted - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

"During the war, every fourth Belarusian died, today every fifth now live on contaminated land."
From: "Pray for Chernobyl" By Svetlana Aleksijevitj

Shortly after the disaster, thousands of evacuated people chose to move back to the zone. They simply could not stand to not live in their own homes and villages. One of those who from the beginning refused to move is 63-year-old Nina Perevalova that we found in the abandoned village of Dubna. Like many other older people who have chosen to stay in the empty villages, she believes that the evacuation was unnecessary.

Nina Perevalova
Nina Perevalova - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

Everyone that left these parts have died. They were promised compensation and went away. They saw it as an opportunity to make money. But they were not happy in their new home and now most of them are dead. We who stayed are still alive on the other hand.

Nina Perevalova goes back and forth between the cabin and the hen house, cattle shed and pigsty. She's practically wearing galoshes, woolen sweater and a green jacket. Red plaid skirt, purple scarf on the head. Actually, she has no time to talk to us, she has chores to attend to and sticks hear head into the cabin and commands her husband to come outside.

Nina Perevalova
Nina Perevalova Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

Kolja! Come out, we've got guests!

Mykola Nikitenko, 58, an unemployed tractor driver. Sometimes he works as a day laborer on construction sites, otherwise he lives off the garden, his pets and his wife's pension. He does not regret the decision to stay, even though they have been left alone in the village.

Here lived some fifty families before the disaster. We had a private shop and nearby there was a collective farm where a large part of the inhabitants worked. Over there was a road... and that's where one of his neighbors had his garden, Nikitenko said, pointing to an overgrown field.

Mykola Nikitenko
Mykola Nikitenko - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg
Of fifty households there remains only three. Four, five buildings remain, the rest ageing slowly but surely. Houses leaning and gray are the remains on both sides of the village road, they resemble old people who rely on a cane. The logs are gray with age, many houses have no roofs. Others have already fallen over and lies helpless on the ground, eventually becoming the piles of boards where people provide themselves with firewood.

The remaining houses have tin roofs that often goes almost to the ground. They look ancient, part of the landscape, brown and gray with beautiful, ornate window frames painted in bright green or sky blue. Nina Perevalovas and Mykola Nikitenkos house is simple, run-down and poor but impeccably well maintained - from the house to the roost to the pigsty and the sheep house is neat and tidy, everything has its place.

Birdsong sounds everywhere and hazel thicket have small green leaves. Up in a telephone pole there are birds. It is now spring, intense spring. Around one of the fallen houses small white and gray kids are leaping up and down of what is left of the timber wall. Nina Perevalova speak with them. She talks constantly with all their animals and calling them by name - pig named Vaska, the fearless gray hen Sivka and favorite price Gorka.

Fallen Houses
Fallen Houses - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

This is my baby. Gorka, my little man .... Gorka my golden boy, says Nina Perevalova and scratches a kid area behind the ear.

Then she looks up.
I drink goat milk, gathering berries and mushrooms in the forest, growing in the kitchen garden. We have pigs and chickens. We are doing well. Only sore legs. Maybe it has to do with Chernobyl, what do I know? Everything was better and everyone was happier when we did not know anything about this radiation!

She invites us in the hall and pours fresh goat milk in a tin mug. I drink a sip, it tastes good. Then I set the cup back on the table. Our instruments have shown the normal radiation levels in this village, but I can not bring myself to drink up. After reading about how tired these villagers are and other precautions I feel ashamed before Nina Perevalova, but she says nothing. By all accounts, she is accustomed.

When they last came here and measured how much radiation we have in the body, I had exceeded the norm. My husband had however completely normal levels. He drinks horilka (moonshine). It is said to be good against radiation.

Natalia Krivosjejeva
Natalia Krivosjejeva - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

"I want us to move. But my husband a lumberjack refuses."

A dozen kilometers further away is Sytjyn, another village which was evacuated after the disaster. A few years later, people began to move back and for two years life started to return and the village was rebuilt. But then it was emptied for the second time when unemployment drove people to move away. Today, all the houses are deserted - all but one with intense cobalt blue paint and a handrail made of birch trunks. It houses the unemployed postman Krivosjejeva Natalya, 40 years.

I was ten years old when they evacuated us to a neighboring village, Maksimovskij. But it never felt like home there. The worst thing was not even the horrible, crude damp apartments, but we were shunned by locals. They called us "Chernobyltsi" and felt that we were a health risk. They did not talk to us. We had a serious food shortage in Belarus and they were furious at having to share the bread shipments with newcomers. Their disdain I will never forget, says Natalia Krivosjejeva and wipes away a tear.

Eight years after the evacuation, she returned as a newlywed to Sytjyn. The only thing which by then remained of the family's house was a bare stone base.

- The house had been newly built, it was valuable and was simply stolen, dismantled piece by piece. We moved into the empty library instead and I got a job as a postman in the neighboring village. But now my employment have been revoked and we are the last family who still live in this village. It's very sad to be a young person that does not have someone to talk to! I want us to move. But my husband is a lumberjack and refuses, Natalia regrets.

Natalia Krivosjejeva
Natalia Krivosjejeva - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

She is angry with herself because she and her husband have been waiting too long with the decision to leave.

All the other returnees have left our village. There are no buses here anymore, the line has been completely unprofitable. We can not afford a car, we can not even afford to have a pig for it needs food! We have no electricity or water, I wash clothes by hand. Look at my hands! says Natalia Krivosjejeva and holds out her rough hands.

Natalia does not think very much about the radiation. She and her husband live of their garden and self-catering, like most others in the zone. According to the dosimeters the radiation is at a normal level next to the house, but if you drive a few kilometers away then the radiation is significantly higher. Also, if you live in an area that is permitted in the zone, then some contaminated areas can lie next to you because the zones merge into one another.

Dead towns
Dead towns - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

"They told us that we could drink the milk of our cows and eat vegetables that we grew. We did this for three years. Then they announced suddenly that we could not eat or drink anything."

Some seventy kilometers further away is a small community with the optimistic name Majsk. The houses there do not resemble the old Belarusian peasant cottages. They are white, modern two-story-straight rows, surrounded by square, fence enclosed gardens. Majsk is one of the villages that was rebuilt on a so-called safe area, which residents themselves scoff at.

Look how it's burning over there on the other side of the field. That area is radioactive, there we can not go. But every spring and summer fires occurs and the radioactivity spread. We must not go into the woods and pick berries and mushrooms. Everything is dangerous. We are completely surrounded by radioactive areas, we are like on an island. What life is that? exclaimed Olga, a thirty year old art teacher who is about to rake the yard.

Her mother glares angrily at us.

We have received orders not to speak to journalists! We are just to keep our mouths shut. I worked at the collective farm in the four years after the disaster. I stood in the field and sowed and breathed in the dust, breathing in all that came out of the earth. Then it turned out that the area was one of the worst polluted by radiation and we moved here. Have we received any compensation? No. Because now we all live in a safe area!

She stops to rake and goes off furiously toward the potato patch behind the house.

All residents of Majsk originally came from a village named Tjudjany, an area the Soviet authorities first considered as safe. Therefore, the inhabitants were sent back home after the first evacuation, just four years later they were evacuated again to the newly built city Majsk - which turned out to be completely surrounded by radioactive soil.

They told us that we could drink the milk of our cows and eat vegetables that we grew. We did this for three years. But then they announced suddenly that we can't eat or drink anything. Clearly many are furious, but what good did it do? Now we live in an ill-chosen location, but what should we do? Where are we moving? Chernobyl has destroyed our lives, says Olga in the same tone as stated by many others I encounter.

People here often don't even regret it happened. They simply state it.

Olga say they have health problems, particularly pain in the joints. It's one symptom that is common among people who live in or near the radioactive zone.

But you can not prove that it has to do with Chernobyl. My children go to school here, they get iodine tablets, and free trips to a sanatorium twice a year. It's the only compensation we get to live next door to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, says Olga, who do not want to be photographed or say his real name.

On the other side of the field is a memorial with a small plaque:

"Here stood the village Tjudjany, with 137 families and 323 inhabitants. Buried in 1999. "

Pavel Moisejev
Pavel Moisejev - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg
Our institute has absolutely no interest in concealing the presence of cancer, the opposite. We need all the resources we can get.

Thyroid cancer has soared in Belarus since the Chernobyl disaster. According to Pavel Moisejev leading the State Institute for Cancer Control in Belarus, the figures are quite clear. In 1990, the number of thyroid cancer cases in Belarus was 1.2 per 100 000 inhabitants, in 2014 it was 18.3. It is mainly children who are affected - and especially girls.

Large amounts of radioactive iodine was released into the atmosphere after the disaster. It affects the thyroid. For some reason, girls and women are more susceptible to radioactive contamination. We have not found an explanation for this. Luckily thyroid cancer is usually curable if detected in time, says Pavel Moisejev.

He receives us at the State Belarusian Center for Cancer Research located in Lesnoj, a leafy suburb of Minsk. Here is the country's largest cancer hospital with 832 hospital beds, all of which are occupied when we visit the center. It is not only thyroid cancer that is increasing in Belarus - all forms of cancer has become more common. But according to Pavel Moisejev there is no scientific evidence of a Chernobyl connection, except in the specific case of thyroid cancer.

Moisejev is aware that many belarusians have stopped believing the authorities regarding Chernobyl. He raises his hands.

Guess if I constantly hear that ... I'm just saying what we on a scientific basis can establish! Our institute has absolutely no interest in concealing the presence of cancer, the opposite. We need all the resources we can get. Belarus is undergoing an economic crisis, but we have just built two new research centers and is building a new clinic. The construction will be completed, despite the fact that the state has much less money now. Today we have the resources in a completely different way than before. Our research is the best among all former Soviet countries.

While Moisejev notes that all diseases from Chernobyl's wake are still not known. As for metals like cesium and strontium with thirty years half life.

Radioactive iodine, cesium and strontium were released in large quantities. We do not yet know what consequences it can have - perhaps we'll know in 20, 30 or 50 years.

Only time will tell.

A person who has devoted his life to researching the consequences of the Chernobyl are Juryj Bandazjeŭski. He founded the country's first Chernobyl Institute in Gomel in 1989, one of the largest cities next to the so-called zone. Bandazeŭvski criticized the authorities for not taking the implications seriously and was jailed in 2001, accused of taking bribes from students. Amnesty International considered that the charges were fabricated and appointed Bandazjeŭski a prisoner of conscience.

Four years later he was released and Bandazjeŭski received temporary asylum in France. Today he is researching in Ukraine and I interview him on skype.

Since 2014, we examine children in two regions outside Kiev where there was radioactive fallout, Ivanovskij and Poleskij. Every year we have investigated 4000 children aged between 3 and 17 years. Their general health is poor, 80 percent have various types of heart problems. The mortality in both heart disease and cancer is very high in this area, especially among young working-age people, says Bandazjeŭvski.

He would not comment on the situation in Belarus, because he can no longer work there. What he does want to make clear is that the EU - which admittedly is funding his research - have not taken the consequences of the Chernobyl seriously. Ukraine does not have the resources to invest in research and Belarus is a dictatorship, critical researchers run into major problems.

Research funding should be earmarked for each region and are not be given as lump sums to various authorities. Actually, there should in general not live any children in these areas. We can only imagine the long term effects on their health, and we need much more research. This requires, in turn, more resources to investigate each child individually and accurately determine which factors are interrelated, says Juryj Bandazjeŭski.

Accurate knowledge of how things fit together is something that Chernobyl disaster victims have pondered much over the past thirty years. At first they believed the authorities - which then turned out to lie systematically. Then they started to draw their own conclusions, which in turn led to hysterical rumors.

Today many victims fell a strong sense of still being deceived. They still do not know exactly how polluted the land is, or how sick they are. One only guess and wonder.

Mykola Rasiuk and wife Valentina
Mykola Rasiuk and wife Valentina - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

Mykola Rasiuk was thirty years old when he drove along the road that is still called "Road of Death" - the road that led out from Pripyat, a model Soviet town next to Chernobyl in the current Ukraine. He drove past the nuclear power plant that was in flames. Above it hovered raspberry-colored clouds. People opened the windows, watched and admired.

When we arrived at the ferry a lot of fish had lost their ability to swim and floated up on the beach. People were fishing with their bare hands... no one understood how dangerous it was. We drove on to dacha and suddenly I was hit by a terrible headache. I stepped out of the car and vomited, and when we arrived, I drank a liter of vodka. Since then I have been living. But many of my friends and relatives are sick or dead, says Mykola Rasiuk.

His wife Valentina Rasiuk worked in a factory that made radios in Pripyat, Mykola worked as an electrician. Pripyat was founded next to the brand new Chernobyl nuclear power plant. It had been built in 1977 and was considered to be the safest in the world. When the accident occurred, very few understood that the whole area had become dangerous to live in.

I was worried for my relatives and friends who worked at the nuclear plant, that they had been injured during the accident. Not for one second I thought of the radiation. It was only when we came to the relatives of Kiev we understood what it was about. They said we would take iodine - something that we had not even heard of. The authorities did not even tell us that the children should not play outside! said Valentina Rasiuk.

Mykola Rasiuk
Mykola Rasiuk - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

From Ukraine the Rasiku family decided to move back to their home country Belarus.

When we got to Mogiljev people said to us that we had five years to live. How would you take it? I thought mostly about the children, I wished that the kids could grow up and become adults, says Valentina Rasiuk.

The children survived. By now the couple have lived in Mogiljev for over twenty years. Both their parents were however left in the so-called zone and died early.

Each anniversary of Chernobyl the city authorities make a speech. It's always about the same thing - the heroes who saved us from danger. Never about how many people got sick and died or had their lives ruined. I have requested the floor several times, I have tried to share Svetlana Aleksijevitjs "Prayer for Chernobyl" - but they throw me out by force and now they won't even let me in at the memorial, said Mykola Rasiuk.

The State Institute for Cancer Research in Minsk says that it is not possible to establish any link between the Chernobyl disaster and any other cancer than thyroid cancer. Rasiuk just scoff when I say it.

We who have our roots in the zone have our own statistics. Every spring we go back to our home village to honor our dead on radunitsa. We meet, eat, drink and remember. We count how many are there and how many people have died. We look for ourselves what's really is going on.

Before the interview ends Rasiku pours Belarus balm, traditional herb liqueur in small crystal glasses. He raises his glass.

Cheers we are alive anyway.

Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

Chernobyl radiation map 1996
Chernobyl radiation map 1996

Please note that the towns named in this story can no longer be found on google maps due to the areas being too radioactive for humans.

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Geiger Counters - Radiation Detection Meters - Handheld Radiation Detector

When it comes to radiation detection meters you really have a wide field of gadgets to choose from, however radiation detectors are the most common to use. First of all if you need to know what type of radiation you are looking for. There are Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation detectors. And also there is neutron emission of nuclear radiation. And all these different types of emissions have radiation detectors for a specific type of radiation that you can buy radiation detector for. Some also measure both Alpha and Beta. Others detect Alpha, Beta and Gamma. While others let you measure Beta and Gamma radiation.

What most people have use for though are Dosimeters you can buy a handheld radiation detector pretty cheap that are good addition to a survival kit. There are different kinds that you can use that will detect radiation. There are radiation badges that will tell you when radiation become high. Workers at nuclear power plants use these to inform them of how much radiation they have been exposed to. Now also children in the Fukushima prefecture have each been given a radiation badge so they know if they are exposed to radiation. Some come in the shape of a pen that you can carry in your pocket while other are made more compact so that you can attach them to your keychain. And then you have what is called a personal radiation monitor. These are also called Dosimeters and also normally called Geiger counters. Although not all use the Geiger-Muller Tube for the radiation detection some use a semiconductor instead. These and mostly the older geiger counters seen are pretty big to carry around, so they might not be best suited for a survival situation where you only need to carry the most important things. However if you have land and want to check radiation around the property and drinking water then these are the geiger counters to get because they are very well built units.

These are the once that you normally see people use. They have different units of radiation detection, because when it comes to radiation there are many standards used. some give the measurements in Rads, while other use Sieverts. Some have the maximum radiation value for the measured radioactivity quite low but they will still give you an idea of the amount of radiation in the area. With the units ranging from between background radiation 0.001 mSv/hr all the way up to 10 Sv/h. Normally a dosimeter will measure radiation in micro siverts per hour. If you were to walk into one of the reactor units at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant you probably would get an error reading from your dosimeter because the radiation levels are so high there.

Note that some places outside the exclusion zone in Fukushima that are too radioactive for people to live in have areas where the radiation levels are above 30 Sv/h. So if you are in a area that have high radiation the radiation detectors would also there go off the scale. However Geiger counters or radiation detectors are still favored as general purpose alpha/beta/gamma portable radiation detectors and radiation detection equipment, due to their low cost and robustness. Most come with an LCD Display that show you the radioactivity in the area. Nowdays you will even get alarm sound and the possibility to connect the device to a computer. Either with a Infrared, Bluetooth or USB connection.

So if you look at the radiation detectors for sale that have this, then these radiation detection meters will allow you to make maps of contaminated areas that show where the radiation is high and low. This also will help you to see which areas are becoming more contaminated over time. With several nuclear reactors in the US and around the world located near fault zones that makes it a danger if a big earthquake would hit the area there is always a good choice to have a radiation dosimeter avaliable. I'm sure many in Fukushima would have been grateful to have dosimeters avaliable at the time of the disaster and I am sure you to would be grateful to have a geiger counter handy when you need one.