Decontaminating nuclear radioactivity.

Marvin

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Something I found really interesting to learn about was the Oklo natural nuclear reactor. Basically a concentration of uranium salt built up in the Earth's crust about 2 Billion Years ago and started a sustained nuclear chain reaction. It was in what is now one of the West African states that was a colony of France. They were mining it for French nucleat industry and all of a sudden the French realised that the ore was depleted in U235. They thought that thre was some funny business going on but on investigation they found out that billions of years ago the ore deposit was in effect a nuclear reactor with rain water acting as a moderator.
 

I'm With Stupid

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Chris Broad did a couple of great documentaries on Fukushima if anyone's interested, including what they're doing to decontaminate the area.


The second one is more about the tsunami in general rather than specifically the nuclear aspect.

 
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maccadon

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Was a piece on the beeb early yesterday morning. They have started removing top soil at Fukushima and rebuilding towns for those displaced. Not quite sure I would be snapping up one.
 

JOGAMIGMOG

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Was a piece on the beeb early yesterday morning. They have started removing top soil at Fukushima and rebuilding towns for those displaced. Not quite sure I would be snapping up one.
That’s what prompted the question. There was a piece on BBC Mundo (in Spanish) which I was reading yesterday. It was all about the ‘pueblos fantasmas’ (ghost towns) of Fukushima and Chernobyl but it didn’t focus on how they might be cleansed - probably because I now know it’s impossible thanks to Blue Moon. I often say to the Mrs that you can find out anything you want on here and this proves it. :)
 

feelymcfeel

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Guess that’s the end of this thread then! Thanks for posting the answer....if only I could understand it!!! It is baffling how such a toxic and potentially deadly industry was allowed to become established in the world but I guess that’s a whole new thread.

For the amount of power produced it's actually incredibly clean and not a single nuclear disaster has been the fault of the process.
 

Brightwell’s left peg

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Sort of like air travel in that it's statisticaly very safe, but on the very rare occasions it goes wrong it's catastrophic.
It’s the risk perception that’s the issue. From a health/pollution statistics perspective, a nuclear plant is far better than a coal fired station.

Whilst at Uni our environmental lecturer was talking about nuclear v coal powered stations, and said given the choice he’d spend his life living next door to a nuclear power plant than a coal powered one. Issue though, as you say, is if things go wrong it’s likely to be worse at a nuclear plant, and it’s this ‘societal risk’ perception that’s the problem.

Absent fusion, I still say Nuclear fission reactors are human kinds ‘least worst’ environmental option for meeting energy demands. Have been saying it for 25 years.
 

aguero93:20

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Sort of like air travel in that it's statisticaly very safe, but on the very rare occasions it goes wrong it's catastrophic.
Shark attacks as well, just don't mix the two.
 

inbetween

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Chernobyl and Fukushima remain ghost towns and will continue to be so for hundreds of years. Why hasn’t there been better research into how to neutralise radioactive waste? Is it impossible? Can it not be treated with something? Forgive my ignorance but I’ve looked on Google and nobody is asking these questions. What is it that makes something radioactive anyway and why is it so deadly?
Radioactivity damages your cells by bombarding them with decaying atoms and you don't even know it's happening. In the Chernobyl disaster a lot of firefighters attending the explosion scene had no idea that they were stood next to an open radioactive bomb. Quite a few of them died within a few days.

You can shield yourself from such radiation with PPE though depending on the type of decay, for some types a piece of paper is enough but for others concrete is needed. We get hit by small amounts of radiation naturally all the time. UV radiation from the sun is a good example and in high enough doses it will cause sunburn which is damage caused to your skin cells. If you use sun cream though then this literally blocks the radiation to prevent it from damaging your skin.

When your skin cells are damaged then they die which is why you get peeling skin a few days after sunburn. This can result in DNA damage where subsequently you could get skin cancer. Cancers are the main threat from repeat exposure but large exposures as with a nuclear meltdown/explosion will kill you or make you extremely ill very quickly if you're close.

You can't neutralise this because it's a natural process just like radiation from the sun is. You can shield yourself from it as I've said or you can just avoid going near the thing altogether. The big problem is the materials that are decaying will take hundreds of years to 'spend' their radioactivity and so they have to be stored safely underground out of the way until that's complete.

With places like Chernobyl they've encased the whole exploded reactor so that what's in there can't get out. With Fukushima there's a much bigger problem given several reactors melted down so I don't really know what they are doing there. Chances are they'll do the same and eventually make it as safe as possible and then bury it or encase it.
 

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