Readers may have been watching the 5-part drama-documentary “Chernobyl” on TV. Apparently it is the highest-rated television series of all time, according to crowd-sourced reviews on IMDb, a film and television rating site.
I have yet to see the final episode, but the first four are pretty accurate in their portrayal of the accident and the suffering which followed. Some dramatic licences have been taken in collapsing large events into easy-to-digest sequences or single characters, but overall, it is remarkably truthful and reliable in its depictions.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the programmes is that they inform a new generation about the potential dangers of nuclear reactors. The UK still has 15 of them operating, with 2 more under construction and the Government thinking about more.
Another aspect is that they educate people about the dangers of radiation, a subject on which most people are very poorly informed, and which the Government and its agencies avoid discussing honestly.
Readers will ask whether UK reactors are as dangerous as the RBMK reactor that exploded at Chernobyl? The answer is that such an accident is very unlikely here, but not out of the question. For example, UK reactors do not have positive void coefficients, which means the potential for runaway-reactivity type of accidents as occurred at Chernobyl is very low. But 14 of the UK’s reactors use graphite as a moderator and Chernobyl’s 8-day graphite fire was perhaps the single most important contributor to the massive effects of the Chernobyl disaster across Europe.
For example, 40% of the land area of Europe was contaminated by Chernobyl fallout as shown the map below from the Atlas of Caesium Deposition on Europe after the Chernobyl Accident (1998) EUR Report 16733. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg. This shows the surface concentrations of Cs-137 in kBq per square metre.
Even Great Britain, more than 2,000 km from Chernobyl, was badly affected. As shown in the map below also from the Atlas of Caesium Deposition on Europe after the Chernobyl Accident (1998) EUR Report 16733. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.
UK after Chernobyl
Readers who wish more information should peruse my Torch 1 report published in 2006 http://www.chernobylreport.org/?p=summary and its 2016 update https://www.ianfairlie.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/chernobyl-report-version-1.1.pdf