Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Nuclear Meltdown at HBO

Hydrogen explosion at Fukushima Daiichi
There is no particular reason why you should be aware of this, but HBO, in collaboration with British Sky, has created a miniseries about the Chernobyl disaster. I have not watched it, but I have read multiple analyses and discussions of it by those who have, and who can also claim the Chernobyl disaster as their particular area of expertise. Based on their collective verdict, I will not watch it, because it is basically shit, and I have much better things to do with my time. So do you. The miniseries isn’t interesting; what is interesting is why and how it was made. Armed with this understanding, we will know what to look out for.

First of all, let us point out that HBO and Sky are but minor divisions within two vast mass media conglomerates, WarnerMedia (worth $85.4 billion) and Comcast (worth $187 billion). If this miniseries were a Russian propaganda exercise, ordered by the Kremlin, then it would have been made by state-owned entities VGTRK and First Channel; but the US (and its British subsidiary) are run by an oligarchy which carries out its propaganda exercises through private corporate entities. Nevertheless, it is still a propaganda exercise, and it is very interesting to ask, What is being propagandized, and for what purpose?

The screenplay appears to have been based on the book Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarussian fiction writer who writes in Russian. Although Wikipedia claims her to be an investigative journalist and historian, her real genre is historical fantasy of the tendentiously anti-Russian macabre variety. It works well on those who enjoy having their negative emotions manipulated and not at all on those who enjoy a balanced perspective and objectivity. You know, one self-important lady-writer’s senseless, bloody mayhem could also be construed as altruistic acts of patriotic heroism by men whose sacrifices have built and preserved the great Russian nation. Oh, but Alexievich isn’t even a Russian; she has just been borrowing Russia’s language and culture to make a bit of money.

Another one of her books was on the Afghan conflict and has been widely discredited by those who took actually took part in it. She wrote it after just a 20-day visit to Kabul five months before the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, and it was a fabrication pretty much from beginning to end. But Russophobia pays (in the West) and Alexievich has been awarded the Nobel prize in literature (which has been highly politicized all along). As a sort of homage, I suppose, Alexievich has been written directly in the screenplay of the HBO miniseries as one Ulyana Khomyuk, a sort of Ukrainian Erin Brokovich.

The miniseries has been praised for its obsessive-compulsive attention to the details of the late Soviet-era lifestyle. Apparently, no effort was spared in collecting period props at flea markets throughout Belarus and the Ukraine, and those who had lived in the USSR during that period were impressed by the verisimilitude of the setting. But that’s the extent of the show’s praiseworthiness; the rest is a litany of lies, as attested by the very lengthy lists of outright fabrications and distortions compiled by several analysts who have thorough firsthand experience of the disaster. I can’t recommend that you watch it; I know I won’t. As I said, the show itself doesn’t matter; what matters is why it was made, and what that means.

Based on all of my research, major nuclear accidents are rarely accidental. The ones that are truly accidental are hushed up; the ones that aren’t are widely publicized. You have probably heard about Three Mile Island, Chrernobyl and Fukushima; but have you heard about the Windscale reactor fire at Sellafield in the UK in 1957? It burned for three days and spread radioactive contamination all over the UK and Europe. That was an actual accident: somebody forgot to turn on cooling fans, and somebody else preferred to sit around drinking tea instead of responding to an alarm.

As far as the other three, there is a strong whiff of mystery to them. In the case of the Three Mile Island, valves controlling the flow to a secondary cooling circuit were inexplicably left closed for several work shifts. When an over-temperature condition occurred, the reactor had to be shut down in a hurry, which it was. Nevertheless, operators then fiddled with circulator pumps until the tops of the fuel assemblies became exposed to air and overheated, releasing hydrogen and gaseous radioactive isotopes into the reactor containment vessel. The operators then vented the radioactive gas to an expansion tank outside the containment vessel but the vent valve got stuck and the venting went on until the expansion tank had to be vented to the atmosphere. The result was a smallish radioactive fart—too small to reliably measure above background radiation and definitely too small to have any measurable adverse effects on public health.

When you cross-multiply the probabilities of the entire cascade of events that led all the way to the little radioactive fart, you get such an infinitesimally small probability of the overall event that it beggars the imagination. At the same time, great pains were taken to drive the population into a state of panic and to provoke an entirely unnecessary evacuation in which 17 people died in car accidents as they fled in horror. As always, it is useful to ask, quo bono? Who benefited from this ridiculous exercise of first staging a mindbogglingly unlikely accident, then publicizing it with the goal of whipping the public into a paroxysm of fear and despair? The answer, unsurprisingly, is that this appears to have been done for the benefit of the federal bureaucracy. You see, nuclear energy is one industry that is most frequently, and most successfully, organized as a government monopoly, but in the US the ideology of free enterprise dictates that it be handled by private companies. In order for the federal government to assert control over the nuclear industry (which it did) it had to thoroughly undermine public trust in privatized nuclear industry (which it did).

Now let’s look at Fukushima. There, three reactors were running at the time of the earthquake and tsunami, and all three were successfully shut down. Nevertheless, over the following days, all three reactors melted down, roughly one a day. The reason given for the meltdowns is that there was no electricity to power the cooling pumps because the electric grid was out while the backup diesel generators were flooded out by the tsunami.

But there is more to this story. Here are some bullet points to consider:

• Nuclear power stations are constructed out of a great deal of concrete, rebar, steel plate and other very sturdy materials that can stand up to any tsunami; but the doors to the building that contained the diesel generators was made of… plywood! That’s right, it was specifically designed to break away when hit with a bit of water. A sliding screen of oiled rice paper with a drawing of Mount Fuji on it would have worked just as well.

• Diesel engines will run even when fully submerged provided their air intakes are fitted with snorkels, and are not too hard to restart even after they’ve been flooded out. If compressed air tanks are available, they can be restarted without any electricity. But in this case the electrical switching panels (which do not respond well to being flooded out) were installed in the basement, which filled with water.

• Naturally occurring earthquakes have a certain specific signature on a seismograph: they start small and get bigger as the rock being moved picks up speed. Nuclear explosions, on the other hand, start with an instantaneous big bang and then die down as the shockwaves propagate away from the epicenter. The Fukushima earthquake is an imposition of the two signatures: it looks like a nuclear depth charge that triggers an earthquake… that produces the tsunami that floods out Fukushima (because it was delicately arranged for just that purpose).

Fukushima: a nuclear explosion in a seismic zone

• At the time of the earthquake and tsunami the US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was cruising offshore, close to the epicenter of the earthquake, and a bunch of sailors on it got radiation poisoning (and later sued the US government for and received monetary compensation for the harm they suffered).

• At the time of the Fukushima disaster a large release of radioactive Cesium 137 was mapped by satellite, and the location of the release was not over Fukushima but several hundred miles offshore, near the epicenter of the earthquake. From there it spread all over the planet. Calculations showed that the reactors at Fukushima could not have produced the required quantity of Cs-137; that would have required the use of a nuclear bomb.

Cesium 137 from nuclear bomb blast offshore from Fukushima

• Also at the time of the Fukushima disaster the US nuclear power industry was looking at a major shortage of enriched uranium. During the previous years it operated on mixed-oxide fuel provided by Russia as part of the megatons-to-megawatts program, in which Russia ground up its excess plutonium, combined it with uranium and provided it to the US for a modest fee, but this program was scheduled to end. Meanwhile, the effort to build uranium enrichment facilities within the US did not succeed (earlier diffusion-based methods were no longer practical while gas centrifuges are very tricky to design).

• If the nuclear power stations in the US could not be refueled (and there is somewhere around 100 of them) then the US would be facing major blackouts. But Japan had backup fossil fuel-based generating capacity for every last bit of its nuclear power capacity, and its nukes could be shut down without triggering blackouts. Handling this crisis on a commercial basis would have resulted in exorbitantly high electricity rates, triggering a wave of bankruptcies and causing a financial collapse.

• Japan is not a sovereign nation but has remained under US military occupation ever since World War II. Its nuclear power industry has been controlled by the US through major government contractors such as General Electric. The US had already nuked Japan once before, so there was a precedent. The dramatically overhyped disaster at Fukushima has caused the Japanese public to become extremely adverse to the use of nuclear power, which neatly solved the problem of enriched uranium shortage.

Now, moving on to the Chernobyl disaster. It was by far the worst nuclear disaster in history, because there the entire contents of a nuclear reactor were spat up into the sky, spreading long-lived radioactive contamination over a very wide area. And, once again, the theory that it was an accident appears significantly weaker than the theory that it was not an accident. Here are some points to help us weigh the evidence.

To make things simple, nuclear reactors are like cars: safe if safely operated, manifestly unsafe if not. If while cruising along the highway, you let go of the steering wheel and step on the accelerator, then there is an excellent chance that you will crash and burn. Your control inputs keep the car from “going critical.” Similarly with the nuclear reactor; timely and correct control inputs keep it from blowing up.

Nuclear reactors are a bit tricker to operate than cars. With cars, every time you step on the accelerator or the brake, the effect is largely the same. But nuclear reactors have memory and can be in any number of states based on how they have been operated. While a lot of the power they generate comes from the nuclear decay of uranium and plutonium, a very important fraction comes from the decay of lighter elements that are generated in the process, each with a different set of characteristics and a different half-life. In our car analogy, under some conditions suddenly stomping on the accelerator will cause your car to blow up. You have to speed up very slowly and gently, keeping an eye on the temperature gauge.

Unlike a car, a nuclear reactor doesn’t have an accelerator and brakes; it has just the brakes. These are called control rods and inserting them into the reactor dampens the reaction while pulling them out part-way causes it to speed up while pulling them out all the way and leaving them there will reliably cause a nuclear accident. Now, the type of nuclear reactor used at Chernobyl, RBMK-1000, had a strange quirk. Normally, if the reaction is getting out of control, pushing the control rods all the way in is a good way to get it under control. But with RBMK-1000, pushing them all the way in actually accelerated the reaction, at first. This was discovered at another RBMK-1000 in Leningrad 11 years before Chernobyl, where a full meltdown was avoided by sheer luck. Although the release of radioactive contamination was some 30 to 50 times smaller than at Chernobyl, it was significant. Nevertheless, there was no hype or media attention of any sort and the incident was largely kept secret—a sure sign of a real nuclear accident as opposed to a contrived one.

The experience at Leningrad was subsequently studied and new operating procedures and standards were established that would avoid repeating the mistake that led to it (which was shutting down the reactor, then restarting it too soon or too quickly, then being forced to shut it down again). Nevertheless, this is precisely what happened at Chernobyl 11 years later. Various people blame various factors. One of them was the administrative decision to transfer nuclear power plants from the purview of the Ministry of Middle Industry (code for Nuclear Industry) to the Energy Ministry which had no experience with nuclear power and put similarly inexperienced political appointees in positions of responsibility at nuclear facilities.

The accident at Chernobyl was the outcome of an experiment which was either mindbogglingly stupid (if it was indeed an accident) or moderately clever (if the disaster happened as intended). It pretty much repeated the script of the Leningrad accident. There was also some outright political meddling: phone calls from the Kremlin forced the experiment to be delayed, ensuring that the reactor would sit idle for a longer period of time, making it more likely to explode when it was suddenly restarted.

So, who were the traitors that caused the Chernobyl disaster? They were ensconced in the Kremlin, and their ringleader was Mikhail Gorbachev, who saw his greatest lifetime achievement in relinquishing his post as the first and only president of the USSR as nationalist leaders broke it up into 15 pieces. But he had some other major achievements as well, such as pulling troops out of Afghanistan in such a way as to make the spread of Islamic jihad to Russia’s southern tier almost inevitable. But Chernobyl definitely took the cake: the mitigation of this one disaster cost the USSR almost its entire annual GDP, resulted in massive reputational damage, and the ham-handed political handling of the post-disaster situation succeeded in turning quite a bit of the population against the Soviet government. This last element was not a complete success, as shown by the results of various referenda during the breakup of the USSR, because much of the populace voted to preserve it. But their wishes were overruled by… traitors.

And this brings us to the final question: What would prompt two giant Western media conglomerates to throw massive treasure at a relatively obscure and unpopular miniseries that is essentially a nuclear horror flick that is custom-tailored to smear Russia? Yes, the 30-year anniversary of the disaster is indeed an anniversary, but what else? Here, the relevant facts appear to be as follows:

The collective West has pretty much lost the ability to build nuclear power plants. The only new European nuclear power plant to have been completed is in… China, and the project only succeeded thanks to swarms of Chinese specialists documenting and rectifying every single mistake made by the Europeans at a similar reactor in France, which is not on-line yet. Another similar project in Finland is in some state of un-completion. All three of these projects have seen absolutely staggering schedule slips (of a decade or more) and truly ridiculous cost overruns. A couple more projects in the US are also languishing in some state of un-completion (the Department of Energy recently threw some more federal money at the one in Georgia).

Although the harm caused to human health and the environment by nuclear energy is orders of magnitude smaller than that caused by fossil fuel generation, nuclear power is deeply unpopular in the West and, given the experience at Fukushima, in Japan. Germany has shut down its nuclear power plants. France still relies on theirs for a large percentage of its power generation, but at this rate its aging fleet of reactors will not be replaced in time. Experiments with renewable energy have so far resulted in much higher electricity rates, hurting the competitiveness of European industry. In short, Europe does not have any good options as far as electricity generation.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Rosatom has perfected the latest VVER-1200 and has a full dance card building, fueling and operating nuclear power plants all around the planet. Since nuclear reactors apparently do melt down sporadically, Russia’s latest ones are fitted with a meltdown tank that stops the reaction and makes clean-up easier, so no more “China syndrome.” And since it does apparently happen that nuclear fuel becomes exposed and generates hydrogen gas, the new reactors have catalytic hydrogen scrubbers installed at the top of the containment vessel, so no more hydrogen explosions either. Rosatom now owns something like 2/3 of the global market for new nuclear energy projects. China has a very ambitious program to build out nuclear generation capacity as well. Add to this the fact that Russia has scored two major nuclear technology breakthroughs.

The first breakthrough was in bringing a fast breeder reactor online: the BN-800 has been in commercial use at Beloyarskaya AES since October of 2016. This is a type of reactor that makes its own fuel and then some from the extremely abundant but generally useless uranium 238. Everyone else who has tried to perfect this technology (the US, France and Japan) has failed and given up. It is a breakthrough because it solves two major problems: mitigating the shortage of naturally occurring uranium 235, and solving the problem of long-lifetime radioactive nuclear waste, which BN-type reactors can burn up until it is safe enough to bury.


The second breakthrough is in the introduction of the closed nuclear cycle. Those who obtain their nuclear fuel through contracts with Rosatom do not have to worry about what to do with spent fuel: after a cool-down period, Rosatom takes the fuel assemblies back for reprocessing. The spent fuel is ground up and the useful elements are extracted, enriched, recombined and used to make new fuel assemblies. With a steady stream of Western nukes being shut down and dismantled about to turn into a flood, simply paying Rosatom to take away the spent fuel provides a good solution where previously there was none, lowering the costs of decommissioning to something that national budgets can conceivably bear.

So, what is there to be done by Western propagandists confronting the situation of the West languishing with no good energy alternatives while Russia’s and China’s nuclear programs are speeding away from them? Why, of course, the choice is obvious: put out a pseudo-documentary based on the fantasy-fiction of a Nobel-prized Grade A Russophobe to smear both Russia and its nuclear industry! Honest competition is too old-fashioned. The new Western way to succeed (or to try but fail) is by knocking out your global competitors using whatever it takes: sanctions, fabrications, smear campaigns… nuclear horror flicks.

While some countries are rich enough to film high-budget nuclear horror flicks, some are not so lucky. For instance, the Ukraine is too destitute to do much of anything artistic at such a scale, but this wretched country, trying so hard to be a Mini-Me to America’s Doctor Evil, might actually try to grab some international attention (and help—for its oligarchs to steal) by staging a nuclear “accident.” It still has a dozen or so nuclear reactors, which produce the majority of its electricity, and they are—horror of horrors!—Russian. Well, no, they are in fact Soviet: they are very old and due to be shut down for good in just a couple of years. Let’s hope that that Ukrainian nuclear reactors will be shut down and decommissioned safely (quite a trick in a country that will by then lack an electric grid). But if Chernobyl 2.0 does happen, please, don’t go around claiming that it was an accident!


Unknown said...

I watched and it certainly made excellent TV.

But that is as far as it goes.

Too many holes, too many fabrications smearing the USSR, WAY too much Western Russophobia...even if the characters were written well and sympathetic.

a mini-series with a VERY clear agenda, combined with cartoonish KGB cut-outs and ridiculous obsessions with Russians always being brutal and chugging large tumblers of vodka

laughable in so many ways

Mark F

Jayhawk said...

When I had my one and only job in sales, my boss had a rule about how we talked about competitors - about how we thought about them in fact. He told us never to disrespect our competitors, and never, ever to criticize them to each other or to a potential customer. He pointed out that it is the high quality of our competitor that makes us as good as we are. "If our competition shipped garbage," he would say, "then we could ship a mediocre product and be successful. But when they are good, then we must be excellent, and so they are the cause of our excellence."

All of this "make America great again" is comparison rhetoric, and is mostly about making others look bad. We have badly deteriorated as a nuclear nation and, rather than trying to regain our own excellence, we try to make ourselves feel better by making our superiors look like buffoons.

Mister Roboto said...

Wow. Solving the nuclear waste problem largely removes my own main objection to nuclear power. But I recall reading at The Automatic Earth that the spent fuel-rods at all US plants are all still at the site of those plants because they are too radioactive to handle or move. Has it just been a lack of political will to deal with the spent fuel-rods, or does Rosatom have some method or technology for handling and moving spent fuel-rods that the US doesn't?

Dmitry Orlov said...

They are not rods but zirconium alloy tubes filled with oxide pellets. Yes, they are kept in pools at reactor sites, but the pools have to be emptied in the process of decommissioning. One alternative is to put the pellets into dry cask storage, but there is no good place to put the dry casks. Paying Rosatom to take them away is a good alternative. Yes, Rosatom has unique technology for nuclear fuel reprocessing. The US now fails even at the relatively simple task of uranium enrichment, never mind producing mixed oxide fuel.

Seshette said...

I was suspicious of the show from the start, although I know people who rave about it. I warned them all that it was propaganda designed to make Russia look heartless and inept, but most insist that it's a great story. I only watched one episode. I reminded them about how, at the start of the catastrophe, all the technicians kept claiming it shouldn't have happened- which implied some sabotage, but that circumstance was quickly forgotten.

Thanks for confirming my suspicions and giving me more to work with. The US is imploding; the crooks are trying to grab every last thing of value before they flee. Their aim is to render the country as uninhabitable as possible before they go and that includes poisoning the population at epic levels. How easy is it to emigrate to Russia? Do I need to know the language?

Dmitry Orlov said...

Emigrating to Russia is moderately hard if you are Russian and know the language; there are lot of bureaucratic hoops to jump through and the naturalization process takes 4-5 years if everything goes smoothly. The language test is mandatory even for a temporary residence permit and takes a few years of study.

Jordi C. said...

I did watch it, and it makes good TV, nothing more. As an engineer I knew that they would over dramatize part of the story, and I knew that some of your Russian sources criticize the Series because they think that it's an attack on Rosatom.

I did not see anything like that in the Miniseries.

Now to the relevat part of the comment. It was a little bit hard to find the info that you posted about the Fukushima Earthquake, but not impossibly hard. Wilber 3 on the IRIS .edu has all the data of all the stations that recorded the event, and honestly, the only one that looks like that is the one that you posted, wich is the closest to the event.

In similar events (Like the 8,3 Sea of Okhotsk) the signature is very similar once you go to the rest of the stations, so i dont buy the 30km deep nuclear explosion. Also, a bomb is only destructive where it can create a pressure differential, at that depth it would be pretty hard to do anything useful.

The Cesium part i dont know because i would need data that i dont have to calculate the amount of Kg necesary to generate that amount of decay. But overall not a very solid claim. Specially when you seem to get your sources from someone like blissful-wisdom website.

And honestly I pay for your patreon post and i usually enjoy the work that you do. And even the rest of the things that you say in the Article made reasonable sense, the Nuclear explosion trigger hipotesis seems to be pretty far fetched.

Pamela Storer said...

It's been a rule of thumb with me for some time now - if "it's" about Russia / Soviet Union, and produced by anyone or thing of or from the West, especially America, I dont bother with it.
It's a problem wanting a really good History of Russia. I only want one written by a good Russian historian, with a good, verified translation. Hard to find.
I suspected this would trash from the instant of reading of it - but I didn't link up why they made it. Thanks for that "heads up" Dmitry. It makes sense [ha. i.e. it's "highly likely"] that all they are trying to do is queer Russians booming Nuclear building and running industry. Recently Russia received another big contract from India for the same so I suspect the rest of the world is rapidly becoming as disbelieving of Anglo angles on Russia as the rest of us.
In the UK, the belief in old stories about Russia, conflated with the end of Soviet era, abounds. Comments to public sites quote news of Russia's new Fleet as "being a load of old rust buckets" etc etc. They dont have the brains God gave a lemon. If the UK, now paying Continental companies billions for energy, was to get up and say they were buying in Russian reactors, the street riots would tear the country apart, the people are so brainwashed and stupid. I know they bought into this piece of excrement 100%
I have mentioned before, I think, that on ZeroHedge, they ran an article a month or so back comparing the coming market and financial meltdown to Chernobyl, and included in it a link to a Russian made documentary about Chernobyl, with English subtitles. It looks to be accurate, but it steers clear of suggesting it may have been deliberate sabotage.
I'm sorry I cant find the link, but to my amazement ZeroHedge appears not to supply a search function.
By the way, re the language requirement to obtain a temporary residence permit, as one who has tried, while living there, I can say, it takes a bit more than a language test. This, incidentally, is age limited. Over - I think from memory 60, you dont have to take it. But you have to have some form of contact with the country - a business there, some family etc. The lady I spoke to said "we just dont get people like you walk in and want to come here, without prior contacts". They are limited as to number, which varies with the area, and therefor go fast. It was May [2017] when I went into the Vladivostok office - which took a Russian student an afternoon to find - and she informed me she had just issued the last of those given for the entire year!!! So I'm afraid, unless Russia gets on board with the Retirement Visa scheme used by such places as Thailand and Ecuador, it's pretty nigh impossible. Unless you can score a job with a years contract. Then you can get a work visa.
For most of us, I"ve accepted its going to have to remain a dream.

Dmitry Orlov said...

Jordi C. - Just because some particularly juicy piece of evidence didn't fall straight into your lap after a casual search doesn't mean much.

Pamela - You have it right about emigration. There are rules upon rules to wade through to understand, and they are all in Russian. It's daunting even for someone whose Russian is perfect. But it simplifies to just one thing: if you want to live in Russia, you have to want to be Russian, with all that that entails.

Kapimo said...

"after a cool-down period, Rosatom takes the fuel assemblies back for reprocessing. The spent fuel is ground up and the useful elements are extracted, enriched, recombined and used to make new fuel assemblies."

Well, Areva has been doing that in France for fifty years now, in La Hague/Marcoule reprocessing plants. It does it for many foreign plants, actually. What is the breakthrough with Russian technology?

old dog said...

Been waiting for this post for some time, odd that its a tv show that's finally prompted it, will have to read it a couple of times more to comment but its the first time I'm seriously sceptical of an Orlov blog.

Dmitry Orlov said...

Dogs should always be skeptical (sceptical is where you wield a scepter, I suppose) especially old ones.

There are three problems with Areva: cost, capacity and loss of competence. Sure, Areva could theoretically get it done, but who will let it? It's like the old children's joke about a hippo at the zoo. Children ask: "Is it true that it can eat 10kg of cabbage in a day?" And the zookeeper answers: "Sure, but who's gonna let it?" Look again at that cost chart (and weep).

The Russian breakthrough is that it can deliver the closed fuel cycle PROFITABLY.

edmund said...

A friend tried to get me to watch Killing Eve and after two episodes I gave up at the whole idea of a Russian femme fatale assassin handled by a craggy old dude. Westerners fear Russia so much that they must portray even beautiful Russian women as threats.

David S said...

"Cui bono?" is an excellent beginning in any investigation.
But there are a couple of difficulties with believing US authorities were behind any of the recent nuclear disasters. The main one being that we're talking about a country that hasn't won a war in heaven's knows how long, can't manage a simple regime change in Venezuela, or build a commercial airline that doesn't nose dive. Or, for that matter, keep a secret without having it leaked, hacked or simply stolen.
To find out what really happened use Ockham's razor.
Better still, and more universally reliable, first assume you can't overestimate anyone's ability to resort to stupidity in a crisis.

RB Seymour said...

Let me see if I can get it straight.

1. The US blew up Fukishima so they wouldn't have to share enriched uranium with Japan.

2. The US blew up TMI so the govt could take over nuclear industry.

3. Traitors in the Kremlin blew up Chernoble to cause dissolution of USSR.

4. Warner Media disparages Russian nuclear tech via HBO so Russia can't sell reactors.

I never would have thought of all that on my own. But then again, look at the globalists and the City of London. All the stuff they do is hard to believe. But you better believe it.

Pamela Storer said...

Seshette: - During one of my typical "wake up at 1.30 am, thinking" episodes [ :-) ] I realise you may have two other options, depending on how much you want to get to Russia. If you are American you have an advantage denied the rest of us. Why this is so I dont know, but Americans can get a 3 year multi-entry Tourist Passport. The rest of us are limited to one month. You can return to America and renew it for another 3 yrs when it expires. During that time, it must be possible for a determined person to make contacts, find work, get involved in a business or something to boost a Temporary Visa application. The other is to do what I did. I dont know if there are similar openings in the Western Region of Russia, specifically Moscow, St. P's or close by, but Vladivostok Far Eastern Federal University has a program to study Russian which anyone can go to. Just pay the fees, about US$2500 for a year. You can get Uni student accommodation very cheaply, or a small unit in town, which is better, if more expensive. You only do 3 hours every morning Mon to Fri, the rest of the time is your own. It's not easy, as they teach in a ghastly "no English" way, the senior Grammar teacher is a bully, but if you can ride that, you get a lot of time to experience Eastern Russia.
These are the things I discovered while I was there. Unfortunately I got sick and in lots of pain, with not good treatment, and couldn't cope while alone. So I returned to Ecuador in hopes of being able to go back to St. P's, via teaching English, but this is not so easy. You need a TSL Cert, and when I wrote emails to a long list of employer outfits supplied to me by St. Benedicts School in St. P's, not one bothered to reply. So -- I dont know how easy that way is either.
When you realise the hell some people from the ex-Soviet states are going through trying to return, and they speak fluent Russian, they are Russian, and they have one might say a "a right of return" unlike you and I, who have no such right, just want to be there, you realise how difficult it is without contacts and "who you know".
This is all stuff I learned during my 9 months there in 2017, and I"m happy to pass on any learning of mine to anyone who might want it.

Dmitry Orlov said...

David S - You are right that the US hasn't prevailed in a single military campaign since World War II, which was won for it by the Red Army, both in Europe and in Japan. (You may not know this, but the Japanese did not surrender after being nuked by the US; they capitulated after being routed by the Red Army after that.) But the US is still very much capable of blowing things up, either openly (as in Syrian Raqqa) or clandestinely.

Pamela - Yes, the 3-year visa does exist for US citizens as part of a reciprocal program, though I am not sure if and when it expires. It only requires one to leave Russia every 6 months and to re-register (which is a pain). It isn't necessary to return to the US in order to open a new visa. To get residency, you have to fit into one of several categories (born in Russia, married to a Russian, native speaker of Russian, have a Russian child) or fit into a quota, which are tight in big cities and loose in small ones.

Alejo said...


Regarding Russian visas, https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/borders/2019/06/russia-introduce-e-visa-without-invitation-2021

Regarding your "the rest of us" I can enter Russia without visa and stay up to 90 days.(I am an Argentinian passport holder but we are probably not included in your "rest of us")

From the link above the US, UK and Canada are going to be excluded from the e-visa(bad luck for you that you are from the UK) but you can probably, eventually, get an Ecuadorian passport in the meantime.

the blame-e said...

In what might be described as an act of serendipity, an article appeared just today in Zero Hedge about Chernobyl. Attached is the link.


The article suggests that the US has become just as closed and closing a system as the former Soviet Union was. The article posits how Chernobyl was most likely the radioactive black swan that broke the back of Communism. And how perestroika was the radioactive cloud that spread across the "I'm melting! I'm melting!" USSR. In this version of history, Mikhail Gorbachev is a patriot; not the traitor strongly claimed in Mr. Orlov's well-crafted and excellent piece.

Further, the author of the Zero Hedge article concludes by asking ". . . who will be the Mikhail Gorbachev to introduce some much needed Glasnost to the west."

Both articles express thoughts that are meant to fester.

Unknown said...

RB Seymour,

Don't forget the 911 nuclear war crime-


Anonymous said...

Chernobyl is one of the best disaster movies I've ever seen. Of course several details were changed, characters altered or entirely fabricated, and general factual inaccuracies are present, but that's why it's a dramatization based on a true story, not a documentary. Such changes are often necessary for effective and compelling storytelling. Factual errors are unavoidable due to filmmaking limits such as budget, or where records of events are contradictory or absent.

As for the claim that this is Western propaganda, I'm not convinced. Most of the characters are portrayed heroically, the KGB is no more villainous than the CIA, and many of the Soviet Union's drawbacks can be easily found in America's government and corporate culture. And overall, I don't know what hidden message would be conveyed. I can't speak for Europe, but most Americans seem to think Russia hasn't changed much since the early '90s. This film won't convince anyone who doesn't already believe that anyway. If anything, they are likely to come away with a greater respect for the Russian people. I certainly did.

Give it a try Dmitry. At least the first episode, and then pass judgment.

Dmitry Orlov said...

Enjoy your disaster porn. I suppose the hows and whys don't matter as long as it is sufficiently titillating for the TV-watching crowd. As for me, it would be more honest if it were about a transmogrifier explosion on Planet 191234. Or HBO could have provided a more honest disclaimer, such as "any resemblance to USSR or Russia is entirely accidental." Most TV-watchers don't know big words like "dramatization" and believe what the teevee tells them.

alex carter said...

A much better film is called "The Battle Of Chernobyl" it's an actual documentary.

Dmitry Orlov said...

Clarification: I wrote "It isn't necessary to return to the US in order to open a new visa." What I mean is that you do need to leave Russia before your visa expires, or you won't be granted a new one for a period of 5 years. But you do not have to return to the US where the remaining Russian consulates are understaffed and overworked. Any Russian consulate anywhere on the planet will grant you a visa in about 10 working days.

Pamela Storer said...

That is worth knowing Dmitry - and thanks for that. It's not what they tell you at Immigration in Russia. When they changed the Visa rules, while I was there, and no Grandfather" clause for those already there, that once you left, wherever you got your current Visa at, you had to return to your country of origin to get a brand new one, it presented insurmountable difficult for me. I didn't know if they would make me go back to Ecuador, where I got the one I was on from, or to Australia, where my current passport is issued. Either way, it made life too hard.
However, talking to the lady at St. Benedicts School in St. P's, she said they had had Australians renew their visa in London with no problems.
I found out a bit late for it to help me back in 2017, but it's a good piece of information to have now. Thanks.

Pamela Storer said...

Apropos the topic, and Russian Nuclear Energy, this has just turned up on YouTube.
People might be interested to see the strides ahead in this field Russia has made - far in advance of anywhere else I think.


Sid said...

@ Pamela Storer,

Thanks for the link. Wot, no touch screens wifi or blue tooth?! LOL. No seriously interesting video about using ANY hot isotopes to produce heat and hence generating potential. Personally I think there is a very bad karmic load on those who 'weaponised' nuclear energy - I gave up a potential career in physics as I wanted nothing to do with it (oh yes the MIC is NOT a conspiracy). My only addition would be to say that some of the thorium experimentation was along similar lines, and of course once one masters the engineering finesse to burn any heavy element safely without the emphasis on producing fissile material for bomb making, oops sorry generating power, their energy future is all but secured, barring any 'first strike' of course, which Russia has cleverly negated with its new (very) tactical highly targetted low yield system Dmitri commented on a while back.
The UKs first ever nuclear power generator next to Calder hall had been developed, not as many think to generate power, but to 'dump' the excess heat from the nuclear reaction processes being used to produce fissile material for bombs, something the British governments was obsessed with at the time, and did not care very much how they obtained it. The fire at the UKs earlier bomb making factory at Calderhead, the old 'carbon' reactor, came after the new reactor had been switch on, but so desperate were they for fissile material, they carried on using it. It was ironic that when Chernobyl went up, TPTB suddenly discovered heavy contamination in Wales, and a ban on eating welsh lamb went into immediate effect, and was still current some 30 years later. Only the isotope profile was not just from Chernobyl... there had been many more leaks and f*ck ups prior to the grand finale fire of 1957. Nowadays, Sellafield as its been renamed (yeah, rebranding - the solution to radioactive contamination) is apparently the warehouse for half the worlds weapons grade plutonium:
Yeah not the most reliable source, but hey...
Oh and for those who didn't get the touchscreen/wifi joke, solid engineering in critical applications is all about making something work under arduous conditions, not how pretty or bling it looks. I hope they stick with this idea and don't go down the 'fly by wire' nightmare to gain foreign sales through 'user friendliness' etc. Just ask Boing... er actually no don't.

Until the nuclear narrative in a society is cleansed of the horror and trauma of nuclear war no sense will ever see the light of day.

Best Wishes,

Phil Espin said...

I hadn’t intended to watch this series but after reading your blog and the debate I decided to watch it for myself and have binge watched all 5 episodes yesterday and today. You cannot really offer any meaningful comment if you haven’t watched all 5 episodes. Spoiler alert, read no further if you haven’t been watched it but plan to. The central premise is that the plant management performed a test which the manager had dishonestly certified had been done three years previously to get the plant commissioned to operate. The test was performed ineptly and without proper preparation and supervision and that led to the disaster. But the management believed there was an effective reactor kill switch that they could rely on if things went wrong. Unbeknown to them the switch proved ineffective in the reactor conditions they had ineptly created and caused the reactor to explode.It is alleged the authorities were aware of this failing, from the Leningrad incident you describe but did not correct it for reasons of cost. The denouement is a scene in court where the chief scientist exposes this cover up. He loses his career as a result. Dying anyway of radiation sickness he commits suicide 2 years to the minute after the disaster. As a result of his memoirs the dodgy reactors are fixed. Dmitry you say rectification of the known flaw was already happening. So before I go off and research it in detail are you saying this central premise is a lie? Just how much have the screenwriters fabricated?

Dmitry Orlov said...

The central premise is a lie. The screnwriters fabricated everything except the barest outline, including the motives for the suicide you mention. Radiation sickness doesn't last two years; either people recover or they die much faster than that. The lists of fabrications and inaccuracies run to many pages and I am tired of wading through this muck. Like I said, the show is about a transmogrifier malfunction on Planet 35723947, not about Chernobyl or the USSR.

Kleber said...

Hi, Dmitry.

You know how, where and when the whole world Stock Markets will start to sell nuclear derivatives future contracts? I want to buy a billion of contracts just now..... Just kidding
Nuclear power is the future. Oil is already done.
Who domains the nuclear industry in a short future time term will rule the world.
And again Brazil will be only a commodities export. Here has huge proved uranium reserves, specialy in south region...