by Richard Cameron
Vladimir Putin May Use Chernobyl Radiation To Blackmail Ukraine
It’s clear that part of Vladimir Putin’s overall strategy in his invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine, within the last 36 hours, is to find some vulnerability that would enable him to blackmail the Ukrainian government into capitulating and permit Putin to set up a puppet regime, while ousting the legitimately and duly elected government of that country.
He’s found one. Russian military forces, together with elements of the Belarus army, have reportedly captured the site of the former nuclear generation plant at Chernobyl, noted for the catastrophe that took place there during Soviet control of Ukraine in 1986.
The Chernobyl exclusion zone, that reports indicate the forces of the invasion have now brought under occupation, covers approximately 1,000 square miles and it is an area where not only is radioactive contamination the highest, but the facility itself is a massive risk for a repeat event that could spread radiological material over potentially hundreds of miles in every direction.
As you can see from the above graphic, depending on the atmospheric conditions, the spread of the contaminants could not only affect Russia’s allies, but conceivably Russia itself, or it could travel in the direction of our NATO allies in the region. Putin’s gambit could put a unified military response back on the table.
Up until early morning in the Eastern time zone, the decommissioned nuclear power plant was under the cautious maintenance and management of Ukraine’s Safety Problems of Nuclear Power Plants (ISPNPP). Now those engineers and technicians are gone and the specter of a colossal disaster has risen exponentially.
Recently, a New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure had been completed to safeguard against the possibility of another explosive release of still active fissile material within the reactors.
ScienceMag reported last year that the sarcophagus covering the Unit Four reactor, displayed to the team monitoring it that Unit Four is heating up again. ExtremeTech reporter Ryan Whitwam, outlined in a recent article that:
The ISPNPP monitors neutron levels in the wrecked Unit Four building, which still contains a molten slurry of uranium fuel rods, zirconium cladding, graphite control rods, and melted sand. The room below the Unit Four reactor was once known as 305/2, but now it’s a vat containing tons of this semiliquid nuclear material. The team estimates half of the reactor’s original fuel is still locked up inside 305/2, so it’s not great news that neutron levels have doubled in the past four years.
The heavy rubble within this containment structure is a radioactive mischung of uranium, zirconium, graphite and sand that had, in lava like fashion, accumulated in the basement of the reactor and subsequently hardening into accretions of fuel-containing materials (FCMs).
“this radioactive waste is smoldering ‘like the embers in a barbecue pit’.”
-Neil Hyatt, a nuclear materials chemist at the University of Sheffield
As measured by the scientific monitoring equipment of ISPNPP, rising degrees of neutron levels point to the fact that the FCMs are producing new reactions, which in turn increase the critical importance of proper supervision of the failed reactors as well as making certain the containment structures are not compromised in any manner.
There are known to be 22,000 assemblies of spent nuclear fuel in the footprint of the Chernobyl exclusion zone storage sites, secured in special casks to prevent contamination.
The simple fact (as if any of this precarious situation is ‘simple’), is that Putin has not dispatched his army to this facility at random and additionally, the status of the reactors that were under constant supervision by scientists that understood the peril the most, is such that any accidental or deliberate damage or compromise of the confinement structures could result in the deaths and extreme sickness of untold thousands of people, possibly even Putin’s own citizens.
According to iNewsUK:
Dmytro Gumenyuk, head of safety analysis at the State Scientific and Technical Centre for Nuclear and Radiation Safety, a body within the state nuclear inspectorate, said radiation could contaminate air, soil and waterways, affecting not only Ukraine but also Russia and much of the continent, if nuclear power plants got caught in crossfire.
Neither the most severe of sanctions, nor the virtually unanimous disapproval of all non-authoritarian governments internationally, will deter Putin now.
Nor will the conceivable prospect of his own people suffering or even his military forces being exposed to deadly radiation.