On November 29th, officials involved with the New Safe Confinement (NSC) project gathered near the site of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, to celebrate the installation of the massive NSC structure over top of the plant’s aging containment building. The NSC building, meant to isolate the entire power plant from the surrounding environment for the next century, required a major feat of engineering to bring into being.
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One way to determine what the aftermath of radioactive pollution from the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan will be is to look at what happened in Eastern Europe after Chernobyl exploded in 1986. When talking about Chernobyl in the July 12th edition of the New York Times, Joe Nocera notes that, "Oddly enough, the 25th anniversary of the worst nuclear accident in history has been marked by journalism about animals." But he knows someone who was directly exposed to radiation from the power plant meltdown in the Ukraine.
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T.S. Eliot’s poem "The Hollow Men" says, "This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper." The Japanese nuclear plant meltdowns may end the same way. How will the affected plants finally be closed? A look at what happened at Chernobyl can give us a clue: Several times a month, especially after it rains in that part of the Ukraine, the water that has seeped through the cracks in the reactor is removed so that radiated water does not escape into the atmosphere. The area endangered by the Chernobyl reactor is 15,000 square miles–about the size of Switzerland–and the danger will last for over 300 more years, even though the meltdown occurred 25 years ago.
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