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Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Chernobyl and the cost of systematic untruth

I watched the five-part miniseries on Chernobyl with Spacebunny over the last month and it was really good. And while the show did not tie the historical Soviet situation to the current situation faced by the West, it would be hard for any viewer to fail to miss the obvious analogy between the way in which the systematic untruths of the Soviet system led to the meltdown of the reactor and the way the systematic untruths of the West in general, and the USA in particular, are leading to war, ethnic conflict, and societal meltdown.

I addressed this analogy on the 400th Darkstream on Unauthorized. Watch it there, discuss it here.

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45 Comments:

Blogger Gregory the Tall June 05, 2019 9:46 AM  

It would be a good subject for an SF author to describe the chaos that will ensue when all the modern untruths come unglued at once:
- Muslims killing transgenders
- Chinese eating all the dogs of the Europeans
- Africans eating the European humans
- girls marrying gang muscular members just to get some protection
- Scandinavians and Canadians building Igloos against "climate change"
- aircraft carriers stuck in the eternal ice of the Northern route
- pharmaceutical executives forced to serve as lab rats for the safety testing of their own products
- Judges hanged for wrong decisions
- Lawyers hanged for lying
- millions of Europeans suddenly arming themselves with 3D-printed guns
etc.

Blogger Lauri Stark June 05, 2019 9:46 AM  

Dyatlov, 1986: "You didn't see graphite, because it's not there!"

Cucks, current year: "you didn't see color, because it's not there!"

Blogger LastRedoubt June 05, 2019 9:47 AM  

While the infogalactic article on the disaster goes into more detail, the final episode is watchable entirely on its own without losing much if you don't want to take the time to watch the whole series, and includes a decent lay-level recap and explanation of how and why the accident happened.

Blogger Nate June 05, 2019 9:48 AM  

that mini-series was possibly the best tv I've ever seen.

That said lessons can always be learned. Did you notice the jarring change of pace in the forth episode? We leave episode 3 with the miners (who were damn awesome) trying to install the heat sink. Then episode 4 starts... and it just skips months ahead without ever explaining or showing that the heat sink was installed or what happened to the miners.

Blogger Nate June 05, 2019 9:56 AM  

" the final episode is watchable entirely on its own without losing much if you don't want to take the time to watch the whole series, and includes a decent lay-level recap and explanation of how and why the accident happened."

you could do that but then you would miss the Tula miners. and that would be terrible.

Blogger S1AL June 05, 2019 10:00 AM  

The only significant criticism I've seen of the show is that it dramatically overstates casualties. Will have to catch it and see. Agreed on parallels.

Blogger Nate June 05, 2019 10:05 AM  

"The only significant criticism I've seen of the show is that it dramatically overstates casualties. "

the show states the casualty estimates range from 4000 to 80,000.

I don't see how that can be called over stating.

Blogger S1AL June 05, 2019 10:09 AM  

Because those are all hypothetical. In reality <200 people died, and most of the potential deaths will be people in their sixties and seventies.

There's a reason that nuclear accidents get blown out of proportion.

Blogger Nate June 05, 2019 10:11 AM  

"In reality <200 people died"

you and the old USSR are free to believe that.

Blogger English Tom June 05, 2019 10:14 AM  

Apparently there was criticism of the series because there weren't enough people of colour in it!

Blogger John Regan June 05, 2019 10:15 AM  

Modernity doesn't acknowledge that there is any such thing as truth. The US had that in common with the Soviet Union.

Blogger The Observer June 05, 2019 10:18 AM  

Apparently there was criticism of the series because there weren't enough people of colour in it!

Clearly the fictional female scientist wasn't enough to appease the diversity crowd.

Blogger S1AL June 05, 2019 10:29 AM  

"you and the old USSR are free to believe that."

Correction: in the short-term. The criticism was that long-term estimates are presented as having already occurred, rather than being hypothetical. I have no idea which is correct because, as you said, USSR.

Blogger pyrrhus June 05, 2019 10:31 AM  

Dmitri Orlov says that Chernobyl was deliberate sabotage....I have to watch the series, which I will soon...As to the lowballed official casualties, I'm sure they were far greater, probably by orders of magnitude..By comparison, we were told by the "authorities" that the SF Earthquake and Fire killed about 200 people...Investigation in recent times revealed that the death toll was at least 3000, but the city fathers didn't want bad publicity.

Blogger pyrrhus June 05, 2019 10:33 AM  

@1..- Muslims killing transgenders
- Chinese eating all the dogs of the Europeans
- Africans eating the European humans
- girls marrying gang muscular members just to get some protection
- Scandinavians and Canadians building Igloos against "climate change"
- aircraft carriers stuck in the eternal ice of the Northern route
- pharmaceutical executives forced to serve as lab rats for the safety testing of their own products
- Judges hanged for wrong decisions
- Lawyers hanged for lying
- millions of Europeans suddenly arming themselves with 3D-printed guns
etc.

Heck of a script!

Blogger Credo in unum Deum June 05, 2019 10:37 AM  

Best Darkstream in my memory. Can't praise it enough. Now I just need to figure out how to email it to a friend.

Blogger linesy June 05, 2019 10:38 AM  

It's very rare these that people at work talk about TV. This show has been one of those rare exceptions. Threw out my TV some time ago (English, so two reasons to get rid), so will work something out ;)

Blogger Dave June 05, 2019 10:40 AM  

Of course, the producer is a total Hollywood hack who cannot graciously accept input from the right.

https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/chernobyl-mazin-limbaugh-bongino/

Mazin would rather score cheap shots at Trump and his supporters than see his critically hailed series snare a larger audience.

Blogger Quilp June 05, 2019 10:48 AM  

I am on episode 4, but I agree, so far it's really well done. When the KGB arrested the female nuclear physicist in the Hospital for saying "people will know, people need to know" (or something similar), all I could think of was the American media now playing that role, a role of silencing/doxing American citizens.

Blogger Johnny June 05, 2019 11:26 AM  

It could easily be they lie about the body count. That would be unsurprising. But it is also true that the degree of damage from higher levels of background radiation is minimal, and there is a certain amount of evidence that it is not be damaging at all. Keep in mind that there are at least two sides here with different agendas, and both sides are capable of lying.

Blogger Barbarossa June 05, 2019 11:27 AM  

For those of you unfamiliar with nuclear reactors, above and beyond the operations of the facility that fateful morning, there are the more disturbing decisions made in the construction itself. First, as has been mentioned, the core moderator was graphite. Graphite has a positive moderator temperature coefficient as opposed to water which is negative. Simply put, the MTC describes how the fast neutrons from the fission are slowed down. If you have a positive MTC, as your moderator temperature goes up, more neutrons are moderated increasing the fission rate. In the case of the Soviet RBMK reactor, it meant that in case of a fire, you were in effect stoking the nuclear furnace. In the US, commercial reactors use light water as both moderator and coolant. While losing water will melt your rods, it will at least stop the nuclear reactions.

The second decision was to not build an actual containment building around the reactor. If you've never had the privilege of being able to stand before a containment structure, it is a serious piece of engineering. What was around Chernobyl was a glorified shed.

I haven't been able to see the show yet, but one can imagine Soviet policy makers deluding themselves them into running an uncontained positive MTC reactor with a confident assurance that "Such accidents happen in the decadent West. Not in workers' paradise!" No doubt being cash poor also factored into the in-retrospect reckless decision to construct the site in such a configuration.

Blogger Silent Draco June 05, 2019 11:31 AM  

Something important from the Darkstream was the missed importance of backup systems. Limited power in keeping the turbines spinning fast enough to generate a minimum cooling water flow. Direct drive water pumps on the turbine shaft? Ye cats. Important note: the turbines are always turning, even when 'shut down', so the shafts stay true and the seals and bearings remain lubricated. Otherwise the turbine shaft deforms, blades hit things, and the turbine disintegrates like a very big fragmentation bomb. Maintenance turn rate is slower, so if the pumps are driven by the turbine shaft, there may not be enough RPM to generate flow. Backup? Backup plan for when the plant is in refuel or maintenance mode?

The full combination is backup power on an independent source; lubrication (pumps and oil for main, startup, and backup) for turbines; backup power and pumps for the cooling system; and competent staff to monitor controls and ensure the emergency procedure gets followed if an automatic change doesn't happen. This is not obvious until you diagram out the system, and assess key inputs. outputs, contributors and controls. Then you can run degradation drill son what happen is subsystem or feed X is cut off or reduced.

Vox, the series elides over this for time reasons: lubrication, coolant and pumps, and generators may not be on the reactor top system board. They are subsystems or sub-subsystems (lubrication). These are monitored by engineering teams who understand what they are doing and what interacts, reporting to and listening to or advising a competent engineer in charge. Any of theses systems has an operating range of conditions, and has some tolerance built in for transients or breakdowns. Something is always down for repair or checking. There is always a manual shutdown procedure to stop everything safely. In an emergency, this takes fairly calm and competent heads to handle.

Command by apparatchik helped guarantee a disaster. Every "not-fail" step, design, or rationalization helped create a disaster, The absence of a "Get Out of Gulag Free" certainly contributed. Absence or degradation of key backups creates a disaster.

In the West, substitute government official, lawyer, or accountant for apparatchik. Is still nomenklatura of some kind. Take a good look at your local utility, communication, transport, industrial, sewer, and power systems. How many are one size fits all? How many use One Big Thing with half-trained operators because it's cheap and faster, or because they have to by law or regulation? How many key systems are routed in the same spatial corridors for efficiency? Are there backups in case a key transport, commo, or power source is damaged?

Much of this is intermediate system engineering, which means applied common sense and wisdom. It takes a fairly homogeneous high IQ nation to build, understand, and maintain this. Common sense is based then on higher intelligence, and sense and wisdom come from experience and from reading about lessons elsewhere. When the UHIQ, VHIQ, and HIQ people who create ro design this are not there or are inclusioned out, and partially capable or ignorant workers and managers get inclusioned in, bad things begin happening a little at a time. When the next one in line is a big bad thing, the disaster is the fault of the inclusioned out because feelz.

A good basic book on SE is the fairy tale, "The King's Stilts". Stripped of all techno-babble, you see what key players and things keep the kingdom unflooded, and how easy it is to let this decay. Don't let your stilts dry rot, and keep the cats active.

Blogger Argus Bacchus June 05, 2019 11:34 AM  

The 400th Darkstream is an excellent synthesis and distillation of the crisis facing western countries who were stupid enough to go full civnat/defacto open borders for vibrants.

Blogger Akuma June 05, 2019 12:26 PM  

Don't worry Elon Musk has us covered. The blocking of our ability to see the next incoming interstellar object will solve all our problems.

Blogger pyrrhus June 05, 2019 12:27 PM  

@21 >I haven't been able to see the show yet, but one can imagine Soviet policy makers deluding themselves them into running an uncontained positive MTC reactor with a confident assurance that "Such accidents happen in the decadent West. Not in workers' paradise!" No doubt being cash poor also factored into the in-retrospect reckless decision to construct the site in such a configuration.

The same factors apparently caused GE's reckless design mistakes at Fukushima....

Blogger Avalanche June 05, 2019 12:56 PM  

@14 "Investigation in recent times revealed"

Investigation if future years will reveal the lies of TEPCO and the Japanese govt about Fukishima... I'm .... deeply withholding ... any judgement either way on Owen's "no nuke bombs" -- I worked at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation years ago. As with all "orthodoxy": sumthin' ain't right in their stories .... but many many many things ARE.

Blogger pyrrhus June 05, 2019 1:10 PM  

Great Darkstream VD!

Blogger Doktor Jeep June 05, 2019 1:19 PM  

At least Europe will stay Europe. That matters more. If I had to choose between the ancient cathedrals of Europe being kicked down by muslims or America's shit-tier construction getting burned down in a civil war, give me the latter.

Blogger Barbarossa June 05, 2019 1:33 PM  

@25 Not sure how much we can put on GE's plate for that one, especially since Ebasco was the architect-engineer for the project. The choice of a BWR at that site was suspect, but ultimately the decision to not use a PWR rests with Tokyo Electric. Also, the height of the seawall had been identified as a risk and no action was taken. Again a TEPCO decision, an especially damning one since the Onagawa plant closer to the epicenter did have a higher seawall and did not have a problem.

Blogger tublecane June 05, 2019 1:37 PM  

I was reminded of the t.v. movie Citizen X, also produced by HBO, which details the manhunt for the Butcher of Rostov serial killer Chikatilo. He killed like 53 people, mostly children. Donald Sutherland plays an apparatchik similar to Stellan Skarsgård in Chernobyl. Older than the detective who wants to perform a more scientific investigation. Wiser to the ways of Soviet bureaucracy.

The main hurdle in the movie is that officially Soviet authorities don't recognize the existence of serial killing. That's a decadent Western phenomenon. The resources investigators need must be horse-traded. It's all very roundabout.

There is one section where the authorities spring into direct action. When it's clear the killer is a sex pervert, they swiftly round up all the known deviants.

Blogger Original H June 05, 2019 2:08 PM  

What bothers me about western nuclear power plants is the complexity of backup systems, the reliance on diesel generators, and how spent rods are kept in precariously located cool-down pools above the reactors for months.

Fukushima (GE design) happened as a tsunami knocked out power lines and drowned the generators.

In midwest flooding a couple of years ago, water levels got close to generators of recently shut down plants.

Generators have to keep running to to maintain cooling of all the rods for months if a plant is shut down or they'll melt down, but this relies on continuing fuel transports, competent operators, etc.

Blogger JaimeInTexas June 05, 2019 2:50 PM  

Mercury poisoning at Minamata, Japan

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2004/12/mike-in-tokyo-rogers/minamata/

This is a picture of a father taking care of his son, who was born deformed due to mercury poisoning. This is the image in my mind when I think what compassion looks like:
https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-kjLIE9MUmk4/T_4nwwMHIyI/AAAAAAAACLk/pfd9wF-Gmto/s1600/w-eugene-smith-tomoko-uemura-in-her-bath-minamata-1972.jpg

Blogger JaimeInTexas June 05, 2019 2:52 PM  

I forgot to add, that Minamata was another disaster hidden from people outside the affected area.

Blogger Cluebat June 05, 2019 2:56 PM  

I had just returned from operations in the Gulf of Sidrah to enjoy some liberty in Naples and witnessed the street demonstrations. The command ordered us to stay away from these, but as I passed by one of them, someone gave me a handbill. It was in Italian, and I could not read it well, but kept it as a souvenir. The demonstration was by the Italian Communist Party (CPI). I think I'll scan it and post it up somewhere for posterity.

Blogger justaguy June 05, 2019 3:45 PM  

There were too many factual errors in the series for it to be anything more than a fable about the destruction caused by putting people in charge who do not know what they are doing. There are several UN reports and other nation reports on the disaster that likely are close to the truth-- if the truth can be known about something covered up for years. The actual death toll was low, and mainly due to fire/burns, not radiation. Longer term deaths were also quite low. Exposure deaths are gross myths by envirowakos who use LNT and apply low doses to everyone and come up with large numbers. By their methods of calculations, the airlines (added radiation exposure) would be killing millions.

The series wants a set of events and ended up making up too many for dramatic effect. The reactor was an unstable design and did not have containment. Reactor accidents happen in much less than 1 second- the reactions that go out of control happen so fast that most of the events are about how to fix/stop further damage from the now melted/too hot fuel that still needs to be cooled to prevent further melting and the accumulation and then explosion of hydrogen.

I think that the series will introduce to a few generations the incompetence of government, especially communist government, for those who never read "The Russians (1984)" or its like that described the idiocy of the USSR.

Blogger Tars Tarkas June 05, 2019 3:53 PM  

Dave wrote:Of course, the producer is a total Hollywood hack who cannot graciously accept input from the right.

The red-hot Rush take. Oh, socialism bad, Reagan good. Cowards, all of them!

Blogger RedJack June 05, 2019 5:17 PM  

I am reading "Midnight in Chernobyl" right now. A few things stick out.

I have spent a long career in engineer in many industries. Not only is the "lie to the boss" thing not unique, it is so common as to be the standard. I have been punished at jobs for being right, making the company millions, but going against what the higher ups believe.

And if you have ever been in a US utility, there are similar things all over. Regulations no one reads, unsafe designs passed through for cheap, risks taken because acknowledging what is going on is professional suicide.

As more engineers are promoted because of where they pee and what color of skin they have, the worse this will get.

Don't fly. Learn to grow food and hunt. Figure out an alternate source of water. The infrastructure in the US has never been great, but it is not being maintained.

The amazing thing isn't that the meltdown happened in the Ukraine, but that it didn't happen in Illinois.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd June 05, 2019 7:13 PM  

RedJack wrote:As more engineers are promoted because of where they pee and what color of skin they have, the worse this will get.

Don't fly. Learn to grow food and hunt. Figure out an alternate source of water. The infrastructure in the US has never been great, but it is not being maintained.


I'm a power engineer. I can confirm that our infrastructure isn't getting better, and it's not a new problem. Every dollar spent on alternative energy is a dollar not spent on transmission and distribution integrity, and reduces our reliability. I'm trying to get a subsistence/hobby farm up and running for exactly these reasons.

Blogger Engineer-Poet June 05, 2019 9:21 PM  

"Chernobyl" has been in the news lately, and has prompted quite a bit of comment about it.  These links came up in my regular reading:

http://world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/The-drama-and-the-facts-about-Chernobyl
https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a27729387/chernobyl-broken-arrows/
https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/what-separates-chernobyl-from-three-mile-island-and-fukushima/

The actual death toll from the Chernobyl disaster ("disaster" seems wrong, it was more a case of gross negligence and reckless endangerment combined) was well under 100.  All the claims of thousands to as many as 800,000 fatalities are based on literally bogus science called the linear no-threshold theory, or LNT.  This theory claims that radiation damage is cumulative and cannot be repaired.

We know LNT is grossly wrong, but all the anti-nuclear hysteria is based on it.  If LNT were true, both cancer rates and rates of birth defects would show a proportionality with natural radiation exposure world-wide.  There is no such correlation.  Finland is naturally high in radiation but the Finns don't show up with 2 heads with 3 eyes apiece.  A blogger who goes by bionerd23 spent some time at the (radioactive thorium-rich monazite sand) beach at Guarapari in Brazil, and produced some videos about it including this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvgAx1yIKjg

The sand she collected at the beach was confiscated by German customs as a radiation hazard.  This is the same sand that people sit on and bury themselves in for their health.

There is pushback against radiation hysteria.  I recommend Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information:

https://radiationeffects.org/

For those interested in the forensic analysis of radiation hysteria including who paid to generate it, you can do a lot worse than to start with the analyses done by Rod Adams.  He blogs at https://atomicinsights.com; try the tags "LNT" and "smoking gun".

Blogger OneWingedShark June 05, 2019 10:39 PM  

Gregory the Great wrote:It would be a good subject for an SF author to describe the chaos that will ensue when all the modern untruths come unglued at once:
- Lawyers hanged for lying

We can't do that… I mean, then who'd be in congress?

Ominous Cowherd wrote:RedJack wrote:As more engineers are promoted because of where they pee and what color of skin they have, the worse this will get.

Don't fly. Learn to grow food and hunt. Figure out an alternate source of water. The infrastructure in the US has never been great, but it is not being maintained.

I'm a power engineer. I can confirm that our infrastructure isn't getting better, and it's not a new problem. Every dollar spent on alternative energy is a dollar not spent on transmission and distribution integrity, and reduces our reliability. I'm trying to get a subsistence/hobby farm up and running for exactly these reasons.

Interesting / I heard, somewhere, that the "Smart Grid" is essentially optimizing for sensitivity and fragility & that in order to have a robust power-system you'd have to preclude basically every point of design, is this true?

Blogger eclecticme June 06, 2019 3:18 AM  

@3. LastRedoubt June 05, 2019 9:47 AM
While the infogalactic article on the disaster goes into more detail, the final episode is watchable entirely on its own without losing much if you don't want to take the time to watch the whole series, and includes a decent lay-level recap and explanation of how and why the accident happened.


YES. I watched several documentaries on Chernobyl and thought the HBO episode 6 trial explanation was the best. It does stand alone. Most or all other docs do not even mention the Xenon poisoning.

The other docs all vary in the details they present, some with errors. One said that 600 helicopter pilots later died. Is that true ???

Talking heads chatter that the USSR delayed their response. 36 hours after the accident a town of 40K had been evacuated. I thought of the school buses in New Orleans sitting underwater. Could the US have mobilized the miners or the 'liqudators'? Not pro commie here just thinking out loud. In one doc some USSR officer said it was like 1941 and that only in the USSR could you find such people.

Blogger One Deplorable DT June 06, 2019 11:00 AM  

@39 - The actual death toll from the Chernobyl disaster ("disaster" seems wrong, it was more a case of gross negligence and reckless endangerment combined) was well under 100.

As Nate said earlier, you and the former USSR are welcome to believe that. Estimates of 80k or 800k are clearly nonsense. But claims of <100 are equally nonsense.

Blogger One Deplorable DT June 06, 2019 11:04 AM  

@41 - Talking heads chatter that the USSR delayed their response. 36 hours after the accident a town of 40K had been evacuated. I thought of the school buses in New Orleans sitting underwater.

I would give them this small point, especially in consideration of the fact that higher ups were being lied to by local apparatchiks.

Could the US have mobilized the miners or the 'liqudators'?

In 1986? Probably. In 2019? Ehhh...we'd like to get there sooner but we discovered there aren't enough womyn, PoC, and trannies on the management team. We'll get the evacuation under way just as soon as we rectify this terrible social injustice.

Blogger One Deplorable DT June 06, 2019 11:09 AM  

@37 - I have spent a long career in engineer in many industries. Not only is the "lie to the boss" thing not unique, it is so common as to be the standard. I have been punished at jobs for being right, making the company millions, but going against what the higher ups believe.

I've worked as a truly independent contractor and as an employee. One of the things I can't stomach about being an employee is that lying is expected. If I'm brought in as an independent contractor I'm generally treated as the SME because otherwise why did you hire me? And if I'm not I have no issue calling others on their BS. Don't like it? Pay me for the work to date and go make your mistakes.

Blogger Engineer-Poet June 07, 2019 1:43 PM  

"you and the former USSR are welcome to believe that. Estimates of 80k or 800k are clearly nonsense. But claims of <100 are equally nonsense."

The account of the accident at Hiroshima Syndrome lists these fatalities:

2 traumatic fatalities from the steam explosion (1 body never found)
28 prompt deaths from acute radiation sickness
22 delayed deaths from radiation-associated disorders

That's a total of 52.

HS mentions ~1800 thyroid cancers in children who consumed I-131 contaminated milk, but claims there were no fatalities.  I've seen claims that there were a handful of deaths from thyroid cancer, bringing the total up to perhaps 58.  But that's it; the total is equivalent to one major bus accident.

If you claim there were hundreds of fatalities due to radiation (not from e.g. displacement of people in fragile health, depression, alcohol abuse from depression, etc.) please illuminate us as to:

1.  What the specific illnesses were;
2.  Where they occurred;
3.  To whom they occurred; and
4.  What the connection is to radiation exposure.

I've seen video of deformed children in Ukraine, but their malformations are atypical for radiation-induced disorders (leukemia is by far the most common) and look much more like the mother consumed something toxic early in pregnancy, like Thalidomide or some natural teratogen.

If you want to talk deaths from air pollution due to Chernobyl unit 4 shutting down and forcing more coal to be burned instead, I'll agree with you 100%.  Coal is filthy stuff.  The top-predator game fish in my state carry toxic levels of mercury, and almost all of it came out of the stacks of coal plants.  The real irony is that if we'd eliminated coal in the 1970's as the nuclear industry looked as it was going to do, those fish would be safe to eat now.  And anti-nukes call themselves "environmentalists"....

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