(Crest of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Department of the Ministry of Defense/GUR; Motto translates as: The Wise Will Rule Over the Stars)
Ukraine’s Military Intelligence Department, the GUR, has issued a warning regarding Russia’s plans for the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Here are the screenshots of a machine translation of the GUR’s Telegram page:
It is unclear what, if anything the Russians are planning. I’ve seen several different pronouncements and lots of speculation ranging from just running a PSYOP campaign to freak everyone out to undertaking an attack on the plant and trying to blame Ukraine. Here’s what the Russians put out that prompted the Ukrainian response:
*atomic power station
— Oliver Carroll (@olliecarroll) August 18, 2022
The Ukrainin GUR obviously thinks they can interrupt whatever the Russians are planning to do by putting out their own warning.
Here is President Zelenskyy’s address from earlier this evening. Video below, English transcript after the jump (emphasis mine):
Good health to you, fellow Ukrainians!
Today we are in Lviv, the Potocki Palace, now. At the end of this very busy day, here’s my report on events, meetings, negotiations and decisions.
We have been here since the morning. And once again I want to thank the city of Lviv, all Lviv residents for the attention, comfort and emotional support felt throughout the day.
First of all, I paid a visit to our defenders – those who are being treated after injuries in the hospital. Very brave guys, strong. I thanked the doctors who are doing everything to restore the health of our warriors as soon as possible.
I was very happy to see the boys and girls studying at the Petro Sahaidachnyi National Ground Forces Academy. It was extremely pleasant to hear that more and more people want to become officers of the Ukrainian army. The competition for one place in the academy is of such a scale that used to be only in civilian universities before. And this really gives a reason to be proud not just of the patriotism of our youth, but of the fact that people believe in Ukraine, in our Armed Forces, in our victory. I presented awards to the best warriors.
During a special ceremony on the Field of Mars of the Lychakiv Cemetery, we honored the memory of all those who gave their lives for Ukraine and for the independence of our country in this brutal war.
There is no other alternative – we must return everything of ours and guarantee security for all future generations of Ukraine.
I held talks with UN Secretary-General Guterres and President of Türkiye Erdoğan.
Most of the points discussed are already in the news. I want to say a few main things now.
First. There are no objective obstacles to prevent the IAEA mission from reaching the Zaporizhzhia NPP. Today, Mr. Guterres and I discussed the parameters of this mission and the fact that it can get to the plant very quickly and quite safely in a legal way through the free territory of our state. And just like that.
The one who organized nuclear blackmail certainly cannot be the “transporter” of any such missions. Russia must immediately and unconditionally allow IAEA representatives to the plant and also immediately and unconditionally withdraw its troops from the territory of the plant. The world has the power to ensure this.
If it does not ensure this, we can simply throw the entire body of international documents on nuclear and radiation safety into the trash. Russia is destroying this international order.
The second extremely important point of the negotiations is Ukrainian prisoners of war held by the Russian Federation.
I called on Mr. Secretary-General to use all the capabilities of the UN to ensure Russia’s compliance with all norms of international law regarding prisoners of war. And we discussed sending a fact-finding mission to Olenivka. The full truth about this Russian terrorist attack must and will be established.
Of course, we talked about the grain export initiative. The result is there – and not only for Ukraine, but also for the world, as it is felt that the severity of the global food crisis is decreasing.
Therefore, there is a great need for more security, a greater volume of exports, more ships that can deliver Ukrainian food from our ports.
I held very substantive negotiations on many topics today with President of Türkiye Erdoğan. I am grateful to him for his unwavering support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state. We discussed defense, economic and energy cooperation.
I am grateful to Türkiye for its willingness to take under patronage the reconstruction of Kharkiv and the Kharkiv region. This is a mission for a truly powerful country. Today, the first step was taken – an agreement on infrastructure was signed.
I called on both Mr. President and Mr. Secretary-General to voice the strictest possible position regarding Russia’s planned pseudo-referendums in the occupied territory. Any pseudo-referendum will be a slap in the face of the international community.
And I want to mention one more thing today.
It was an extremely hard night in Kharkiv – more than ten people died. Mykolaiv and Zaporizhzhia were again shelled. The Russian army is spending enormous resources to capture at least one more kilometer in Donbas. Russian officials reiterate threats to Odesa and other cities of Ukraine. We see what is happening at the Zaporizhzhia NPP. We see what happened in Olenivka.
We can and should think only about how to win. To win on the battlefield, on the political front, in the information confrontation, in the economic plane, everywhere…
Let’s believe in ourselves, help each other, protect the interests of Ukraine and know that there will be peace.
He who fights and fights wisely wins.
Eternal glory to all our warriors! Eternal memory to all those whose lives were taken away by the occupiers.
Glory to Ukraine!
Before his meetings in Lviv, President Zelenskyy went and visited wounded Ukrainian Soldiers in the hospital:
President Volodymyr Zelensky visited veterans at a hospital in Lviv, where he arrived on Aug. 18 for a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Video: President's Office. pic.twitter.com/JTChC8Sggs
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) August 18, 2022
Here is today’s operational update from Ukraine’s MOD:
The operational update regarding the russian invasion on 06.00, on August 18, 2022
Glory to Ukraine! The one hundred seventy sixth (176) day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military invasion continues.
The enemy continues to focus its efforts on establishing full control over the territories of the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, maintaining the temporarily captured areas of the Kherson oblast and parts of the Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, and Mykolaiv oblast, creating favourable conditions for resuming the offensive in certain directions, as well as blocking Ukraine’s maritime communications in the Black Sea.
Air and missile strikes on military and civilian targets on the territory of Ukraine continue.
The situation in the Volyn and Polissya directions has not changed significantly. The units of the Armed Forces of the republic of belarus continue to carry out the task of strengthening the protection of the section of the belarusian-Ukrainian border in the Brest and Gomel regions.
The threat of the enemy launching missile and air strikes from the territory and airspace of the republic of belarus remains.
In the Siversky region, the enemy continues to hold units of the armed forces of the russian federation in the border areas of the Bryansk and Kursk regions in order to constrain the actions of units of the Defense Forces.
The enemy fired artillery shells in the areas of Vovkivka, Yastrubyne and Popivka settlements of the Sumy oblast.
In the Slobozhansky direction, the enemy continues to conduct hostilities with the aim of holding previously occupied lines and preventing the offensive of the Defense Forces of Ukraine.
In the Kharkiv direction, the enemy carried out fire damage from tanks, barrel and rocket artillery in the areas of Karasivka, Petrivka, Bazaliivka, Rtyshchivka, Duvanka, Ivanivka, Mospanove, Lisne, Velyki Prohody, Pytomnyk, Husarivka and Chepil settlements.
Carried out remote mining of the area near Lebyazhe.
In the Slovyansk direction, the enemy shelled the areas of Velyka Komyshuvakha, Virnopilla, Adamivka, and Dovhenky with artillery.
In the Kramatorsk direction, the enemy fired from tanks and multiple rocket launchers at the regions of Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, Spirne, Donetsk, Ivano-Daryivka, Siversk, Zvanivka, and Raihorodok. Made an air strike near Vesele.
It led an offensive in the Mykolaivka-Vyimka direction, was unsuccessful, withdrew.
In the direction of Bakhmut, shelling was recorded near Bakhmut, Soledar, Rozdolivka, Kodema and Mayorsk.
The occupiers launched an offensive in the directions of Volodymyrivka – Soledar, Pokrovske – Bakhmutske, Pokrovske – Bakhmut, Klynove – Bakhmut, Semihirya – Zaitseve, Semihirya – Kodema and Holmivskyi – Zaitseve. The invaders did not achieve any positive results in any of the offensive directions and withdrew with losses.
In the Avdiivka direction, the enemy fired from barrel, rocket artillery, and tanks near Avdiivka, Maryinka, Alexandropil, Pisky, Pervomaiske, and Opytne.
It led an offensive in the direction of Lozove – Pervomaiske, was unsuccessful, withdrew.
On the Novopavlivskyi and Zaporizhzhia directions, the enemy is defending the occupied areas. Shelled the areas of settlements of Novosilka, Novomykhailivka, Bohoyavlenka, Stepnohirsk, Shevchenko, Burlatske, Zaliznychne, Hulyaipilske, Lukyanivske, Preobrazhenka, Poltavka.
Conducted aerial reconnaissance of UAVs near Poltavka, Hulyaipole, Malynyivka, Zelenyi Hay, Shcherbaki and Novoyakovlivka.
It tried to conduct assaults in the direction of Yehorivka – Shevchenkove, was unsuccessful, withdrew.
In the South Buh direction, the main efforts of the enemy’s forces are focused on holding the occupied areas and restraining the actions of the Defense Forces of Ukraine.
Shelling was recorded near the settlements of Mykolaiv, Stepova Dolyna, Luch, Posad-Pokrovske, Halytsynove, Oleksandrivka, Myrne, Shyroke, Kvitneve, Kiselivka, Kobzartsi, Pervomaiske, Kavkaz, Murakhivka, Andriivka, Osokorivka, Ivanivka, and Trudolyubivka.
The enemy carried out airstrikes near Bila Krynytsia, Blahodatny, and Khutirska creek.
Conducted aerial reconnaissance by UAVs in the areas of Bilohirka, Lozove, Pervomaiske, Oleksandrivka, Trudolyubivka, Osokorivka and Ivanivka settlements.
According to available information, two sea-based cruise missile carriers are ready to use high-precision weapons.
We believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine! Together we will win!
Glory to Ukraine!
Here is today’s assessment from the British MOD:
And here is their updated map for today:
Former NAVDEVGRU Squadron Leader Chuck Pfarrer’s did not post an updated map and analysis for the battle of Kherson today. He did, however, put a spotlight on this geospatial analysis:
TRANSIT TIME: The always cogent @DefMon3 has examined RU logistics and determines 12 hour R/T rail journey times from Crimea to the front. Rail journeys would be measured in days, not hours, if UKR forces use HIMARS to strike rail switches and culverts. And they will. https://t.co/8Yzns9WApm
— Chuck Pfarrer (@ChuckPfarrer) August 18, 2022
Last night I referenced that the Russians had once again lit up Kharkiv. Here’s the details:
Terrifying cruise missile attack on Kharkiv. At night, on the dormitory building in Saltivka. 6 people killed, 16 wounded. One detail in this horrible video – someone planted corn near devastated building, in the midst of the war, someone just wanted to live. pic.twitter.com/FpTh1l2NbO
— Maria Avdeeva (@maria_avdv) August 17, 2022
This is what it looked like by the light of day:
⚡️Death toll in Russia’s Aug. 17 attack on Kharkiv rises to 12.
The State Emergency Service reported that 20 civilians were injured in the Russian missile strike on a residential building in the Saltivskyi district. The rescue operation continues.
📷State Emergency Service pic.twitter.com/glkZ4IVPRn
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) August 18, 2022
Today they went after Sumy, among other Ukrainian targets:
No casualties were reported, but Russian shelling damaged a school and a non-residential building in the community of Bilopillia and a civilian infrastructure object in the community of Myropillia.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) August 18, 2022
The Ukrainians, whether Ukrainian SOF, Ukrainian partisans in Russian occupied Ukraine, both, or through the use of artillery, continue to step up their operational tempo!
The city of Kerch is linked to Russia's Krasnodar Krai via the strategic Crimean Bridge. On Aug. 17, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the President’s Office, said that the Crimean Bridge should be destroyed as a legitimate military target.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) August 18, 2022
⚡️Media: Explosions heard at Belbek military airfield near Sevastopol, Crimea.
Mikhail Razvozzhayev, head of the Russian occupation government in Ukraine's Sevastopol, attributed the sounds to the work of air defense.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) August 18, 2022
Stuff keeps blowing up within Russia too!
⚡️Governor: Ammunition depot on fire in Russia's Belgorod Oblast.
According to Belgorod Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov, the cause of the fire is being established. No casualties were reported.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) August 18, 2022
Could be Ukrainian SOF, could be Ukrainian partisans from Russian occupied Ukraine, could be Russians opposed to the war, could be a combination of all of those or none of them at all and something else is going on. Regardless, as I’ve stated several times, while the actual physical damage is important in terms of achieving the Ukrainian theater strategy, the really important effect here is the psychological one. Furthering the feeling that no place in Russian occupied Ukraine is safe for the Russians and places in Russia are no longer safe either.
That’s enough for tonight.
Your daily Patron!
My thoughts before sleeping: « Kerch, ducks, Himars, bridge, soon ». Something in this chain is redundant, isn't it? 😏 pic.twitter.com/AYDRRmiKH0
— Patron (@PatronDsns) August 18, 2022
Sleep well Patron!
And a new video from Patron’s official TikTok:
Маленький і щасливий я 🐶 #песпатрон #патрондснс #славаукраїні
The caption translates as:
I am small and happy 🐶 #pespatron #patrondsns #slavaukrain
Thanks, as always, for the post Adam!
Hi Adam, thank you for these.
Has anyone commented on the Russian military games going on right now? Apparently, they are using some of their most modern tanks for competitions between teams from other countries, and things aren’t going great.
Based on my general impression — only that — of Russian military performance throughout this sordid and destructive misadventure, I am gobsmacked that US taxpayers have been bilked for so many trillions of dollars over so many years allegedly to counter what now appears to be not just a paper tiger but one made of soggy cardboard.
Can we maybe start redistributing some federal wealth from Northern Virginia to, I dunno, parts of the country that could actually put it to good use?
@bbleh: Fuck your general impression.
Gin & Tonic
Thanks for leading with that ZNPP matter.
The British MOD update reminds me of one of their retired generals, in an interview posted on Times Radio, saying that to conquer Ukraine Putin needed a military that was “better than parade-ready”.
How long does it take to whip up a batch of mustard gas? If Ukraine released a bunch of mustard gas upwind from the nuclear plant, the Russians would be too busy trying to get to clean air that they wouldn’t have time to do whatever the heck they plan to do to the plant. ETA: And mustard gas wouldn’t harm the nuclear plant at all.
And as I slip off to sleep:
I am not small, but I too am happy.
Gin & Tonic
@Immanentize: I replied to you (albeit belatedly) somewhere downstairs when you inquired about Providence.
Even Patron is bringing the snark and foreshadowing an attack on the Kerch bridge. I feel conflicted by being excited to see Ukraine take the attack to Crimea and ashamed at the same time for wanting violence. The threats on Zaporizhzhia are terrifying. Thank you, Adam for your analysis. I appreciate your outlook.
@Gin & Tonic: I saw it! Thank you! I am looking for ‘lofty’ spaces, so I will be back atcha. And I’ll buy you dinner too
@lowtechcyclist: That is such a bad idea. Probably sets some kind of a record for BJ. WMD is not a competition that Ukraine wants to get into with Russia. Modern nerve agents are much nastier than mustard gas.
Ok, last pre-bed comment:
It seems Estonia has repelled a coordinated Russian cyber attack. I know Adam has said things like this in martial terms, but this RU shit has got to stop.
@lowtechcyclist: The Ukrainians cannot afford to do ANYTHING dubious re: international law or the law of war. Some Republicans here (and rightists abroad) are trying to equalize the UK and russian sides or persuade us to be neutral (for example, Rod Dreher in the US). To maximize the probability of continued western military aid, the Ukrainians must be squeaky clean. Consider the notorious Amnesty International report. Not fair, but that is reality
And my understanding is that mustard gas and similar are banned by the laws of war.
Full disclosure: I might be a bit biased, because my maternal grandfather, to whom I was very close, was horribly damaged by German mustard gas in WW1.
John Singer Sargent – Gassed
No, we – supposedly civilized people – don’t want to go there. We learned that lesson 100+ years ago and don’t need to relearn it.
Mustard gas is a blister agent.
I hope the Russians are bluffing – surely they couldn’t be so ignorant as not to understand the potential for a nuclear catastrophe if they keep dicking around at the power plant?
Al Jazeera’s article on the Lviv meeting between President Zelenskyy, UN Secretary General Guterres, and President Erdogan was headed by an interesting picture. The three leaders are posed with Zelensky between the two others. Guterres and Erdogan are grasping each other’s hands in a firm handshake, with Zelenskyy’s right hand gripping theirs. They’re all looking stern.
At a joint press conference, Erdogan warned that the beleaguered nuclear plan could be “another Chernobyl.”
Alison Rose 💙🌻💛
No lies detected.
The situation around the ZNPP is terrifying, and I remain baffled as to how anyone other than russians could believe russian bullshit that it’s Ukraine targeting the plant. Why in the hard-boiled fuck would they do so?? It’s foolish on its face, and yet obviously russia thinks they can get enough people to buy it and think that the side which is bombing residential homes and schools is the “good” one. FOH.
Thank you as always, Adam.
Alison Rose 💙🌻💛
@Carlo Graziani: @Andrya: Thank you both.
@Andrya: I never got a chance to be close to my maternal grandfather, because he died when my mother was 2 years old, of ill health that plagued him from the time he was gassed in WWI. He was just about to turn 35.
So, I’m with you.
@lowtechcyclist: No, really no. What’s going on in Ukraine is horrendous already, adding chemical warfare agents will make it worse.
It would also green light the Russians to replying in kind, probably on a far greater scale with far nastier agents.
Ukraine has to be the good guys in this, not the monsters who unleash WMDs
Infosec people don’t think much of it.
There are Ukrainian civilians at the plant. I think we’d like to keep them alive, especially since they’re the ones maintaining the plant.
The Moar You Know
Just want to say I’m impressed with Ukraine. They aren’t getting nearly enough help as they ought, and seem to be holding up well.
@bbleh: They weren’t a paper tiger in the forties, when they beat Hitler, or the fifties, when they beat us into space and got their own nukes, or the sixties and seventies and eighties when we fought them in a series of proxy wars throughout the world. They were quite formidable until the Soviet Union fell. They were still a threat afterwards, as all the weapons and expertise didn’t go away all at once.
But it has now, and that’s actually quite a problem. A Russia that can’t even fight a successful war against their next door neighbor is a Russia that may resort to nukes. And they have a lot of them. This war has the potential to go bad for a lot of people, including those neither Russian or Ukrainian.
As for Northern VA, I’ve been there and it is nothing special. Certainly I wouldn’t call the area wealthy.
@Alison Rose 💙🌻💛: Cheryl Rofer has been posting a lot of good material regarding the Zaporizhne plant on her Twitter account, @CherylRofer. Much of it is links to other knowledgable observers, but she also links to an article she published on her site Nuclear Diner.
The problem for the Russians is that ; without the 2022 Russian re-invasion, let alone without military seizure and occupation of the station and storage (and usage) of ammunition and weapons there, there would be no elevated risk of catastrophic dispersal of highly radioactive materials.
The especially evil aspect is that if Russia does blow one or more of the reactors, it will seriously discourage future use of nuclear power rather than burning of fossil carbon, perhaps (i.e. probably) killing hundreds of millions in the fullness of time. (There would be consequences.)
@JanieM: I’m sorry. In my childhood, I heard extensive stories about WW1 from from both my grandfather (served in the Gordon Highlanders in WW1) and the grocer around the corner (served in the russian tsarist army in WW1). Both told me the same thing: the governments of Europe had fed the young men of an entire generation into a meat grinder for no discernable reason. That led me to be extremely picky about the criteria for a just war- but the Ukrainian defense against russia is absolutely a just war, hands down.
This is one of the reasons that nuclear has never been a viable solution to the climate problem (that and the fact that nuclear is really expensive). It can only be used in highly developed countries with little threat of military conflict.
Adam L Silverman
@lowtechcyclist: How about we not recommend committing war crimes?
Adam L Silverman
@Gin & Tonic: You’re welcome.
@Andrya: Thanks, and I’m with you on all of that. I didn’t grow up hearing stories because my grandfather was gone. But I’ve had occasion to read both material from that era about opposition to the war at the time, and fictional accounts of the war and its effects and aftermath.
And since I’m commenting, which I don’t do very often — thanks as always to Adam for posting these updates.
Of interest. Single sourced so far:
If the Russians are indeed storing e.g. 10s or 100s of tons of ammunition at the plant, that would be a serious war crime.
Promotional video of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant from February 2019 (4:18)
(via Geoff Brumfiel thread, via CherylRofer)
Interesting. As Geoff says, they’re clearly very proud of the plant, and rightfully so.
@Bill Arnold: What could possibly go wrong?
As always, Adam, your writing is helpful and appreciated.
I look to the day you’ll no longer be doing this, however….
@Jinchi: Stated as such a bald matter of fact, I can’t resist rising to the bait. This is, to put it mildly debatable. I would debate it by asserting that it is based on a profoundly flawed cost-benefit analysis, which in effect attaches a cost to carbon emissions of zero.
In fact, if you rolled all the nuclear “disasters” in history together, and accepted their actuarial cost going forward as repeating about every twenty years, you might get as high as a few thousand deaths per century, if you really pushed it. Climate change is likely to take the lives of many millions (conservatively) in the next couple of decades by making large parts of the tropical zone unfit for human life, and the rest unable to sustain the number of people who live there now.
So the risk analysis is, as I said, debatable.
Thanks for all these comments. I do not recommend clicking on this link to Owen’s poignant poem, Dulce et Decorum Est, except maybe for people who haven’t heard as much about WWI and mustard gas.
ETA: The link goes to an anti war poem from someone who barely survived WWI and died soon after, because it describes the symptoms of mustard gas. I mean no disrespect to the people choosing to defend their country from an invasion.
Median estimates for mortality cost of carbon are order of 1 human death per kiloton of carbon (like 1200 tons of coal). (I’m rather more pessimistic, and many scholars have limited imaginations or are unwilling to publish their fears without rigorous models.) A gigawatt coal plant burns roughly 3 millions of coal per year.
Nuclear accidents, even Chernobyl-class, do not produce death on this scales, and certainly not as part of their normal operation.
@Carlo Graziani: My take is that we would be better served by a clear analysis of the difference in reducing CO2 between a hundred billion dollars of nuclear power versus renewable energy and storage. I haven’t seen anything clear but my guess is that commercial media doesn’t want the price difference to get out, especially the cheap price of CO2 batteries and sand energy storage.
Wasn’t trying to bait anyone and I hardly attach a zero-cost to carbon emissions. But the only costs people who build nuclear plants care about are: how much does it cost to build it, how much does it cost to run it and will it run long enough to generate a profit. Carbon costs aren’t on their ledger.
We don’t live in a world that balances long-term costs to short term ones or we would have started phasing out coal and oil decades ago.
We’re literally discussing a major military power using a nuclear plant as a shield and threatening to blow it up as a form of nuclear blackmail.
I hope the Russians are sane enough to be bluffing, but they also seem clumsy enough to blow it up by accident.
@Bill Arnold: I worry about what the Russians are doing for a simple, and I suppose selfish, reason. My daughter lives in northern Germany. I remember well the prevailing winds and the dust clouds after Chernobyl; I had family living in Paris at the time. Scary scary stuff.
@Carlo Graziani: I don’t see his statement as being cost benefit but rather logistical.
You don’t want to rely on nuclear power plants if you have a lot of regional instability, even if you can afford to do so, which you probably can’t.
Beyond the risk of it blowing up, it’s heavily centralized, easy to cut off from the grid, and extremely costly to replace or repair.
You’d much rather invest in anything else.
@The Moar You Know:
I live here. Loudoun, Fairfax, and Arlington counties are in the top ten for median household income. (Down slightly from the 2011 survey, when they were numbers 1, 2, and 3, and five of the top ten were in Northern Virginia.
@Dan B: You know, I love how far and how fast renewables and storage have come. The fact of the matter is, it’s not far enough.
We have a climate emergency, right now. We need to decarbonize everything we can, especially energy generation. Eventually we’re going to have to figure out how to scrub a shit-ton of carbon that’s already in the atmosphere, and we don’t really know how we’re going to do that. The more of that shit that we heave up there, the (exponentially) harder it’s going to be to take it out. So acting all squeamish about nuclear power now is the worst, most counterproductive choice we can make, in my view.
@Carlo Graziani: While the risks from climate change and the heating of the planet are great, one shouldn’t minimize the risks and dangers and history of the nuclear enterprise. Remember that nuclear power was born out of the nuclear weapons industry.
(A former colleague’s father suffered radiation-induced cancer and died early working on the Manhattan Project.)
The Fukushima Daiichi disaster happened 11 years ago. There are estimates of 2313 disaster-related deaths (in addition to the 19,500 estimated killed by the earthquake or tsunami). About 100,000 people were evacuated.
Decommissioning and cleanup at Fukushima Daiichi is estimated to take 30-40 years and cost tens of billions of dollars.
There are better ways to address terrestrial electricity needs, IMHO.
@NutmegAgain: I had read that the reason Belarus was so heavily affected by Chernobyl was that the Soviet republics had a habit of building their plants where the prevailing winds went toward a different republic. But from what I can find with google, the prevailing winds in Ukraine vary with the seasons, so that may not be true, and Russia may not be able to count on the winds blowing away from their territory (if they’re even thinking about that.)
The US had MASSIVE stocks of chemical weapons during the Cold War. I would imagine the Russians do too. I expect the last thing Ukraine wants is chemical weapons attacks on Ukrainian cities. Which would be the tiger they would be unleashing by first use of chemical weapons.
@Carlo Graziani: I’m with you on current generation. I’m glad to see Germany reactivating their reactors, and I firmly believe that the support for shutting them down was as much a Russian op as Brexit was, to increase their dependence on Russian gas. And I’m not against more nuclear power in principle (my dad was a nuclear engineer), but I also find persuasive the argument that we can’t build nuclear plants fast enough for it to be a major factor in addressing climate change. Every bit helps, but renewables are increasing exponentially in a way that nuclear power can’t.
But you’re arguing that the nuclear solution is solved already. How many nuclear plants would you have to build, and how fast, to standards that the local communities are willing to accept, to offset enough of the CO2 budget to make a difference? Remember that you also have to supply enough fuel to keep them all running and distribute the energy pretty uniformly so that you aren’t just shuffling the burning of coal and oil to different places. Who’s paying for it all?
And remember the money going to all that is money that isn’t being invested solving all of the promising renewable/decarbonization problems that are currently showing so much promise.
@Carlo Graziani: We can build out solar and wind capacity very quickly, while nuclear power takes *forever* to step up, and will face opposition most places.
If we’re concerned with speed we shouldn’t even be considering spending money on nuclear beyond what’s necessary to maintain and continue to move forward existing projects. (With an exception maybe if you’re France) The capacity we need will take too long to bring online.
We don’t even need to wait for renewable storage to be a solved problem to get started on ramping up solar and wind. We can over produce on the production end and plug in whatever solutions we come up over time to deal with baseline load. And gradually ramp down natural gas and oil plants as that storage comes online.
You can build that stuff out at scale, which is not something that you can do for nuclear tech. If we had been making this switch over back in the 80s, different story, but it’s too late for that.
@Another Scott: Whoa, slow down there, cowboy. The”disaster” that killed all those people was a tsunami, not a nuclear reactor control loss.
The actual radiation deaths from Fukushima were…1. At least according to Our World In Data. The same source asserts that “There appears to be no increased risk of cancer or other radiation-related health impacts” in connection with the accident.
We’ve wandered far from Ukraine here, and the bug I have up my ass on this issue is to blame. But can we treat this as a teachable moment? Nuclear power appears to make people uncomfortable for reasons that come down to impressions that are rarely actually normalized to facts or data, let alone actual science or engineering.
Sometimes I think that the trauma of the thermonuclear balance of terror of the cold war left our societies unable to reason about such matters. And we are definitely paying a price now. Because I can guarantee you, if starting in the 1960s, Europe and the US had been carpeted with nuclear power plants that had decarbonized power generation sufficiently to head off our climate crisis, and in exchange we had had to accept 10 Chernobyls instead of one, the world would be in a much better place today.
@Eolirin: France isn’t an exception – they have issues with their nuclear plants too.
There is no magic.
@Carlo Graziani: What? It takes ten to twenty years to build a nuclear reactor. The small ones haven’t been rolled out yet.
The CO2 and sand batteries take ten months and ten million to build, or less. Offshore solar uses the same contractors as offshore oil. Solar and wind are mature and improving.
One hundred billion on solar PV and the same on wind and we’d be in better shape. The same on nuclear and we’d make a difference in ten years or more.
BTW the CO2 battery pulls CO2 out of the air.
Death is imminent
We all know we have had it
Let me pour a drink
@Carlo Graziani: Counterfactuals are fun.
I gave links to the numbers I posted; you can argue with those estimates if you want.
I understand the argument you are making, but I also understand that metals fatigue and corrode, things break and wear out, and economic pressures from management and investors mean that maintenance and robust design is always, always under pressure to cut costs. And that’s before we get to the nuclear waste issues.
Solar and wind come much closer, and don’t have the potential to contaminate large fractions of countries for decades if something breaks…
@lowtechcyclist: Let me just join in the chorus of “Fuck no!” It is a war crime. End of story.
@Carlo Graziani: Our friends who were downwind of Hanford would differ. One has had two mastectomies. Her nephew had extremely rare tumors on his spine. Many of her classmates have had cancer. Fukushima will be making people sick for decades. There is excessive fear but that does not mean radioactive materials are safe.
All right, sign-off time. This was great. My bottom line is renewables are great, storage is great. A lot of this stuff isn’t at the required scale yet, for reasons of technological limitations that will require a lot of investment to get ready. We need to do everything, now. So if you should happen to notice new nuclear reactor construction permits being approved in the next few years, please, please don’t write to your Congressional delegation to try to stop them.
@Dan B: Fukushima will not sicken anyone.
@Carlo Graziani: Yeah, 1/r^2 works wonders for radiation exposure. If you are able to get away….
IAEA from 2011:
I don’t think that I’ll have to leave my home or workplace for months/years if my future solar panels break.
Maybe it makes sense to keep some existing reactors going for a few more years. Maybe. But investing in new reactors seems foolish given the expense, risks, and perpetual issue of what to do with the waste.
Read a Kyiv Post article rolling up various Russia loss estimates–men and materiel, and if even ballpark accurate they’re astonishing. Excerpt:
Are families of the dead and wounded effectively silenced? This amount of loss in half a year can’t be going unnoticed.
The weather app shows current winds for Zaporizhzhia,, near enough to Enerhodar, blowing to the west-southwest at 4 km/hr. Unless the wind shifts to the north and stays shifted. Any glowy dust the Russians kick up is going to also blow and disperse over all the occupied territory, across the Black Sea to Türkiye. At least in the Crimea, the panic will make the Kerch bridge impassable. So add stupid to evil. I could see the Russian Army staging a “minor” ammunition blowoff at the ZNPP, which is still astoundingly stupid.
@Another Scott: Rather than everyone agreeing to disagree about the relative costs various forms of generation, why not look at actual, recent data?
Here’s a reputable article. Short version: solar and wind LCOE are decreasing, though the exponential reductions have reached the flatter part of the curve. Some forms of new build solar and wind are competitive with conventional power sources today, if you ignore the cost of storage – this is great news! However, only with storage included can new build solar / wind provide baseload power, and that combined cost is order of magnitude the same as new build nuclear.
Energy storage (or some alternative solution like HV transmission) is the remaining issue to solve for intermittent generation. Afaik there are no cost-competitive technologies for daily charging-discharging / supply shifting.
Utilities are conservative and wary of change but they are not stupid. They want to solve this. But as long as the world’s electricity demand keeps growing, and things like EVs just make the issue worse, the challenge is to build non-coal generation faster than demand growth. All non-coal technologies combined are not enough today. That’s why China is still building coal. That’s the issue – and all the alternatives need to be on the table.
Sorry for the rant – I’m not an expert but I at least try to know what I’m talking about on this issue rather than uncritically repeating whatever Greenpeace said in the 70s.
@bjacques: I’d say they’re not storing it there to blow it up…they’re storing it there to protect it from the increasingly effective Ukrainian artillery/SpecialOps targeting…and also to use as a threat if their forward positions are overrun…
@lowtechcyclist: mustard gas is an alkylating agent and extremely potent carcinogen. That would be a straight war crime.
@Adam L Silverman:
“Hey Russians! We recommend you not cause a nuclear ‘accident’ and putting a radioactive hole in the middle of eastern Europe!”
Maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll realize the stupidity of causing another Chernobyl. But it sure looks as if their plan is:
a) do exactly that,
b) claim the Ukrainians did it so they could blame the Russians, and
c) use that as an excuse to use WMDs on Ukraine.
@Kent: We also had large stocks of chemical weapons during the WWII and kept tbem in war zones in case the Germans or Japanese started useing chemical weapons. The local naval commander proposed using chemical weapons on Iwo Jima before landing the Marines, I believe, but he was overruled by higher authorities.
This is worth watching
@Birdie: Nuclear hasn’t solved the cost problem. $30B for 2 reactors in Georgia that still aren’t online – (double the original estimate) and the costs will keep going up.
$30B will buy lots of solar, wind, and storage, and help drive their costs down. Nuclear always increases in price (because it takes so long, among other things).
Whereas pumping waste into the atmosphere, invisibly and at no meterable cost is much better, yes?
This gets to the core of my problem with the resistance to nuclear energy, and the reason that I regard it as so fundamentally irresponsible at the present time. It represents a fundamentally dishonest accounting of costs, because it leaves out the costs born by the victims of climate change, most of whom do not live in the developed world. It also ignores the responsibilities for climate change, essentially all of which are rooted in the developed world.
You are lecturing me about the actuarial costs of an industry that has caused a few hundred fatalities since it’s inception, 70 years ago, almost all in a single accident (Chernobyl), and which, under a hypothetical radical build-out might, at worst, if all the most hand-wringingly anxious fears of opponents are correct, be responsible for a few thousand fatalities per century, at most. At the same time, about six or seven screenfuls back up there, we stopped talking about the millions of fatalities that can be expected due to climate change over the course of a few decades.
We did that. Over the course of the past couple of centuries, but mostly this century, and mostly in the past few decades — that’s how exponentials work, and in the end, the driver is population growth, which is still exponential. Every time we flipped a light switch, every time we took a road trip, every time we flew to a vacation, every time we used an industrially-manufactured product or took up residence in new construction — we were putting Polynesia and Bangladesh under water, removing arable land from Africa, raising the temperature of many tropical regions to the point where they will soon be unable to sustain human life. Hundreds of millions of people live in these places now, conservatively.
And what the antinuclear movement is saying, in effect, is that we, in the West, are unwilling to accept responsibility for our share in this disaster to the extent of accepting the actuarial risk embodied in a nuclear power build-out, despite the fact that this risk is minuscule compared to the risk that our choices have imposed on the developing world, and the fact that such a build-out could have a real, immediate impact on climate change.
This is global NIMBYism. I can think of no more apt description.
@Carlo Graziani: I’m sorry that you’re so upset about this, but we seem to be talking past each other.
I agree, and said, that climate change and heating the planet is a big problem. I never said that we should shut down all existing nuclear plants now now now. I said that we should not be investing in bringing new nuclear plants on now, given that the money could be better spent elsewhere.
You cited OurWorldInData. Here’s some more from them:
Yes, we need all of the above. Contra your counterfactual, YIMBY nuclear would not get us there, either.
The quickest way to cut emissions is via increased efficiency – that’s what has gotten the USA this far this quickly in drops since 2005. There’s still a lot that can be done there. And, yes, existing nuclear plants have a role to play. But we’d be better off spending the tens of billions being spent on Vogtle in GA on faster rollout of wind, pumped storage, solar, etc., etc.
@Birdie: The thing is we’re talking about two different problems as though they are the same thing.
That’s the core problem. Global warming is a long term existential matter and we need to end it. It’s also actually pretty easy to solve and we’ve known how to do it for decades: Stop burning fossil fuels.
That’s a different problem. “Not enough” to do what?
To keep up with the rapidly increasing demand for energy. China and the rest of the world are still using coal because coal is cheap. As long as you don’t include the costs to the planet. Which as a species, we don’t.
@Carlo Graziani: The Chinese seem to be YIMBYs when it comes to nuclear power plants. They have 19 under construction, 43 awaiting permits, and over 100 more announced.
The Pale Scot
Sorry Carl, that’s not known simply because studies were never done. The reactors that melted in the midwest and RU in 50’s 3MI, Chernobyl. None of those events were assessed afterward, they were covered up. Chernobyl dusted Kyiv during the May Day festival, tens of thousands of children were out on the streets all day, Moscow murdered thousands of them. No studies were done on the “bio-robots” that ran out onto the roof for 2 minutes and threw pieces of the core over the side.
All of these “accidents” were caused by attempts to lower costs.
The Pale Scot
That’s a bit nutty, Chernobyl wasn’t a world catastrophe because of the insane personal courage of the men and women that sacrificed their health. In any 1st world country the response would have been fuck you Jack I’m out of here. Fukushima efforts relied on grandfathers that volunteered to go into the plant because they knew they were would most likely die from something other than cancer.
You want to guarantee NPP safety? Keep the grandchildren of the stockholders living on plant grounds. Make the families of the C-suite gobs live there also
@The Pale Scot: We have learned a lot about engineering for safety in the time since. The discipline of “System Safety” began after the catastrophe on the USS Forrestal in 1967, and has made huge progress since. (Likewise, per mile airliner travel is far safer today than in the 1950s/1960s.) Chernobyl, of course, was exacerbated by corruption/secrecy/lack of free expression in the USSR, and involved tests that should never have been run in a country with honest engineering review.
As Carlo correctly points out, the Fukushima casualties were overwhelmingly tsunami-related, although there was a major design flaw that should have been caught in pre-operational review. The disciplines of FMECA (Failure Modes, Effects and Criticality Analysis) and FTA (Fault Tree Analysis), properly applied, can make potentially dangerous things like nuclear power quite safe. There is no way to make climate catastrophe safe.
Like Carlo, I am 100% for renewables- but the climate crisis is so urgent that we have to throw EVERYTHING at it. We are literally looking at a realistic possibility that the earth will become uninhabitable.