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Iirc, it was Fomin, the one who was after the big promotion to head of the plant with a successful test, who got another reactor job after his time in prison.

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Definitely an interesting article, and written by someone who knows Russia and the USSR very well. However, this is a person who also doesn't seem to understand how drama works, or how composite characters function when dramatizing history.

I think the article makes a valid point about assigning the blame to one particular villain rather than exploring the systematic failures of the Soviet system. I have to agree the latter would have been a bit harder to show but perhaps would have made an more interesting, denser story. 

Otherwise, I agree the writer of that article failed to acknowledge some exposition is necessary to get the point across. 

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I think when it comes to "based on a true story" this was a lot closer to the truth than most. Sure there were a few liberties taken, but the basic facts were right and that is the important part.

I thought this show was pretty much perfect. No notes.

On 5/31/2019 at 9:32 AM, Lathund said:

I do remember the environmental impact it had here in Sweden. Most noticably on the Reindeer, and thus the indigenous Sami people who were heavily affected by the lichen and then the reindeer turning radioactive. It's still a problem today, but on a much lesser scale. Naturally it also didn't do a lot to reverse the post-Harrisburg referendum decision to phase out Nuclear Power. 

I don't really remember the impact on germany. I was a bit young. I know from my mother that I wasn't allowed to play in the sand for a while. Something they actually mentioned in the show, while showing the children running around in Prypjat.

In Bavaria you still can't eat mushrooms and some wild game still has to be destroyed.

On 5/31/2019 at 2:27 PM, Sharpie66 said:

I am really happy that, fingers crossed, there hasn’t been a nuclear power plant incident of any major impact since Chernobyl. If you think about it, the likelihood of that lasting is not good.

I mean Fukushima was arguably as bad. The japanese just were increadibly lucky. Had the wind not blown out to sea, but to the south, Tokyo would be uninhabitable right now. That's 44 million people (and even more in between). I don't think you could even move that many people to somewhere else quick enough or even provide for them permanently.

Still, there is a pretty big exclusion zone around Fukushima and all the things that had to be done around Chernobyl, had/have to be done there. Not sure why you don't hear about it in the media much.

Maybe the Chernobyl writers can do a miniseries on Fukushima next. From what I heard at the time the corupption and entanglement between the japanese government and Tepco rival that of the sovjet union.

17 hours ago, marinw said:

The cruel irony is that nuclear power is a "Clean" source of power compared to traditional fossil fuels. Except for all that pesky radiation...

I guess. But it's not that cruel, as renewables are cheaper and better for the environment than nuclear power. Plus, no pesky radiation.

16 hours ago, txhorns79 said:

I would say the difference in scale and motivations makes the comparison inapt.  With 9/11, I think the problem was more ignorance than any particular desire to cover up.  The EPA marched ahead with bad and/or incomplete information, and allowed it to be spun more positively than it should have been.  And once it became known, steps were taken to rectify what had happened.  With Chernobyl, the Soviets knew the issue, knew what would happen, and purposefully took steps to cover it all up, regardless of the consequences.  

I'm sure they just didn't know the air was toxic, after two massive buildings built with toxic materials burned for a while, then crumbled, sending toxic dust everywhere. That seems like a totally likely story. I'm sure firefighters having to fight to get their medical bills covered is also jsut an unfortunate misunderstanding.

On 6/4/2019 at 3:54 PM, ChicksDigScars said:

Not only does Chernobyl deserve ALL the Emmy's, it deserves to steal the Game of Thrones Final Season thunder (and for that matter, Veep's Final season thunder, as well), and totally dominate at the awards. Riveting, infuriating, some of the best television I've ever watched. 

Everything deserves it more than the last season of Game of Thrones. Shit was awfull. I wouldn't mind if the actors got Emmys. They did a hell of a lot with what they were given, but if the show or the writing gets an Emmy, I'm never watching the Emmys again.

Edited by Miles
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59 minutes ago, ChicksDigScars said:

I think the article makes a valid point about assigning the blame to one particular villain rather than exploring the systematic failures of the Soviet system. I have to agree the latter would have been a bit harder to show but perhaps would have made an more interesting, denser story.

59 minutes ago, ChicksDigScars said:

I think it showed the Soviet government, the KGB, the design flaws in the reactor, AND the three greedy assholes that ran the plant, all as villains. I don't think it heaped blame on one. 

Also, I got the impression that the scenes we were seeing play out the night of the accident were the events as described by Legasov, not necessarily exactly what actually happened. We know they'd already decided to pin it on Dyatlov, and our trio knew this as well and were expected to build the case against him. I thought he seemed even more aggressive and pigheaded in those flashbacks than what we saw in the first episode, and his lines in court about Legasov lying didn't sound fake to me. No doubt he WAS the driving force, but I thought we were meant to read it as Legasov as painting a grimmer picture just to really hammer on Dyatlov's culpability.

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I think it showed the Soviet government, the KGB, the design flaws in the reactor, AND the three greedy assholes that ran the plant, all as villains. I don't think it heaped blame on one. 

Well, I for one came away with the distinct impression that Dyatlov was the driving force behind the explosion. Yes there was bureaucracy and disinformation after the fact and that was all covered very well, but as the article suggests, there isn't really one villain (or three) in this story who was directly responsible for the explosion. 

I'm not necessarily complaining, mind you. I just wouldn't have known absent that article, and it does seem like a narrative cliche to assign blame to one particular villain for easier audience digestion. A more nuanced story might not have been as interesting. Dramatic license, sure. But I don't begrudge someone pointing this out. 

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2 hours ago, iMonrey said:

I for one was grateful for Legasov breaking down point by point what went wrong and explaining it in a way that I could grasp, as someone who is too lazy to research how it all works. I really appreciated that, and I enjoyed the flashbacks. The tension in the control room was palpable, even when you knew the outcome (and maybe because of it). I've wanted to see that asshole Dyatlov get his comeuppance since the first episode. Although, did the closing credits say he went on to work at some other nuclear power plant after getting out of prison? Oy. Finally, seeing the actual explosions was spectacular. 

Great series, terribly compelling, but I don't think I could sit through it a second time. There was just too much about it that was gruesome and hard to watch.

That was Nikolai Fomin, the chief engineer and second-in-command at the plant (played by Adrian Rawlins, who was Harry Potter's dad).  He was released early for mental health issues due to a suicide attempt.

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48 minutes ago, iMonrey said:

Well, I for one came away with the distinct impression that Dyatlov was the driving force behind the explosion. Yes there was bureaucracy and disinformation after the fact and that was all covered very well, but as the article suggests, there isn't really one villain (or three) in this story who was directly responsible for the explosion. 

I'm not necessarily complaining, mind you. I just wouldn't have known absent that article, and it does seem like a narrative cliche to assign blame to one particular villain for easier audience digestion. A more nuanced story might not have been as interesting. Dramatic license, sure. But I don't begrudge someone pointing this out. 

I took away that while Dyatlov was an asshole who circumvented the safety systems in ways which were criminal, the situation may have been salvageable had the emergency safety shutdown mechanism functioned as intended.  Which it couldn't have, given the graphite tips on the control rods.  Dyatlov's actions were predicated on the knowledge that the reactor could've been shutdown in an emergency situation by pressing that button - knowledge which was completely wrong.  And the only reason he, and his superiors at the plant, possessed such wildly inaccurate information was that the government was deliberately keeping the truth from the very men who most needed to know it.  I mean, he'd probably still have been an asshole who verbally abused those who worked for him, but he might've taken more precautions if he'd known about the additional graphite.

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10 hours ago, zobot81 said:

I was pretty indignant/incredulous when I read this New York Times article, effectively skewering the series. Hale's closing paragraph is perhaps the least professional thing I have ever heard/read a professional critic say -- that someone other than the artist who created the art should have created it.  How rude.

OMG. You got to the last paragraph? I take comfort in knowing that the NY Times publishes a list of bad reviews from its archives about works that have come to be respected as classics and universally beloved works of art. 
  
  

5 hours ago, iMonrey said:

think the article makes a valid point about assigning the blame to one particular villain rather than exploring the systematic failures of the Soviet system.

But in the final episode Legasov admits in court that the shutdown button Dyatlov had counted on as a fail safe was supposed to work. Dyatlov was depicted as a jerk and a terrible human being, but in the end of the series he was largely vindicated. Or what @proserpina65 posted.
But also, WRT:

2 hours ago, proserpina65 said:

the government was deliberately keeping the truth from the very men who most needed to know it.

Legasov admits that he himself was one who knew about the "problem" with the reactor's design and yet he said nothing until the post-incident courtroom, weakly defending that "we didn't think it would explode." —which I think is intended to explain in part why he hung himself.

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1 hour ago, shapeshifter said:

Legasov admits that he himself was one who knew about the "problem" with the reactor's design and yet he said nothing until the post-incident courtroom, weakly defending that "we didn't think it would explode." —which I think is intended to explain in part why he hung himself.

I think the scene with the head of the KGB encapsulates the whole thing perfectly:

"Why worry about something that isn't going to happen?"

"Oh that's perfect. They should put that on our money."

They didn't think such a desaster could ever happen. So why invest in so many safety features? Why worry the public? Why lose face over having made a mistake in the design phase? Why spend the extra money to correct it? Why worry about something that isn't going to happen?

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3 hours ago, Penman61 said:

My own opinion is that the series showed how a catastrophe this enormous has multiple causes, all of which are necessary in the sequence of events that leads to the moment when one man--one asshole of a man--can be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

I agree, and I believe they demonstrated this in a number ways, from the beginning of the show through to everything that happens in the trial. One scene where the writers clearly communicate that they want us to see this story as anything but simple is when the KGB dude makes veiled threats to Legasov while telling him what's expected of his testimony. This way, he says, "we will have our heroes, our villains... and our truth". Legasov knows better, and we are meant to know better. We are meant to know that what the KGB wants is the very thing that led to the disaster in the first place.

The author of the New Yorker piece writes strictly non-fiction, and never having attempted a dramatic narrative, I think she is unfamiliar with the constraints such a narrative operates under, especially when telling a story about people and events that are real. These constraints aren't just about simplicity -- audiences, especially television audiences these days, are capable of understanding increasingly complex narratives and ideas -- they are largely structural. They have five one-hour bites to tell this story and they have to choose what to tell, and what not to tell. How important details are communicated to the audience without the advantage of a narrator. What to compress for clarity's sake. Whom to follow, and whom not to, lest the story become too diffuse and unwieldy as we chase down every relevant individual.

Between the New Yorker article, and two more in the New York Times, there was a lot of hand-wringing about the "Hollywood treatment". As someone who is allergic to the Hollywood treatment, this is indeed something to worry about. But while the show runners simplified or compressed certain details, they didn't dumb it down. The essential truth, both factual and emotional, remains.

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The BBC recently posted this news report from a few days after the Swedes first detected the radiation: 

lots of speculation but not much solid info is available. However, no one is even contemplating the fact that the core exploded—the most serious idea put forth here is that a pressurized water tank leaked radioactive steam, like at Three Mile Island. They are not even sure if there is or isn’t a containment building around the reactor. 

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11 hours ago, Sharpie66 said:

Iirc, it was Fomin, the one who was after the big promotion to head of the plant with a successful test, who got another reactor job after his time in prison.

Especially amazing since he spent a good deal of time hospitalized for psychiatric issues. The trial was delayed because he was not well enough for a good while. 

Edited by Calamity Jane
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On the railway bridge spectators, the credits say only "it has been reported that none survived."  However, it seems it's not so clear what happened.  Here are some excerpts from a couple of articles from  2016

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But while it’s often been reported that everyone who visited the bridge that night passed away, others have dismissed the claims as simply an urban myth.

Although it is known that people did in fact line up to see the fire from the bridge, it’s unclear whether those people on the bridge developed acute radiation syndrome as a result or if they suffered from other health problems such as cancer years down the track.

Likewise, official reports of the disaster severely downplayed the number of people who developed acute radiation syndrome, making it difficult to verify the story.

The article cites an interview from the Guardian, from 2016, with one couple, Pasha & Natasha Kondriatov, who were there, with their two daughters, Tatiana, 12, & Marina, 10. 

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Two years after the Chernobyl disaster, the couple's daughter, Tatiana, became asthmatic.

Several years later, at age 19, Tatiana collapsed in the street in Slavutych and died.

“Who knows if Chernobyl caused her asthma. All we know is that before the accident she was healthy. She was exposed to radiation when she was 12, which is a critical age for a child’s development. It was probably linked to Chernobyl, but nobody can say for sure,” Natasha told The Guardian.

https://www.mamamia.com.au/chernobyl-bridge-of-death/

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/mar/07/chernobyl-30-years-residents-life-ghost-city-pripyat

In truth, it seems we don't know what happened to all those people. It seems at least these two were alive 30 years later, although one of their daughters had died a few years after the accident, and no doubt others also died prematurely, although how many of them,  and how soon  after the accident, isn't clear. 

I think in  the interests of condensing things it was a fair way to put it - it's apparently true that this is "widely reported," but I certainly noticed that it wasn't a definitive statement about what happened, as many of the other statements in the credits were, and took that to mean it wasn't certain what had happened to them. No doubt many did die - it appears the plume that went over them was quite strong - but there's just no way to know for sure what became of them all.

It's one of many things where the miniseries prompted me to look further, which is something I'm grateful for.  Some things are just unknowable, though.

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This timeline piece also has a lot of good material:  

http://www.chernobylgallery.com/chernobyl-disaster/timeline/

Excerpt that includes info on the bridge: 

Quote

20.00 – A government committee is established, led by Valery Legasov. They are surprised by the bits of graphite they see lying around when they arrive. None of them suspect a graphite fire.

Following the explosion many inhabitants of Pripyat gather on a railway bridge just outside of the city that provides a view of the nuclear power plant. They spoke of beautiful flames in all the colours of the rainbow (the burning graphite) and how the flames reached higher than the pillars of smoke. Sadly what they didn’t know, was that the wind that swept over them carried with it dose of radiation equivalent to 500 Roentgen (exposure to 750 Roentgen/h, 7,5 Sv, is deemed a lethal dose).

Now frequently referred to as the “bridge of death”. The fate of those standing on the bridge that night is open to conjecture.

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13 hours ago, shapeshifter said:

OMG. You got to the last paragraph?

😂

..yyyaaa. i kinda couldn't believe what i was reading, so i had to see if he had like anything positive to say about the series (he didn't). 

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Referring to the above:

"Part of this crusade is a Russia-produced series from the country’s NTV channel. Directed by filmmaker Alexei Muradov, their project will focus not on the aftermath of the explosion, but instead on what Shepelin calls a “conspiracy theory” that inserts American spies into the narrative.

Of his story, Muradov says, “One theory holds that Americans had infiltrated the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and many historians do not deny that, on the day of the explosion, an agent of the enemy’s intelligence services was present at the station.” The heroes, then, will not be the scientists, soldiers, and civilians who helped prevent a further spread of radiation, but rather the KGB officers trying to thwart these CIA operatives."

Ah, Jesus.

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1 hour ago, MJ Frog said:

Referring to the above:

"Part of this crusade is a Russia-produced series from the country’s NTV channel. Directed by filmmaker Alexei Muradov, their project will focus not on the aftermath of the explosion, but instead on what Shepelin calls a “conspiracy theory” that inserts American spies into the narrative.

Of his story, Muradov says, “One theory holds that Americans had infiltrated the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and many historians do not deny that, on the day of the explosion, an agent of the enemy’s intelligence services was present at the station.” The heroes, then, will not be the scientists, soldiers, and civilians who helped prevent a further spread of radiation, but rather the KGB officers trying to thwart these CIA operatives."

Ah, Jesus.

Vladimir Putin approves.  I'm assuming those many historians were all Soviet historians.

Edited by proserpina65
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Think of it like this: EVERY workplace has one total asshole like Dyatlov.  Short of actual, active criminal intent, how much damage could a person like this do on an average day at your workplace, just by being their asshole selves while doing their jobs? No, it took a whole system for this to fail (just as it's failing on a vaster scale now with climate change). 

I don't know about you but the asshole in charge of my workplace doesn't have access to a nuclear reactor that can obliterate an entire continent. I understand there were many, many factors that led to the disaster. My point was that the show focused blame on one man's actions and I don't begrudge an editorial from pointing this out. On the show, this would not have happened if not for Dyatolov's recklessness. In truth it probably would have happened anyway absent his presence.

It's obvious this show had the effect of raising awareness and interest in the Chernobyl disaster, I don't see why criticisms and fact checking have to take such a beating. It's just more info about a topic I'm interested in.

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1 hour ago, MJ Frog said:

Referring to the above:

"Part of this crusade is a Russia-produced series from the country’s NTV channel. Directed by filmmaker Alexei Muradov, their project will focus not on the aftermath of the explosion, but instead on what Shepelin calls a “conspiracy theory” that inserts American spies into the narrative.

Of his story, Muradov says, “One theory holds that Americans had infiltrated the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and many historians do not deny that, on the day of the explosion, an agent of the enemy’s intelligence services was present at the station.” The heroes, then, will not be the scientists, soldiers, and civilians who helped prevent a further spread of radiation, but rather the KGB officers trying to thwart these CIA operatives."

Ah, Jesus.

The Soviet Union collapsed - but the KGB survives.  It only changed its name to the FSB.  

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1 hour ago, iMonrey said:

I don't know about you but the asshole in charge of my workplace doesn't have access to a nuclear reactor that can obliterate an entire continent. I understand there were many, many factors that led to the disaster. My point was that the show focused blame on one man's actions and I don't begrudge an editorial from pointing this out.

But the thing is the show made it clear that at least two people are to blame for the accident. At the beginning of Legasov's presentation, he explains that the reactor was taken down to 700 megawatts and left there for 10 hours. This caused xenon to build up in the reactor core which choked it which is why the power level couldn't be brought back up during the test. And that happened because the test was originally supposed to happen right after the power level was lowered but some factory asked for the power to remain high until after dark.

Had there been no xenon buildup, Dyatlov's actions would have been reckless but would not have resulted in "pulling the reactor back like a slingshot."

It was Fomin who decided to keep the power level that low for so long and then move forward with the test. He did that because he was so focused on promotion (and probably also had no idea how a nuclear power plant works). Had Fomin made a different decision, the disaster at Chernobyl wouldn't have happened. All of this is clearly depicted in the show.

If you're going to fact-check the show, you have to get the facts right.

Edit: I've read the article again and I see that the article itself points at three people. For some reason, the quoted post here talks about one person, but the New Yorker article doesn't. I'm going to leave my post up, and I think others are making the point much better than I am.

Edited by Xantar
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1 hour ago, iMonrey said:

My point was that the show focused blame on one man's actions and I don't begrudge an editorial from pointing this out. On the show, this would not have happened if not for Dyatolov's recklessness. In truth it probably would have happened anyway absent his presence.

I don't think the show made the argument that this one man was to blame for the accident.  If anything, I think the show was an indictment of the entire Soviet state.  Sure, Dyatolov screwed up badly in how he handled the testing, but I think they made it clear that there were factors well beyond him that led to the explosion. 

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1 hour ago, iMonrey said:

My point was that the show focused blame on one man's actions

Except that it didn't focus on just Diatlev's actions.  It was pretty specific about the cost-cutting decision to use control rods with graphite tips being the ultimate cause of the disaster.  Legasov pointed out that once it was decided to conduct the test despite having to keep the reactor at half power for much longer than advisable - NOT just Diatlev's decision - the only thing which could've prevented the disaster was the emergency shutdown button, and that a decision made by the government during the design/construction process rendered the button not only useless, but actively dangerous.

This was talked about during the trial scenes.  Legasov even said something to the effect that nothing anyone did or didn't do in that control room once the test was started could have made any difference.  That the ultimate causes of the disaster were decisions made much higher up and long before April 26, 1986.

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I ended up wondering - if it hadn't happened that night at Chernobyl,  would it inevitably have happened sooner or later, there or somewhere else, with a reactor with that design flaw?

If you think you might ever actually need to use that emergency button, surely you wouldn't want it to potentially make things worse.

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6 hours ago, MJ Frog said:

Referring to the above:

"Part of this crusade is a Russia-produced series from the country’s NTV channel. Directed by filmmaker Alexei Muradov, their project will focus not on the aftermath of the explosion, but instead on what Shepelin calls a “conspiracy theory” that inserts American spies into the narrative.

Of his story, Muradov says, “One theory holds that Americans had infiltrated the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and many historians do not deny that, on the day of the explosion, an agent of the enemy’s intelligence services was present at the station.” The heroes, then, will not be the scientists, soldiers, and civilians who helped prevent a further spread of radiation, but rather the KGB officers trying to thwart these CIA operatives."

(news.avclub.com/russia-hates-hbos-chernobyl-vows-to-make-its-own-serie-1835298424)
Is there a word for fake history drama? Science fiction, maybe?

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18 hours ago, Sharpie66 said:

The BBC recently posted this news report from a few days after the Swedes first detected the radiation:- lots of speculation but not much solid info is available. However, no one is even contemplating the fact that the core exploded—the most serious idea put forth here is that a pressurized water tank leaked radioactive steam, like at Three Mile Island. They are not even sure if there is or isn’t a containment building around the reactor. 

Tbh, the BBC just doesn't seem really well informed. Out of curiosity I watched the german Tagesthemen from the day after the desaster became known in the west and it seems a lot more informed.

For example the BBC reporters seem to think that the reactor was a pressurized water reactor, while the Tagesthemen broadcast correctly identifies it as an RBMK-1000 reactor. The BBC report speculates about radioactive cooling water having turned to steam and having escaped, while the Tagesthemen are saying that likely the graphite inside the reactor started burning, melted down the fuel rods and continues burning. That's not quite what happened, but it is a lot closer, as the burning reactor was the main problem.

Sadly the BBC report isn't dated, so it could be that it was from the day before, as the accident became public knowledge in the west in the late evening of the 28th. So maybe they just didn't have time to gather proper information. But I think it's important to note, that the west knew a hell of a lot about this just one day after they initially found out. The sovjets weren't that good at keeping secrets.

If you want to watch it, the automatically generated english subtitles are at least decent:

Edited by Miles
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6 hours ago, Xantar said:

At the beginning of Legasov's presentation, he explains that the reactor was taken down to 700 megawatts and left there for 10 hours. This caused xenon to build up in the reactor core which choked it which is why the power level couldn't be brought back up during the test. And that happened because the test was originally supposed to happen right after the power level was lowered but some factory asked for the power to remain high until after dark.

It wasn't some random factory, but rather the man in charge of the Kiev area power grid, IIRC.  And the reason was that it was almost the end of the month, and factories were working overtime to make their monthly quotas.  So just another "quirk" of the Soviet system that by itself meant nothing special but added to everything else led to the explosion. 

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I would like an explanation of why putting graphite tips on control rods lowers costs.

This was a terrific miniseries, and it is simply an inattentive viewer who claims that all the blame is put on one man; for a professional critic to make that claim is inexcusable.

The weakest element of the show to me was the subplot of the pet slaughterers. I mean, it is an unpleasant task, but I was borderline offended when the directer implied, in the behind the scenes segment, that killing irradiated dogs and cats was emotionally on par with being in sustained combat in war, and I truly was offended that he claimed that all killing in war was pointless. Really dumb. 

My sometimes too dark sense of humor made me laugh out loud at all the bureaucratic idiocies depicted, because I've witnessed similar things, just fortunately not with the fate of a continent at stake. "The good meter is locked in the safe"....HA! 

 

HBO oughta' give about 240 minutes to the story of the officer in the Soviet Rocket Forces who saved the world a few years prior to Chernobyl, when the Soviet missile launch warning system failed, and told him that sunlight aligned with high altitude clouds was a American nuclear ICBM attack. All the protocols called for a massive Soviet retaliatory strike, but this guy's instincts told him something wasn't right about what the computers were saying, so human civilization didn't end that day.

Edited by Bannon
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16 minutes ago, Bannon said:

I would like an explanation of why putting graphite tips on control rods lowers costs.

This was a terrific miniseries, and it is simply an inattentive viewer who claims that all the blame is put on one man; for a professional critic to make that claim is inexcusable.

The weakest element of the show to me was the subplot of the pet slaughterers. I mean, it is an unpleasant task, but I was borderline offended when the directer implied, in the behind the scenes segment, that killing irradiated dogs and cats was emotionally on par with being in sustained combat in war, and I truly was offended that he claimed that all killing in war was pointless. Really dumb. 

My sometimes too dark sense of humor made me laugh out loud at all the bureaucratic idiocies depicted, because I've witnessed similar things, just fortunately not with the fate of a continent at stake. "The good meter is locked in the safe"....HA! 

I understand why you take issue with the director's comments about the pet liquidation, and I'm not trying to change your mind -- but did you also listen to the series podcast? Every episode has like an hour long interview component, between some NPR guy (I forget his name) and the series creator/writer.  He speaks in much greater detail about each episode, compared to what he says in those behind-the-scenes segments.  I have no expectation that you will get a different impression of that particular episode or even of him, but if you're simply interested in knowing more about Mazin's process while making Chernobyl, it's worth a go.  I thought it was pretty cool.

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The way Legasov was perhaps most damnably implicated was when he was trying to convince people of how bad the situation was, and he was challenged with the question of how it was possible for that type of reactor to explode in the manner he was describing, and he stated, falsely, that he did not have one. If he had said from the start, as he knew,  that the graphite tips on the control rods were a possible source of disaster, the emergency response may have been much more timely and effective.

 

14 hours ago, zobot81 said:

I understand why you take issue with the director's comments about the pet liquidation, and I'm not trying to change your mind -- but did you also listen to the series podcast? Every episode has like an hour long interview component, between some NPR guy (I forget his name) and the series creator/writer.  He speaks in much greater detail about each episode, compared to what he says in those behind-the-scenes segments.  I have no expectation that you will get a different impression of that particular episode or even of him, but if you're simply interested in knowing more about Mazin's process while making Chernobyl, it's worth a go.  I thought it was pretty cool.

It wasn't Mazin's comments that so annoyed me; it was the director of that episode.

I love my dog, but I don't put him on par with a human being, and for the director to equate the killing of irradiated dogs to killing humans in combat is just dumb. His claim that all killing in war is pointless could only be put forth by a moral imbecile.

I don't want to make too big a deal about this; I thought the miniseries overall was terrific.

Edited by Bannon
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I haven't watched this since the first episode. I keep hearing about how great it is, but I just can't.

I'm here, because I follow this one page on facebook, and they have someone who is apparently live on FB, from Chernobyl. "Experience the Chernobyl exclusion zone and the ghost town of Pripyat, live."

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So I did some reading, and it appears that original cost cutting move was using uranium which was not as highly enriched, which meant putting graphite tips on the control rods was more attractive, since using the graphite with less enriched uranium in particular provides the operators with more detailed control of the reaction. However, it is then critical that the control rods, with the graphite on the tips, never be completely withdrawn from the core, because when they are, that space gets filled with water, and when the tips are eventually reinserted, that water is quickly displaced, and (for a lot of interconnected reasons which I cannot competently explain) puts you on the path to disaster.

Now, the reactor designers were aware of this, and put in controls that would prevent the removal of the graphite tips from the core, but the reason for these controls was never disclosed to the operators (I think this was depicted in the show), so the operators saw these controls as a mere annoyance that made their jobs harder, so they disabled the controls.

To say this stuff, technically and bureaucratically, is complicated, is an extreme understatement. It gives some insight as to how Boeing's current 737 max catastrophe came about.

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30 minutes ago, Bannon said:

It wasn't Mazin's comments that so annoyed me; it was the director of that episode.

I love my dog, but I don't put him on par with a human being, and for the director to equate the killing of irradiated dogs to killing humans in combat is just dumb. His claim that all killing in war is pointless could only be put forth by a moral imbecile.

I don't want to make too big a deal about this; I thought the miniseries overall was terrific.

Okay, sorry, yes.  I agree.  I never saw any of the behind-the-scenes interviews, so I didn't know the director said that -- and it was an idiotic thing to say.  And it makes me like the show less.

Furthermore, I think I'll stop consuming media related to this series entirely, in the interest of preserving my overall high opinion of the show.  Because the more I read (especially) the more the show gets ruined for me.  Like, this article is super distressing and confusing -- it basically contradicts every "fact" that the miniseries presents about nuclear energy -- but I have no reason not to take this guy at his word:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2019/06/06/why-hbos-chernobyl-gets-nuclear-so-wrong/#4581e164632f

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15 minutes ago, zobot81 said:

Okay, sorry, yes.  I agree.  I never saw any of the behind-the-scenes interviews, so I didn't know the director said that -- and it was an idiotic thing to say.  And it makes me like the show less.

Furthermore, I think I'll stop consuming media related to this series entirely, in the interest of preserving my overall high opinion of the show.  Because the more I read (especially) the more the show gets ruined for me.  Like, this article is super distressing and confusing -- it basically contradicts every "fact" that the miniseries presents about nuclear energy -- but I have no reason not to take this guy at his word:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2019/06/06/why-hbos-chernobyl-gets-nuclear-so-wrong/#4581e164632f

I think he is pretty accurate, and now that I think about it, I know that people suffering from radiation exposure are isolated because their immune systems are compromised, not because they will irradiate others.

What I liked about the show was the depiction of bureaucratic incompetence, and a lot of that was spot-on, but the Forbes piece was right; in the Soviet Union of 1986, a single bureaucrat would not be threatening subordinates with summary execution.

Kind of disappointing that Mazin took such dramatic license, because I don't think it was necessary.

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2 hours ago, zobot81 said:

Furthermore, I think I'll stop consuming media related to this series entirely, in the interest of preserving my overall high opinion of the show.  Because the more I read (especially) the more the show gets ruined for me.  Like, this article is super distressing and confusing -- it basically contradicts every "fact" that the miniseries presents about nuclear energy -- but I have no reason not to take this guy at his word:

I mean, you always hear from nuclear fanboys that basically no people died. Fact is, you just can't link cancer or other radiation related deaths back to the radiation with any certainty. But there is a reason we limit X-Rays to a minimum possible amount, even though it's a lot less radiation than what the people around Chernobyl absorbed. When you hear that a lot of people who decontaminated trucks coming from the sovjet union died of cancer, more than usual, sure that could be a coincidence or it could not be. Those deaths certainly aren't counted.

It's true that radiation isn't contagious. If you should touch highly eradiated person when you are pregnant, I'm not sure. I mean the radiation is internalised, but their insides will spill out. In either case, it seems like the show was telling it how it happend: https://www.mamamia.com.au/lyudmilla-ignatenko-chernobyl-pregnancy/

It's also true that her daughter died four hours after being born. So the forbes article saying that no Baby was killed seems to be a lie. Of course offically that is probably the case, but again, it's almost impossible to link any deaths directly to radiation unless they are caused by accute radiation poisoning. It's probably not that the baby saved the mother or that the radiation came from the husband, but it seems like the baby absorbed enough radiation after the accident to kill it.

Then the Forbes author complains about Chernobyl being compared to a nuclear bomb, when it was clear the comparison was just in terms of radiation output, not in terms of the blast. Also had they not stopped the fire, yes a good part of the continent would be uninhabitable.

The other analogy he takes offense to is radiation being compared to a bullet. He seems to also deliberately misinterpret that one. As radiation being like one big bullet that will kill you instantly at any dosage. Of course that's not the case. Everbody knows that's not the case. But it's a good analogy. Ionising radiation is hitting your DNA like a bullet, shooting out pieces, corrupting it. With luck your body can repair the damage and kill effected cells, with bad luck it will become cancer. Of course if too many cells are damaged you are shit out of luck anyway.

He then cites a few people who are concerned with nuclear accidents being able to make huge stretches of land uninhabitable, portrays them as unreasonable, but says nothing to actually prove these concerns are invalid.

He also says or at least intimates that something like this could never happen outside of the sovjet union, yet Fukushima daiichi happened.

Also the article seems to suggest that radiation burns aren't real? Really?

Then we get the usual spiel about how it's CO2 neutral, which isn't quite true if you factor in contruction and uranium mining and transport, but close enough, I guess. But of course not mention about how renewables are cheaper and have an even lower CO2 footprint.

In conclusion Michael Shellenberger is either a paid shill for the nuclear industry, or a fanboy with inaccurate believes.

2 hours ago, Bannon said:

So I did some reading, and it appears that original cost cutting move was using uranium which was not as highly enriched, which meant putting graphite tips on the control rods was more attractive, since using the graphite with less enriched uranium in particular provides the operators with more detailed control of the reaction. However, it is then critical that the control rods, with the graphite on the tips, never be completely withdrawn from the core, because when they are, that space gets filled with water, and when the tips are eventually reinserted, that water is quickly displaced, and (for a lot of interconnected reasons which I cannot competently explain) puts you on the path to disaster.

That is actually pretty clever design. A way to get more graphite into the reactor, to up reactivity, in order to be able to use not as highly enriched fuel. But in that case you should make it impossible to overwrite the safety system and you should make note in the handbook why that is the case.

Keeping it a secret seems so asinine. I guess they didn't want to admit that they weren't using as highly enriched fuel as the americans, because they saw it as a sign of weakness, that they didn't invest the money and technology to do so. When they could have just as easily spun it as "due to our superiour engineering, we don't have to enrich the fuel as much, saving precious resources". They really needed better propaganda ministers, it seems.

Edited by Miles
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2 hours ago, Miles said:

In conclusion Michael Shellenberger is either a paid shill for the nuclear industry, or a fanboy with inaccurate believes.

It's kinda weird that anybody with a vested interest in the nuclear industry would feel remotely threatened by this series.  I never once got the impression that Mazin is anti-nuclear.  He frankly made no impression on me as anti-soviet, either.  And in some strange way, I felt great relief when it seemed clear that Chernobyl would not be a smear campaign against either aspects -- on the contrary, I think the series at least pays heavy homage to Soviet culture, without being too pandering or delicate.

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5 hours ago, zobot81 said:

Furthermore, I think I'll stop consuming media related to this series entirely, in the interest of preserving my overall high opinion of the show.  Because the more I read (especially) the more the show gets ruined for me.  Like, this article is super distressing and confusing -- it basically contradicts every "fact" that the miniseries presents about nuclear energy -- but I have no reason not to take this guy at his word:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2019/06/06/why-hbos-chernobyl-gets-nuclear-so-wrong/#4581e164632f

Well, as with all issues like this, there is a whole other side to the story. Here is a well-sourced article that is dubious of his claims and his organization.

@Miles has already produced an excellent counterpoint to the Shellenberger piece, but here are a couple things that seemed really disingenuous to me. Regarding the nurse getting radiation burns from touching the fireman, Shellenberger tacks that on to his general gripe about people themselves not being radioactive. However, her burns didn't come from the fireman, but the fireman's clothes. As I am sure a lot of you already know, in that very hospital there sits a pile of clothing and boots from the fireman that are dangerously radioactive to this day.

Also, here's a thing from the CDC that directly contradicts his assertion that people themselves can't be radioactive:

"People who are internally contaminated can expose people near them to radiation from the radioactive material inside their bodies. The body fluids (blood, sweat, urine) of an internally contaminated person can contain radioactive materials. Coming in contact with these body fluids can result in contamination and/or exposure."

This may not have applied to Lyudmilla's husband, but the air around the plant was full of radioactive particles that could have made their way into his lungs or sinuses, and from there to his bloodstream. And the nurses and doctors certainly felt there might be a danger -- the show got their concern very right. She did have to hide the fact that she was pregnant. And maybe exposure to her husband had nothing to do with her baby's death, but it's a heck of a coincidence.

Here is another thing that I think applies more to objects rather than people (although it can happen to people to a very limited degree), but just to scare everybody a little more, there is a phenomenon called neutron activation, where intense radiation can make formerly stable substances themselves radioactive. In this case an object that has had no direct contact with a radioactive substance -- no contamination, as it were, only radioactivity -- becomes radioactive.

3 hours ago, Miles said:

In conclusion Michael Shellenberger is either a paid shill for the nuclear industry, or a fanboy with inaccurate believes.

Yes. This. He may (or may not) be right that nuclear is the best way to go, but he is hardly objective about it. And sometimes dangerously misinformed.

Edited by MJ Frog · Reason: Precision.
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6 hours ago, zobot81 said:

I understand why you take issue with the director's comments about the pet liquidation, and I'm not trying to change your mind -- but did you also listen to the series podcast? Every episode has like an hour long interview component, between some NPR guy (I forget his name) and the series creator/writer.  He speaks in much greater detail about each episode, compared to what he says in those behind-the-scenes segments.  I have no expectation that you will get a different impression of that particular episode or even of him, but if you're simply interested in knowing more about Mazin's process while making Chernobyl, it's worth a go.  I thought it was pretty cool.

I don't bother with podcasts, but I'm considering making an exception for this.  Is it available on the HBO website?

6 hours ago, Anela said:

I haven't watched this since the first episode. I keep hearing about how great it is, but I just can't.

I'm here, because I follow this one page on facebook, and they have someone who is apparently live on FB, from Chernobyl. "Experience the Chernobyl exclusion zone and the ghost town of Pripyat, live."

Apparently it's become popular with tourists to visit the exclusion zone, and the series has increased that popularity.  Not my cuppa, though.

5 hours ago, Bannon said:

What I liked about the show was the depiction of bureaucratic incompetence, and a lot of that was spot-on, but the Forbes piece was right; in the Soviet Union of 1986, a single bureaucrat would not be threatening subordinates with summary execution.

To be fair, that "single bureaucrat" was the director of the KGB.

3 hours ago, Miles said:

The other analogy he takes offense to is radiation being compared to a bullet. He seems to also deliberately misinterpret that one. As radiation being like one big bullet that will kill you instantly at any dosage. Of course that's not the case. Everbody knows that's not the case. But it's a good analogy. Ionising radiation is hitting your DNA like a bullet, shooting out pieces, corrupting it. With luck your body can repair the damage and kill effected cells, with bad luck it will become cancer. Of course if too many cells are damaged you are shit out of luck anyway.

Wasn't the bullet analogy part of Legasov's explanation of how the reactor work?  That the atoms of uranium were like bullets shooting around in the core?

31 minutes ago, MJ Frog said:

Also, here's a thing from the CDC that directly contradicts his assertion that people themselves can't be radioactive:

"People who are internally contaminated can expose people near them to radiation from the radioactive material inside their bodies. The body fluids (blood, sweat, urine) of an internally contaminated person can contain radioactive materials. Coming in contact with these body fluids can result in contamination and/or exposure."

This may not have applied to Lyudmilla's husband, but the air around the plant was full of radioactive particles that could have made their way into his lungs or sinuses, and from there to his bloodstream. And the nurses and doctors certainly felt there might be a danger -- the show got their concern very right. She did have to hide the fact that she was pregnant. And maybe exposure to her husband had nothing to do with her baby's death, but it's a heck of a coincidence.

She would've been dealing with his bodily fluids.  She complained to the nurse/doctor (not sure which) about him needing his bedding and undergarments changed a lot due to bodily functions (to put it delicately), and since the staff was busy elsewhere, I'd assume she was doing it.

Edited by proserpina65
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I loved (and love) the movie "Citizen X". The creators of "Chernobyl" referenced this movie when they decided to have the actors speak english naturally rather than using a Russian accent. 

After I watched "Citizen X", I did a touch of research just to find out more about these men. I learned that the main characters are more of a composite and that there were multiple investigators who had to work around the Soviet system to catch the killer. This did nothing to lessen my enjoyment for what I consider to be an excellent movie. I still love the visual of the agents quietly surrounding Chikatilo, knowing they have their man. Did it happen that way? Probably not. But still, it's a really cool scene. 

I feel the same about "Chernobyl". It's a well-made miniseries that is based on true events but it is not completely true. I know there was no dramatic courtroom scene but the writer's decision to explain what went wrong at the reactor using this as a device was a good one. I believe I could explain why the explosion happened (not true before this movie - too much science for me). But I would not want to base my opinions about nuclear energy on this miniseries. The writer of the article referenced above made some petty jabs but he also made a few good points. And I like that this show has generated some interesting analysis and conversation. 

"Chernobyl" is the best show I've watched this year - and I thought "What We Do in the Shadows" would have that title. 🙂

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47 minutes ago, proserpina65 said:

She would've been dealing with his bodily fluids.  She complained to the nurse/doctor (not sure which) about him needing his bedding and undergarments changed a lot due to bodily functions (to put it delicately), and since the staff was busy elsewhere, I'd assume she was doing it.

Yep. If he suffered any internal contamination, she absolutely would have been exposed.

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On 6/4/2019 at 7:31 PM, txhorns79 said:

I would say the difference in scale and motivations makes the comparison inapt.  With 9/11, I think the problem was more ignorance than any particular desire to cover up.  The EPA marched ahead with bad and/or incomplete information, and allowed it to be spun more positively than it should have been.  And once it became known, steps were taken to rectify what had happened.  With Chernobyl, the Soviets knew the issue, knew what would happen, and purposefully took steps to cover it all up, regardless of the consequences.  

True. Another difference is no one was stopping a person from checking the air quality and publishing their results in our FREE PRESS. That's probably the biggest difference between our representative democracy and a communist or dictatorial regime. The closed hearing and punishment for anyone not toeing the "company line" is apparent.

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3 hours ago, proserpina65 said:

I don't bother with podcasts, but I'm considering making an exception for this.  Is it available on the HBO website?

I don't know about the website, but they are available OnDemand along with the 5 episodes of the show. This is not "Stayed tuned after the episode for a behind the scenes look", they have separate listings for the podcasts.

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7 minutes ago, Quilt Fairy said:

I don't know about the website, but they are available OnDemand along with the 5 episodes of the show. This is not "Stayed tuned after the episode for a behind the scenes look", they have separate listings for the podcasts.

The podcast is available, they say, pretty much anywhere. 

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