Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy review – Europe nearly became uninhabitable

Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy review – Europe nearly became uninhabitable, by Daniel Beer.

In this compelling history of the disaster and its aftermath, Serhii Plokhy presents Chernobyl as a terrifying emblem of the terminal decline of the Soviet system. The turbine test that went catastrophically wrong was not, he argues, a freak occurrence but a disaster waiting to happen. It had deep roots in the party’s reckless obsession with production targets and in the pliant nuclear industry’s alarming record of cutting corners to cut costs. …

The authorities’ subsequent attempts to contain the fire were a signature Soviet mix of improvisation, heroism and ineptitude. Exposing themselves to lethal levels of radiation, helicopter crews made repeated flights over the burning reactor, dropping 5,000 tonnes of sand, clay and lead in an ultimately successful bid to extinguish the fire. In so doing, they prevented the very real possibility of a second much larger explosion that might have rendered the entire European continent uninhabitable [really??].

Just over 50 people died, despite the widespread predictions of tens of thousands of deaths.

A reader offers a compelling reason for the wide gulf between reality and what we were told:

Chernobyl was a real masterpiece of Russian propaganda.

At a meeting of top communist bosses in the Warsaw Pact bloc with Gorbachev in Budapest 11 June 1986, the theme was: how to use the catastrophe, to influence the opinion in the West against Nuclear power and Nuclear weapons. They were very successful.

The German Social Democrats reversed their positive opinion about nuclear power in August 1986. The Italians decided to decommission their nuclear power plants, etc. In all, ten nuclear plants in Western Europe were closed in the following four years. The Western nuclear reactor builders are almost all out of business now. Germany will shut down all nuclear power to 2022 — they are replacing cheap nuclear power with very expensive wind and unreliable solar panels made in China.

Rosatom, the successor to the company who built Chernobyl, is now the world leader in nuclear power. It has an order book of at least 37 reactors. Some of them will be built in EU countries: Finland, Czech republic, Hungary and Bulgaria. Only Russia, China, Korea and Japan still have the competence to build nuclear reactors. Europe and the US have no company remaining that is competent enough to build a nuclear reactor on time and within budget.

Chernobyl also gave us the Global Warming scare. Swedish climate professor Bert Bolin was appointed a special scientific advisor to prime minister Ingvar Carlsson on May 1, 1986 — two days after the disaster was known in Sweden. The ideas was to create another threat, more dangerous than radioactive fallout from nuclear accidents. Bolin become the first Chairman of IPCC.

Now that’s Russian meddling, not 13 part time bloggers taking out a few unpersuasive advertisements on Facebook in 2016.