Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Arches Half a World Apart

The Arch - St. Louis, MO 

This is the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.  It was built as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States. It stands 630 feet tall and cost  $13 million dollars to build in 1965, in today’s dollars that would be about $97 million.

Today another arch is being built in Chernobyl, Ukraine. It won’t be a monument to westward expansion but rather and hopefully a containment structure for the radioactive dust left over from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in April 1986.

The cost for this project is estimated to be $1.5 billion, largely financed by the United States and thirty other nations. Oh, yes, the United States – I mean you have heard about this, right?

There is a great story in the New York Times about this Chernobyl Arch. It is an interesting read and has some great accompanying photos.

The article explains a little on how Chernobyl was different from the other nuclear disasters: Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979 and Fukushima in 2011. In the case of Chernobyl the reactors literally exploded, spewing radioactive material into the atmosphere.

Now almost thirty years later work is still being attempted to get a handle of this. The problem is no one knows exactly what to do, but they try. They experiment with this and with that. People put their lives at risk to help and time passes and then years go by, but still they try.

Take a look at the article it is interesting and you won’t find in on the nightly news. It just doesn’t have that “wow” factor that other news stories have these days.

Here is an excerpt:

"During the accident, the heat was so intense that the fuel liquefied, melting concrete and other materials it came in contact with in the rubble of the explosion. The highly radioactive mixture — often resembling volcanic lava — poured through ducts and other openings into a warren of spaces below the reactor, hardening as it cooled. In some places the material resembles waterfalls frozen in place."

The Arch - Chernobyl, Ukraine

1 comment:

  1. Whenever I hear the name Chernobyl, I think of the firefighters who gave their lives to tamp down the flames and heat with water hoses. Heroes, the best kind. (And as for arches, I think they're really, really weird. I can't understand why they don't fall down.)