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After visiting Chernobyl

  1. Sep 11, 2011 #1
    Hey all,

    So I'm in the uncomfortable situation of worrying about the repercussions of someone I live with having visited Chernobyl and having walked around inside the exclusion zone, and having been close enough to see the sarcophagus of reactor 4. The tour company didn't consider discarding of footwear as at all necessary.

    My primary concern is Cs-137 carried back on shoes and pants. Though, try as I might I can't convince them to throw away the offending items. Aside form that, having been stored in their travel pack it is likely to be contaminated with particulate matter from the site.

    In my imagination particles would be carried back on footwear into the house, where they would join the large amount of normal house hold dust, and inevitably become either inhaled or digested (after settling on food related surfaces). Then, this internal irradiation would lead to an increased chance of cancer.

    Though my house mate and all the average Joe's we've mentioned this to seem to think I'm paranoid.
    My feeling to that is maybe I am, but also that the average Joe doesn't know enough to comment.

    The shoes have been washed since, along with the pants. Though without measurement it's difficult to tell whether such precautions are successful.

    It's been two and a half decades, and cesium is reactive and often forms water soluble compounds, the tour groups have a set supposedly safe route to take, and try to avoid standing off the pavement.

    What do you think? Am I paranoid?

    (And no, they won't throw out the shoes :( )
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2011 #2

    Borek

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    To some extent - yes. If memory serves me well visitors are checked when leaving the zone, just in case. I know people who were there this year, they tested their belongings after getting back, and there were no traces of contamination. I remember a story told me several years ago by one of visitors that they were told to take spare boots with them, just in case - but nobody from the group needed them. So I don't think there is any danger.
     
  4. Sep 11, 2011 #3

    fluidistic

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    I share the same feeling as Borek, having watched a day trip to the zone on youtube. If I could, I'd visit the zone too.
     
  5. Sep 11, 2011 #4

    dlgoff

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    You are now virtually contaminated. Bring in the PF cleaning crew. :devil:
     
  6. Sep 11, 2011 #5

    Borek

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    I was very close to going there this year, I just decided too late.
     
  7. Sep 11, 2011 #6

    dlgoff

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    I'm curious. Why go there? From the television documentaries I've watched, there's no question of the devastation and the danger of "bad engineering".
     
  8. Sep 11, 2011 #7

    Borek

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    Curiosity. Plus I feel some strange attraction to decaying/left/abandoned places.
     
  9. Sep 11, 2011 #8
    Hey Borek,

    That makes me feel a bit better :)

    Though I'm not finding all the information I want. I feel this paranoia can be solved with education, but facts seem to be missing. Yours is the only (albeit second hand) account I've tracked down where people have tested their belongings after returning*, aside from that its only tour operators commenting on the safety and they have an economic interest in saying so.

    Visitors being checked when leaving does occur, though that raises the question of is the equipment effective and what level of contamination do they consider a problem. The detecting device in this case was roughly an arch design where you place both hands on one side and face into that side of the arch. Is it effective at detecting particulate matter on footwear?


    I'm somewhat surprised I can't find any reliable source as to the safety of these tour groups :( It seems like there should have at least been some study into the contamination of surfaces in the exclusion zone.


    *: While good, without details it leaves much to chance. Like was that after disgarding shoes, was the measuring equipment actually effective etc..
     
  10. Sep 11, 2011 #9

    dlgoff

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    :kicks own butt: Of course. duh And to think how many of your photos I've viewed.
     
  11. Sep 11, 2011 #10

    Borek

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    My bet is that it is because there is nothing sensational to report, nobody reports.

    Treat it as a first hand, I trust the person who did it more than I trust myself.

    Isn't it the same design that is used by NPP staff? These things are proven to be effective by years of use.

    I haven't seen it so I can't say, and I can't ask right now about details. Detectors I know require you to stand in a particular place, so that the shoes activity is measured as well.

    Again - boring things are not reported.
     
  12. Sep 12, 2011 #11
    Ahh the fear of something out of the ordinary.

    I probably increased my cancer risk more on my recent week long holiday to New York (surrounded by rather rich smelling V8s) than someone having a stroll through Chernobyl.

    If you go around worrying about the minute increase in cancer risk of doing something, you'll never do anything in life, ever.
     
  13. Sep 12, 2011 #12

    Borek

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    I got it confirmed - people visiting the zone are leaving through the gate, gate has many sensors, not only near face/hands. Shoe of one the people from the group triggered a beep, the person was asked to wash it, then was tested again - and the boot was found clean.
     
  14. Sep 12, 2011 #13
    Thanks Borek! That's a very good thing.

    Hopefully I'll get hold of a geiger counter soon and test, though that'll be interesting to test for.
     
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