Comments on Chernobyl miniseries by the disaster “liquidator” Natalia Manzurova

The HBO miniseries “Chernobyl” has sparked great interest in countries around the world and made us aware of the risks of a massive nuclear disaster. But this is a fictional movie in its essence. Is it based on real events and characters? How is it possible to distinguish between truth and artistic exaggeration? Natalia Manzurova, a radiobiologist and engineer, worked as a liquidator in the Chernobyl zone from 1987 to 1991. Having been affected by the chronic radiation sickness, she paid dearly for this mission with her health. Natalia Manzurova considered it necessary to share her comments on the series with the public, and her “true and false” commentary to specific features of the miniseries is available for download here: Oct2019ManzurovaCommentsChernobylSeriesEn

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Photo of Chernobyl NPP courtesy of Mond, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5443288

Natalia Manzurova’s comments have been edited and translated from Russian into English by Tatiana Kasperski from the Atomic Heritage research team, and from Russian into French by Nadezhda Kutepova.

Workshop and visit to Dounreay nuclear station, Scotland, UK

9-13 September, 2019 Dounreay nuclear station was in operation between 1955 and 1994 and houses two fast breeder reactors and one thermal research reactor, along with fabrication and reprocessing facilities. Next to it is a military nuclear facility with two reactors for submarine developments, in operation between 1965 and 2015. Taken together, there are no less than five reactors located directly on the dramatic shore of Scotland’s northern tip, where the North Sea meats the Atlantic Ocean and create some of the most dangerous water fairways in the world. During a week, about fifteen scholars and heritage professionals from different European countries met in Dounreay and the nearby town of Thurso to engage with the legacies of the nuclear establishment, among them a flourishing community life but also severe contamination problems. The iconic white sphere of the first fast breeder reactor is a landmark in the rural surroundings, now scheduled for dismantling.

Photo courtesy for the group picture DSRL/NDA.

The workshop was organized by Egle Rindzeviciute as part of the AHRC Research Network Nuclear Cultural Heritage: From Knowledge to Practice.

Summer school in Visaginas, Lithuania

July 22-31 Andrei Stsiapanau was invited lecturer for the annual summer school “Post-Nuclear Urbanism” organized by the Laboratory of the critical urbanism (European Humanities University). During the last five years, the summer school took place in Visaginas, the city built especially to house employees of the Ignalina nuclear power plant in Lithuania. During his lecture Andrei Stsiapanau presented the most important stages of the development of the Soviet nuclear program, its main actors and institutions, as well as properties of the Soviet nuclear decision-making and governance – with a focus on challenges during the transition period after the USSR collapse. The participants of the summer school were primarily young designers, architects and urbanists from different countries, and the discussions on the future of nuclear power production and about radioactive waste disposal sites became lively.

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Photo credits: By VietovesLt, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58034580

Fieldwork in Caithness, Scotland

10-13 June, 2019 Egle Rindzeviciute travelled to Thurso in Caithness, Scotland, to explore cultural heritage processes as they take shape during the decommissioning of Dounreay nuclear establishment. Rindzeviciute met with James Gunn, the Heritage Officer at Dounreay, as well as the members of Dounreay Stakeholder Group, June Love and David Flear. During the visit, the key heritage institution in Thurso that features an atomic collection, Caithness Horizons Museum, remained being shut because of the discontinued funding. There is, however, a keen interest in remembering and preserving the history associated with the construction and operation of Dounreay’s reactors, a process that contributed to the growth of the local community and a significant expansion of the town. The key question is what forms of commemoration and preservation of atomic heritage can be sustainable in such a stunning but also remote area as Thurso. These questions will be addressed in a workshop, organised by Rindzeviciute, that will gather scholars and stakeholders and which will take place in Thurso on 9-13 September. The P.I. of Atomic Heritage Goes Critical, Anna Storm, will be participating in this workshop. Watch this space!

Essay article in Sweden’s biggest newspaper

27 May 2019 In an essay article in Sweden’s biggest newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Anna Storm, Achim Klüppelberg and Tatiana Kasperski outline how the nuclear future logics today and in the past differ considerably between Sweden, Germany, Russia and Finland. In connection to nuclear power currently being discussed in Sweden as a critical tool to mitigate climate change, the rhetorical question goes: “Is nuclear power environmentally friendly only in Sweden?” The article concludes that the negotiations on what our nuclear future should look like has to be re-politicized in an international context, and also take into account the legacies of radioactive waste which we will leave to future generations. Link to the article (in Swedish).