What would happen if we touched the “elephant’s foot” in Chernobyl?

Today? Basically nothing serious. The “elephant’s foot” is a melt of uranium 238, sand, boron and concrete remains from the reactor. At the time, it contained very dangerous elements, but by now after 30 years all the more radioactive and dangerous elements have disintegrated and left behind the more stable and less radioactive elements.

Is it dangerous to touch uranium 238? Man, it’s not like you’re going to do it every day at all hours (and uranium is a heavy metal, chemically poisonous, so you better put on gloves before you touch it, and don’t even think about inhaling or ingesting it) but the radiation is relatively low, especially in the case of “elephant foot” which is mixed with all kinds of non-radioactive crap.

It must be understood that radioactivity comes from disintegrating atoms; the faster they do it, the more radiation they emit and the more dangerous they are, but they do it for less time since they simply disintegrate and disappear. They are consumed quickly and briefly, while elements like uranium are consumed slowly and for a long time… so much so that there is still half the uranium on Earth that was there when it was formed. In the reactors, the uranium is put together and “enlivened” so that it disintegrates much faster than natural, but in the case of a pile of uranium mixed with sand, boron and garbage, the rate of disintegration varies, it is the usual one, like the of any natural uranium rock. And that radiation is similar to that received by traveling by plane.

The “elephant’s foot” was very dangerous. But now I do not know.

I edit since the answer is being seen by many people: Spent nuclear fuel is very dangerous for a period ranging from 5 to 20 years, which is how long it takes for the less stable and more radioactive elements that are formed to disappear. Some fuel elements remain active for decades and centuries, but because of their chemical characteristics they remain trapped in the fuel and only disperse if the fuel comes into contact with something that can dissolve and transport them. In the case of the elephant’s foot, the water has probably already washed away all the soluble elements from the surface, and although they are there, the quantity is very small. Most of it is inside the mass and unless someone took all that fuel, ground it to powder and spread the powder into rivers and lakes,