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Author Topic: Japanese nuke plant, and broader concerns about energy for humanity
Tatiana
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Does anyone have any questions about this event of the past week? I just spent an hour on the phone explaining exactly what happened and what is the significance of it. It took me a few days of research to find the actual story, since news reports are frustratingly vague on technical issues. But I did finally get the scoop.

Basically, the ground shook enough during the earthquake that some water sloshed out of one of the spent fuel pools and into a drain that released it into the sea of Japan, and therefore the Pacific ocean. The amount of radioactivity released was quite small.

In addition, at another spot on the grounds, some low level waste bins toppled over and some of the lids came off. This sort of waste is mostly paper coveralls that people wear any time they have to go into radiation controlled areas in the plant, and then strip off and place in the rad trash as they come back out. It's also not something that can contaminate the ground or whatever. Some Health Physics techs will probably have to dress out and go put it back in the bin.

The transformer fire that happened on yet another of the seven units was not a nuclear safety issue. In other words, it could burn stuff up but it could not prevent the plant from being shut down safely and kept in a safe state forever.

The more interesting thing is that the "design basis" earthquake for this plant, the worst earthquake it needs to be able to withstand safely, was apparently smaller than the actual earthquake that occurred. It might be that the plant's design basis earthquake needs to be increased, which will mean a lot of seismic analysis and qualification of any safety-related parts and systems. Possibly some will have to be reinforced or replaced. Safety-related systems are only those needed to shut down the plant and keep it shut down.

Anyway, I'm headed to the party at the bookstore soon, but I'll be glad to answer any specific questions people have about the plant, and what exactly happened, and how nuclear plants are designed to be safe during earthquakes, in case anyone is curious.

[ July 22, 2007, 01:01 PM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]

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HollowEarth
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The only reason this story was at all news worthy is the rather its rather poor record.
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Tstorm
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I'm sure the media latched onto this situation to milk people's fear of nuclear power. Of course, people are conditioned to think radiation=bad, without considering any qualifiers or specifics.

Maybe this is a good question...in a severe earthquake, what safety precautions prevent fracture of the reactor core and how quickly could the core be shut down completely?

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Tatiana
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Each reactor is designed to withstand its particular "design basis" earthquake (DBE), which is supposed to be the largest earthquake that could hit that location in something like 100,000 years. For reactors in California, this DBE is a lot higher than for a plant in Georgia, say, where there are far fewer earthquakes.

Every structure, system or component in the plant is classified as "safety related" (SR) if it is needed to safely shut down the plant and maintain it in a safe state after shutdown, as well as aid in mitigating the effects of any possible accident. The other components, which might be nice to have, and might even be essential for full power operation, still count as non-safety related or NSR so long as they're not needed to shut down the plant, or while the plant is shut down. That is the key to designing for accidents. All SR components must survive testing under conditions which will be encountered during all design basis accidents.

So we run safety analyses, postulating every accident that can occur, and evaluating all reasonable possibilities for failures. Then each part must be qualified for those conditions. So, for instance, if a double ended main steam line break would raise the temperature and pressure inside containment to 200 deg F and 75 psi, then every instrument, control, valve, structure, inside containment that's SR must be qualified to function correctly under those conditions.

The reactor vessel itself is extremely thick and heavy, to contain the heat and pressure (for a PWR) of its normal operating conditions. It's obviously rated SR, and so it's designed to stay intact throughout any design basis accident. The control rods can be fully inserted, stopping the chain reaction, in milliseconds.

There are three separate safety injection systems that will pour borated water into the reactor (boron in the water kills the reactivity and also shuts down the reactor) automatically if the pressure decreases in the reactor coolant system, say, after a line break. These are above and beyond the control rods. There are three barriers to fission products being released: the fuel cladding, the reactor coolant system boundary, and the containment building.

That's probably more information than you wanted, but that's a summary of the systems available to shut the reactor down after any sort of accident, earthquake, tornado, hurricane, or whatever.

[ July 21, 2007, 12:36 PM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]

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Nighthawk
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So I hear Japan increased their National Godzilla Threat Level to orange...
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AvidReader
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Great thread, Tatiana. When they said trace amounts of radioactive material had leaked out in the water, I assumed it must be radioactive dust particles. They'd have raised a much bigger fuss if the fuel rods washed away, and I can't think of anything else that would have been in there.

Have you heard about the radioactive iodine getting out? I know that's the stuff that can cause thyroid cancer but I don't remember how. How much would be an unsafe amount, and can loading up on iodine after the fact decrease the risk?

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aspectre
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"Some Health Physics techs will probably have to dress out and go put it back in the bin."

Actually, monitoring the company's use / non-use of HealthPhysics techs would be a good way to monitor the true extent of radioactive spillage.
In the US, nuclear companies go to skid row temporary employment offices to hire cleaners for the really dirty jobs; exposing the new hires to as much as a year's maximum-allowable radiation dose in less than a working day, then dismissing them. That way the companies don't have to move maximum-exposed HealthPhysics techs to offsite jobs which don't have a radiation exposure risk for a couple of years, or pay them unemployment compensation for having to lay them off from their jobs.
If Japanese companies follow the same practice, outsource hiring could indicate heavy interior contamination.

[ July 21, 2007, 12:47 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Tatiana
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aspectre, that's called "burning out" a worker, and we don't do that anymore. We have limits on exposure for workers for any given day, any week, any month, any quarter, etc. The total dose allowed for a worker to pick up is less than the normal exposure to background radiation from the ground, from cosmic rays, and so on. And it's far less than for many medical procedures.

As for skid row, I don't believe that would ever have been an economically feasible way to find workers. A good deal of training is required to work in radiation controlled areas, and so it's always more cost effective to hire someone who will stay with the job until it's complete. They did once hire temporary workers for outages (while the plant is shut down is the best time to do a lot of maintenance and upgrades to the plant) and allow them to get a whole year's dose in a few weeks. That's what's known as burnout, and we don't do that any more. The regulations are quite strict, and we usually allow only 1/3 to 1/2 the regulatory limits.

We have a program called ALARA for "as low as reasonably achievable" meaning we try to keep radiation exposures as far below the limit as we reasonably can. We typically manage to keep it down to a small fraction of the limit, perhaps 1/10th or 1/20th.

I had to have a thallium GXT this year and also a bone scan, and those two combined are more than several years worth of my acceptable dose at the plant.

The highest occupational radiation exposure by far is to pilots and flight attendants. They spend so much time above the atmosphere that protects us all from cosmic rays from space. Each time you take a long flight you're exposed, too. It's about the same dose as a chest x-ray.

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Tstorm
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Tatiana, you're a fount of information on this subject and I enjoy it. By the way, that was actually a great answer to my question, above, and I didn't think it was 'too much detail'. [Smile]

Thanks for answering my question.

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Tatiana
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AvidReader, no fuel rods washed away or anything like that. The spent fuel is very radioactive, so it's kept under water in deep pools of water. Water makes good sheilding. The radioactive fuel pellets are still inside the metal cladding in the fuel rods. So only minute amounts of radioactive ions would be in the water. I mean I would not go swimming in the spent fuel pool or anything, but it's not hot like Reactor Coolant water is.

If some of it sloshed out and drained into the ocean, I'm sure it would be diluted to indetectibility right away.

The thing you have to remember is that radioactivity is a natural part of the world around us. We get exposed constantly, if we sit in the sun, from the ground, from rocks, from the sky. So as long as you take care to keep your exposure well below what you are already getting from natural sources, you don't have to worry about it.

It's not zero risk, but it's very low risk compared to things we accept and do every day, like driving cars (which is huge) or eating fries with trans fats.

When they say a small amount of radioactive Iodine was released, that's because it's a daughter product of fissioning uranium. If you had a large release, say someone dropped an atom bomb 50 miles away, then yeah taking Iodine tablets would be smart. The idea is that if you swamp your system with good Iodine, then your body will not need to take up any Iodine from the environment, which might be radioactive. However, this release was so miniscule as to be of no consequence. Like, when Chernobyl blew up, a huge part of the whole core of the reactor was burnt and put into the atmosphere. In that event, taking iodine was smart. This thing, though... picture it. Not only was no fuel released at all, it was only a small slug of water the intact fuel had been sitting in. So it's like the difference between eating a hamburger, and drinking a glass of a cow's bathwater. You're just going to get a whole lot less of the cow that way. It would be billions of times less exposure that anyone got, and would be completely swamped by the natural background radiation.

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Tatiana
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Actually, it's not like drinking the cow's bathwater. I would not drink water from the spent fuel pool. It's more like if you took a glass of the cow's bathwater and mixed it into a swimming pool, and then swam in the pool. So that's not getting much beef. (In my bizarre analogy, lol.)
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HollowEarth
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I think really, if you'd like something nuclear power related to fret about you should spend you time considering that in the next 10 or so years every single American plant will reach its design lifetime. Even if we started today we couldn't replace all of these plants before then. The NRC will be (and you can count on it) extending these lifetimes. At least another 20 and possibly another 40. (That is to 60 or 80 years.).
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Tatiana
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The thing I'm most worried about is that we will choose not to build plants of any kind, because people won't want them in their backyards. Then on hot days in August, we won't have enough electricity. We will have to have blackouts, which will cause lots of disruption, huge economic losses since nobody can do business with the power off, and people dying of the heat. Obviously that is a nightmare scenario, orders of magnitude worse than the things people are trying to prevent by not having new power plants built. That's in nobody's best interest.

Hollow Earth, the plants are being upgraded, having parts replaced, and being relicensed for another 20 or 40 years, yes. Of our 3 plants, two have already had their licenses extended and we have been working on the third for the last few years. I think I heard recently that something came through on that, but I don't see it on google.

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Tatiana
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This article in the Wall Street Journal, actually a review of several books, seemed to be spot on about my worries.

We have to let the best technology be the winner, rather than the politics of fear. We can't let people's irrational fears destroy our economy, as it certainly would if frequent blackouts became a lifestyle. For instance, the idea that transmission lines cause cancer, that magnetic fields cause cancer, has been studied and studied and there is just not any effect. Things with real power, like microwave ovens, or even cell phones, which you put smack up next to your head, could possibly have some ill-effects. But magnetic fields are present in the earth itself, and bending over to tie your shoe moves you through earth's magnetic field at the same energy level as what you might get by living under a transmission line.

Obviously it's extremely important to protect the public health. If something is shown to be harmful then we must fix it. And the real truth is that the powers-that-be, the authorities, have created this situation by lying to the public in the past. They have created this distrust by being untrustworthy. Therefore we spend millions on legal wrangling, defending good projects that will help everyone, when that's in nobody's interest but the lawyers.

We need people in all areas, public officials, utility boards, scientists, who simply do not lie, who do what's right instead of what's expedient. You know the overwhelming majority of Americans are like that. You know how many good honest trustworthy and responsible people you've known in your life, and it's a lot. It's only because that's true that we have such a great strong society. The real difference between the United States of America and any unstable repressive banana republic is the level of corruption and cronyism we're willing to tolerate, the level we allow to infect our own hearts.

We need to find trustworthy intelligent people, and then we need to trust them.

[ July 22, 2007, 01:07 PM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]

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orlox
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quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
We have to let the best technology be the winner, rather than the politics of fear. We can't let people's irrational fears destroy our economy, as it certainly would if frequent blackouts became a lifestyle.

Irony might not be the best device to forward your opinion.
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Tatiana
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Did that sound like fear-mongering? I just mean that we have to balance the risks in all directions and choose the path that actually minimizes them. When people talk about the risk of transmission lines or the risk of a nuclear accident, we need to realistically assess those risks and balance them against the risks (that nobody seems to notice or realize, because they take it for granted) of not having electricity available.
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aspectre
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Whether nuclear companies hire temps from skid row employment offices now, I wouldn't know. I do personally know that burning out such workers used to be standard practice during routine shutdowns for cleaning&maintenance.
Since I've read nothing to indicate that a change has been legislated or mandated by new regulations, nor any news story recently which indicates that the practice is still occurring, I can only bow to your expertise as to current practice.

The problem isn't the technology. It's idiot-proofing the technology:
ThreeMileIsland occurred because plant supervisors ordered techs to disable safety alarms which had triggered previously, and to ignore yet another alarm which indicated a serious malfunction as it was occurring. If the automatic-shutdown safeties hadn't kicked in while the malfunction leading to meltdown occurred, those supervisors woulda probably ordered that alarm to be disabled too.
Chernobyl was caused by a non-powerplant experimenter being allowed to take full control of the reactor, who promptly ignored all safety rules to pull out the reaction dampers to see how hot he could run the nuclear pile. Which turned out to be hot enough to cause the carbon moderator to burn with the water of the emergency cooling system.
The Japanese plutonium reprocessing accident occurred because a complete&utter dolt was made a company vice-president, who ordered a couple of basicly untrained workers (who were recruited from the equivalent of a skid row employment office) to speed up their work, or be fired. Not having been trained to even the most minimum degree of familiarity with nuclear physics, they promptly speeded things up enough to create a volume of plutonium-containing liquid exceeding criticality.
Etc ad nauseum for every criticality incident or radiation spill that has occurred outside of a small lab (excepting a few military weapons accidents).

And now "According to Japan’s Meteorological Agency, businesses have had a year’s time already to fill out the paperwork to install these [earthquake] early warning systems, but there's no evidence that any of Japan’s nuclear plants has done so."
Whether a few seconds of warning would have made it possible to avoid leaks (or even whether a few seconds of warning would have been given) is debatable. What isn't up for debate is that having the warning system available, yet failing to even try to install it is deliberate STUPIDity on the part of powerplant executives.

There are only two things that are infinite, the universe and human stupidity. And I'm not sure about the universe.
-- Albert Einstein

[ July 26, 2007, 02:41 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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TheGrimace
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While I certainly agree that every useful measure should be taken to ensure these plants are as safe as possible, I think calling the lack of early warning systems "deliberate stupidity" MAY be crossing a line.

If no one has even considered these measures, then perhaps you have a point. However, it is quite possible that safety engineers looked at the capability of these systems and decided that there would be no value added by having them. In that case it's just a matter of the executives being cost savvy. It wouldn't suprise me at all if even minutes of warning (or hours etc) would not increase the safety of the plants in case of earthquake. The safety measures for this kind of thing I have to think are 99.9% in the planning/construction phase of everything.

Though there probably is a point in terms of more normal workplace safety for these alarms (i.e. preventing employees from falling down stairs) rather than more critical nuclear safety issues.

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HollowEarth
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So what were they suppose to do when the alarm went off? Nothing that anyone would have done if an earthquake alarm went off would have stopped any of the things that Tatiana listed in the OP.

Let me repeat the point of my first post in this thread. What happened at this plant was not newsworthy.

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AvidReader
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Grimace, personal safety is a very big deal at most plants. They have kind of a pyramid theory of accidents. Little ones lead to medium ones lead to big ones lead to catastrophies. So they do everything in their power to stop little accidents in the first place.

Either the plant didn't think the system would work often enough or early enough to justify the cost, or it's that company's bad track record at work again. We'd probably need to know more about the warning system and the execs in charge to guess.

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TheGrimace
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AvidReader, I completely agree that we don't know enough, and that personal safety is quite important. I'm just saying that this kind of fact that they haven't installed these devices may just mean that they don't think the devices would really help (rather than immediately jumping to the conclusion that the executives are being derelict in their duties)
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AvidReader
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Ok, I totally misread your post then. Sorry!
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Green Nuclear Butterfly
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Your supposed explantion of the TEPCO reactor accident is woefully incorrect, and inadequate.

1. Inspections have shown that six of seven transfomers recieved serious damage during the earthquake. Japanese government officials told the press it was pure luck that only one caught fire.

2. All seven spent fuel pools LEAKED unknown amounts of irradiated water.

3. This accident you are trying to classify as a minor incident has an estimated price tag to correct of at least $1.9 BILLION dollars.

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HollowEarth
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I'd like to see some sources for all that.

Ah I see your an anti-nuclear activist. Nevermind, I don't really care what you have to say.

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Rakeesh
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I would be interested in reading sources for GNB's claims, but for the time being Tatiana gets a lot more credence because her posts had substance.

As for anti-nuclear activists...y'know, at some point, you have to ask the question, "Which is more dangerous for the Earth and humanity? Increased reliance on nuclear power, or continued reliance on fossil fuel power?"

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Lyrhawn
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I wouldn't dismiss GNB just because he/she is anti-nuclear, but I would like to see the sources. If he/she can back it up then I can't see what the problem is with it.

Then again I'm a pro-Green renewable advocate, so you can probably just disregard what I'm saying too. There's no reason why nuclear, in addition to coal/oil fired plants, can't be replaced by renewables in the next fifty years.

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Tatiana
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This is a good news story telling exactly what happened. The sources for this article are people at the plant.

Here's an update with the latest information. I like this source because you can tell what actually happened from these articles.

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AvidReader
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Ok, now I'm confused again. These articles sound like they know what they're talking about, but they keep talking about radioactive water. I thought water could contain radioactive material and dampened the effects of it but couldn't itself be radioactive?
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HollowEarth
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I'm dismissing their post since they appear to have signed up just to post that one post.

And Lyrhawn, drop the martyr act.

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Tatiana
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AvidReader, I'm trying to remember my training on this one. I know that neutrons come from the spent fuel, from the decay of fission daughter products, and from the occasional Uranium atom decay (which happens at a rate far lower than that required for sustaining the reaction, called criticality). Then because hydrogen atoms are about the same weight as a neutron, collisions between the neutrons and the hydrogen in the water quickly slow the neutron down to thermal speeds (meaning it's just jostling around like other particles in the water).

I'd have to ask a fuels person what happens next, and how it is the water itself becomes slightly radioactive. I can think of a way, but I'm not sure it's right. I think it might be that occasionally before a neutron slows down all the way, it gets captured by a hydrogen nucleus and becomes deuterium (H-2), or "heavy hydrogen", an isotope which behaves chemically just like hydrogen but has an extra neutron so it weighs about twice as much. Also, very occasionally, a deuterium atom can absorb another neutron and become tritium or H-3, another isotope of Hydrogen that has two extra neutrons. Ordinary water contains a certain proportion of H-2 and H-3 hydrogens and water that has much more than the usual amount is called "heavy water". My guess is that water from the spent fuel pools might have a slightly elevated count of H-2 or H-3 in it. Those have a rate at which they naturally decay into ordinary H-1, and thus are a little bit more radioactive than ordinary water is anyway. (Background radiation is everywhere). But I would have to ask a fuels person if I was correct in that train of events.

When I was taking that class, we were lucky enough to have someone from nuclear fuels in class with us, and we asked him all our questions about stuff like this. They do the calculations on the core, to figure out how to arrange the fuel bundles in the core for optimum burn, and in the case of boiling water reactors or BWRs (which our guy was working on) what pattern to pull the rods out during the life of the fuel load. (BWRs use rods to control the reaction itself, while PWRs usually run with rods fully out, and use boron in the water to control the reactivity). Anyway, those guys understand the nuclear and chemical reactions that take place completely. I just know which systems are radioactive and to what extent, and the spent fuel pool water is mildly radioactive.

When you take 300 gallons of it and mix it into the sea, though, it's diluted to background levels right away.

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AvidReader
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<== Loves learning new stuff.

Ok, that makes sense. Thanks, Tatiana!

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aspectre
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Adding a Table of Nuclides because everyone should have one [Big Grin] but mostly to bump this thread back up.
Grimace has brought up a valid questioning of my previous remarks that I should respond to.

Also hoping for a reply from Tatiana's friend about the origin of the radioactive contaminants in the water of the spent fuel pool. I have my own ideas which differ from hers about the main source, but...

And HollowEarth, there is a disconnect between
"I'm dismissing their post since they appear to have signed up just to post that one post."
and your original "Nevermind, I don't really care what you have to say."
If you want an answer, it's best not to proclaim your disinterest in musing over any future reply.
If you want to be dismissive, "Ah I see you're an anti-nuclear activist." , at least google the news beforehand. While not exactly on the mark, the core facts leading to those thoughts are easily findable through keywords in Nuclear Green Butterfly's statements.

BTW : Deuterium is a stable isotope of hydrogen: ie it isn't radioactive, doesn't decay.

[ July 26, 2007, 02:46 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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King of Men
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Tritium is radioactive, though, half-life roughly 12 years. Throw away a sufficient number of neutrons and you'll get a bit of it. You could also get the occasional activated bit of whatever contaminants are in the water - no doubt they use very pure stuff, but it won't be utterly 100% pure.
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Crotalus
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Another bump to this thread. I recently started working at a Nuclear power plant, about a year ago, and was wondering if any other Hatrackers are in this industry. Tatiana, you mentioned three plants in your company, and I'm thinking I'm working for the same company you are. I'm at the BWR in Georgia working as a chemistry technician. Peace.
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AvidReader
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My dad's hoping to get a job down at the Turkey Point plant instead of doing contract work up in ... whichever state has all the Land O' Lakes farms. Minnesota?

I'm only a nuclear power aficionado.

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Tatiana
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Awesome! Crotalus, we're definitely working for the same company. My plant is the PWR in Georgia, though I work at the corporate office in Birmingham. I just got assigned to a new job doing project management, so I could be working on major projects at any of the three plants in the future. We might work together on something one day. [Smile]

I've worked in a lot of different industries before I came to nuclear, including pulp and paper, hydraulics, industrial diamonds, water and wastewater, polyester fiber, gypsum, and coke plants (the form of carbon used in foundries and furnaces for steel making among other things) and I've seen a ton of different industrial sites. The nuclear plant is the cleanest one I've ever seen, by far. Nuclear power is environmentally friendly in more ways than just not emitting greenhouse gases.

AvidReader, I looked at Turkey Point too, because of the lovely climate there. Right now I need to stay in Birmingham because of my family situation, but eventually I might look again. I mean, it's close to the everglades national park, the keys, Miami, and has no winter to speak of. What could be nicer?

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Tatiana
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I really want to meet a hatracker in the course of my regular life one day. That would be so awesome! That's never happened. I hope we do work together at some point, Crotalus.
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Crotalus
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Great! Like I said, I've just gotten started here. All my previous experience was in pharmaceuticals working as a QC chemist. Let me know if you're ever down this way.
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aspectre
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The earthquake's jolts were 6.8 times more intense than TEPCO limit.

And editing in a few more items before I forget, and before Google loses or buries the news sources under newer hits.

"The trade minister also said yesterday the government failed to thoroughly examine fault lines near nuclear power plants."
"2,000 metric tons of water flooded the basement of the building that houses the facility’s No. 1 reactor." That's equivalent to 2,000 square metres / ~22,000 square feet / 0.2hectares / 2/5ths of a football field / O.5acres covered to a depth of 1metre/3.3 feet.
Naturally the flooding was originally announced as a "...puddle of water was discovered on the 5th basement floor of the reactor complex building Unit 1..." Maybe a puddle 10centimetres/4inches deep covering 4 football fields / 2hectares / 5acres ?
From other readings, the area was used for storage of radioactive materials.
"The leak had been announced...but yesterday company spokesman Kiyoto Ishikawa said most of the water didn’t mix with any radioactive substances." Which makes me want him to define what he means by "most": Anything over 50% is sufficient to be described as most.
And how were the different parts of that 2,000 cubic metres of water kept separate by the basement floor? Or did he mean that only part of the water poured over radioactive material before joining the rest of the water on the floor?
The flooding was caused by a waste water line being ruptured next to an electrical power conduit The electrical power conduit penentrates into the building through an underground hole in the wall, and the hole was cracked by the earthquake.

"...oil leaks and structural damage were found at five more transformers, not just the one at the No. 3 reactor that triggered a fire."
"Niigata prefectural government officials who inspected the plant the following day said it was 'simply by chance' that a fire broke out only at the transformer of the No. 3 reactor."
The transformer fire burned as long as it did because the plant personnel had to wait 90minutes for the city fire crew&equipment to show up because TEPCO didn't have the equiment to fight chemical fires on site. Due to a lack of a direct survivable link to the fire department, it took 14minutes after the fire broke out for the plant to get in contact with fire dispatchers.

The Niigata government's original financial impact estimate was a revenue loss of 2trillion yen / ~$17billion within the prefecture; with 700billion yen / ~$5.9billion of that revenue lost by the TEPCO plant.
At the same time, TEPCO projected a profit loss of 200billion yen / ~$1.7billion dollars for its public future earnings statements IF the plant could be brought back before next April.
At its simplest, revenue minus operating expenses equals profit. And a 200billion yen profit on 500billion yen in operating expenses, ie 40% profit on operating expenses seems more than a little high for an electrical utility.
And thus it is quite likely that a large portion of that 200billion yen / ~1.7billion is projected to be used for repair&cleanup&restart expenses. Naturally some of that money will pay for layoffs and idled workers, and to pay for electricity bought from other companies. But not as many, not as much as might be supposed: TEPCO is intending to fire up some retired-due-to-obsolescence gas turbines and extend running-times of its peak-power plants to provide part of the electrical power lost due to the shutdown.
Which also brings back a large portion of the revenue stream, with what-would-have-been profits making up for part of the extra expense of buying power from other suppliers and of firing up its own formerly-unused power-generating capacity.

Now, "Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Tuesday sharply lowered its group profit estimates for fiscal 2007 in the wake of the quake-induced shutdown of the world's largest nuclear power plant, which it expects to reduce profit by up to ¥400billion [~$3.4billion]."
TEPCO has yet to announce what its projected cleanup&repair&restart costs are.

[ August 01, 2007, 02:12 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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aspectre
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Added quite a bit more to the posting above, which will be relevant to later discussion about my use of "deliberate STUPIDity".
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orlox
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This isn't getting much national coverage:
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/6420AP_WST_Hanford_Leak.html

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aspectre
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Probably due to attention burnout. Nearly the only big news headline that Hanford could generate would be:
Nothing Leaking at Hanford
Which most people who've followed the Hanford saga would treat as being about as likely to be true as:
BatBoy Captures OsamaBinLaden Making Out with Elvis under WhiteHouse OvalOffice Desk

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orlox
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[Big Grin]
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aspectre
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More news about TEPCO in the wake of the FukushimaDaiichi nuclear disaster:
Japan's nuclear industry makes standard practice of burning out day laborers, ie still uses essentially untrained workers to do the jobs that cause the highest exposure to radiation.
BTW: The article states that burning out such "independent subcontractors" is still standard practice in most other nations having nuclear powerplants; with an only slightly weaker implication that it still occurs in the US.

[ April 10, 2011, 01:24 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Blayne Bradley
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What. I'm confused, there was a nuclear accident back in 2007?

In other news this disaster should in fact be hailed a proof of the safety of nuclear power.

It survived the single greatest earthquake to ever hit the plant that is 40 years old and relatively poorly designed, survived a 75 foot high tsunami and to top it all off several hydrogen explosions.

That the area ain't green now is a testament to the safety of nuclear power and the designs are only getting safer.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Nighthawk:
So I hear Japan increased their National Godzilla Threat Level to orange...

Excellent.
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Samprimary
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Here's the NY article from march 28th. I am all for nuke power, but, yes, let's look at this.

quote:
Among those who argue most passionately for nuclear power these days are some environmentalists, who see the uncertain threat that it presents as preferable to the certain harm of climate change. An objective comparison might indeed suggest that a well-designed and vigorously regulated nuclear power plant poses less danger than, say, a coal-fired plant of comparable size. Such a comparison, however, ignores the fact that the regulation of nuclear power in the U.S. still relies on wand-waving.
Consider the prospect of a terrorist attack. After 9/11, it would seem only prudent for nuclear plants to be prepared for an assault by a large, well-armed group. But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in revising its security rules, decided not to require that plants be able to defend themselves against groups carrying the most dangerous sort of weapons, even though these were just the sort of weapons the N.R.C.’s staff had concluded that terrorists could be expected to possess. (The exact weapons in question are classified information.) According to a study by the Government Accountability Office, the N.R.C. appeared to have based its revised rules “on what the industry considered reasonable and feasible to defend against rather than on an assessment of the terrorist threat itself.”
Or consider the requirement, instituted in response to the accident at Three Mile Island, that emergency-evacuation plans be drawn up for a ten-mile zone around all nuclear plants. As anyone who has driven through Westchester County knows, the idea that the area around the Indian Point plant, in Buchanan, New York, could be safely evacuated after an accident is, to say the least, implausible. (More than three hundred thousand people live within ten miles of the plant, and nearly twenty million live within fifty miles.) Nevertheless, the N.R.C. believes that Indian Point has a workable evacuation plan, and is contemplating relicensing the plant for twenty years.
Or, finally, consider the problem of spent fuel. After several decades and billions of dollars’ worth of studies, the U.S. still does not have a plan for developing a long-term storage facility for radioactive waste, much of which will remain dangerous for millennia. (The Obama Administration rejected the idea of creating a repository at Yucca Mountain, in Nevada, but has yet to put forward or, it seems, really consider an alternative.) Instead, spent-fuel rods are stored at each of the country’s hundred and four nuclear power plants. More than two dozen reactors in the U.S. have aboveground storage pools similar to those that have failed at Fukushima—the only difference is that the American pools contain far more waste than their Japanese counterparts. In a conference call with reporters the other day, David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer and the director of the Nuclear Safety Project of the Union of Concerned Scientists, called the risks currently posed by spent-fuel pools in the U.S. “about as high as you could possibly make them.”
As the disaster in Japan illustrates, so starkly and so tragically, people have a hard time planning for events that they don’t want to imagine happening. But these are precisely the events that must be taken into account in a realistic assessment of risk. We’ve more or less pretended that our nuclear plants are safe, and so far we have got away with it. The Japanese have not.



http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2011/03/28/110328taco_talk_kolbert#ixzz1J8wmDfI2
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aspectre
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"What. I'm confused, there was a nuclear accident back in 2007?"

Enough of one that tritium contamination of the nearby ocean temporarily rose to FAR above normal.

"In other news this disaster should in fact be hailed a proof of the safety of nuclear power."

There is now talk of turning the 20kilometer EvacuationZone into an ExclusionZone. Besides forced abandonment of homes and businesses, it will also have the longterm*effect of taking ~60,000hectares(~150,000acres) of farmland out of production^... and possibly as many (or more) hectares of fishing grounds.
Already Japan's government has issued orders forbidding the planting of rice crops.

* Many years if not decades. It is just early this year that the last of the sheep ranches in the BritishIsles have been cleared to sell their products after contamination from the 1986 ChernobylMeltdown.
^ Minus the areas occupied by roads, towns, and residences

[ April 10, 2011, 02:03 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Glenn Arnold
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Think we could get Tatiana back here to explain why the current situation is perfectly safe?
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Mucus
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They have these charts of deaths/terawatt.
http://www-958.ibm.com/software/data/cognos/manyeyes/visualizations/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-sources
from
http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html

If my math is right, then you would need roughly 1700 deaths from this incident for nuclear power to merely become as unsafe as hydroelectric. Since Chernobyl only hit 50, I don't think thats too likely. *shrug*

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