Conventional Nuclear (AKA Nuclear Fission) a thread for discussion of the pros / cons.

  • So according to this author renewables can save us from Putin.

    That is regarding this article:


    Britain could build seven nuclear power stations - minister (msn.com)


    It says they could build 7 nukes by 2050. That may be true, but Putin will be long gone by that time. He will die of old age, or be deposed. He is reportedly sick with cancer so he may not live much longer:


    Putin bathes in deer antler extract and regularly sees cancer doctor, report claims
    Investigation by independent Russian journalists casts doubts over president’s health
    www.independent.co.uk


    Anyway, perhaps they could build 7 nukes, but I think it would be a lot cheaper and safer to build an equivalent generating capacity with wind, solar and storage. Nukes are far more expensive than wind or solar.


    I think they need a short-term solution to "save us from Putin." I do not know what that might be. Something like importing natural gas from the U.S., perhaps.

  • They know hopes, dreams and rosy projections -like those of the one author, won't fully power the grid anytime soon, but traditional power can, and will.

    Traditional power cannot be increased any faster than wind or solar. On the contrary, it takes more time to build a natural gas plant than a wind farm, and it takes MUCH MORE time to build a nuke. How much more? No one knows. The nuke in Georgia was supposed to be finished in 2016. It has just been delayed for another 6 months, and there is no telling when it might be finished. The cost was supposed to be $9.5 billion, but it is now $30 billion (plus $3 billion that "original contractor Westinghouse paid to the owners after going bankrupt"). For that kind of money, they could have built far more solar and storage capacity.


    $30B Georgia Power nuclear plant delayed up to 6 more months - WABE
    Georgia Power Co. now says the first of two nuclear reactors it’s building at Plant Vogtle near Augusta might not begin generating electricity until as late as…
    www.wabe.org

  • The cost was supposed to be $9.5 billion, but it is now $30 billion

    Another source said the original planned cost was $14 billion. Anyway, it is now up to $33 billion, including the $3 billion Westinghouse spent. The new nukes will generate 2,302 MW.


    Solar now costs $1,796,000/MW. I think that is adjusted for capacity factor. Battery storage is $1,500,000/MW. So, if you spent half of the $33 billion on each, you would get 9,187 MW of solar capacity plus more than enough storage to keep it running 24 hours a day. I don't think you would need $16.5 billion for storage, but anyway this is a rough estimate. Worst case you would get 4 times more capacity than the new nukes will provide.


    Average U.S. construction costs for solar generation continued to fall in 2019


    EIA - U.S. Battery Storage Market Trends


    Georgia has 8,600 MW of coal capacity, but I do not think it is run 24 hours a day because it is expensive. Natural gas is cheaper. In 2021 coal produced 440 thousand MWH compared to 5,301 thousand MWH for natural gas, and 798 thousand MWH for nonhydroelectric renewables. In other words, 9,180 MW of new solar would easily retire the remaining coal plants.



    Georgia - State Energy Profile Overview - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)


    Net summer capacity is 37,279 MW. That's capacity. Much of that is closed down at night.



    EIA - State Electricity Profiles

  • If not, well then, I believe that what the Carl Pages (Anthropocene) of the world have proposed, which is to re-embrace the one technology that does not emit any green house gases.

    That would be nuclear power. The power source that bankrupted Westinghouse in Georgia, and bankrupted Tokyo Electric Power Company -- the world's largest power company until Fukushima. It was the cheapest source of power in Japan until it became the most expensive in one afternoon, by wiping out cities, towns and farms and displacing 90,000 people for the next few centuries. No one in his right mind would move back to Fukushima, regardless of what the government officials spout. The radioactive crud in the woods and in wild boars and other animals is far above safe levels. Fukushima resembled the Concorde airplane accident in July 2000. This transformed the Concorde from being the safest modern airplane ever made into being the most dangerous -- and instantly put an end to supersonic passenger aircraft.


    The generator under construction in Georgia costs 16 times more than solar or natural gas. 16 times and counting . . . no one knows how much it will cost, or how much longer it will take. Any power company executive who suggested they build such a monstrosity would be insane. He or she would be fired that afternoon. No one will ever again build a conventional fission power generator. It is out of the question. Space-based solar has more chance of success than fission, and it is a very long shot.

  • Oh, so that is what Carl meant.

    I believe so! That's what he has talked about in the past.


    Before Fukushima I was a lukewarm supporter of nuclear energy. I considered it the least bad solution. For now. Better than coal. That was despite the accidents at Three Mile Island, Connecticut Yankee, Davis-Besse, Brown's Ferry and other outrageous accidents. If the public knew about these accidents there would be less support for nuclear power. Did you know, the Browns Ferry accident in 1975 was caused by some guy with a lit candle looking for air leaks in a hallway? And it nearly destroyed all three redundant control systems because they all went down that same hallway? After you read that kind of detail, you will feel less confident in U.S. nuclear plant engineering. It sounds like it was designed and operated by the Three Stooges.


    Until around 2010 I did not think wind, solar and battery power would fall in price far enough, or soon enough, to produce all the energy we need. I have revised that estimate. Granted, they are still not enough in some geographic areas, such as New York City or Atlanta. However, they can greatly reduce fossil fuel use. Solar, in particular, can reduce consumption and also reduce the land area devoted to energy production, by putting panels on large flat roofs of warehouses, Walmart, shopping malls, canopy parking lots and so on. This reduces land area compared to things like coal mining. For coal, you have to include the land devoted to railroads to haul the coal. For some rail lines, nearly all traffic is coal. If coal is no longer used, the lines will be abandoned, and the land used for something else. Urban solar panels also reduce the need for high tension power lines, which also take up a lot of space. We don't think of coal or remote power generators as taking up land space, but they do.


    Isolated, remote solar installations take up a lot of space. That's okay in Death Valley or outside of Las Vegas, but it would be a shame in Georgia agricultural land.

  • Before Fukushima I was a lukewarm supporter of nuclear energy. I considered it the least bad solution. For now. Better than coal. That was despite the accidents at Three Mile Island, Connecticut Yankee, Davis-Besse, Brown's Ferry and other outrageous accidents. If the public knew about these accidents there would be less support for nuclear power. Did you know, the Browns Ferry accident in 1975 was caused by some guy with a lit candle looking for air leaks in a hallway? And it nearly destroyed all three redundant control systems because they all went down that same hallway? After you read that kind of detail, you will feel less confident in U.S. nuclear plant engineering. It sounds like it was designed and operated by the Three Stooges.

    I hear you. All here are green, including moi...we just come in slightly different shades of green. We all mean well and should respect each others opinion as to the best way forward in meeting the worlds energy needs.


    IMO, the difference between people like you and the Carl Pages of the world, is that you are confident solar and wind can fill in for the newer, extremely safe, advanced SMR's, but they are not quite so confident. Firmly believing that, it then becomes a decision on their part between watching the potential devastation caused by rising temps, or grudgingly accepting something that may make a difference.


    I guess the best way to put it is that they do not want nuclear, but feel there is no other choice. Of course, as you said, and the reason we all are here, the best outcome would be for LENR to be made commercial tomorrow, if not sooner. And I do have some hope it will be be our salvation, and make unnecessary this dispute between the environmentally conscious.

  • I believe so! That's what he has talked about in the past.


    Before Fukushima I was a lukewarm supporter of nuclear energy. I considered it the least bad solution. For now. Better than coal. That was despite the accidents at Three Mile Island, Connecticut Yankee, Davis-Besse, Brown's Ferry and other outrageous accidents. If the public knew about these accidents there would be less support for nuclear power. Did you know, the Browns Ferry accident in 1975 was caused by some guy with a lit candle looking for air leaks in a hallway? And it nearly destroyed all three redundant control systems because they all went down that same hallway? After you read that kind of detail, you will feel less confident in U.S. nuclear plant engineering. It sounds like it was designed and operated by the Three Stooges.

    I looked up the Brown's Ferry nuclear accident and found this link:

    The Fire at the Bown's Ferry Nuclear Power Station

    Absolutely fascinating - I highlighted in Bold where many people understand that the foam is flammable, there are multiple minor flammable accidents and still no one stops the use of using a candle to inspect for air leaks, almost unbelievable,

    I trimmed out some of the boring parts (about 1/2 of the article) from that link here is the interesting stuff - I put in Bold some of the more outrageous stuff:


    ======================================

    How a Candle Caused a Nuclear Emergency

    At noon on March 22, 1975, both Units 1 and 2 at the Brown's Ferry plant in Alabama were operating at full power, delivering 2200 megawatts of electricity to the Tennessee Valley Authority.

    Just below the plant's control room, two electricians were trying to seal air leaks in the cable spreading room, where the electrical cables that control the two reactors are separated and routed through different tunnels to the reactor buildings. They were using strips of spongy foam rubber to seal the leaks. They were also using candles to determine whether or not the leaks had been successfully plugged -- by observing how the flame was affected by escaping air.

    The electrical engineer put the candle too close to the foam rubber, and it burst into flame.

    The resulting fire, which disabled a large number of engineered safety systems at the plant, including the entire emergency core cooling system (ECCS) on Unit 1, and almost resulted in a boiloff/meltdown accident, demonstrates the vulnerability of nuclear plants to "single failure" events and human fallibility.

    How The Fire Got Started

    The fire was started by an electrical inspector (referred to in the NRC report as "C"), working with an electrician, "D", who said,

    "Because the wall is about 30 inches thick and the opening deep, I could not reach in far enough, so C [the inspector] asked me for the foam and he stuffed it into the hole. The foam is in sheet form, it is a 'plastic' about 2 inches thick, that we use as a backing material."

    The inspector, "C", describes what happened next:

    "We found a 2 x 4 inch opening in a penetration window in a tray with three or four cables going through it. The candle flame was pulled out horizontal showing a strong draft. D [the electrician] tore off two pieces of foam sheet for packing into the hole. I rechecked the hole with the candle. The draft sucked the flame into the hole and ignited the foam which started to smoulder and glow.

    "The material ignited by the candle flame was resilient polyurethane foam. Once the foam was ignited, the flame spread very rapidly. After the first application of the CO2 , the fire had spread through to the reactor building side of the penetration. Once ignited, the resilient polyurethane foam splattered as it burned. After the second extinguisher was applied, there was a roaring sound from the fire and a blowtorch effect due to the airflow through the penetration.

    "The airflow through the penetration pulled the material from discharging fire extinguishers through the penetration into the reactor building. Dry chemicals would extinguish the flames, but the flame would start back up."

    "I checked and found that the only water supply to the reactor at this time was the control rod drive pump, so I increased its output to maximum."

    Meanwhile, a few feet away on the Unit 2 side of the control room, warning lights had also been going off for some time. A shift engineer stated,

    "Panel lights were changing color, going on and off. I noticed the annunciators on all four diesel generator control circuits showed ground alarms. I notified the shift engineer of this condition and said I didn't think they would start."

    "At about 1:30, I knew that the reactor water level could not be maintained, and I was concerned about uncovering the core."

    Had the core become uncovered, a meltdown of the reactor fuel would have begun because of the radioactive decay heat in the fuel.

    In order to prevent the reactor water from boiling off, it was necessary to get more water into the core than the single high-pressure control rod drive pump could provide. It was decided that by opening the reactor relief valves, the reactor would be depressurized from 1020 to below 350 pounds per square inch, where a low-pressure pump would be capable of forcing water in to keep the core covered. None of the normal or emergency low-pressure pumps were working, however, so a makeshift arrangement was made, using a condensate booster pump. This was able to provide a temporarily adequate supply of water to the reactor, although the level dropped from its normal 200 inches above the core down to only 48 inches. Using the makeshift system, the Unit 1 reactor was under control for the time being.

    "None of these attempts resulted in establishing torus or reactor shutdown cooling. The attempts were severely limited by dense smoke and inadequate breathing apparatus."

    Why the Fire Fighting Efforts Stalled

    The fire fighting effort was not going well. Soon after the electricians had fled the cable spreader room, a shift engineer had tried to turn on the built-in Cardox system in order to flood the room with carbon dioxide (CO2) and put out the fire. He discovered that the electricians had purposely disabled the electrical system that initiated the Cardox.

    "I tried to use the manual crank system and discovered that it had a metal construction plate on, under the glass, and I tried to remove it. This was difficult, without a screwdriver.... The next day, I checked other manual cardox initiators and found that almost all of them had these construction plates attached."


    He finally got the power on, but the Cardox system ended up driving smoke up into the control room above the cable spreader room. One person present described the scene in the control room as follows:

    "The control room was filling with thick smoke and fumes. The shift engineer and others were choking and coughing on the smoke. It was obvious the control room would have to be evacuated in a very short time unless ventilation was provided."

    After the carbon dioxide system was turned off, the smoke stopped pouring into the control room. It had not put out the fire in the spreading room, however. A safety officer fighting the fire pointed out,

    "The CO2 in the spreader room may have slowed down the fire but it did not put it out. We opened the doors for air, as the smoke in the whole area had become dense and sickening. Another employee and I each donned a breathing apparatus and went into the spreader room. We used hand lamps for illumination, but they penetrated the smoke only a few inches. The neoprene covers on the cables were burning, giving off dense black smoke and sickening fumes.... It was impossible to not swallow some smoke. I got sick several times."

    "Breathing apparatus was in short supply and not all of the Scott air packs were serviceable. Some did not have face masks and others were not fully charged at the time of the start of the fire. The breathing apparatus was recharged from precharged bulk cylinders by pressure equalization. As the pressure in the bulk cylinders decreased, the resulting pressure decrease in the Scott packs limited the length of time that the personnel could remain at the scene of the fire."

    The electrical cables continued to burn for another six hours, because the fire fighting was carried out by plant employees, despite the fact that professional firemen from the Athens, Alabama, fire department had been on the scene since about 1:30 pm. As the Athens fire chief pointed out,

    "I was aware that my effort was in support of, and under the direction of, Browns Ferry plant personnel, but I did recommend, after I saw the fire in the cable spreading room, to put water on it. The Plant Superintendent was not receptive to my ideas.

    "I informed him that this was not an electrical fire and that water could and should be used because CO2 and dry chemical were not proper for this type of fire. The problem was to cool the hot wires to prevent recurring combustion. CO2 and dry chemical were not capable of providing the required cooling. Throughout the afternoon, I continued to recommend the use of water to the Plant Superintendent. He consulted with people over the phone, but apparently was told to continue to use CO2 and dry chemical. Around 6:00 pm, I again suggested the use of water . . . . The Plant Superintendent finally agreed and his men put out the fire in about 20 minutes . . . .

    "They were using type B and C extinguishers on a type A fire; the use of water would have immediately put the fire out."

    Even when the decision to put the fire out with water had been taken, further difficulties developed. The fire hose had not been completely removed from the hose rack, so that full water pressure did not reach the nozzle. The fire-fighters did not know this, however, and decided that the nozzle was defective. They borrowed a nozzle from the Athens fire department,

    "but it had incorrect type threads and would not stay on the hose."

    The spare control rod drive pump was inoperative, and although it was later determined that a series of valves could have been turned to allow the Unit 2 control rod drive pump to supply water for the Unit 1 reactor, the reactor operators did not know this at the time.

    With the reactor pressure mounting higher and higher, the relief valves were finally brought back into operation at 9:50 pm, and about 10:20 pm the reactor was depressurized to the point that the condensate booster pump could again get water into the reactor.

    How the Emergency Planning Worked

    Normal shutdown was established on the Unit 1 reactor at 4:00 am the next morning, and the nightmare at Browns Ferry was over.

    Had the reactor boiloff continued to the point where a core meltdown took place, however, it is doubtful that the endangered surrounding population could have been evacuated in time; evacuation of the county's residents was the responsibility of the Civil Defense Coordinator for Limestone County, but, as he admitted to NRC inspectors,

    "I heard about the fire at Browns Ferry on the morning of Monday, March 24, 1975 (two days later). No one in the Civil Defense System notified me or attempted to do so ... I feel that our county should have been notified since the plant is located in our county."

    The sheriff of Limestone County said:

    "I heard about the fire at the Browns Ferry plant after it was over ... I have not had any updating of procedures proposed to me since the initial plan was outlined in 1972. I do not have a copy of the emergency plan."

    The Sheriff of neighboring Morgan County did hear about the fire four hours after it started, but said,

    "I was asked to keep quiet about the incident to avoid any panic."

    The NRC noted in its investigative report that,

    "No official notification was made to the State of Alabama Highway Patrol by the State of Alabama Department of Public Health or by TVA...

    "An attempt was made to notify the Lawrence County Sheriff at 4:08 pm, but no answer was received. Only one attempt was made to locate the sheriff."

    Large numbers of plant employees went into the plant control room, adding to the chaotic situation there. Instead of the six persons normally there, one assistant shift engineer reported,

    "The maximum number of people in the control room at only one time I guessed to be about 50 to 75."

    Although it is perfectly possible to design an inexpensive anemometer to test for air leaks, or even use smoke from a cigarette, these methods were rejected two years ago by the Browns Ferry plant personnel in favor of using candles.

    Why was Flammable Material Used?

    Some senior personnel at the plant thought that the urethane sheet foam used to seal the cable penetrations was fireproof. The leader of the electrical conduit division at the plant said:

    "The practice of using RTV-102 and sheet foam to seal air leaks has been the practice for two or three years. We believed that the urethane would not sustain a fire. Urethane samples had been tested several years ago and it needed a flame for 20 minutes to sustain a fire."

    They had only tested two of the polyurethane samples, however, using an American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) test that the Marshall Space Flight Centre later found to be of marginal value. No test had been made of the foam polyurethane, however, and the NRC's consultants, from the Marshall Space Flight Centre, found that,

    "A cursory match test on a piece of the foam rubber disclosed almost instantaneous ignition, very rapid burning, and release of molten flaming drippings."

    Even though some people at the plant thought the ASTM tests showed the penetration sealant material to be non-flammable, senior management knew it was highly flammable. The plant instrument engineer told NRC inspectors that,

    "During the test and startup period of Unit #1 (in 1973), I demonstrated the flammability of the sealing material to the Plant Superintendent. I burned the material in the Plant Superintendent's office. He immediately called someone with Construction and they discussed the situation .... I feel the Plant Superintendent did all that was immediately possible to investigate the situation as it appeared that construction was not going to change the material."

    The Plant Superintendent admitted to the NRC inspectors,

    "I was aware that polyurethane was flammable, but it never occurred to me that these penetrations were being tested using candles."

    Many senior management personnel at the plant denied knowing of the practice of using candles to test cable penetrations.

    The rest indicated that they knew candles were being used, but thought the sealant materials were not flammable.

    The electricians seemed to be the only group who knew both that the foam rubber was flammable and that candles were being used as the testing method. As one electrician later recounted,

    "The electrical engineer called the group (of electricians) together and warned us how hazardous this method was. 'Why just the other day,' the electrical engineer said (in effect), 'I caught some of that foam on fire and put it out with my bare hands, burning them in the process.'"

    One of the electricians who started the fire said that candles had been used for more than two years but said,

    "I thought that everybody knew that the material we were using to seal our leaks in penetrations would burn....I never did like it."

    How the Warnings Were Ignored

    The real irony of the Browns Ferry fire was that two days before, a similar fire had started but had been put out successfully. After the fire on Thursday night, the shift engineers and three assistant shift engineers met. According to one of them,

    "We discussed among the group the procedure of using lighted candles to check for air leaks. Our conclusion was that the procedure should be stopped."

    Yet nothing was done. The fire was noted in the plant log, and briefly discussed the next day at the plant management meeting. No one on the management level seemed to consider it a safety problem worth following up. This was the standard operating procedure; as the NRC investigative report notes,

    "Previous fires in the polyurethane foam materials had not always been reported to the appropriate levels of management, and, on the occasions when reported, no action was taken to prevent recurrence."

    In the face of these practices, it was probably nor a question of whether the Browns Ferry plant would have a major fire, but when.

    Has Anything Been Learned?

    What will the fire mean for other nuclear plants? That depends on whether the NRC carries out the recommendation made by the Factory Mutual Engineering Association of Norwood, Massachusetts, the fire underwriters the NRC engaged as consultants:

    "Conclusions and Recommendations:

    "The original plant design did not adequately evaluate the fire hazards of grouped electrical cables in trays, grouped cable trays and materials of construction (wall sealants) in accordance with recognized industrial 'highly protected risk' criteria....

    "It is obvious that vital electrical circuitry controlling critical safe shutdown functions and control of more than one production unit were located in an area where normal and redundant controls were susceptible to a single localized accident .... A re-evaluation should be made of the arrangement of important electrical circuitry and control systems, to establish that safe shutdown controls in the normal and redundant systems are routed in separated and adequately protected areas."

    Every nuclear plant in the country uses a cable spreader room below its control room. Despite requirements for separation and redundancy of reactor protection and control systems, every reactor has been permitted to go into operation with this sort of configuration which lends itself to a single failure's wiping out all redundant systems.

    If every plant currently operating and under construction were required to re-wire so as to achieve true redundancy and eliminate cable trays bunched together, I have made calculations that indicate the cost will range between $7,680,000,000 and $12,343,000,000. It will be interesting to see whether the new commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will require such changes.

    Except for one news release, written March 27, 1975, NRC headquarters in Washington has remained silent about Browns Ferry. That news release, quoted below, does not make one optimistic that any meaningful lesson has been learned from the Browns Ferry incident.

    "The functioning of some in-plant operating and safety systems, including emergency core cooling systems, was impaired due to damage to the cables.

    "The two reactors were safely shut down and cooled during the fire. NRC inspectors report that there was redundant cooling equipment available during the reactor cooldown....

    "Although some instrumentation was lost, certain critical instrumentation such as reactor water level, temperature and pressure indicators continued to function and both plants were safely shut down....

    "On Unit 1, although a loss-of-coolant accident had not occurred, the emergency core cooling system was activated and supplied additional water to the reactor. It was manually shut down to prevent overfilling. Later, during cooldown, when ECCS was called for manually as one of the several alternate means of supply cooling water, it did not activate; the alternate methods had more than sufficient capability to cool the core."

    Whether the NRC has sufficient capability to cool the public's reaction, once the facts about Browns Ferry are known, will be interesting to observe.

  • The material ignited by the candle flame was resilient polyurethane foam. Once the foam was ignited, the flame spread very rapidly.

    Some people did say that the Three mile island accident was cased by a ignored red emergency light hidden behind the belly of an overly fat operator....

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  • The real irony of the Browns Ferry fire was that two days before, a similar fire had started but had been put out successfully. After the fire on Thursday night, the shift engineers and three assistant shift engineers met. According to one of them,

    "We discussed among the group the procedure of using lighted candles to check for air leaks. Our conclusion was that the procedure should be stopped."

    Yet nothing was done. The fire was noted in the plant log, and briefly discussed the next day at the plant management meeting. No one on the management level seemed to consider it a safety problem worth following up. This was the standard operating procedure; as the NRC investigative report notes,

    "Previous fires in the polyurethane foam materials had not always been reported to the appropriate levels of management, and, on the occasions when reported, no action was taken to prevent recurrence."

    so basically, this nearly catastrophic meltdown of the reactor was fortuitous in that it has kept us safe since 1975 because we have not (I assume) had any big nuclear plant fires since (not that I have searched the internet for these). That being said, I have never supported nuclear power and this just makes my stance stronger. Technology is better now - but I still have no plans to change my mind. Look at the mistakes made at Fukushima - which had back up diesel generators for cooling in areas where they could get damaged / flooded.


    When the Fukushima Daiichi station was constructed, the emergency diesel generators and emergency batteries were installed on the floor inside the plant building to afford protection against earthquakes. Ventilation ducts in the compartments where this equipment was located were not waterproofed. Moving this emergency power equipment to higher ground, safety experts said, would not have increased its vulnerability to seismic shock, provided it was fixed to a platform designed to resist earthquakes.62

    The value of taking such action was demonstrated by upgrades that one Japanese utility, Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC), was in the process of carrying out when the tsunami struck Japan’s east coast. JAPC’s Tokai-2 plant is located about 100 miles south of Fukushima, and the tsunami that ravaged Fukushima also caused flooding at Tokai-2. Prior to the tsunami, JAPC had partially implemented plans to erect a wall to prevent tsunami water from flooding two pits at the plant where seawater pumps were located and to make the pump rooms watertight. The wall was erected before the tsunami occurred. Water entered one of the pits because spaces where pipes penetrated into the pit had not yet been made watertight before the accident. In that pit, a seawater pump that provided cooling for an emergency diesel generator was damaged and unable to function, forcing JAPC to shut down the generator. But no flooding occurred at the other pit where pipe penetrations had been made watertight.63 This saved the cooling pumps for two more diesel generators. Had JAPC not carried out these upgrades, it would almost certainly have lost all three emergency diesel generators, potentially resulting in a much more serious accident.

  • Some people did say that the Three mile island accident was cased by a ignored red emergency light hidden behind the belly of an overly fat operator....

    It wasn't an emergency light. It was the indicators for the water level, pressure and temperature of a holding tank the reactor water was draining into. These indicators were behind and below the master console. They was not immediately visible to the operators. The operators did not notice them for 2 hours and 20 minutes, which is understandable because there were hundreds of other critical alarm conditions and the plant was going out of control.


    The problem was that a large valve was stuck open. There was no indicator light for that condition. There was no way to know it was stuck open, but finally someone went behind the panel and saw the holding tank was filling up with very hot water from the reactor, and they guessed -- correctly -- that the valve was stuck open. Critics said they should have noticed it earlier.


    In other plants made by B&W, the valve had got stuck open at least 9 times. In one incident at Davis-Besse, it was not discovered for 22 minutes. That might have led to a meltdown, but the plant was not at full power. TMI was at full power, and it took longer to discover the valve was open. An NRL engineer who investigated Davis-Besse and the other 8 incidents recommended they put a visible indicator light specifically for the valve in plain view. But they did not. After the TMI accident, that engineer was harassed until he quit. His bosses, who ignored the recommendation, were given cash rewards and promotions, proving that no good deed goes unpunished.


    Source: various online, and the book "Three Mile Island, Thirty Minutes to Meltdown."


    Incidents like this are why I think fission reactors cannot be made safe. The technology is inherently too dangerous. People make stupid mistakes, even with airplanes. An airplane crash kills hundreds of people. A reactor accident such as Fukushima drives 90,000 people out of their houses and businesses and makes a substantial fraction of the land in Japan uninhabitable. If every reactor in Japan were to explode like that, a large fraction of the country would have to abandoned for centuries. Of course that will not happen, but one or two might explode. It is not worth the risk. Solar panels and batteries are much safer and cheaper per kilowatt-hour.


    If we made hundreds more fission reactors, all in a standard design, similar to the way we make hundreds of airplanes, perhaps they could be made safe. I don't know. I cannot judge. But since there so few of them, and since they bankrupt the largest high tech construction companies and power companies, there is no way we will make hundreds. It would be economic lunacy to make hundreds more when solar and wind are 16 times cheaper, and getting cheaper every day. Once a technology falls behind in competition, it seldom catches up.

  • Water (as coolant) as source of life was source of death in the case of TMI , Tchernobyl and Fukushima.

    This way of engineering imposed by US engineers lobbying almost everywhere have been the origin of the nuclear worldwide counter publicity.

    My weak country of followers tried a while salt melted solution however came back to the water solution with our f.. EPR.

    Then UK used gases for a while, or currently Russia is using lead for example... because are more open mind countries..

    Incidents like this are why I think fission reactors cannot be made safe.

  • so basically, this nearly catastrophic meltdown of the reactor was fortuitous in that it has kept us safe since 1975 because we have not (I assume) had any big nuclear plant fires since (not that I have searched the internet for these).

    I don't recall reading about fires, but one reactor was nearly destroyed when someone accidentally dropped a small lightbulb into the control panel and shorted out several meters and instruments. (Rancho Seco, March 20, 1978.) The Connecticut Yankee plant was leaking radioactive debris from the reactor for more than a year. The plant operators covered it up, literally and figuratively. Some of the contaminated soil was used in a kindergarten parking lot, as I recall. The authorities finally found out and ordered the plant closed, decommissioned, demolished and cleaned up. The Attorney General's Office news release, September 16, 1997 said: “What we have here is a nuclear management nightmare of Northeast Utilities' own making. The goal is no longer to decommission a nuclear power plant, but rather to decontaminate a nuclear waste dump.”


    People do stupid things with high tech equipment. An airplane once crashed because the pilot's seat was loose. The pilot's seat moves back and forth and locks in position, like an automobile front seat. The lock broke. Instead of fixing it, someone put heavy wires around it to hold it in position. When the airplane took off, the wires broke, the pilot slid back in surprise and pulled the control column. The airplane climbed steeply, stalled, and crashed.


    I have known about these accidents from the time they happened in the 1970s. As I said, I have been a lukewarm supporter of nuclear power despite knowing this. Only because I also know that coal and other sources cause disastrous problems such as global warming, and coal kills ~20,000 people a year in the U.S. from particulate pollution. I considered nuclear power the least bad option. However, the Fukushima disaster nailed the coffin lid closed. The extraordinary cost reductions in wind and solar made those options viable for most power generation. (Not all, but if only 20% or so was natural gas and hydroelectricity, the threat of global warming would be reduced.)

  • The Connecticut Yankee plant was leaking radioactive debris from the reactor for more than a year.

    It is unclear to me how long they knew it was leaking. Quoting the New York Times:


    Hartford Says Utility Hid Nuclear Contamination (Published 1997)
    State officials say that Connecticut Yankee nuclear power plant, which was permanently closed in 1996 for safety reasons, has been widely contaminated by two…
    www.nytimes.com


    . . . In his testimony, Mr. Joosten said that the contamination at Connecticut Yankee should be distinguished from the contamination at other plants for a number of reasons.

    Mr. Joosten said the plant has had two ''significant'' fuel failure events in which the thin metal cladding around the nuclear fuel rods was punctured or cracked. He said he was aware of no other plant that had had two such events, a point that commission officials disputed.

    In the 1989 failure, some metal scraps left inside the reactor by a maintenance crew damaged the fuel rods when the utility started the reactor, Mr. Joosten said. Even though the damage occurred quickly and led to a leak of radioactive particles into the surrounding coolant, the company continued to operate for ''a world record run of 461 days,'' he said.

    The company knew of the fuel failure for months before taking any action, he added. And he noted that serious design flaws allowed the radioactive coolant to escape into outside areas.

    ''In particular, unmonitored floor and roof drains in radioactive areas of the plant deposited contaminated liquids directly into the soil and the discharge canal,'' Mr. Joosten testified.

    ''Management was aware of these problems but did not take effective steps to resolve them.''

    Mr. Joosten said that management ''tolerated an excessive level'' of radiation disposal, and that operators' logs characterized it as ''dumping.'' He questioned why the plant used ''stainless steel casing'' around its fuel rods, a technology no longer used in the industry.

    He also said that the company had a ''troubling pattern'' of withholding information from state officials and Federal regulators, sometimes reporting an incident late and not providing all the relevant facts. . . .


    END QUOTE



    Isn't it great to know they set a world record of 461 days?!?

  • My weak country of followers tried a while salt melted solution however came back to the water solution with our

    Do you mean molten sodium? Or molten salt?


    3 Advanced Reactor Systems to Watch by 2030
    These 3 advanced reactor designs are cleaner, safer and more efficient than previous generations. They could also debut as early as 2030.
    www.energy.gov


    There have been at least two large reactors cooled with liquid sodium. One in the U.S. I do not recall the name. The other was the Japanese Monju breeder reactor. Both failed disastrously, in dangerous accidents caused by leaking sodium, which ignites in air. Monju was finally closed down completely after only short periods of operation. I cannot judge, but it seems like a terrible technology. It seems inherently dangerous to me.


    It may be possible to develop safe fission reactors. I cannot judge. Some experts say pebble bed reactors might be safe. However, we know for a fact that solar panels are safe, and they can produce electricity much more cheaply than fission. Probably cheaper than pebble bed reactors. So why spend a ton of money inventing safe fission reactors now? We don't need them anymore. If they had been invented before solar PV fell in price, we could have used them. No doubt they would have some advantages, such as being more compact, with less overall material needed.


    Any technology has advantages and disadvantages. Years after integrated transistors were invented, Ken Shoulders and Charles Spindt invented special purpose chip with microscopic vacuum tubes on it. Spindt told me it was better for some purposes than transistors. If they had come up with that in 1955, perhaps we would not have needed integrated transistor chips. Not for a while, anyway.


    Suppose Toyota had come up with the Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car in 1990. It might be cheap and widespread by now, and we might have hydrogen gas stations everywhere. It has a better range than today's electric cars. Hydrogen made by some processes is renewable and not polluting. Hydrogen fuel cell cars might have progressed faster than electric cars, eliminating the need for electric cars. That's one of history's might-have-beens. It didn't happen, and now it is too late for the Mirai hydrogen fuel cell approach. Electric cars may not have been inherently better in 1990. They might have lost the competition. But they won, and you cannot undo that. A winning technology develops economic and technical momentum. It becomes a standard, as more and more people buy it, and mechanics learn to deal with it. Mechanics and automobile companies can only afford to support one or two technical standards -- gasoline and electric. They cannot afford to manufacture, sell and service another standard such as hydrogen fuel cells.

  • If we made hundreds more fission reactors, all in a standard design, similar to the way we make hundreds of airplanes, perhaps they could be made safe.

    there seem to be concepts just around the corner - IMO it sounds promising.

    Dual Fluid Inc. - Canadian / German company

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  • there seem to be concepts just around the corner - IMO it sounds promising.

    Dual Fluid Inc. - Canadian / German company

    Well, if it works, that's great. I don't mean no one should do R&D in fission reactors. I just mean we should not commit billions of dollars of DoE money to advanced fission reactor R&D. We should commit billions to solar PV, because it won. Government support should go to proven winners. Just not too long, and not after they sell on their own without support. Government did way too much for coal and oil, far too long. When support begins to hurt newer, better technology, it has gone on too long.


    If the DoE spends hundreds of millions on advanced fission reactor concepts, I would have no objection.


    I have it in for the tokamak plasma fusion people. I would like to see them cut off without a cent, in retribution for what they did to cold fusion. I admit, that's politics! Also because the idea stinks and it has been given enough money already.


    Needless to say, I wish they would spend hundreds of millions on cold fusion. It won't happen, unless someone demonstrates something like a reliable kilowatt reactor with a plausible development path to commercialization. That's unfair. No one else is held to that standard. The tokamak people are not held to that standard! There is no path to commercialization for ITER or any other plasma fusion gadget. However, like it not -- complain or don't complain -- kilowatts are what we need to convince the idiots at the DoE, and at corporations. They are not going to wake up and stop being idiots on their own. Something like the Huang cavitation gadget might convince them. Huang et al. should start by trying to convince the government or industry in Taiwan, naturally. Not in the U.S.

  • here you have a more detailed explanation on DFR dual fluid reactor by the inventor, but only in German.

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  • In fact,

    I worked there in the past (I really went into steam generators during maintenance operations) and recently I took part in a think tank with all the real French big names of the nuclear field in the context of the current presidential elections.

    Water has many disadvantages, the first the obligation to operate under pressure requiring enormous additional engineering costs compared to all technologies with heat transfer fluids working at ambient pressure.

    I like the recent lead-cooled Russian reactor:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…a%20closed%20fuel%20cycle.