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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-17-2011, 08:10 PM Thread Starter
 
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ask a nuke

PREFACE: Due to EXTREME innacuracies in the media, I am creating this thread. This is not a discussion of the merits of nuclear power. I have seen a lot of questions, and am getting a few pm's from several members here, so this is merely a place where I will openly answer questions you may have regarding "whys" "why nots" and "how comes". Again, NOT a "merits of" debate, or how or why nuclear power should or should not be allowed. this is merely a chance for you guys to ask someone who has a better understanding of the situation then MSNBC. I will try to keep it basic, and simple to help you guys understand whats really going on, to give you some kind of comfort. I am not posting this to be "****y", this is merely my business and profession.


the number 1 question I have received from a few people here ->

Q -> "Why cant we manually feed water in the core to cool it down" or variations such as "why cant we just dump liquid nitrogen on the core" or something to that effect.


A -> the core is made of carbon steel. That steel over years of operation gets extremely brittle. If we rapidly cooled the core down with nitrogen, CO2, or whatever (even cold water) we risk (read : It WILL) the threat of the core cracking in half (literally). Right now, no amount of fuel damage will release a significant amount of radioactivity since the pressure vessel actually contains and shields most of it away. This is why the concern of the fuel pools is so high, they are being uncovered and exposed to atmosphere. If the core breaks, (not cracks, cracks are "ok") then we have a whole different problem on our hands. Right now, this is not the case

Q2 -> "Why cant we just manually fill up the pools"

A -> the used fuel is extremely radioactive. the problem with radiation is its an exponential equation. While not accurate at all, this is an example that will be relative to the actual issue.

at 10000 feet away, its 1 rem. At 1000 feet away its 10 rem. At 100 feet away its 100 rem, at 10 feet away its 1000 rem, at 1 foot away its 10,000rem. Anything over 1000 rem acute dose very well will kill you. Since the protective functions were disabled, and power lost, they had no effective method of getting a decent amount of water close enough before other measures were taken. thats why it got as bad as it did.



To date, no one except a moron crane operator has died from the reactor plant disaster. 1 person has some form of radiation sickness, but we do not know to what extent. The rest of the injuries are relatively mild, the worst of which is a broken arm and broken collar bone from the H2 explosions.

The last update we recieved, the plants are beginning to stabilize. First time since the start of the accidents that the operators have been in seemingly full control of the situation. They are hero's working in conditions I cant imagine. God speed to all of them.



the only stupid question is the one left unasked.

PLEASE, I implore you to ask questions. Even if not from myself.


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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-17-2011, 09:09 PM
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Re: ask a nuke

Lots of info from MIT here:

http://mitnse.com/

Some great informed threads here as well :

http://www.physicsforums.com/forumdisplay.php?f=106

Last edited by jim777; 03-17-2011 at 10:10 PM.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-17-2011, 10:52 PM
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Re: ask a nuke

When snow melts where does all the white go?
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-17-2011, 11:11 PM
 
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Re: ask a nuke

If I fall into a vat of radioactive waste will I get super powers?
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-17-2011, 11:18 PM
 
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Re: ask a nuke

Why are JEMs so expensive?
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-17-2011, 11:22 PM
 
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Re: ask a nuke

k, real question:

How soon do you see this being fully resolved (minus cleanup) - Can you guess any kind of time frame? I know it's far from the doom-and-gloom the media would like us to believe, but in your opinion: how bad is it?
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-18-2011, 12:12 AM
 
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Re: ask a nuke

Quote:
Originally Posted by elcid View Post
When snow melts where does all the white go?
Up Charlie Sheen's nose.
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-18-2011, 02:32 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: ask a nuke

Quote:
Originally Posted by fwd0120 View Post
k, real question:

How soon do you see this being fully resolved (minus cleanup) - Can you guess any kind of time frame? I know it's far from the doom-and-gloom the media would like us to believe, but in your opinion: how bad is it?
Well, as long the japanese NRC isnt lying, the worst should be behind us. They need to be more open with their reporting. We are getting minimal information which is highly frustrating. We dont have any EOP (emergency operating procedures) that cover the extent of damage, but that is why they give the SRO's latitude to "go on the fly" so to speak. So everything is unknown. Its really lame how quiet they are being to their own community.

So, in short this wont be "fully resolved" for a few years. INPO and NRC gave us some new stuff that we have to go over (think of a massive safety checklist) so the inident in japan is going to have some existing effect over here as well. the worst SHOULD be over, but again, we're just going off what they are telling us. Prognosis looks good.

Anyway, plant cleanup will take a while. Those reactors are NOT usable again, so they will need to deal with that. Id imagine it will be akin to TMI-2 unit.



Edit : guess I should answer your question. In my subjective opinion, I think its a little worse then what TMI was. Chernobyl was a 7, I think TMI was a 3, so this will probably rate around a 4. 0 is day to day operations. No one will die, and there will be no major consequences on the environment either. At worst, we are talking a couple square blocks that wont be usable for crops Yes, your thoughts about the media doom and gloom are 100% accurate. The amount of irresponsible reporting has gotten out of control. People in california are freaking out. By the time any radiation crossed the several thousand miles, it will be completely and utterly inconsequential. Yet secretary of commerce is recommending people buy iodine. I think our public announcement to have people evacuate 50 miles didnt help anything. Yes, just a safety precaution, but completely unnecessary. An atomic bomb has a 12 mile protective zone (3 or 4 mile kill zone, depending on the bomb). hiroshima and nagasaki still stand today. That should be a pretty good testament of things. They havent released any significant amounts of radiation into the atmosphere.



Status of casualties:

Injuries

2 TEPCO employees have minor injuries
2 subcontractor employees are injured, one person suffered broken legs and one person whose condition is unknown was transported to the hospital
2 people are missing
2 people were 'suddenly taken ill'
2 TEPCO employees were transported to hospital during the time of donning respiratory protection in the control centre
4 people (2 TEPCO employees, 2 subcontractor employees) sustained minor injuries due to the explosion at unit 1 on 11 March and were transported to the hospital
11 people (4 TEPCO employees, 3 subcontractor employees and 4 Japanese civil defense workers) were injured due to the explosion at unit 3 on 14 March
Radiological Contamination

17 people (9 TEPCO employees, 8 subcontractor employees) suffered from deposition of radioactive material to their faces, but were not taken to the hospital because of low levels of exposure
One worker suffered from significant exposure during 'vent work,' and was transported to an offsite center
2 policemen who were exposed to radiation were decontaminated
Firemen who were exposed to radiation are under investigation
The IAEA continues to seek information from Japanese authorities about all aspects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.



Quote:
Originally Posted by CosmicDebris View Post
If I fall into a vat of radioactive waste will I get super powers?
grow a third eye.

Last edited by linuxpenguin; 03-18-2011 at 02:53 AM.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-18-2011, 02:41 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: ask a nuke

Quote:
Originally Posted by jim777 View Post
Lots of info from MIT here:

http://mitnse.com/
I read through this. I dont like how they start off with the chaos theory, but they do a great job of explaining a lot of things that COULD happen, and a pretty good status update, akin to what we received today.
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-18-2011, 02:58 AM
 
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Re: ask a nuke

Sandia have conducted a study into the likelihood of a containment failure on a BWR Mark I Containment akin to the Japanese plant (Table 4.7 on page 78 of this: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-co...920/cr6920.pdf).

Shows a 42% mean of a large early containment failure following core damage. Seems awfully high to me given the possibility of a core meltdown, however remote, had to be part of the design specs of this plant. Views?
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-18-2011, 04:05 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: ask a nuke

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Originally Posted by Diamond Dave View Post
Sandia have conducted a study into the likelihood of a containment failure on a BWR Mark I Containment akin to the Japanese plant (Table 4.7 on page 78 of this: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-co...920/cr6920.pdf).

Shows a 42% mean of a large early containment failure following core damage. Seems awfully high to me given the possibility of a core meltdown, however remote, had to be part of the design specs of this plant. Views?
Im not enjoying them using the average of 5, 50, and 95% failure. Its implying too much. "42% of the time you will have large containment failure" is kind of how it reads off the cuff.

That said, our plants are designed to prevent these scenarios from happening, not to be able to absorb them (that would be impossible).
So to subject the core to damaging scenarios that we design it to prevent it from doing in the first place is merely for "what-ifs" not a probability of that event happening. So in the 1/1E12% chance of a fuel element failure, damage will occur logarithmically to the amount of fuel melted. I agree

Our "newest" (MK III) containment system is far superior to the MK I's and II's at the fukushima plant. Keep in mind that they just went through the 5th largest documented earth quake, ever. The tsunami on top of that, numerous aftershocks, some registering in the 6's and 7's, and a hostile work environment created a perfect storm, where the backups - backups -backups had failed.

Until we receive more information, we are still just guessing.
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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-18-2011, 06:58 AM
 
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Re: ask a nuke

My bet is the tsunami taking out their diesel generators was a bigger part of the problem than the earthquake itself. From what I've read, they were located in a low lying area of the plant in a region prone to tsunami. Kind of a bad idea if you ask me, especially if they power something as crucial as water flow to a nuclear reactor.
Kind of sad. I've always pushed the concept that Japan was probably one of the few places with a tougher building code than Miami-Dade as they get earthquakes, tsunami, and tropical cyclones.
I should add... we have Turkey Point south of Miami, which withstood a direct hit from a category 4 hurricane (Andrew) in 1994. I think it's a tad unwarranted for people to go mental in this country in a panic over our nuclear reactors.
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-18-2011, 10:58 AM
 
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Re: ask a nuke

linuxpenguin, thanks for posting this, even as a Physicist I had a few questions you have answered, Cheers!
Jim
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-18-2011, 01:48 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: ask a nuke

Quote:
Originally Posted by mike570 View Post
My bet is the tsunami taking out their diesel generators was a bigger part of the problem than the earthquake itself. From what I've read, they were located in a low lying area of the plant in a region prone to tsunami. Kind of a bad idea if you ask me, especially if they power something as crucial as water flow to a nuclear reactor.
Kind of sad. I've always pushed the concept that Japan was probably one of the few places with a tougher building code than Miami-Dade as they get earthquakes, tsunami, and tropical cyclones.
I should add... we have Turkey Point south of Miami, which withstood a direct hit from a category 4 hurricane (Andrew) in 1994. I think it's a tad unwarranted for people to go mental in this country in a panic over our nuclear reactors.
Yes, the loss of all site/offsite power is THE WORST casualty a power plant cant go through. HOWEVER, we have pneumatic and steam driven pumps and valves that should automatically kick on upon loss of power. The loss of the deisel alone could not have caused all this. there had to be system damage to one or more of the systems on multiple locations. thats the ONLY explanation that works right now.

We shall see!

vim -> Im glad to be of assistance.
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-18-2011, 03:56 PM
 
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Re: ask a nuke

Not to sidetrack the conversation but I like to bring this up too.
If you have an ionizing smoke detector in your house, you have radioactive material in your possession and sleep near it nightly. Americium 241, a radioactive isotope, has a steady rate of decay. The alpha particles emitted from this decay passes between two sheets of foil at a constant rate. When smoke passes through it the smoke abosorbs some of the alpha particles and sets off the alarm.
The AM 241 in an ionizing smoke detector is relatively harmless unless you ingest it.
TONS of these find their way into landfill!
Just something to think about.
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