Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Jeopardy! Tackles Nuclear Energy

In case you missed it last night, click here for video from the first round of last night's episode of Jeopardy!, which contained a category on nuclear energy.

UPDATE: Here's a breakdown of the questions and answers (or is it answers and questions?):

$200 A boiling water reactor produces this vapor inside the reactor vessel to generate power. What is steam?

$400 These slender tubes holding fissionable materials are bundled together and loaded into the core. What are [fuel] rods?

$600 It may be a person who slows down two debaters, or a substance that slows down neutrons to permit fission. What is a moderator?

$800 Entergy Corp. says that the Indian Point plant’s containment structures are this material, 3 ½’ to 6’ thick. What is concrete?

$1,000 In the photo here, everything is working normally as these two towers do their jobs. What are cooling towers?

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8 comments:

Paul said...

$28 million dollars

What is the amount of the fine that First Energy Nuclear Company has been Ordered to pay to NRC for knowingly placing corporate financial interests ahead of public safety and concealing the evidence of corrosion of the reactor vessel head?

David Bradish said...

Always pessimistic. The end result that came out of the Davis Besse incident is that the industry won't tolerate and compromise financials for safety.

Paul said...

David,


"Industry wont tolerate and compromise" financial interests for safety?

They just got caught red handed!

Three fall guys get pushed off the ship and FENOC sails on. Maybe.

The end result is that the senior managers in NRC and at FENOC have not yet been sanctioned for their involvement in:

1) ignoring for years danger signs including having to daily change out air filters inside D-B containment because there was so much iron oxide in the air;

2)ignoring photos of the lava-like flows of rust roiling off the vessel head (i.e. "the red photo")taken in April 2000 and provided to NRC Region III before rushing the plant back on line;

3)pulling a November 2001 NRC Order because 6 of the 7 B&W PWRs had evidence of borated coolant leaking from cracks in Control Rod Drive Mechanism penetration sleeves and only Davis-Besse had not inspected. Senior NRC management met with senior FENOC management (not indicted) and agreed to pull the inspection Order because early shutdown would adversely impact the company financially.

etc. etc. etc. etc.

The NRC management that pulled the November Order in the final hours before its issuance took a tremendous gamble with public safety to protect company profit margins.

There is an obvious paper trail for employees at Davis-Besse but the chain of command from senior management was and is only verbal.

Who really ordered the scaffolding for the inspection and cleaning the vessel head at Davis-Besse to be taken down in April 2000 before it was completed?

These are the guys that got parrallel promotions or moved onto other power stations.

Nothing has really changed except the window dressing for nuclear promotionalism.

Paul, NIRS

David Bradish said...

Paul,

I'm not going to argue Davis Besse with you. Like I said in a previous comment, it wasn't a great reflection of the management of a nuclear plant. However, everyone needs to look at the big picture and realize Davis Besse was one reactor out of 103 in the U.S. and 443 in the world.

David, NEI

Paul said...

David,

Forgive for belaboring this, butI am not actually arguing David-Besse with you either. D-B is not an isolated incident nor the central problem.

Age related degradation is ongoing.
Nothing to do about that except catch it. However, when catching it gets hung up in a nuclear production agenda, that's another matter. These events are mere writings on the wall.

Essentially the same thing happened at Indian Point in February 2000. Operators colluded with NRC senior management to blow off required scheduled inspections of steam generator tubes (reactor coolant primary pressure boundary) in summer of 1999. February 15, 2000 the plant had a steam tube rupture that fortunately did not result in cascading guillotine breaks of more tubes. According to a subsequent report by Office of Inspector General the accident would likely have been avoided if the inspections had been conducted. NRC staff wanted to issue a second round of Requests for Additional Information but a certain NRC senior manager restricted query to a single round of questioning.

The age degradation issue is in conflict with the production agendas which is also conflicted with oversight and enforcement issues.

When this conflict comes to the surface in the form of accidents or near misses, management in both the industry and the NRC is awarded for prioritizing production over safety.

What's wrong with this picture?

Paul, NIRS

David Bradish said...

Paul,

You're exactly right. It needs to be safety over production. And you're right about the degradation of the reactors. One common thing that is going on right now is that many of the reactors are replacing their steam generators and reactor vessel heads during their refueling outages. Palo Verde Unit 1 just finished a 3 month outage replacing steam generators and turbines. Unit 2 uprated two years ago and Unit 3 is expected to in a year.

However, if there are management problems like D-B and Indian Point like you say then if something does happen, the containment structure will still shield the public from anything happening just like TMI. There are backup safety systems and there are backup safety systems for the back ups. But of course we hope it doesn't ever have to come to them.

Nuclear power has its risks but the U.S. and the world have demonstrated that nuclear power can be managed safely. It should always be and we hope that it always is safety over production.

David, NEI

Paul said...

David,

I will leave this particular this note with this Jeopardy question:

What is Hopenfeld DPO?

The Differing Professional Opinion of Horam Hopenfeld, NRC on multiple steam tube ruptures of concern. Its the Hopenfeld DPO.

Relying on containment is no comfort, especially with scenarios where it is bypassed, multiple steam tube ruptures being one.

Wrecking and contaminating a $4-6 billion investment and potentially at the same time dusting a large downwind population sector and its economic base with an aersol of radioactive particulate and gas, because your VP of Operations is a little rushed with getting the unit back on line, does not exactly warm the cockles of the heart of either Wall Street or the general public.

When you mix assessing risk with money, that's called gambling.

Your turn,
Paul, NIRS

Kelly L. Taylor said...

Sounds to me as if you two are largely in agreement: The most cost-effective way to operate a nuclear asset is to focus on safety over production. While you're doing that, you're protecting your asset and your investors' interests, as well as the interests of the public and customers you serve.