Monday, March 21, 2011

National Journal’s Blog - How does Japan's Crisis Affect America's Nuclear Industry?

Four folks have weighed in so far including NEI’s Marv Fertel:

All U.S. electric companies that operate nuclear power plants are taking action now to verify their capability to maintain safety even in the face of severe adverse events. The industry is verifying that the emergency response capability to withstand a total loss of electric power to a nuclear power plant will maintain safety at the facility even after extreme events. We also will verify our capability to withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes and flooding, as well as the impact of floods on systems inside and outside the plant.

The Fukushima accident certainly will prompt a review of nuclear energy facility capabilities in America and we support that reassessment. However, we recognize that America’s reactors – which are inspected daily by federal regulators – continue to exceed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) safety standards.

2 comments:

Steve said...

The Las Vegas Business Press posted a similar poll:

Does the nuclear crisis in Japan make you believe a nuclear storage facility at Yucca Mountain would be dangerous?

Voting ends March 23. So far, results are about tied.

http://www.lvbusinesspress.com/articles/2011/03/16/poll/doc4d81315cc7fac753401429.txt

Horizon3 said...

A suggestion for those involved in designing the backup systems.

Fore reactors in flood prone (tsunami) zones, encase the backup power source and its fuel supply in an air and water tight reinforced concrete enclosure.
Use the valve technology developed for submarines to isolate the engines intakes and exhaust from the outside environment. And elevate the intakes and exhaust stacks far enough off ground level to allow the engine to operate while the enclosure is completely submerged.
Only put one unit and its fuel supply and switchgear per enclosure, for redundancy.

I know elevating the units will be the first knee jerk reaction, but this is an inherently bad idea, generator sets of the size required to perform backup power duty for a nuclear unit are very large, and very heavy.
Anyone that has experience designing equipment for use in seismic zones knows that the farther off the ground something is, the more prone it is to be damaged by high degrees of earth movement. (Look to the bridge collapses in the Loma Prieta Quake in S.F.) Not to mention it makes servicing the unit that much more difficult.