Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When You Don't Have Bad News...

... make some up. From The Guardian (U.K.), our old friend in nuclear alarmism:
The radioactive core in a reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant appears to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor, experts say, raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site.
Experts? Really?

Well, one, and he was an expert 40 years ago:
Richard Lahey, who was head of safety research for boiling-water reactors at General Electric when the company installed the units at Fukushima, told the Guardian workers at the site appeared to have "lost the race" to save the reactor, but said there was no danger of a Chernobyl-style catastrophe.
If he was head of safety research then, that was 1971. So it's a reach, at best. No one is quoted to agree or disagree with Lahey, so the story is just the opinion of one fellow - a fine fellow, we're sure, but still. The only other "expert" quoted in the story is Robert Gale, a US medical researcher who is helping out in Japan but has no opinion about the state of the plant.

Honestly! Can we agree not to build stories about such a serious event around such flimsy evidence.



Let's jump a little west.  From The Irish Times:

What are the implications of Fukushima for Ireland? It will require a more measured appraisal of the full consequences of the accident before its significance for the possible future use of nuclear power in Ireland can be definitively assessed.
All the same, even at this point we cannot emphasize too strongly the importance of a reliable supply of safe, affordable and clean energy for a modern society, which is as important to our wellbeing as clean air and water. In coming years, after our economic recovery, we shall need more energy than we are currently consuming. From where is this energy to come?
Read the rest to find out where from - it's pretty long - and well written by David Sowby from the International Commission on Radiological Protection and Frank Turvey, a fellow of the Institute of Nuclear Engineers and a former member of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland. It's great to see informed sources standing up for what they know is true.

An Irish nuclear power plant? Nah  - but the green filter has clearly been turned down a few notches.


Fifi said...

You forgot the links :



Irish Times


You are unfairly harsh with Richard Lahey. He left the General Electric in 1975 but that was to move to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he headed the Department of Nuclear Engineering then as dean of the School of Engineering.

Not exactly some old dude disconnected from nuclear and general engineering. Most likely, he knows what he's talking about. And given the radiation readings in unit 2, his guess about a breach in the RPV is quite plausible.

That partial, heavily edited quote in the Guardian left me scratching my head, though.

" workers at the site appeared to have "lost the race" to save the reactor "

Very weird turn of a sentence. I think its pretty obvious the workers at site have been fully aware that the plant is FUBAR and far beyond saving since about ... 24 hours after the tsunami?

Not sure who's to blame. Most likely the Guardian.

Edward Blandford said...

NEI needs to be very careful about questioning the credibility of people like Richard Lahey who is an authority on multi-phase flow in addition to literally writing the book on BWR thermal-hydraulics with Moody. The BWRs under question are in fact very old. It should come as no surprise that the experts on this particular design are equally old.

I agree that many of the "experts" in the media have been far from experts. However, NEI is very off the mark in this case and this is quite unfortunate. Dr. Lahey has a long distinguished career in reactor thermal-hydraulics and has done much service for the ANS. Implying he is not an "expert" on BWR technology does more to question the expertise of the author of this piece.

Anonymous said...

If you look at the plant parameters:


You can see that unit 2's RPV pressure is reading downscale, and the drywell CAMS (which won't be functioning as a CAMS and instead would probably be measuring shine) is reading 4000 R/hr.

Those data points seem consistent with what Lahey is saying, that some molten core probably got through the bottom of the RPV. Keep in mind control rods enter from the bottom in a BWR, so there are penetrations in the vessel.

Anonymous said...

Similarly, if you look at plant parameters, RPV Bottom Head temperature has remained fairly close to the boiling point of water 100 C rather than the melting point of metals involved 1500 C to 1800 C.

IMHO, fuel has melted, but is in the RPV.

Exposed fuel on top of the core has radiantly heated the feedwater sparger area 160 C - something is heating it, more than the lower RPV

Anonymous said...

now, 16 months later, isn't it time to revoke the "alarmist" ?