Skip to main content

No There There in NYT Story

nyt_logo The problem for news reporters is that they pitch a story that sounds promising, but it ends up a wash: there’s no news there. So what does one do? Kill the story or make as much of it as possible and, being fair, reveal that there really is no story.

---

Here’s the headline of a story that appeared on the New York Times Green blog: U.S. Dropped Nuclear Rule Meant to Avert Hydrogen Explosions.

Uh-oh. That sounds bad, given that Fukushima Daiichi’s reactors suffered a series of hydrogen explosions. Could it be that the NRC is too much in cahoots with the industry?

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has allowed reactors to phase out some equipment that eliminates explosive hydrogen, the gas that blew up the outer containments of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi in Japan.

There’s that part.

“Post-Three Mile Island, they were considered very important to safety,’’ Mr. Blanch said. He accused the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of having “gutted the rule’’ because the industry wanted to save money.

And there’s the other part. Looking pretty bad, I must say. Blanch is Paul Blanch, “who said that he had been involved in installing such equipment at Millstone 3, a nuclear reactor in Waterford, Conn.” I guess he didn’t say that he was also a consultant for Beyond Nuclear, an anti-nuclear energy group, but maybe time was tight.

But Eliot Brenner, a spokesman for the commission, said that as the commission analyzed its rules to determine which ones actually improved safety and which did not, it had found the equipment was unnecessary.

Oh. Well, wait, is that justified or might Blanch be right?

Depending on the type of reactor, the commission now requires a variety of other precautions. General Electric models of the type used at Fukushima, which are also common in the United States, must pump their primary containments full of nitrogen gas instead of air, for example.

Because hydrogen requires that oxygen be in the air to detonate, this “inerting” of the primary containments is a way of preventing explosions. And some plants have to have “igniter systems” that would burn off hydrogen before it could build up.

So that’s that. There’s no there there. Spike that story!

Comments

Anonymous said…
Hey Mark, you should read another take on this story at Idaho Samizdat.

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.


Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …