Skip to main content

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.


Sheesh!


---


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.

Comments

Fifi said…
You forgot the links :

Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/29/japan-lost-race-save-nuclear-reactor

Irish Times

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2011/0329/1224293298321.html

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:

http://www.nisa.meti.go.jp/english/files/en20110330-1-3.pdf

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" ?

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

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 …