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Discussion Starter #1
Four atomic reactors in Fukushima, Japan, seem to be in partial meltdown. One of them, reactor No. 2, seems to have ruptured. The situation is spinning out of control as radiation levels spike. The US Navy has pulled back its aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, after seventeen of its crew were exposed to radiation while flying sixty miles off the Japanese coast.

But despite three major explosions—at reactor No. 1, then No. 3, then No. 2—the Fukushima containment vessels seem to be holding. (Chernobyl lacked that precaution, having only a flimsy cement containment shell that collapsed, allowing the massive release of radioactive material.)

But there is another, potentially far more dangerous problem: the spent fuel rod pools that sit right next door to the reactors. The storage pools are packed with radioactive uranium, rise several stories above ground and are always close to the reactor, thus facilitating easy transfer of the fuel rods. Their name—especially “spent” and “pool”—conveys calm dissipation. But spent fuel rod pools are actually highly radioactive, very unstable, extremely dangerous and, compared with reactors, not well supported, contained or looked over.

The spent rods give off considerable amounts of “decay heat” and thus must be submerged in constantly circulating water. Expose them to air for a day or two, and they begin to combust, giving off large amounts of radioactive cesium-137, a very toxic, long-lasting, aggressively penetrating radioactive element with a half-life of thirty years. When cesium-137 it enters the environment, it essentially acts like potassium and is taken up by plants and animals that use potassium. (For the record, that includes you.)

The explosions at reactors No. 1 and No. 3 blew apart the respective containment buildings but left the vessels intact. Or so we think. But what did the blasts do to the nearby spent fuel rod pools? On Monday night the news in Japan confirmed that the pool next to reactor No. 3 lost its roof.

“I’ve been studying overhead photographs of Fukushima. It is very disturbing,” said Robert Alvarez, formerly a senior policy adviser at the Energy Department under Clinton and now a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies.

“The steel wall of the pool seems to show damage. All the surrounding equipment, including the two cranes, has been destroyed. There is smoke coming from reactor No. 3, and steam coming from the spent fuel pool next to it. That indicates that the water in the pool is boiling. And that means the spent fuel rods are getting hot and could start burning.”

If the spent rods start to burn, huge amounts of radioactive material would be released into the atmosphere and would disperse across the Northern Hemisphere.

Unlike the reactors, spent fuel pools are not—repeat not—housed in any sort of hardened or sealed containment structures. Rather, the fuel rods are packed tightly together in pools of water that are often several stories above ground.

“With damaged [fuel rod] pools, we are talking about things that were never considered a credible threat,” said Alvarez.

Aileen Mioko Smith, director of Green Action Kyoto, met Fukushima plant and government officials in August 2010. “At the plant they seemed to dismiss our concerns about spent fuel pools,” said Mioko Smith. “At the prefecture, they were very worried but had no plan for how to deal with it.”

Remarkably, that is the norm—both in Japan and in the United States. Spent fuel pools at Fukushima are not equipped with backup water-circulation systems or backup generators for the water-circulation system they do have.

The exact same design flaw is in place at Vermont Yankee, a nuclear plant of the same GE design as the Fukushima reactors. At Fukushima each reactor has between 60 and 83 tons of spent fuel rods stored next to them. Vermont Yankee has a staggering 690 tons of spent fuel rods on site.

Nuclear safety activists in the United States have long known of these problems and have sought repeatedly to have them addressed. At least get backup generators for the pools, they implored. But at every turn the industry has pushed back, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has consistently ruled in favor of plant owners over local communities.

After 9/11 the issue of spent fuel rods again had momentary traction. Numerous citizen groups petitioned and pressured the NRC for enhanced protections of the pools. But the NRC deemed “the possibility of a terrorist attack...speculative and simply too far removed from the natural or expected consequences of agency action.” So nothing was done—not even the provision of backup water-circulation systems or emergency power-generation systems.

In fact, just one day before the earthquake hit Japan, the NRC recommended a twenty-year renewal for Vermont Yankee's license. Now, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is fighting to close the plant. He told Democracy Now! that his state has "an aging nuclear plant owned by Entergy Louisiana, a company we found we cannot trust." Shumlin noted that the plant had been scheduled to be closed in 2012.

Short of closing plants, there is a fairly reliable solution to the problem of spent fuel rods. It is called “dry cask storage.” Germany adopted it twenty-five years ago. Instead of storing huge amounts of spent fuel in pools with only roofs over them, small amounts of spent fuel rods are surrounded with inert gas inside large steel casks. These casks are quite stable and secure. At Vermont Yankee one of them was mistakenly dropped a yard or more when a crane malfunctioned—and the cask was fine.

But there is a problem with dry cask storage: it costs money. The track record of the atomic energy industry in the United States—less so in Japan—is to spend as little money as possible and extend the life of old plants for as long as possible, no matter the risks.

Meanwhile, in Japan, they wait for news. Are the pools stable? Or leaking and boiling?

http://www.thenation.com/article/159234/fukushimas-spent-fuel-rods-pose-grave-danger
 

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There will be I-told-you-so's from here to the moon. Anyone who has ever shown concern over nuclear power safety will consider themselves a genius. The system in Japan was designed to withstand an 8.2 earthquake and they got a 9, which is 16 times more poweful. You have to design for what you think is a worst case scenario, and they did. Time will tell, but most likely they will find a way to get these nuclear piles under control or at least keep them contained. Then, I'm sure every power plant in the world will be reassessing their systems. This is not the result of greedy planning. It is the result of nature, once again, showing us we only THINK we know what it's limits are.
 

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Nuclear safety activists in the United States have long known of these problems and have sought repeatedly to have them addressed. At least get backup generators for the pools, they implored. But at every turn the industry has pushed back, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has consistently ruled in favor of plant owners over local communities.

The track record of the atomic energy industry in the United States—less so in Japan—is to spend as little money as possible and extend the life of old plants for as long as possible, no matter the risks.

http://www.thenation.com/article/159234/fukushimas-spent-fuel-rods-pose-grave-danger
:agree:

That's how Corp America rolls.

Profits before safety.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Remember when Comanche Peak was being built? I had some family members working out there (3 of the four were dead by 50 :lookinup:). Knowing what they seen, and the shortcuts taken.. let's hope there is never a problem, and let's hope these Japanese plants have much better quality control.

I'm all for nuke energy.. but I also know the pressures to stay in budget, in time frame, and within profit margin. Comanche peak did none of those things.. and it still might be the safest one in the country. :lookinup:
 

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Remember when Comanche Peak was being built? I had some family members working out there (3 of the four were dead by 50 :lookinup:). Knowing what they seen, and the shortcuts taken.. let's hope there is never a problem, and let's hope these Japanese plants have much better quality control.

I'm all for nuke energy.. but I also know the pressures to stay in budget, in time frame, and within profit margin. Comanche peak did none of those things.. and it still might be the safest one in the country. :lookinup:
I also knew many people working out there, and I remember that every miniscule step of the construction was overseen by federal regulators and engineers. I find it hard to believe that the company could get by with taking shortcuts when every step was double checked by folks with no vested interest in the cost.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I also knew many people working out there, and I remember that every miniscule step of the construction was overseen by federal regulators and engineers. I find it hard to believe that the company could get by with taking shortcuts when every step was double checked by folks with no vested interest in the cost.
Oh good, federal regulators were watching! Your right Tex.. couldn't be any shortcuts... especially not from Brown & Root (KBR/Haliburton) :laughing: I'm just glad your 100 miles closer to it than me.. :lookinup:
 

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Oh good, federal regulators were watching! Your right Tex.. couldn't be any shortcuts... especially not from Brown & Root (KBR/Haliburton) :laughing: I'm just glad your 100 miles closer to it than me.. :lookinup:

I guess the only thing I really worry about with that plant is terrorism, and it would take a serious explosion to cause a catastrophe. I suppose hijacking a jetliner and crashing into it could do the trick, but if they do that, pretty much any power plant would be in serious trouble.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I guess the only thing I really worry about with that plant is terrorism, and it would take a serious explosion to cause a catastrophe. I suppose hijacking a jetliner and crashing into it could do the trick, but if they do that, pretty much any power plant would be in serious trouble.
:laughing:
 

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A construction buddy of mine was involved in the decomissioning of Rancho Seco (SMUD). He was burning out a section of hand rail piping when a liquid shot out of the pipe. They cleared the place out and got a decon crew to take samples. Turns out that whomever constructed the hand rail wanted to leave SMUD a present and filled it with piss. :laughing:

Union Yes !!!
 

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Oh good, federal regulators were watching! Your right Tex.. couldn't be any shortcuts... especially not from Brown & Root (KBR/Haliburton) :laughing: I'm just glad your 100 miles closer to it than me.. :lookinup:
Pardon me but...
HALIBURTON DOES NOT OWN KBR ANY LONGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That is all.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Pardon me but...
HALIBURTON DOES NOT OWN KBR ANY LONGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That is all.
:laughing: You do know Comanche peak was started in 1974 and was finished in like 1990 right? Haliburton owned Brown & Root (KBR) from 1962 - 2007.

SO DO YOU UNDERSTAND WE ARE DISCUSSING THE KBR-HALIBURTON THAT BUILT COMANCHE PEAK?

:laughing: :nuts:
 

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I am soooo glad that I live near so many nuke plants:crazy:

One of the drag strips I go to (Byron IL) you see the cooling towers in the distance at the end of the track.

Zion IL is decomissioned yet has tons of spent fuel rods just sitting there.. Right on the shore of Lake Michigan..no risk of contamination there:crazy:

Then you have Braidwood, LaSalle, etc all in Tornado alley.


Illinois= the most nuclear state in the US!:surprised

:thud:
 

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:laughing: You do know Comanche peak was started in 1974 and was finished in like 1990 right? Haliburton owned Brown & Root (KBR) from 1962 - 2007.

SO DO YOU UNDERSTAND WE ARE DISCUSSING THE KBR-HALIBURTON THAT BUILT COMANCHE PEAK?

:laughing: :nuts:
Hey I just want people to know that they are not part of us anymore.
 

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"Sarah Palin says President Obama..... er......Japan...... should call her for advice on how to handle the devastating nuclear accident in the...."


:thumbsup:


Too bad I dont own the Onion....:laughing:
 

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"U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said at a congressional hearing in Washington that all the water was gone from that unit's spent fuel pool. Jaczko said anyone who gets close to the plant could face potentially lethal doses of radiation.

"We believe radiation levels are extremely high," he said.

Tokyo Electric executives said Thursday that they believed the rods in that pool were covered with water, but an official with Japan's nuclear safety agency later expressed skepticism about that and moved closer to the U.S. position.

"Considering the amount of radiation released in the area, the fuel rods are more likely to be exposed than to be covered," Yuichi Sato said."

:laughing:

who you gonna believe if you live 20 miles from that mess?
The Tokyo Electric executives or the Japanese Nuke Safety Agency?

Bear in mind that the executives never notified the govt about the explosions....

:laughing:
 
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