Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Close Americas' Fukushimas

In the United States, there are 23 operating reactors of the same GE boiling water reactor design that was built at Fukushima.  Beyond Nuclear has a petition to the NRC to suspend operations at these reactors pending reviews.

I don't know how much good it will do, but I certainly agree with the petition and thus I was happy to sign it.  I'd encourage others to do so as well.

Cooper - Mon. 6-20-11
One of these American Fukushima's is the Cooper nuclear power plant in Nebraska.  Cooper is one of two reactors threatened by high flood waters on the Missouri River.  And its probably the more dangerous of the two. Not only because its the same design as Fukushima, but because its up and operating while the other reactor, Ft. Calhoun, has been shut down for refueling since early April.

If the flood waters take out the connection to the electric grid that normally provides power to the cooling pumps, and at the same time takes out the emergency backup generators, then we could very well have an American Fukushima in the heart of our country.  Nuclear reactors are of course incredibly hot.  And, they don't shut down that heat at the flip of a switch like you can with a steam boiler. The radioactive decay products from the nuclear reaction continue to generate heat in the core long after the control rods are lowered into the reactor to slow down and stop the fission chain reaction.

Ft. Calhoun - Mon 6-20-11
Fukushima's fission chain reactions were successfully shut down within seconds of the detection of the very first waves of the offshore earthquake.  But, that didn't prevent disaster from occurring.  The problem is this very hot reactor core that requires cooling for a long time after the reaction is stopped.  Fukushima lost its connection to the electric grid in the earthquake. Then Fukushima lost its backup generators to the tsunami.  They had battery power for a few hours, but when that failed, the pumps could no longer pump cooling water and disaster followed very quickly.  We are now finally being informed officially that the cores at Fukushima 1, 2 and 3 were all melting within hours of losing the last battery power to the cooling pumps.

So, if those flood waters breach sandbag walls, and take out the main power line to the plant as well as the backup diesel generators, we'd be only hours from having nuclear reactor cores doing meltdowns in America's heartland.

Pray to whatever gods you got that those sandbag walls hold. If those sandbags don't hold, a lot of America will be wishing the NRC had done what Beyond Nuclear is petitioning for. That is closing Cooper nuclear power plant, and the other's that share the GE design built at Fukushima, pending a rigorous safety review.

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