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Not good for the nuclear industry globally....

  • Immediate halt to new construction, for a start.
  • Next step : abandonment of all reactor designs that rely on any form of active cooling.
  • Meanwhile : China continues apace with their Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor. If I have understood correctly, they are inherently safe from the point of view of passive cooling and the possibility of meltdown.
  • In twenty years, when the rest of the world starts looking at nuclear again, China will have a complete lock on the technology.


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 05:21:01 AM EST
Everyone can crack jokes about Soviet technology, but if this happens to the Japanese we can stop feeling all smug about French and Swedish reactors.

Not unlike the way the 1997/8 Asian/Russian financial crisis couldn't happen to the "sophisticated" West™, and look at the ongoing Global Financial Clusterfuck.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 05:48:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France's commercial incompetence ensured that their 3rd generation reactors, the world's best, were hardly exported at all (a couple in South Africa, a couple in Brazil, one or two in China, can't think of any others)

The French 4G design turns out to be a complete bust, and won't be built anywhere else in the world (except for the Finnish one... if it ever gets ... finished)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 06:03:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the last significant earthquake in France was in... 1755.

Its slightly odd actually how they seem to have stopped, whereas there used to be quite a few of them.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 06:03:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, just like the historic Lisbon Earthquake Voltaire wrote about.

The fact that Japan sees magnitude 7+ earthquakes with some regularity and 8+ every few decades means that they expect them and plan for them. The damage from this magnitude 9 earthquake is remarkably small, all things considered. If a repeat of the historic Lisbon quake took place, it's quite likely that Lisbon would be flattened.

So the fact that France hasn't had a big earthquake for 300 years probably means things are woefully underengineered for the next time it happens.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 06:09:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the last significant earthquake in France was in... 1755.

Huh?

1909 Lambesc earthquake - Wikipedia

The 1909 Lambesc earthquake occurred on June 11, 1909 in Provence. Measuring 6 on the Richter Scale, it is the largest ever recorded earthquake in metropolitan France.[2]

A total of 46 people died, another 250 were wounded, and approximately 2,000 buildings were damaged.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 06:23:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it did kill and destroy, but it was a mere 6.2 on the Richter scale.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 10:39:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. And 6.0 on the moment magnitude scale (MW). But, even if a magnitude below Messina or Vrancea, it is still pretty big by European standards. The 1963 Skopje earthquake was barely stronger (6.1 MW), but hit a major city.
  2. What magnitude are French nuclear plants designed for?
  3. What magnitude was a 1755 earthquake in France? (I tried to look it up on the web, but all the hits were for the Lisbon earthquake.)


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 11:00:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Estimated at 8-9 in 1755. 1855 is said to have been 8, the last one to be that strong.
1556 is estimated at 9-10
1227 at 10 (but that would rely on possibly very imprecise descriptions).

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 11:25:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems that you are basing this on an erroneous source mixing up earthquakes worldwide with those in France and/or mixing up the Richter or moment scale with the Mercalli scale.

Estimated at 8-9 in 1755.

I'm fairly certain that that's the Lisbon earthquake (latest estimate: 8.5 +/-0.3 MW), not some earthquake in France.

1855 is said to have been 8

There was the 1855 Wairarapa earthquake in New Zealand, put between 8.1 and 8.3. I can't find anything in France at that date. The closest is one in Switzerland, the Visp earthquake, was 6.4 MW, but 9 on the Mercalli scale.

1556 is estimated at 9-10

That was most definitely the Shaanxi earthquake in China (likely the worst in history in terms of casualties), not in France. (Its modern magnitude estimate is only 8.)

1227 at 10

I can find one event in France for this date, albeit it is a severe translation mistake:

A classic example
of a problematic earthquake is the 1227
event. Due to a 16th century compiler's mistake
between the locality of Salins (Savoy)
and «Salviens», an antique tribe in Provence,
southeast France, a landslide that occurred in
Savoy at the end of 1248 became a major
1227 earthquake in Provence.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 12:17:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seeing that there have been earthquakes over 8 in the past couple of hundred years, I would hope that the plants are designed to withstand something in that range at least!

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 11:26:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See higher up the page

ceebs:

Re: Japanese Earthquake Diary (4.00 / 2)


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 11:38:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
they make arbitrary decisions about types of events considered likely, and design to withstand them.

A few years ago, I did some software maintenance on the simulator EDF uses to verify if an aeroplane crashing into a reactor could penetrate the concrete containment vessel.

The simulator was set up for only two models of aeroplane : a Cessna and a Mirage. On the basis that they were the most likely craft to crash accidentally into a reactor. I ran a few simulations at different speeds, and couldn't get them to penetrate, though sometimes it was a bit close. Conclusion: it's quite safe!

Of course, any type of aeroplane with considerably greater mass will indeed penetrate the concrete. No simulator is required to verify that.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 11:41:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Already heard in the last ten minutes that any reactors we will be building in the next few years will be much more modern and safer.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 06:15:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well they would say that wouldn't they ? {/Mandy Rice-Davis}

The person who said that probably knows nothing about nuclear power, but plays an expert hand for equally clueless journos.

Just as there is always an excuse to do nothing if you don't want to do it, there are always good reasons to do things that you actually want done. Governments like nuclear, it's modern, it's clean (!), its popular with corporate sponsors and anything that could go wrong will happen long after you've retired. What's not to like ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 09:30:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that "containment building above the reactor that blew Saturday left a steel I beam construction behind. From the pictures it appears that it may well not have been a continuous poured concrete construction. None of them are domes, and if you have a dome the steel is rebar inside the pour. So someone decided that a poured in place dome was not required. The Japanese government had to have signed off on that. Am I correct that the boiling water reactors are G.E.'s?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 11:33:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to wikipedia
Fukushima I was the first nuclear plant to be constructed and run entirely by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

...

The reactors for units 1, 2, and 6 were supplied by General Electric, those for units 3 and 5 by Toshiba, and unit 4 by Hitachi. Architectural design for General Electric's units was done by Ebasco. All construction was done by Kajima. From September 2010, unit 3 has been fueled by mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel. Units 1-5 had/have a Mark 1 type (light bulb torus) containment structure, unit 6 has Mark 2 type (over/under) containment structure.

Unit 1 is a 439 MW boiling water reactor (BWR3) constructed in July 1967. It commenced commercial electrical production on March 26, 1971, and was scheduled for shutdown in March, 2011. It was damaged during the 2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami. Unit 1 was designed for a peak ground acceleration of 0.18 g (1.74 m/s2) and a response spectrum based on the 1952 Kern County earthquake. All units were inspected after the 1978 Miyagi earthquake when the ground acceleration was 0.125 g (1.22 m/s2) for 30 seconds, but no damage to the critical parts of the reactor was discovered.



So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 05:19:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BWR's usually don't have domes, especially not Mark I containments. The containment is situated immediately around the reactor, below the reactor hall floor. Mark III containments seem to have domes though.

Check this out for pretty pictures: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/basic-ref/teachers/03.pdf

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:57:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Presuming the Dry Well Torus diagram on 3-16 is representative of those that are melting down, the question comes to be: by what path did the hydrogen and steam get into the area above the concrete containment enclosure. One obvious possibility is through the massive circular plug above the reactor. It has to be removable so as to allow servicing of the core. Over 40 years of service it is possible that it will leak as some overpressure. If that is the path the steam and hydrogen could have leaked from the removable top of the reactor vessel and/or the pipes leading into or out of the vessel. It is also possible that those pipes which carry cooling water and steam to and from the reactor were damaged during the quake, despite the relatively low levels of shaking intensity. Such leaks could migrate under sufficient pressure to the upper structure via paths not shown.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 03:32:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well Ive been thinking about this, I assume they've been loosening the plug to reduce the pressure, if you have  increased pressure in the top, then you've either got a build up of gas in the top, or you're pushing liquid through at much higher rate, and I think we can assume that the second option is unrealistic, although vaguely possible. If gas then as the pressure increases then the cooling fluid will be forced down the reactor, exposing the rods unless you have  pumps with lots of excess capacity to compress the gas in the top of the vessel. and the more the gas is compressed the warmer it will get, making it harder to dissipate heat from the reactor.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 04:00:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The only way I have been able to figure how they could cool a core that is starting meltdown and is way above design temperatures and pressures would involve simultaneously pumping in water to the core and venting large volumes of steam and, possibly, hydrogen through a bath that would, hopefully, wash some of the radioactive particles out of the steam. But I doubt such a solution could be improvised easily. The existing steam paths through the turbines likely would not have sufficient volume to allow the needed volume of steam to be vented while injecting the needed volume of water at a rate sufficient to cool the reactor. But this would have to be done with control of the pressure on both the water and the steam. Just having the pump power, let alone the AC power to produce the needed pressure for input water might be a problem also.

It could be that such considerations and limits were more significant than the issue of the required AC power. If all that were needed was AC power, they should have been able to bring such power in by air or sea. After all, in Hawaii nuclear subs have been used to supply emergency power to islands that suffered power loss. So much of this does not make sense to me.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 04:28:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Boiling water reactor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Water exiting the fuel channels at the top guide is about 12 to 15% saturated steam (by mass), typical core flow may be 45,000,000 kg/h (100,000,000 lb/h) with 6,500,000 kg/h (14,500,000 lb/h) steam flow. However, core-average void fraction is a significantly higher fraction (~40%). These sort of values may be found in each plant's publicly available Technical Specifications, Final Safety Analysis Report, or Core Operating Limits Report.

Apparently normal operating pressure is around 75 Atmospheres, so running at over double normal pressure it must have been an adventure  to open any valves on the outside of the pressure vessel

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 04:56:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Venting should be doable: these valves are after all designed exactly for a situation where you fight a meltdown. IIRC these reactors have 11 specialised valves for this very purpose. The hydrogen likely escaped through these valves together with steam and short-lived radioactive noble gases.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:21:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Normal operating pressure is 75 atmospheres! I would think that this would push the boiling point up by several hundred degrees. Just going up to 9,000 ft. reduces the boiling point of water from 212F to below 200F, as I recall from camping at altitude. But this brings home the importance of maintaining pressure while introducing fresh water. As the pressure drops, the water boils at ever lower temperatures.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 11:58:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Its why you cant get decent tasting tea at altitude, as the water isn't hot enough to dissolve the most pleasant flavour molecules from the plant matter

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 01:35:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Boiling water reactor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
he cooling water is maintained at about 75 atm (7.6 MPa, 1000-1100 psi) so that it boils in the core at about 285 °C (550 °F).


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 01:36:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
>360 degrees F qualifies as "several hundred".

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 02:02:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah those units :)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 02:41:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, I appreciate the time you have taken to dig out specifics on these reactors and post them.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 04:31:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's normally only a matter of seconds and google-fu :)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 04:38:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  • We need fiscal consolidation and budget austeriry, we can't afford to retrofit the existing plants to higher standards
  • Japan cannot do without 30% of its electric power
  • Nothing to see here, move along.


So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 07:16:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
much too close to plausibility for comfort...

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 12th, 2011 at 08:24:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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