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Spiegel Thread (middle) on 'Schland's preparedness here.


One year after 9/11, the International Committee on Nuclear Technology (ILK), an investigative body set up by the German states of Bavaria, Hesse and Baden-Württemberg, reached a devastating conclusion. According to the classified ILK study, "severe to catastrophic releases of radioactive materials could be expected in the event of a crash against the reactor building" in all but three nuclear power plants.

And even for the three most sophisticated power plants that stood a chance of surviving the crash of a jumbo jet, the ILK experts speculated that a crash under unfavorable conditions, such as "a direct hit on the control room," could also lead to a major accident.

Containment vessel designed to withstand the unfathomable, but not the control room. carry on.

Oh yes, latest from NISA Here.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Mar 25th, 2011 at 03:59:38 PM EST
without forgetting, there are hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, who might not get home again. Not to mention Tuna.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Mar 25th, 2011 at 04:02:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The airplane risk was discussed a lot in the past, so was earthquake risk. Less well-known issues mentioned in the article are the limestone holes under Neckarwestheim 2, the state of implementation of the safety recommendations after the 1987 accident at Biblis (the plan was do do them all in two years from 1991, now they had 20 years for it, really...), and the deficiencies even compared to the Fukushima reactors.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 25th, 2011 at 04:21:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Haven't even had a chance to finish it yet. But i wasn't around for the past 20 years discussions. I did read about the limestone gaps, and the shock subsidence which occurs, several times in the past few years if i recall.

But it's the administrative fail that nerves me the most.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Mar 25th, 2011 at 04:41:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The one thing that was really new to me was this:

Some regulatory officials are so apathetic that they don't even react when a plant's operator proposes fixing an urgent safety problem. For example, in a letter dated Sept. 5, 2007, the energy provider EnBW applied for permission to construct new buildings for backup generators and install a so-called emergency boration system, which provides a tool that was used last week to fight the impending meltdown in Fukushima.

The officials still haven't responded to the EnBW letter. Oskar Grözinger, the head of the state regulatory agency, now says that the cost of the new buildings would be out of proportion with the remaining life of the plant -- as if he were the electric utility's chief accountant.

However, the level of 'debate' I am referring to is the more popular "Plants are unsafe against airplanes!" vs. "What unrealistic danger, you scaremongers!" or the "Plants are unsafe against earthquakes!" vs. "No, we fulfil going rules!" soundbite level of debate that's re-hashed countless times.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Mar 25th, 2011 at 04:50:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Less well-known issues mentioned in the article are the limestone holes under Neckarwestheim 2

They built a nuclear reactor over a limestone karst??!

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Mar 25th, 2011 at 05:26:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Shush, bitte.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Mar 25th, 2011 at 05:32:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just like the nukes in Florida and many others I'm sure. Carbonates on the surface usually mean the water moves down below and hence holes down there. Not something I would consider at all uncommon.
by Jace on Fri Mar 25th, 2011 at 08:54:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The characteristic feature of a karst is the likelihood  of caves and caverns. It is not that one cannot build on it, but it is prudent to see if there is a big cavern beneath your building site, especially if it is a nuclear reactor. If you have solid limestone all the way down to shale or granite you would be good to go. But if there is a big cavern or water filled void 500 feet down, not so much. And I was referring to Germany, but the same kind of geology in Florida gives rise to sinkholes, which would also be highly undesirable as a feature under a nuclear reactor.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Mar 25th, 2011 at 11:29:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree in that it all depends on the details. You obviously can build on it, since, as an example, all of Florida, except for the panhandle, is karst. And building over holes in the ground is not necessarily a bad thing (otherwise subways and the like wouldn't make much sense).
by Jace on Sat Mar 26th, 2011 at 02:12:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A subway train falling into a hole isn't going to contaminate the sub-surface water supply of the city for tens of thousands of years.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Mar 26th, 2011 at 02:21:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I meant that we build quite a bit on top of things like subways, which are nothing more than holes in the ground.
by Jace on Sat Mar 26th, 2011 at 02:36:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Subways are more than just holes through the ground. They have structure to prevent collapse. The inadequacy of such structures was vividly on display in Hollywood, CA during the last phase of construction for The Red Line back in the late '90s. Existing buildings were put at risk.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 26th, 2011 at 02:48:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If a hole doesn't have structure, it wouldn't be a hole.
by Jace on Sat Mar 26th, 2011 at 08:50:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True, but that doesn't mean it is nearly as strong as a purpose built structure.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 26th, 2011 at 10:36:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I call your reactor built on karst and raise you nine US sea shore reactors, one of which, the aptly named Turkey Point Reactor in Dade County, Florida also relies on its diesel generators when hurricanes come ashore!

How the U.S. narrowly avoided its own Fukushima-style disaster in 1992

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is refusing to update its worst case scenario models for the flooding of coastal U.S. nuclear power plants. Potentially, this puts the backup safety systems at reactors like the Turkey Point plant in Miami-Dade county, Florida, at risk of damage or destruction by hurricanes.

That's the bombshell buried in a piece by Alyson Kenward of Climate Central:

   The extent of sea level rise that [utility company Florida Power and Light] has incorporated into their estimates of the maximum possible storm surge has already become a point of contention in the safety assessment for the new Turkey Point reactors. The Miami-Dade County Climate Change Advisory Task Force (CCATF) has called for the NRC to request that a much higher level of sea level rise be included in the assessment.

....

Potentially the most hazardous incident was a loss of access to external power for five days. Engineers at Turkey Point were forced to rely on the on-site diesel generators to maintain cooling of the reactors' cores. Fortunately, this back-up system was enough to keep everything operating safely. In Japan, however, an equivalent back-up system was wiped out by the tsunami.


But that's OK, says the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, because their model of the worst case scenario at Turkey Point puts the plant's safety systems a healthy 1.2 feet above the highest-possible storm-whipped surge.

Can't beat the ocean for a heat sink -- or a radiation sink either, for that matter. Guess the designers really had to sharpen their pencils to get that 1.2 feet.

And then there is this, also from the same piece by Alyson Kenward:

In a 2008 study with graduate student Natalie Kopytko, Perkins specifically assessed what risks sea level rise posed for nine reactors along the East and West Coasts. Their findings, Perkins says, show that sea level rise isn't only important in terms of long term changes at the shoreline adjacent to nuclear plants. "[Kopytko] showed it was storms that were really behind the risk. These are U.S. coastal reactors, and hurricanes can pile an awful lot of water in front of them."

In their study, Perkins and Kopytko used estimates of future sea level to calculate how much water might encroach upon nuclear plants. They found that the plants in the U.S. were all built high enough to withstand sea level rise alone over the next 50 years (which goes beyond the expected operating lifetime of the current plants). But they also discovered that with the IPCC's expected rate of sea level rise, storm surges from Category 4 or 5 hurricanes will completely inundate the nuclear plants within their projected lifetimes. Their findings were published in the January 2011 issue of the journal Energy Policy.

As sea levels continue to rise, scientists say the storm surges of these hurricanes will get even larger. Worse yet, climate scientists now believe that while Atlantic hurricanes may become less frequent later this century, they're likely to get more powerful on average.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Mar 25th, 2011 at 10:22:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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