How Nuclear War Fits with the Three E's

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  • Tue, May 19, 2015 - 05:21pm

    #11

    Dogs_In_A_Pile

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    Not quite…..

[quote=TechGuy]

Even a EMP attack may be sufficient for a worldwide dieoff. The issue isn't the number of megatons, but the 440+ nuclear reactors and their large spent fuel pools which contain more than +250K tons of spent fuel An EMP attack could disable the grid for an extended period, leading to lose of cooling in the spent fuel pools. Once the water boils off and exposes the tips of the fuel rods, they will catch fire and unleash their death. A large spent fuel pool can reder an area close to the state of NY unhabitable. 

[/quote]

TG – not sure where you got your information from, but your conclusion(s) is(are) wrong.

First of all, spent fuel pools are unpressurized and the majority DO NOT actively circulate water for cooling purposes.  There are piping/pumping systems for the periodic addition of make-up water, but this is for radiation shielding of the spent fuel cells.  Understand that the spent fuel cells are not removed from core power units until the decay heat generation rates are low enough to be dissipated via convective heat exchange from natural circulation to ambient.

The water simply won't "boil off" and the fuel rods most certainly will not "catch fire and unleash their death".  I think you are conflating a theoretical design basis accident where there is a core meltdown, leading to uncovered (unspent) fuel.  Depending on the exact composition of the fuel matrices, it is possible (though not probable) that in the presence of a steam/water/zirconium interface zircalloy hydriding might occur.  This produces hydrogen, which could lead to a fire.  Lots of coulds, mays, mights, possibles in that paragraph.

Note that this didn't happen in the (previously operating ) stricken cores at Fukushima Daiichi, much less the spent fuel pools.  Furthermore, citing the curie content of the spent fuel stored is a worthless metric absent a viable scenario in which that curie content is released and spread.  Fuel cells are not fragile eggs that leak their contents if broken.

A bigger concern for an extended loss of power would be the loss of power to supply core circulation through reactors that had been operating and have a substantial decay heat generation rate.  I'm not sure what the fixation was all about on the spent fuel pools at Fukushima given that there were OPERATING reactors a few yards away that no longer had the ability to circulate primary coolant.

That's kind of like watching your garage catch fire and worrying about the 10 quarts of motor oil on a storage shelf while ignoring the 20 gallon jugs of gasoline.

  • Tue, May 19, 2015 - 05:31pm

    #12

    Dogs_In_A_Pile

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    Always liked Sartre

One of my favorites…..

Jean-Paul Sartre is sitting at a French cafe, revising his draft of Being and Nothingness. He says to the waitress, "I'd like a cup of coffee, please, with no cream." The waitress replies, "I'm sorry, Monsieur, but we're out of cream. How about with no milk?"

Off topic a bit.  Refocusing, I think the answer to your question is "Yes"

  • Tue, May 19, 2015 - 10:48pm

    #13
    TechGuy

    TechGuy

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    Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:First

[quote=Dogs_In_A_Pile]

First of all, spent fuel pools are unpressurized and the majority DO NOT actively circulate water for cooling purposes. There are piping/pumping systems for the periodic addition of make-up water, but this is for radiation shielding of the spent fuel cells. Understand that the spent fuel cells are not removed from core power units until the decay heat generation rates are low enough to be dissipated via convective heat exchange from natural circulation to ambient.

[/quote]

That is incorrect. The Spent fuel rods are incredibily radioactive and also produce a lot of heat as the fission products (unstable isotopes) decay. The spent fuel pools require constant cooling. It  takes more than decade before they cool off.  The Spent fuel rods are not left in the reactor until they are "cool" The are pulled usually on a schedule depending on the number of hours in operation, in order to maximize reactor output.

http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/making-nuclear-power-safer/handling-nuclear-waste/safer-storage-of-spent-fuel.html

"When fuel rods in a nuclear reactor are “spent,” or no longer usable, they are removed from the reactor core and replaced with fresh fuel rods. The spent fuel rods are still highly radioactive and continue to generate significant heat for decades. The fuel assemblies, which consist of dozens to hundreds of fuel rods each, are moved to pools of water to cool. They are kept on racks in the pool, submerged in more than twenty feet of water, and water is continuously circulated to draw heat away from the rods and keep them at a safe temperature."

"If a malfunction, a natural disaster, or a terrorist attack causes the water to leak from the pool or the cooling system to stop working, the rods will begin to heat the remaining water in the pool, eventually causing it to boil and evaporate. If the water that leaks or boils away cannot be replenished quickly enough, the water level will drop, exposing the fuel rods. Once the fuel is uncovered, it could become hot enough to cause the metal cladding encasing the uranium fuel to rupture and catch fire…"

[The Zirconium cladding reacts with steam to product Hydrogen gas which ignites. This is what happened in the fukashima reactor. The rods became exposed in the reactor core and the zirconium cladding reacted with steam to form hydrogen gas that lead to the explosion]

[quote=Dogs_In_A_Pile]

The water simply won't "boil off" and the fuel rods most certainly will not "catch fire and unleash their death".

[/quote]

Sorry you are mistaken. There is lots of information about this, even on this very site discussing the problems with spent fuel pools. This was heavy discussed after Fukashima, then the emergency crews had difficulty keeping the Reactor 4 spent fuel pool full of water as the hot spent rods boiled the water off. They also had issues providing colling at the much large common pool at the plant, but they were able to control it. 

[quote=Dogs_In_A_Pile]

A bigger concern for an extended loss of power would be the loss of power to supply core circulation through reactors that had been operating and have a substantial decay heat generation rate

[/quote]

The reactors only contain a few tons of rods in any given time. The spent fuel pools can contain decades of spent rods. Spent fuel pools also contain fresh, unused rods until they are ready to be loaded into the reactor. They use the same process and equipment to transfer spent & fresh rods from the reactor.

http://www.ips-dc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/spent_nuclear_fuel_pools_in_the_US-final.pdf

http://www.pottsmerc.com/opinion/20131101/op-ed-shedding-light-on-nrcs-nuke-waste-con-game

http://www.efmr.org/Xtra/Spent_fuel.pdf

"If a fire were to break out at the Millstone Reactor Unit 3 spent fuel pond in Connecticut, it would
result in a three-fold increase in background exposures. This level triggers the NRC’s evacuation
requirement, and could render about 29,000 square miles of land uninhabitable, according to
Thompson. Connecticut covers only about 5,000 square miles; an accident at Millstone could
severely affect Long Island and even New York City."

  • Wed, May 20, 2015 - 04:13pm

    #14

    Dogs_In_A_Pile

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    Like a bug to a light….

[quote=TechGuy]

[quote=Dogs_In_A_Pile]

First of all, spent fuel pools are unpressurized and the majority DO NOT actively circulate water for cooling purposes. There are piping/pumping systems for the periodic addition of make-up water, but this is for radiation shielding of the spent fuel cells. Understand that the spent fuel cells are not removed from core power units until the decay heat generation rates are low enough to be dissipated via convective heat exchange from natural circulation to ambient.

[/quote]

That is incorrect. The Spent fuel rods are incredibily radioactive and also produce a lot of heat as the fission products (unstable isotopes) decay. The spent fuel pools require constant cooling. It  takes more than decade before they cool off.  The Spent fuel rods are not left in the reactor until they are "cool" The are pulled usually on a schedule depending on the number of hours in operation, in order to maximize reactor output.

http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/making-nuclear-power-safer/handling-nuclear-waste/safer-storage-of-spent-fuel.html

"When fuel rods in a nuclear reactor are “spent,” or no longer usable, they are removed from the reactor core and replaced with fresh fuel rods. The spent fuel rods are still highly radioactive and continue to generate significant heat for decades. The fuel assemblies, which consist of dozens to hundreds of fuel rods each, are moved to pools of water to cool. They are kept on racks in the pool, submerged in more than twenty feet of water, and water is continuously circulated to draw heat away from the rods and keep them at a safe temperature."

[/quote]

No Tech I'm not incorrect.  I am a certified nuclear engineer on the S5W submarine power plant.  I am qualified engineer on the S3G, S5W, D2G Core 6 and S8G submarine plants.  I spent 20 years in the submarine force, including a tour as an instructor in the Nuclear Power Training Pipeline.  As my submarine's Engineer Officer, I conducted a refueling overhaul and as a Radiological Controls Officer on a submarine tender, I supervised the conduct of industrial level nuclear system maintenance on submarine power plants for 32 months.

You have cited subjective sources and qualitative over quantitative information.

Spent fuel generates decay heat as a function of operating power history prior to shutdown.  The decay is fairly rapid.  Your 10 year timeline is for decay heat to go to zero.  Spent fuel decay heat generation falls off quickly.  For example, we shutdown in October, and were pulling fuel in January.  Yes it was very radioactive, it actually was the first time I had dealt with a line source that wasn't a run of radioactive liquid in a pipe.  Our shielding requirements was an interesting study.  However, the decay heat was more than manageable.  We pulled the spent fuel cells into a dry, shielded fuel handling cask, and transferred them to an unpressurized spent fuel pool – there was no boiling…there is no boiling.  Natural circulation and convective heat transfer to ambient is all that is needed.  The water is for shielding.  Your statement that spent fuel cells "continue to generate significant heat for decades" is either deliberately misleading on your part, or you are citing a source that is deliberately misleading.  Quantify "significant" – if you mean enough to boil water in a spent fuel pool, you are simply incorrect.  If by "significant" you mean detectable, you are correct.

Theoretically, if you pulled a fuel cell from a reactor with a 100% Effective Full Power Hour operating history, it would generate enough heat to boil water, but power plants by procedure do not do this when the conduct a refueling.  You will continue to operate the plant shutdown and circulate cooling water to remove decay heat until both decay heat generation and the radiation levels from fission product daughter and fission product poison decay drops to levels acceptable to conduct a refueling.

[quote]

"If a malfunction, a natural disaster, or a terrorist attack causes the water to leak from the pool or the cooling system to stop working, the rods will begin to heat the remaining water in the pool, eventually causing it to boil and evaporate. If the water that leaks or boils away cannot be replenished quickly enough, the water level will drop, exposing the fuel rods. Once the fuel is uncovered, it could become hot enough to cause the metal cladding encasing the uranium fuel to rupture and catch fire…"

"The Zirconium cladding reacts with steam to product Hydrogen gas which ignites. This is what happened in the fukashima reactor. The rods became exposed in the reactor core and the zirconium cladding reacted with steam to form hydrogen gas that lead to the explosion"

[/quote]

Sort of and no.  As I've stated (from a position of professional experience and knowledge), spent fuel WILL NOT boil water in a spent fuel pool.  Fuel cells aren't removed until the decay heat generation allows them to be placed in unpressureized pools.  In the event of a loss of water in a spent fuel pool, the immediate and primary concern would be loss of shielding and potentially high levels of streaming radiation.  Contrary to what you have read, the spent fuel cells in spent fuel pools do not have a high enough decay heat generation rate to cause blistering of the zircalloy cladding and rupturing of the cell integrity.

As to your assertion that zirc hydriding within the cores at Fukushima was the cause of the explosions you are wrong.  The hydrogen explosions were from the operators venting the primary coolant system to lower pressure because the cores were heating up due to loss of coolant flow.  When you vent ~600 degree primary coolant water, you will strip hydrogen out.  Hydrogen collected in the secondary containment  domes and when it got to a high enough concentration to ignite, it did.  There are a few sources out there that theorize that the hydrogen explosions in Unit 4 were actually from hydrogen stripping from the venting of Unit 3.  This makes sense since they are interconnected and Unit 4 was in an extended maintenance period and was shut down.

[quote=Dogs_In_A_Pile]

The water simply won't "boil off" and the fuel rods most certainly will not "catch fire and unleash their death".

[/quote]

[quote]

Sorry you are mistaken. There is lots of information about this, even on this very site discussing the problems with spent fuel pools. This was heavy discussed after Fukashima, then the emergency crews had difficulty keeping the Reactor 4 spent fuel pool full of water as the hot spent rods boiled the water off. They also had issues providing colling at the much large common pool at the plant, but they were able to control it.

[/quote]

I don't even know what you are saying here.  Unit 4 never lost water other than normal evaporative losses.

http://www.boston.com/news/world/asia/articles/2011/06/16/nrc_concedes_japan_fuel_pool_not_dry/ 

[quote=Dogs_In_A_Pile]

A bigger concern for an extended loss of power would be the loss of power to supply core circulation through reactors that had been operating and have a substantial decay heat generation rate

[/quote]

[quote]

The reactors only contain a few tons of rods in any given time. The spent fuel pools can contain decades of spent rods. Spent fuel pools also contain fresh, unused rods until they are ready to be loaded into the reactor. They use the same process and equipment to transfer spent & fresh rods from the reactor.

http://www.ips-dc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/spent_nuclear_fuel_pools_in_the_US-final.pdf

http://www.pottsmerc.com/opinion/20131101/op-ed-shedding-light-on-nrcs-nuke-waste-con-game

http://www.efmr.org/Xtra/Spent_fuel.pdf

[/quote]

Again, not trying to be snarky but I don't know what you're saying here.  Of course new fuel is stored/staged in the pools to be used when the plant needs to be refueled.  Since they haven't been operated at power, there is no decay heat generation in new fuel.  New fuel can be stored dry.  I personally inspected every single fuel cell that went into my submarine.  I did not wear anti-contamination clothing, but I did wear a clean suit.  Other than background radiation, I also received no exposure from the new fuel.

[quote]

"If a fire were to break out at the Millstone Reactor Unit 3 spent fuel pond in Connecticut, it would
result in a three-fold increase in background exposures. This level triggers the NRC’s evacuation
requirement, and could render about 29,000 square miles of land uninhabitable, according to
Thompson. Connecticut covers only about 5,000 square miles; an accident at Millstone could
severely affect Long Island and even New York City."

[/quote]

There's that 'if' word.  Absent a credible source of information, there is no realistic scenario that would cause Millstone's spent fuel to ignite.  I'm assuming you mean a hydrogen fire from zircalloy hydriding, but I've addressed above, spent fuel cells BY PROCEDURE are NOT placed in fuel pools until their decay heat generation rates are low enough to allow them to be placed in unpressurized pools.  Again, the water is primarily for shielding the high radiation levels from the spent fuel.

There was far more incorrect information swirling around in the media immediately following the Fukushima accident.  There still is.  I submit that, from my perspective – based on knowledge, training, certification and direct hands on experience over a 20+ year career – you have been reading quite a bit of incorrect information.

 

  • Mon, Jun 29, 2015 - 04:43am

    #15
    lenol1008

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    There are two broad guidelines

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  • Thu, Feb 16, 2017 - 10:56am

    #16
    Lucas Sommerville

    Lucas Sommerville

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    If another war break up for

If another war break up for sure there will be nuclear weapon used. Countries like Russia, China ,USA and many many more, they will use it, cos that's the fastest option to destroy enemy. Ther are lots of nuclear missle in the world, we just don't know about eveything.

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