Sunday, May 15, 2011

US Blue Ribbons Flap in the Breeze


Commissioners were split on the wisdom of recommending anything relating to the safety of spent nuclear fuel pools, especially given unclear data about the Fukushima pool incident. "Why not get ahead of the curve and move fuel to low-density [arrangement]?" said nuclear expert and commissioner Allison Macfarlane of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. "This is not a hard problem. … It's fairly straightforward." But another commissioner, nuclear engineer Per Peterson of the University of California, Berkeley, said that new data from the Fukushima pool raises doubts about the reasons for the explosion. The issue of reracking fuel in less dense pools was omitted from the draft recommendations.

Is it evil of me to watch these people?  You can't find an 'interim' site for the waste, because people will immediately fight that it is really permanent, and politicians will get elected.  Now that we know all these US plants are fragile as glass, why worry about jamming the pools?  And we Canadians have our Chalk River NRC, which much have a fragility at least as good as a US boiling water reactor.

Can this be addressed in a positive manner?  Can I find a way to stop bitchin'?  I can see that right now Pickering is as fragile as any Japan reactor, and we will go straight to meltdown with 10 cm/s, but probably no explosions or massive releases.  Darlington is probably up to 30 cm/s, and the consequence is just prolonged shutdown, with no release.  Bruce is probably the same as Darlington, but the odds of actually hitting this limit are very low.

We can easily increase the ruggedness of these plants to something that can't be exceeded.  I would be happy if we could run these things up to 50 cm/s.  US BWR's have no chance to be improved, and the current fad of uprating probably knocks it down.  The boiling water reactor is like a big bell, ready to ring.

Due to the serious consequences, this will be ignored, and we can all sleep safely in our beds...  :)

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