[FoRK] Plumbing, power, sign posts - getting simple things wrong

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Mon Mar 21 05:51:52 PDT 2011

On Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 07:28:26AM -0500, mdw at martinwills.com wrote:

> Having worked in the nuclear field and being certified to run a nuclear
> powerplant in the US.  It takes 24-76 hours to restart a nuclear
> powerplant after an uncontrolled SCRAM without an outside cause. (It would
> take at least a year to examine every pipe, weld, joint, connection if
> there wasn't any damage after the 8.9 earthquake.)  It is a giant
> apparatus in a building that can hold 3 Boeing 747's with room to spare.

Monkeys like complicated, Rube Goldbergian things that stink and go boom,
and produce a big mess. That draws their attention, and keeps it.

> As for redundancy, they had it. They built it for a 9+ earthquake. What
> the didn't plan for 40 years ago, was a 33+ foot tidal wave would rush 2

Why should they, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historic_tsunamis doesn't
mention Japan at all. And it's not that tsunami is a Japanese word

Totall unexpected.

> miles inland (these reactors are on the coast and the waves were easily
> two stories high (the plants were reported to be 3 stories high).  33 foot
> tidal waves pretty much move everything, including diesel generators and
> powerlines/powerpoles.

The offshore wind plant 300 km from epicentrum is completely unaffected,
hasn't melted down, and and is producing power. Had they installed any 
geothermal, chances would be excellent it would continue trucking along.
Any photovoltaics on houses which haven't been destroyed would have
continued producing power.

And this wouldn't make the press, because it doesn't have spectacular
failure modes. 
> The other problem is the Japanese went with 'boiled water' reactors as
> opposed to the 'pressurized water reactors' mandated in the U.S. This is a
> significant difference in design and it ultimately doomed their reactors.
> The whole plant is 'dead' (all 6 reactors). It will never be reactivated
> ever again.  There is so much Boron and seawater involved, it can never be
> fixed. It probably wasn't fixable after the seawater anyways.
> Also this situation is so different from Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island
> that it really irritates me when people try to draw comparisons.  It is

Both the Japanese plant and Chernobyl and Three Mile Islands are producing
power. Chernobyl still doesn't cost 5% of Ukraine's GDP, after all these
years. The thyroid cancer statistics are uneventful.

> similar to an argument "If a plane would have hit the white house, would
> the damage have been the same as if a train would have hit the pentagon
> and a blimp would have hit the twin towers on 9/11?"  sheesh.

The least I can expect of a power plant is that it continues to produce
power when it is most needed.
> > Perhaps this is a good opportunity to educate everyone on nuclear science
> > while not overly activating the nucular paranoid.

Perhaps it is a good opportunity to educate everyone that nuclear power
isn't renewable, cheap, clean, or has forgiving failure modes.

> > Hopefully we'll now A) replace our old reactors and B) build a few more
> > while we're at it.  And C) get a better plan for disposing /
> > recycling of spent fuel.
> >
> This will always be a concern. There is an interesting design from Toshiba
> found here "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toshiba_4S".  Intriguing design
> using sodium.  The Russians used sodium in their early submarine reactors
> with limited success (they eventually got away from it for technical

The Russians cheerfully operate the largest breeder in the world,
with sodium cooling, and no containment.


Mad dogs, and Russians.

> reasons).  Now switching to lead as a coolant, that would make this a very
> (comparatively) safe design.  it is already buried so there would be
> little issues from an earthquake and terror attacks....

I wish solid state photovoltaics would make people's heads explode,
or something. Then it would be taken seriously.

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820 http://www.ativel.com http://postbiota.org
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