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Dr. Kaku on Nuclear disasters

  1. Dec 20, 2003 #1
    Listening to Dr. Kaku speaking to Art Bell on radio (C2C) last week end and
    tell of the scientists that have been killed while working on atomic bombs and
    the mistakes/meltdowns that have been kept hushed up made for one of the
    more interesting late night radio programs in a long time. Art was saying he
    had not heard of most of the things that have happened to pioneer nuclear
    scientists and Dr.Kaku said he was able to read the history reports of these
    cases that have taken the lives of 7 American men and countless Soviet citizens
    when several atomic reactors had a core meltdown and a atomic waste dump
    exploded in Russia around 1960. (I wonder if anyone has known of any of the
    disasters he mentioned?) I remember 3 Mile Island, Chernoble in the USSR and
    stories of "The Day We Almost Lost Detroit " ( Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant?)
    I remember stories of some scientists being killed by exposure to big amounts of
    radiation in Labs but thats about all. Dr.Kaku said a breeder reactor in England
    caught fire and was burning in the core when water was poured into it in an
    attempt to put out the fire in 1959? and it exploded and sent a huge cloud of
    radioactive debris over the English channel.

    Anyone hear the program or care to add any meltdown info stories to this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 21, 2003 #2


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    Chernobyl and TMI were among the worst nuclear power accidents in the world AFAIK (hadn't heard of the British one though) and as a result have been pretty thoroughly documented. As informed as I've always considered myself on this issue, the recent discussions on this here and on PF have shown me that even I fell victim to some of the irrational fears on the subject - I had no idea so few people were killed by Chernobyl. I think the media is partially responsible due to overhyping of these events, but still - I thought for years that it was several orders of magnitude worse than it actually was. Crazy.

    As for the early accidents of which you speak, they seem pretty stupid today, but are not all that surprising since very early on, very little was known about the health effects of radiation. The Manhattan Project was about building a bomb, not about investigating biological effects. And the first controlled, sustained reactor was under a stadium! And they used to have x-ray machines everywhere - as if they were toys! Crazy.
  4. Dec 21, 2003 #3
    Sears X-Ray machines and Orange glaze

    Yes, I remember going to the shoe department in Sears and looking at my feet in the
    X-Ray machine they had there. Wonder how much radiation the shoe salesmen got
    as they were there all day with the machines running from 9AM to ??? This was about
    1940 or so and the machines were removed a few years later I suppose.

    Probably not much radiation to worry about but another thing was the orange glaze
    that was put on certain dishes during the 1950's -1960's . It was shown in an exhibit
    here in the local museum : a geiger counter and a few dishes with the orange glaze.
    You could press a button and the counter would show the rise and clicks would increase
    telling what was going on.
  5. Dec 26, 2003 #4


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    A guy that took the coolant rod out of the breeder reactor was impaled on the ceiling by the coolant rod after the very ground he was standing on became super-critical under his feet. That was so awesome, that story was kind of funny.
  6. Dec 26, 2003 #5
    Motion Picture on atomic disasters?

    Did Art Bell and Dr.Kaku mention that there was a movie made that showed
    most of these nuclear disasters? Perhaps they were refering to a History
    Channel or another PBS documentary film covering these accidents. I would
    like to see it some time.
  7. Dec 31, 2003 #6
    Time for Truth About DU Weapons

    A Time For Truth On DU

    Steven Rosenfeld, senior editor
    TomPaine.com Dec 21 2003


    The health impacts of depleted uranium (DU) munitions on soldiers who
    served in the Iraq and the Persian Gulf Wars will be studied by
    Congress' General Accounting Office, according to two congressmen who
    have requested a new investigation into whether the Pentagon has ignored
    the medical consequences of the armaments.

    "We are requesting further investigation by the GAO of the study of
    veterans exposed to DU during the 1991 Gulf War, and an assessment of
    current DoD [Department of Defense] and DVA [Department of Veterans
    Affairs] policies to identify and provide medical care for veterans
    exposed to DU during Operation Iraqi Freedom," wrote Reps. Bob Filner,
    D-Calif., and Ciro Rodriguez, D-Texas, in a Dec. 3 letter requesting the
    congressional inquiry.

    "There are many uncertainties about depleted uranium, but one thing is
    clear: the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs have
    refused to conduct an adequate study of veterans exposed to DU on the
    battlefield," said Dan Fahey, a former board member of the National Gulf
    War Resource Center, a veterans organization, who helped the congressmen
    frame the GAO inquiry.


    "DoD's own laboratory studies confirm DU may cause cancer, tumors, neurological damage, and reproductive effects, but the possible connection between DU and disease development in the vast majority of exposed veterans remains unexamined, and therefore, unknown," the congressmen’s letter said. "This is of particular concern because it is now almost 13 years since the war, and the latency period for the development of many cancers possibly related to DU is 10 to 30 years."

    They cited Fahey's belief that the Pentagon officials have made "false statements" about "the existence of a rare Hodgkin's lymphoma and a bone tumor among veterans in the DU Program, signaling a breakdown in the integrity of the study."

    "On at least two occasions in 2001, DoD spokesmen falsely claimed that no veterans in the DU Program had developed cancer, in an apparent attempt to dampen controversy in Europe about the use of DU munitions in the Balkans," they wrote. "In addition, in April 2003, an Army doctor was quoted in press stories falsely claiming that no veterans in the DU Program had developed any tumors. These prevarications beg the question of whether other health effects have been observed among these veterans, but not reported."

    That "army doctor" was Dr. Michael Kilpatrick of the Office of the Special Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, who is among the top-raking Pentagon officials who create military health policy. Those remarks were made at a NATO briefing.

    The congressman also noted that the Pentagon "previously misled" GAO investigators and the Department of Veterans Affairs about "the extent of veterans' exposures to DU during the 1991 war" and said there was "cause for concern that DoD is not providing complete and accurate information about DU exposures in Iraq."

    Fahey said this pattern of repressing information continues to this day.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2003
  8. Jan 10, 2004 #7


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    Your quote seems to me to have nothing to do with "Dr. Kaku on Nuclear disasters".

    Have I missed something?
  9. Apr 24, 2004 #8
    Hello HAL 9000,

    Even though this is an old link starting last year i'll add some other factoids to it.

    Well before that during the turn of the century a new lumniscient substance was being applied to clocks and such. That turned out to be radioactive and very cancerous, even "Marie Curie died from it due to repeated exposure. Factory workers as laborers coating this stuff to products all died pretty much due to exposure. (back then their was no trust fund like for abestos now a days)

    There is also the little known "Broken Arrows" military term, which was made into a movie with Christian Slater and John Travolta. Broken Arrows are loose nukes whether, if its by aircraft, submarine, land shipment etc...

    Robert Ballard who found the Titantic did so with the US Navy's help. The reason being he first had to locate a broken arrow USS submarine that was lost during the late 1960's. Then after fulfilling that condition Robert Ballard would be bank rolled by the US Navy to search for the Titantic.

    Also, my speculation about that Russian sub being lost about year or two ago near Norway. That may have been a nuclear submarine reactor accident, even though they pinned it on a loose torpedo going off.

    I wonder how many broken arrows of the former Soviet Union have occurred, and how many elsewhere in the US?
  10. May 11, 2004 #9
    Here is a partial list:

    http://www.nuclearfiles.org/hitimeline/nwa/short-list.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  11. May 18, 2004 #10
    Hello Username,

    Thanks for the link i enjoyed the site.


    For some strange reason i only learned of your reply today via email. (6 days late) Something must be up with the thread notification system by email.
  12. Jun 18, 2004 #11
    Could you elaborate on this story, or if possible provide a link please? Sounds interesting.
  13. Aug 27, 2004 #12


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    This was the Sl-1 accident in Idaho. There's some info available at the links below, you may have to search a bit to find the relevant sections in some cases.

    http://www.csirc.net/10_Library/00_Reports/13638/la-13638.pdf [Broken]

    Basically some poor SOB pulled out a sticky control rod in a test nuclear reactor by hand. It came out too fast and too far, and caused a huge power spike, which caused among other things a steam explosion which propeled the control rod out of the reactor, impaling the operator. The details are technical, but the rate of change of the reactivity is just as important as its value, see the discussion in the last URL above.

    I seem to recall that the poor SOB impaled on the ceiling was the last person to be accounted for (the building was radioactive, it was difficult to search). So he was suspected of sabotoge initially. (Not sure where I heard this , but it makes sense, probably the TV documentary I saw on this accident).
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  14. Oct 1, 2004 #13
    Hi All,

    Military.com is reporting the latest "Broken Arrow" recovery incident which occurred in 1958.

    Link (requires free registration to read at the Washington Post.)

    Talk about a retired military man persuading the Air Force to finally do it's job. That's what i call a patriot.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2004
  15. Oct 1, 2004 #14


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    An early reactor caught fire at Windscale, Cumbria, NW England in October 1957, the graphite moderator of one of the air-cooled plutonium production reactors caught fire which resulted in the first significant release of radioactive material from a reactor. The reactor was also producing Po-210 (polonium) from bismuth. Po-210 was also released and may have been more dangerous than the plutonium and iodine I-131 released. As a boy I remember it distinctly. The radioactivity was blown, not over the English Channel as reported above, but across NW to NE England. I was downwind of the fire at the time happily going to school in York. In particular we used to receive free school milk, which probably was contaminated with the radioactive iodine. Ah - that could explain a lot!! :bugeye:

    [Addition edit] One of the original designers insisted on large filters being built into the chimneys of the building and was almost over-ruled because of the "unnecessary expense". In the event those filters probably saved all our lives and meant that Northern England was not rendered a radioactive wasteland for years to come!

    The government's response, if I can remember, was to cocoon off the building where it sits smouldering today and changing the name of Windscale to now Sellafield, so everybody would forget it existed and so stop worrying about it.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2004
  16. Nov 2, 2004 #15


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    No - Indian Point is in New York - operated by Consolidated Edison.

    Fermi I operated by Detroit Edison and its visionary CEO Walker Cisler -
    was an LMFBR - a Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor. It was not the
    usual LWR - Light Water Reactor [ which comes in two varieties -
    Pressurized Water Reactors, PWRs; or Boiling Water Reactors, BWRs]

    When Fermi I was being built - someone got the "bright" idea of putting
    some zirconium plates on a cone-shaped flow guide in the lower plenum
    of the reactor. It was a last minute addition.

    One of these zirconium plates got loose and blocked the flow of sodium
    coolant to 4 fuel assemblies - which overheated and melted together.

    There was no radiation release to the environment, no chance of an
    explosion, no risk to the public health and safety.

    I grew up in the northern suburbs of Detroit during the '60s when this
    accident happened. Much less of an accident than Three Mile Island.

    Except for a song "We Almost Lost Detroit" and a poorly researched,
    error-ridden book of the same title - the public had nothing to endure.

    Dr. Kaku has his facts WRONG!!

    The reactor that caught fire was Windscale - a production reactor
    used by the British to produce Plutonium for weapons. The reason it
    caught fire was that it was a graphite reactor like Chernobyl.

    I don't know how anyone that knows anything about nuclear reactors
    could mistakenly call a graphite reactor a breeder. A breeder is a
    "fast" reactor - running on high energy neutrons. If you put a bunch of
    low mass material like Carbon [ graphite ] in a reactor - it "moderates"
    the neutrons and slows them down. If you have graphite, you don't have
    a fast reactor - so you don't have a breeder.

    Graphite reactors that are operated at low temperature as Windscale
    was tends to store energy because the neutron dislocate carbon atoms
    in the crystal matrix. This is called "Wigner Energy" - named after an
    early reactor pioneer, Eugene Wigner.

    Because a spontaneous release of Wigner energy is possible - and is
    disruptive, the operators would periodically try to trigger the release
    of Wigner energy by operating the reactor without the cooling fans so
    that it reached high temperature and triggered a release of Wigner

    The operators failed to notice that most of their temperature indicators
    were rising - indicating a successful release of Wigner energy - there were
    some that were not rising - and the operators applied a second round of
    nuclear heating. They overheated the reactor - and it caught fire.

    The Windscale reactor was air cooled - and the hot air was exhausted up
    a stack. When the reactor caught fire - and the fuel broke open - it did
    release radioisotopes into the cooling air which was discharged up the

    This happened in 1957, if memory serves - at Windscale - which is now
    called Sellafield - and is one of the major nuclear fuel facilities in
    Great Britain.

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
  17. Nov 2, 2004 #16


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    The submarine was the Kursk. It has since been recovered and salvaged -
    reactor intact.

    A reactor accident would not give you the type of explosion that our
    submarines and undersea listening devices recorded - it was a torpedo

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
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