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Nuclear Safety Discussion - Split Thread

  1. Jun 17, 2016 #1

    mfb

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    What is not one of those fields?
    As long as a significant fraction of the population would agree to a law that bans atoms, ...

    [split from this thread: https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/stunning-reversal-in-sweden-re-nuclear.875103/ ]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 25, 2016
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  3. Jun 17, 2016 #2
    Well, @mfb , a local club for country music singers is up to the peoples to say their opinion , or they can form a fine opinion on Trump's haircut from the cable news , that was my original thought.
    It's somewhat illogical that most of the population would not be allowed inside a nuclear facility simply because they know nothing about it and could cause danger to themselves or others.Yet when a fine working plant has to go into premature shutdown all the local pub drunks and football fan's otherwise rioting in the stadium while being drunk now have a opinion about stuff like which is then amplified if not entirely made in the first place by groups like Greenpeace , which otherwise do good things but sometimes I think they themselves can't understand what they are fighting for. And all of this garbage is then taken seriously by politicians because they are worried to loose public support for reelection or money from donors.
    A bit stupid ,Christ was spot on when comparing people to sheep.

    Sorry for the off topic bits.:)
     
  4. Jun 20, 2016 #3

    russ_watters

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    True in general, but on specific issues nuclear power may well have it the worst. Contrast it with, say, anti-GMO or anti-vax crackpottery which get a lot of press, but don't kill very many people. For either to have been as successful as the anti-nuclear movement, they would have had to succeed in getting vaccines and GMOs protested to oblivion. Off the top of my head, I can't think of another piece of useful technology that has been so successfully marginalized by fearmongering.
     
  5. Jun 21, 2016 #4

    mheslep

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    Agreed. I think the difference with nuclear is that other technologies like GMO and vaccines did not threaten to abolish trillion dollar industries by replacing them as nuclear did, and does. Ads for solar power and the like can be found going back to the 70s paid for by fossil fuel interests. More recently, see the natural gas money taken by the rabidly anti nuclear Sierra Club
     
  6. Jun 21, 2016 #5
    Maybe nuclear power should, you know, try to NOT melt their reactors from time to time?
     
  7. Jun 21, 2016 #6

    russ_watters

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    They of course do put quite a bit of effort into that. Doesn't change the point.
     
  8. Jun 21, 2016 #7

    anorlunda

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    I think you are right, but we shouldn't be surprised because nuclear power has always been associated with nuclear bombs in the public mind.
     
  9. Jun 21, 2016 #8

    mfb

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    Several hundred nuclear power plants never released relevant amounts of radioactivity. Just a single one released so much that it had measurable health effects. Meanwhile, coal power plants released more radioactive material than all nuclear power plants combined - including the Chernobyl accident (and Fukushima and TMI and whatever you want to add, doesn't change the conclusion). And radioactive materialis by far not the worst thing that is released by coal power plants.
     
  10. Jun 21, 2016 #9

    russ_watters

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    Yes, the tactic has been very successful. Fortunately, vaccines=autism less so.
     
  11. Jun 21, 2016 #10
    The point is, nuclear power industry's promises about safety were such that over last 50 years, statistically, there should have been not even one major meltdown of the power reactor. But in reality, there were FIVE meltdowns.

    I'm not counting "small" accidents, such as partial meltdowns damaging just a few assemblies, and accidents on small reactors such as SL-1 accident. Just the major meltdowns.
     
  12. Jun 21, 2016 #11

    mheslep

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    In the context of a technology being under much severe scrutiny, the two major light water reactor accidents don't explain the pressure on nuclear. The extraction and use of fossil fuels has a much worse record. But there's no Helen Caldicot out there protesting fire.
     
  13. Jun 21, 2016 #12

    russ_watters

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    Who made such a promise? I've never seen such a thing. Regardless, promises are not realities. The actual safety record is the reality that matters.
     
  14. Jun 22, 2016 #13
    Civilization is the triumph of the masses , or we could say proletariat, after all most of the things we argue over like fossil fuels and energy needs and manufacturing are there because we have come to the point were we ask for them and can't live without them , also refuse to. A friend once told me , he said , "We need to change the system" , i thought about it , yes his right but he sees the system in the wrong way , I said you know what, you are the system , you are part of it and the blind majority actually are the ones that dictate most things without them even realizing that.

    As for nuclear I think the scare is 50/50 half of it is because nuclear came into the world first in the shape of a deadly weapon whose power was showcased in WW2, since then literally every action movie with a bad guy trying to take over the world has shown us the images of US atomic tests to make the point of the movie more illuminating.
    The second reason could very well be pure lack of knowledge.Few posts earlier Nuke showed a good example of this by the story he told of the protester.

    It would be hard to tell people because the basic opinion has already set in the last decades but they should look and compare fossil vs nuclear for example.
    Yes a nuclear accident might involve higher risk and worse aftermath yet we have had countless accident involving fossil fuels , in fact so much that it would be impossible to even produce a precise estimate of all the deaths caused by the industry itself (workers, people affected by accidents etc) not to mention the ones indirectly affected by global warming etc.
    Let me give you just one simple example of a seemingly harmless thing going bad.A natural gas pipeline developed a leak near the city of Ufa , back in 1989 in the USSR. near the pipeline were train tracks and two passenger trains were driving opposite directions , the wheels made some sparks and ignited the cloud of gas which due to atmospheric conditions was lying low, the trains were literally blown to pieces , 575 people died.
    This is just one "tiny" accident involving fossil fuel industry , there have been countless over the 100+ years of us intensively using it.

    You might ask what is my point here ? Simple , every major industry man has ever known involves some sort of danger and trial and error as we learn and progress.
    Out lining one as good and the other as bad is simply one of two cases , either the person doing so is paid to do so, or he or she is simply ignorant and uninformed, mostly both.


    I also want to point out that actually most of the nuclear accidents, we have had , were due to deliberate and ignorant actions from authorities and the ones in charge , they were not a technical malfunction, or some sort of unpredictable scientific problem.
    For example , the Russian military weapons research etc Mayak plant, of which the majority knew nothing about until recently used to have some very bad practices of waste disposal , the few people living in that region as well as wildlife has been affected yet no one knows how much because , well you know , nobody is told anything.
    Also Chernobyl , used as the most frightening phrase in recent human history , was most of all an accident partly because of human error and partly because of ignorance at many levels.Cheap easy to build and very powerful reactors that produce plutonium without the need to go offline , yet with some dangerous features like the positive void coefficient etc, but you folks already know that , you also know that after the accident they upgraded the remaining reactors to make them safer.
    It just goes to prove we can do many great things if we want to.sadly many times money and interests or simply laziness kicks in and problems arise , yet nuclear power asks for both the authorities and scientists and operators to do their best and be on the edge.
    We shouldn't be scared of technology but rather of our own ignorance or that of our fellow citizens.


    The accidents that were technical failures happen to be the less dramatic ones , like Three Mile Island , United Kingdom's Windscale fire etc.

    P.S. nikkkom I doubt anyone in their right mind has ever made a promise that there won't be any accidents.Much like no one can promise there won't be any wars.
    Progress comes with some accidents and dangers, but I'd rather risk an accident for something better and developing and promising than for something we have used for decades , which starts to run out and causes so many well documented and proved problems along the way.


    I apologize if you find this too long , just my morning coffee gave me some impulse to write down some thoughts while reading this discussion.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2016
  15. Jun 22, 2016 #14
    The technical promise is the design core damage frequency. Example:

    http://www.edf.com/fichiers/fckeditor/Commun/Innovation/conference/BWRsbasics_va.pdf page 21:

    BWR4: 10^-5 per year
    BWR6: 10^-6 per year
    ABWR: 10^-7 per year
    ...

    Even the "high" 10^-5 per year core damage frequency would mean that 1000 reactors need to run for 100 years to statistically have about one core damage event. We now have only ~450 operating power reactors.

    The reality is: nuclear power industry repeatedly failed to deliver on its promises of safety and cost.
    Why would anyone be surprised that general public has a not too favorable opinion about it now?
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2016
  16. Jun 22, 2016 #15

    russ_watters

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    A few things:
    1. That data is for specific makes/models of reactor an certainly doesn't apply to the industry as a whole.
    2. You are improperly separating the Fukushima meltdowns in your count: they were 1 accident.
    3. The basis of the predicted reliability is not provided. I suspect it is based in part on other additional assumptions about support system reliability.

    That link is way too focused to support your broad/sweeping claim.
    You connected the statements as if they are related: they aren't. The successful anti-nuclear campaigns happened prior to any of the accidents except TMI (not sure if you included that) and we're based in large part on lies; in particular the inappropriate link between nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

    If anything, nuclear power is seeing a resurgence today as the old lies gradually get forgotten. It has a long way to go though.

    This "promise of safety" claim remains a powerful red herring though. The wording implies "not safe" when in reality, at worst (pending you proving your claim about the promise even existing as you claim) "not as safe", which is still really, really safe. So a proper understanding of the claimed "failure to deliver on its promise of safety" should still result in one supporting nuclear power.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2016
  17. Jun 22, 2016 #16

    mheslep

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    No that's not the point, but a (non unique) facet of the industry on which you choose to concentrate.
     
  18. Jun 22, 2016 #17

    mheslep

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    Protester was also probably a polio and measles carrier, as vaccines [strike] are radioactive[/strike] whatever.
     
  19. Jun 22, 2016 #18
    Yes, they do apply to industry as a whole.
    To prove me wrong, please give me an example of a post-1970 power reactor design which did not promise at least 10^-5 core damage frequency.

    What's improper about it? Did nuclear plant designers ever say "BTW, no guarantees about co-sited reactors: if one goes up in smake, all others will too"? Not at all. All we ever heard that NPPs are incredibly safe and won't melt down.

    You are trying to make an argument, but I don't understand which. Are you trying to say that nuclear power plant designers did NOT promise core damage frequency of 10^-5 and lower?

    If NPPs would, since 1970, work WITHOUT meltdowns for decades on end, these anti-nuclear campaigns would gradually abate and people get much more supportive of nuclear power.

    Are you disputing that nuclear power industry did promise the stations to be safe, specifically promise core damage frequency of 10^-5 and lower?
     
  20. Jun 22, 2016 #19
  21. Jun 22, 2016 #20
    Did they calculate this core damage frequency including all the support systems a NPP has or simply the very active zone parts durability along their lifetime ?

    Another factor one must take into consideration is that not all nuclear accidents are to due with the frequency or their safety record , that's like saying the Airbus or Boeing or Mig have a bad safety record because they have crashed but we must look at exactly why they crashed and most of the time it was either human error or as in late times a deliberate terrorist attack whether smashing them into the WTC or simply setting the autopilot to crash the plane into the Alps etc etc.



    Please correct me if I leave out some or have forgotten but to my mind the only real core meltdowns that were technical failures were TMI and Fukushima, all the others were either small scale ,navy or military objects.
    Chernobyl was more of a core blast than meltdown but we can't actually count Chernobyl fully into the reactor safety table simply because it was mostly a human error on many levels, both the oversight and the actual staff that night which made dangerous and fatal errors.Like running the reactor with too low of a power allowing core poisoning then running at almost no moderation to compensate the poison burn up and shutting off all automatic safety features ,(oh i hear Nikkkom yelling that RBMK is at fault for being super dangerous :D) Well I sort of admit , even the operators agreed to this in the other RBMK facility were I was, that RBMK is a very sneaky and rather dangerous machine especially prior to 1986 security updates, so it required the crew to be both very wise and skillful and experienced in nuclear physics of which atleast two of the three named were missing somehow at that night shift.
    Also they saw 3 years before Chernobyl at Ignalina that the control rod tips increased the reactivity when first inserted , they told this to the higher authorities but they were dismissed as it was not seen as a big enough potential threat.Again is the reactor to blame or the authorities for being ignorant and not fixing things earlier.


    Although I must say as I read from time to time there have been some other mostly unknown incidents in nuclear reactors that could have escalated to the highest INES 7.
    And most of them if not all have been the operator error, so the industry should really put up it's awareness and oversight.I'm especially concerned (I'm not a racist) with the developing countries like India and various Asian countries etc of developing nuclear reactors because they don't have the experience most of the former USSR and US , Europe has also their oversight might lack the needed attention to detail and such seemingly tiny errors can lead to a major accident.
     
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