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Japan Power Hardware

TEPCO Unveils Plan To Deal With Fukushima Crisis 238

Posted by Soulskill
from the convert-to-a-mutant-farm dept.
RedEaredSlider writes "Tokyo Electric Power Co. unveiled its plan for dealing with the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. TEPCO said the radiation levels should drop over the next three months. It will take about six months for the reactors to achieve 'cold shutdown' in which the temperature of the water inside the reactor is less than 100 degrees Celsius (212 F). The current plan for cooling the reactors will mean injecting nitrogen into the reactor pressure vessel. All four damaged reactors experienced hydrogen explosions when water, heated by nuclear fuel, turned to steam and reacted with the zirconium alloy cladding of the fuel rods. Hydrogen, when exposed to oxygen, combusts. Nitrogen is an inert gas, so TEPCO hopes that it will prevent further explosions."
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TEPCO Unveils Plan To Deal With Fukushima Crisis

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  • Really, all they have to do is keep saying what they're going to do, and the problem is going to go away on its own, eventually...

    • by ae1294 (1547521)

      Really, all they have to do is keep saying what they're going to do, and the problem is going to go away on its own, eventually...

      So what you're saying is Mr Freemen will take care of it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by icebike (68054)

      Your assertion then is that they have done and are doing nothing?

      Pack your bags, smart ass, we are sending you over there to run into the plant and turn on the cooling pumps.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Sure. Do you want to see my rate sheet for that kind of work, first?

        I'd have locked this shit down on day 1. But it would have been a much messier day than day 1 was, and you might have been conscripted as wadding for a valve core.

        And no, I'm not saying they haven't done anything, or haven't done anything heoric. I'm saying they don't really have to do anything else, and basically aren't, besides keeping stasis until the thing cools off. And it's literally about the half-life. They're just running wate

    • Well, that and prepare for unforeseen consequences...
      • Re:Half-life (Score:5, Interesting)

        by blair1q (305137) on Monday April 18, 2011 @02:36PM (#35859270) Journal

        You would hope. But given that they don't seem to have been prepared for foreseen circumstances*, I'm not betting on their team until I see management make some trades.

        * - the 10-meter tsunami was the unforeseen circumstance. Everything after it was foreseeable, and there were design choices that guaranteed a destructive cascade once the power went out. Allowing the buildings to explode and damage the systems used to keep the buildings from exploding more is a pretty major fuckup in the realm of reliability engineering. The use of zinc cladding, the lack of effective venting for the hydrogen, the proximity of the explosion to components that could be damaged in a hydrogen explosion, blockage of access by debris from the explosion... Someone 40 years ago said that having backup generators would prevent these things from happening, and didn't consider what if the generators simply broke and couldn't be replaced. Even though they may have known what could be done.

        Oh, and there's the part about how they did get generators rushed to the site, but the electrical connections didn't match up so they couldn't use them. I'm still not sure that's been reported right, because what the fuck?

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You would hope. But given that they don't seem to have been prepared for foreseen circumstances*, I'm not betting on their team until I see management make some trades.

          * - the 10-meter tsunami was the unforeseen circumstance. Everything after it was foreseeable, and there were design choices that guaranteed a destructive cascade once the power went out. Allowing the buildings to explode and damage the systems used to keep the buildings from exploding more is a pretty major fuckup in the realm of reliability engineering. The use of zinc cladding, the lack of effective venting for the hydrogen, the proximity of the explosion to components that could be damaged in a hydrogen explosion, blockage of access by debris from the explosion... Someone 40 years ago said that having backup generators would prevent these things from happening, and didn't consider what if the generators simply broke and couldn't be replaced. Even though they may have known what could be done.

          Oh, and there's the part about how they did get generators rushed to the site, but the electrical connections didn't match up so they couldn't use them. I'm still not sure that's been reported right, because what the fuck?

          You would hope. But given that they don't seem to have been prepared for foreseen circumstances*, I'm not betting on their team until I see management make some trades.

          * - the 10-meter tsunami was the unforeseen circumstance. Everything after it was foreseeable, and there were design choices that guaranteed a destructive cascade once the power went out. Allowing the buildings to explode and damage the systems used to keep the buildings from exploding more is a pretty major fuckup in the realm of reliability engineering. The use of zinc cladding, the lack of effective venting for the hydrogen, the proximity of the explosion to components that could be damaged in a hydrogen explosion, blockage of access by debris from the explosion... Someone 40 years ago said that having backup generators would prevent these things from happening, and didn't consider what if the generators simply broke and couldn't be replaced. Even though they may have known what could be done.

          Oh, and there's the part about how they did get generators rushed to the site, but the electrical connections didn't match up so they couldn't use them. I'm still not sure that's been reported right, because what the fuck?

          I heard about the back up generators delivered on day two of this incident. Unfortunately I don't have time to track sources right now (I am at work and my initial Google search turned up nothing).

          The fact that the generator did not match up goes back to the 1800s

          http://www.npr.org/2011/03/24/134828205/a-country-divided-japans-electric-bottleneck.

          "That's partly an accident of history. Eastern Japan followed the German model and has a 50-cycle electrical power grid. The western part of Japan used t

        • by vlm (69642)

          Allowing the buildings to explode and damage the systems used to keep the buildings from exploding more is a pretty major fuckup in the realm of reliability engineering.

          Its also a management failure. Everyone knows once zirconium heats up around water you get H2. But no one wants to be the management guy who pulls the trigger and says trash the roof with a wrecking ball or whatever. So, everyone just sit around until it blows up, that way it'll be an act of god instead of management deciding to crack the building.

          Not that it would help (much).

          • trash the roof with a wrecking ball

            Except how do you get close enough? they could barely get water cannons close enough shoot the buildings due to the radiation. And the radiation was in full swing before they blew up since they blew up because of the h2 being released from the exposed fuel rods.

            everyone just sit around until it blows up, that way it'll be an act of god instead of management deciding to crack the building.

            This is more the Japanese mentality of business. No individual gets the blame, the group decides and executes whatever is decided, including nothing.

        • Or perhaps they could have fixed the generators?

          Too many nuclear scientists and not enough diesel mechanics.
        • by BeanThere (28381)

          - the 10-meter tsunami was the unforeseen circumstance.

          And yet many of the towns along that coastline with tsunami walls, had 10-meter tsunami walls (while Fukushima's were 6 meters). Clearly many other planners had 'foreseen' a risk of 10m tsunamis.

      • by lennier (44736)

        Well, that and prepare for unforeseen consequences...

        Fricken' Combine Advisors.

        The Borealis just better make a cameo in Portal 2, that's all I'm sayin'.

    • by Surt (22457)

      They'd better hope their gonads haven't been hit by too many rads, because they are going to need children, grand-children, great-grand-children, etc to keep repeating that message.

  • I'm confused: If it's above 100 c it's steam or under a huge amount of pressure; The cooling water has always been below that temperature. What does the fine article mean here?
    • by blair1q (305137)

      It's above 100C. The coolant is constantly flowing, and under pressure; or, if the pressure vessel is breached, it's just flowing and there's steam being generated constantly.

      When the temperature stays below 100C, presumably when the water is standing and not flowing, then the reactor is considered cold.

      That's in six months, when the low-level reactions in the fuel have run through their half-lives enough that they don't generate heat faster than non-boiling water can pull it away.

    • by gman003 (1693318)
      Not necessarily a "huge" amount of pressure. Water at 1.5 atmospheres is liquid up to 111.7 C, and up to 120 C at 2 atmospheres. Both of those are well below the pressure inside a car tire, or a champagne bottle. Hell, it's below standard water pressure for city mains water.
    • by icebike (68054)

      I'm confused: If it's above 100 c it's steam or under a huge amount of pressure; The cooling water has always been below that temperature. What does the fine article mean here?

      Cold Shutdown is just a technical term.

      Cold shutdown means the reactor is at a temperature where is is not producing enough heat to make steam and drive generators. That happens as it falls below 100c/212f. Its not clear to me if that state is With or Without active cooling systems running.

      However, that temperature is not the goal, just some definition of a stable state that is thought to be manageable. Ideally you would like to get it to a state cold enough so that you could de-fuel it, or where you cou

    • by Solandri (704621)
      The boiling temp of water rises with pressure. So under pressure, water can be above 100 C and still liquid (ignoring partial pressure of course). The submersible Alvin had a close encounter with this when they discovered the first deep water thermal vents. They were trying to move in for a closer look, when someone glanced at the temperature gauge and realized the water temperature at the manipulator arm (>400 F) was hotter than the melting point of the Plexiglas windows (320 F).

      What's magic about
  • Hydrogen, when exposed to oxygen, combusts.

    No, something has to raise it above its autoignition temperature, which is over 500C in air.

    But, since it was in a nuclear reactor that was probably still that hot...

    • by owlstead (636356)

      In such huge buildings with electrical wires and equipment all around, and the possibility of lightning and other static discharges, and people trying to fix a nuclear reactor, I don't think it would be a good idea to store a large amount of hydrogen in the buildings. Of course, if you look at the pictures, the good thing is that there are plenty of holes that could be used by the hydrogen to escape (except in the closed loop cooling system, I suppose).

  • Best laid plans (Score:5, Insightful)

    by divec (48748) on Monday April 18, 2011 @02:26PM (#35859150) Homepage

    I wonder WTF their contingency plan is if a big tsunami hits now ...

    I strongly believe we know how to set up technical systems for safe nuclear power. However I'm extremely sceptical of the idea that we know how to set up social / administrative systems for safe nuclear power. It's too easy to hide systemic weakness behind secrecy, or too embarrassing to identify and fix present failings, or the debate gets too polarised and ideological so people, politicians and regulatory systems lose sight of the actual safety issues because of the headline effect etc.

    I wouldn't be quick to blame money or corruption or unscrupulous people, either. The key problem is secrecy -- even without malice, familiarity makes you blind to system flaws -- we software people know this very well. Only total transparency can ensure that flaws do not get hidden. On the other hand I don't know how this can be reconciled with security against sabotage.

    There's a need for a sober, measured debate about all this and it's a pity that a few fundamentalists (on both sides) are making this impossible.

    • Re:Best laid plans (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BlueParrot (965239) on Monday April 18, 2011 @03:01PM (#35859608)

      To give you an idea of just how retarded political and administrative dealings with nuclear power is, consider what we've been doing in Sweden. Nuclear was bad, so we banned construction of new reactors, then we closed down one of our existing plants, replacing its energy generation by turning up the power on the other plants ( thereby reducing safety margins). Now because the renewables that were supposed to replace nuclear didn't make it (surprise surprise ), we will extend the reactor lifetimes by 50% or so.

      I.e, rather than building newer and safer designs we have cranked up the power on the old ones and extended their operation permits beyond their design lifetime, and we still don't have any plausible way to replace them other than some wishful thinking about wind power. We're not building new reactors, so the obvious outcome will be further life extensions to our already ageing reactor fleet. Then when they finally do fall apart at 6+ decades of operation, it will all be because nuclear is inherently dangerous, and not at all because we stopped its development and improvement for 40 years and decided to go with a wind power pipe dream that saw the reactors pushed way beyond what they were ever designed for.

      If it was down to me we would be building ESBWR or CANDU reactors for the short to medium term, with an aim of Lead or Molten Salt cooled breeders in the long term, but there's far too many people here who honestly think we will replace Petrol and Nuclear with Wind farms and Solar Photovoltaics. Yes, Solar, in Sweden ... It isn't even economical in California, but somehow we expect to do better because we're not Americans.

      • by BeanThere (28381)

        Is it just me or are the European Solar lobbies crazy powerful. Look at what's happening Germany now as an extreme case - they're talking about shutting down all nuclear entirely. And ah, there's always the good ol' reliable taxpayer to foot the massive bills coming their way. I'm sorry but there is no way this is happening spontaneously without some sort of manipulation from solar lobbies.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yes it is economical, both in California and Sweden. In fact, Google is currently investing 168M into a solar plant in California. The US deploys enough solar panels every 18 months to replace the output of an entire nuclear reactor.

        Germany has made it their goal to reach 35% of electricity generation by 2020 and they aren't a sunny climate (solar panels produce even when it's cloudy). They've already achieved nearly 20% of their entire electricity production from renewables. Ignoring capacity factor, G

      • by TopSpin (753)

        somehow we expect to do better because we're not Americans

        That's basically it. You must feel a degree of isolation thinking as you do.

        have cranked up the power on the old ones and extended their operation permits

        The US is doing the same. We 'uprate' about half a dozen reactors a year. All the reactors get rubber-stamped life extensions as well.

        One day some uprated, life extended zombie reactor is going to burst a main steam line and blow down into containment. Maybe the 50 year old LPCI kicks in as designed and protects the fuel. Maybe not. Either way that reactor will never restart.

        Then, as you say, the media will foist one anti-

      • This misconception has been going around quite a bit, so let me correct again.

        Reactors were not designed to only last 40 years. 40 years is just the number the license period the original Atomic Energy Commission decided on based on the reactors being designed to last [i]at least[/i] 40 years, and to be re-evaluated periodically thereafter. This was because there was no prior knowledge or experience in this type of engineering. 40 and 60 year old reactors are not clunkers waiting to fall apart, they are jus

        • Re:reactor lifetimes (Score:5, Informative)

          by fnj (64210) on Monday April 18, 2011 @05:46PM (#35861546)

          So you don't think the metal pressure vessels, piping and fittings corrode and degrade under conditions of very high temperature, pressure, and nuclear radiation? They will never be as safe as the day they were built because it's not practical to inspect constantly and thoroughly enough to catch every single flaw before it becomes the least bit dangerous. The difference is if a coal, oil, or gas plant blows a pipe, a bunch of non-radioactive steam escapes, maybe kills some personnel on site, and maybe causes some fairly expensive damage. In a nuclear plant, there is always that possibility that a failure may progress to the catastrophic complete devastation of the entire site and some of the surrounding area.

        • Re:reactor lifetimes (Score:4, Interesting)

          by rubycodez (864176) on Monday April 18, 2011 @06:55PM (#35862152)
          as former construction scheduler at nuke plant, I disagree. We have containment buildings with "bandages" in them, where the concrete was cut to allow steam generator to be removed and replaced. Reactor heads have been found with enough nozzle penetration wear and leaking they will soon need replaced (at something like $150M a pop). Primary coolant pumps are being replaced as end of life. In other words, somewhat over 40 years is about what you get without major rebuilding being needed, they are indeed clunkers needing major expensive maintenance.
      • Re:Best laid plans (Score:5, Insightful)

        by lennier (44736) on Monday April 18, 2011 @06:00PM (#35861680) Homepage

        rather than building newer and safer design

        There's a big unstated "if" in that phrase, and that's that newer reactor designs are in fact safer.

        I mean, technically, on paper, sure, these third and fourth generation designs em>sound safer. Passive cooling, foolproof, failsafe, etc, etc. It's all very nice and clean and clinical. On paper.

        But weren't last few generations of reactors also supposed to be literally failsafe? Never in a thousand years would we see the types of accidents we've had five or so of in the last forty years? We were assured that by people who literally swore on their childrens' lives that it would be perfectly safe.

        And of course, the only way we can tell for sure if these new designs - which of course are going to be "lighter" and "cheaper" because they'll have smaller containments - is to build them and run them. And then there'll be pressure to rapidly deploy them. Oh, what does that remind me of? a little thing called the "boiling water reactor" which was a second generation model improved from the old clunky pressurised water systems and didn't need the big heavy containment, because it had this neat "torus" to suppress leakage?

        But these new reactors are different you say? Of course they are. They're built by the same companies who made the old, inferior, should never have been deployed ones? Gee, now that's an odd coincidence. I'm sure there's nothing to it. I'm sure we can trust this new generation of nuclear advocates [eurosafe-forum.org] in exactly the way we couldn't trust their fathers.

        Lie to me once, shame on me. Lie to me twice... don't let the spent fuel pool blow up and contaminate your farmland on the way out.

    • by vlm (69642)

      I wonder WTF their contingency plan is if a big tsunami hits now ...

      4th biggest earthquakes in recorded history don't happen often. However, our regular scheduled hurricane season is rapidly approaching. Now that light at the end of the tunnel is not really avoidable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Solandri (704621)
      Generally I'm agreed. However, safety measures need to be scaled to the actual level of risk involved. Due to the high-publicity nature of nuclear accidents, the nuclear industry already faces much stricter safety standards than any other energy technology. The radiation alarms at nuclear plants will trigger if you bring in certain substances anyone can buy at the corner drugstore. Per TWh of electricity generated, wind and solar have killed more people than nuclear. Coal kills hundreds of times more p
      • by Kjella (173770)

        They do try to have backups of the backups of the backups. But this isn't a data center that can fail-over to one thousands of miles away, ultimately all the cooling solutions have to end up at the same reactor at the same plant which is your "single point of failure" you wouldn't allow in a critical IT solution. That really limits the practical level of redundancy you can have, adding more backup systems doesn't help unless they'll function in a scenario where all the other fail. With 9+ magnitude earthqua

    • by BeanThere (28381)

      I strongly believe we know how to set up technical systems for safe nuclear power. However I'm extremely sceptical of the idea that we know how to set up social / administrative systems for safe nuclear power.

      I agree. The tech behind nuclear power is potentially very safe. Humans, on the other hand, remain the weakest link. We're just not evolved enough for this.

      • by lennier (44736)

        The tech behind nuclear power is potentially very safe.

        "Potential safety" sounds a bit like "possible correctness". That doesn't get you very far in math. Why should it be a free pass in engineering?

        A thing is either safe, or it's dangerous. If in itself it's dangerous, but can be sorta-kinda "made" safe, within limits, by constantly pushing a massive amount of active resources at it... and if those resources go away, the process runs away on you and does something very toxic and very irreversible... in most people's books, that's actually the opposite of "saf

  • Is it just me, or does that summary make absolutely no sense whatsoever? Almost everything about it sounds just plain idiotic. I can't tell if it was dumbed down for the press, or if the Slashdot submitter/editor (sic), just got everything wrong.

  • Is there a technical reason they cant just pump in liquid nitrogen?
    • Re:Liquid N2? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Solandri (704621) on Monday April 18, 2011 @02:53PM (#35859518)
      Liquid nitrogen is less effective than water at extracting heat. I ran through the calcs a few weeks ago:
      http://news.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2039038&cid=35501128 [slashdot.org]
      • by DRJlaw (946416)

        Liquid nitrogen is less effective than water at extracting heat. I ran through the calcs a few weeks ago...

        TEPCO will not use liquid nitrogen to cool the reactor (other than incidentally). TEPCO will use liquid nitrogen because that is the form in which one manufactures and ships large quantities of nitrogen gas. They will still use water for primary cooling, and use nitrogen to dilute any hydrogen that is accumulating inside the containment.

        Hydrogen has a wide explosive range of 4%-75% at STP in an other

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday April 18, 2011 @02:39PM (#35859314) Homepage

    Normally, cold shutdown takes a few days. At Three Mile Island, it took two weeks. Six months is worrisome. Too many more things can go wrong during that period.

    They still have so little information about what's going on inside the reactors. Check the latest JAIF status report. [jaif.or.jp] Pressure is unknown. Temperature is unknown. Water level is unknown. "Fuel rods exposed partially or fully". Reactors 1 and 3 are buried under piles of rubble. And they have to fix the plumbing under that debris.

    • by sl3xd (111641)

      The IAEA maintains an excellent log of the status of the reactors, spent fuel pools, isotope monitoring, and radiation levels.

      http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html [iaea.org]

      In Unit 1, fresh water is being continuously injected into the RPV through the feed-water line at an indicated flow rate of 6 m3/h using a temporary electric pump with off-site power. In Units 2 and 3, fresh water is being continuously injected through the fire extinguisher lines at an indicated rate of 7 m3/h using temporary e

      • I check the IAEA site fairly often. Temps are down a little. But, it is pretty amazing that a reactor that is "off" is still generating close to 2000 gallons of ? degree C temp rise per hour (Reactor 1). Not sure what the temp of the water they are injecting is, but I am guessing around 40 degree C giving 150 degree rise from 40C. That is alot of hot water. The temp is not quite as high as it was a few weeks ago, used to be over 200C in reactor 1, so slow progress.

  • I'll say it... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mr.Fork (633378) <edward.j.reddy@ g m a i l . c om> on Monday April 18, 2011 @02:49PM (#35859456) Journal
    ...the problem with this entire situation is that Japan let commercial companies run their entire nuclear infrastructure. I'm not sure about you folks, but all commercial companies do exactly what is required within the letter of the law, but not an ounce more if it would cost more money. Sure, it's a 40 year old facility, sure it was built within the specs for the time. But it was still operational in 2011.

    Question is, would a public-run utility design and build nuclear infrastructure to within the letter of the law or would they 'overbuild' for safety? Is this entire situation the cause of capitalism running into its core fault - its lack of concern for the expensive 'doing the right thing' vs the cheaper 'doing things right.'? I don't really know, but it smacks of the reality of letting a company totally focused on making and saving money vs making decisions to protect the people of Japan.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As someone who works in Government, I have to say that you're wrong. State run endeavors also do exactly what is required within the letter of the law but not an ounce more. They just take three times longer to do it and at ten times the cost. Even then, it would be of inferior quality.

      • by BeanThere (28381)

        Mr. Fork also seems to imply that private companies do not have an incentive to engineer for safety. As if it is somehow more profitable for a private company if their nuclear reactors explode!??!? On the contrary, they have a very strong financial incentive to engineer for safety. Governments, on the other hand, don't actually have to worry about share prices and profits dropping if a publicly run reactor explodes, it doesn't impact their 'bottom line' at all, they just keep going and hand the bill to the

    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      Every safety feature costs money. The question always is "how much does it cost?" That doesn't change when moving to the public sector. There is still a finite amount of money.

      Would it be economically viable to overbuild it? Would the taxpayers be willing to pay for it? Would that necessarily even solve the problems? I wonder if it would even have been physically possible to overbuild Fukushima to withstand this assault.

      • I wonder if it would even have been physically possible to overbuild Fukushima to withstand this assault.

        Of course it would have - they could have built a 45-foot tall seawall. Then when a 60-foot tsunami hit, we could all be having the same conversation.

        This is known as the Godzilla argument. It eventually comes down to, "why didn't you build to withstand a Godzilla attack?". That this is a Japanese problem is merely coincidental (or unfortunate) to the argument.

    • Re:I'll say it... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770) on Monday April 18, 2011 @03:22PM (#35859854) Homepage

      Question is, would a public-run utility design and build nuclear infrastructure to within the letter of the law or would they 'overbuild' for safety?

      If safety margins are needed the safety margins should be in the law, not expecting everyone to overbuild. Just like building codes design for worst possible load and then some - basically you can have the whole place stacked with people doing line dancing and the floor still won't collapse by 100 people jumping simultaneously.

    • by BeanThere (28381)

      Way to interject your agenda here, thanks, but no, this has nothing to do with it. And here's a question for you comrade, about this so-called evil "capitalism" with its so-called "core fault" - would it not be the case that corporations would be under less pressure to 'cut costs' if they weren't under such incredibly heavy pressure from 'big government taxation'? Let corporations keep a bit more of their money and they will have more money to spend engineering for safety, that is simple logic.

      • by fnj (64210)

        Oh for gosh sake. That's NOT "simple logic." It's bogus logic which fails to recognize the purpose of a corporation and the fiduciary responsibility of its management. A corporation will perform the minimum engineering required to meet specs. PERIOD. That's not a function of their evilness, it's a function of their PURPOSE. If you tax them less, it just means more will be left over for profit, or they will be able to cut the cost of their product. It certainly doesn't mean they will say, "Oh gee, the

    • by steelfood (895457)

      Humans are humans. I don't think it matters whether the human is paid by a government or by a faceless CEO in a company.

      Yeah, DoD, with their unlimited funding, might be able to build decent nuclear reactors. But that's only because of their unlimited funding. Even NASA cut corners when they built the space shuttle by using solid fuel instead of liquid, resulting in the Challenger disaster.

    • Question is, would a public-run utility design and build nuclear infrastructure to within the letter of the law or would they 'overbuild' for safety?

      There's a town near here where there's a road built next to a brook that stretches nearly the length of that town. That brook, during rainy periods, gets under the road (indirectly, through saturated soils) and wrecks the pavement with the freeze/thaw cycle.

      So, every 10 years, for the past 60 years, the town embarks on a 4-year repaving project, where they rip

    • by wrook (134116)

      In some place other than Japan, what you are saying is feasible. But in Japan I really, really doubt that private/public makes any difference what-so-ever in how things are run. It's not like they are cutting costs in order to deal with a hostile market. I'm paying something like 30 cents a KWH for electricity. That will definitely be going up I guess (which is a good thing in my books). Pretty much every big organisation in Japan runs the same way as far as I can tell. On the one hand, they aren't go

  • As a chemist, may i remind /.ers that "inert" is a relative term.
    You can certainly get nitrogen gas to react; I think that is what causes serious pollutants like nitrogen oxides.
    of course, really inert gas - "noble" gases like Helium, Argon, Neon, Xenon, Krypton - are $$ and probably not available in sufficient quanty; in the old days, you would make nitrogen by simply chilling air; a nitrogen generator is a big honkin' machine iwth a little spout; you turn it on and liquid N2 starts pouring out the spout
  • Why not run nuclear reactors in a nitrogen heavy/oxygen-light atmosphere all the time?

    Explosions + nuclear cores do not mix well. Surely some genius might have recognized this.

    • by vlm (69642)

      Why not run nuclear reactors in a nitrogen heavy/oxygen-light atmosphere all the time?

      Explosions + nuclear cores do not mix well. Surely some genius might have recognized this.

      Nitrogen atmosphere kills too many people; even highly trained and prepared individuals under normal conditions. NASA ground crew, etc.

      Crazy as it might sound, even this late in the game, running in a pure N2 atmosphere for 40 years would have killed way more people than are gonna die from this event.

      • by lennier (44736)

        way more people than are gonna die from this event.

        Yep. The hideously deformed babies born from pregnancies affected by radioisotopes, the ocean fish stock die-offs, and the early cancers hidden in the statistical noise, don't count as actual "deaths", so it's all good.

    • by DrJimbo (594231)

      Why not run nuclear reactors in a nitrogen heavy/oxygen-light atmosphere all the time?

      The hydrogen in the water is required. It acts as a moderator [wikipedia.org], to slow neutrons down to raise the cross section of interacting with another uranium (or plutonium) nucleus. Hydrogen is a very good moderator for slowing neutrons because the mass of a hydrogen nucleus is roughly the same as the mass of an neutron.

      This was supposed to be a safety feature, and in many ways it ways. The idea is that if there is no water then the chain-reaction stops. AFAWK, the chain reaction has stopped in all the damage

  • My first thought was wondering how much of a cloud of this would be wandering around.. I know wind and dissipation and such.. but working in the A/C industry for a while taught me to be very cautious of flooding places with gasses.. that whole asphyxiation thing kinda ruin your day.

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