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US Nuclear Industry Plans "Rescue Wagon" To Avert Meltdowns 184

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-on-the-wagon dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "AP reports that if disaster strikes a US nuclear power plant, the utility industry wants the ability to fly in heavy-duty equipment from regional hubs to stricken reactors to avert a meltdown providing another layer of defense in case a Fukushima-style disaster destroys a nuclear plant's multiple backup systems. 'It became very clear in Japan that utilities became quickly overwhelmed,' says Joe Pollock, vice president for nuclear operations at the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry lobbying group that is spearheading the effort. US nuclear plants already have backup safety systems and are supposed to withstand the worst possible disasters in their regions, including hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes. But planners can be wrong. The industry plan, called FLEX, is the nuclear industry's method for meeting new US Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules that will force 65 plants in the US to get extra emergency equipment on site and store it protectively. The FLEX program is supposed to help nuclear plants handle the biggest disasters. Under the plan, plant operators can summon help from the regional centers in Memphis and Phoenix. In addition to having several duplicate sets of plant emergency gear, industry officials say the centers will likely have heavier equipment that could include an emergency generator large enough to power a plant's emergency cooling systems, equipment to treat cooling water and extra radiation protection gear for workers. Federal regulators must still decide whether to approve the plans submitted by individual plants. 'They need to show us not just that they have the pump, but that they've done all the appropriate designing and engineering so that they have a hookup for that pump,' says NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said. 'They're not going to be trying to figure out, "Where are we going to plug this thing in?"'"
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US Nuclear Industry Plans "Rescue Wagon" To Avert Meltdowns

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  • by BenSchuarmer (922752) on Monday December 10, 2012 @02:26PM (#42244249)
    does such a place exist?
  • by captaindomon (870655) on Monday December 10, 2012 @02:28PM (#42244277)
    And where would you consider to be a "safe" area in the US that has no storms, no earthquakes, etc? And is also somewhat accessible and relatively close to a large population center?
  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Monday December 10, 2012 @02:51PM (#42244483)

    ...to run all this wonderful equipment. You can stabilize fuel, of course, but not forever. Eventually, you'll have to change it out, and dispose of the old stuff.

    Quite frankly, old nuclear power plants that don't use passive safety systems and depend on grid electricity are an accident waiting to happen. A far better idea would be to design and build new plants

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 10, 2012 @02:54PM (#42244517)

    That sounds great if you don't pay attention to anything regarding nuclear power construction.

    At least in Western models (I don't know much about Soviet designs), very rarely are corners cut. All fo the reactors that have had problems were Generation 1, even Fukushima. We are currently building Generation III+ designs and working on Gen 4 designs, which all have significantly enhanced safety features. What they should be doing is retiring the Gen I reactors and replacing them with modern designs; a Westinghouse AP1000, of which 4 are being built in China so it is in a production ready state, would have withstood the tsunami that wiped out Fukushima.

    There is no place on earth not subject to adverse natural conditions, not to mention that . The best you can do is play the odds and build them so they get damaged only in a highly unlikley event. To support Fukushima (after bashing it), they suffered a greater than 9.0 earthquake and then a massive tsunami; there are few facilities in the world that can do that.

    Also, unfortunately you can't just plop down a nuclear reactor anywhere. They have to be placed in areas that are near large bodies of water to assist with cooling; said bodies of water are often near fault lines or coastlines which are always subject to storms, earthquakes, etc.

    Also, what do you do in a country like Japan? Japan has no natural resources; they import all of their energy. They are shifting away from nuclear now thanks to Fukishima, but now instead they are reliant upon oil and natural gas from the Middle East and coal from the US and China. Prior to Fukushima they were actually moving towards MORE nuclear energy, because their power needs are high and growing and they imported thier uranium from Australia, a much easier to deal with trading partner. I suspect that they will go back to nuclear once they see what a disaster economically and environmentally using coal and oil is going to be. However, Japan is subject to constant and numerous earthquakes and tsunamis. So what do they do? What options do they have?

    Seriously, do some research before even forming an opinion. One would think the Slashdot crowd would be better than that.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday December 10, 2012 @03:22PM (#42244771)

    How about not fill the air with pollution?

    Coal needs to go away. Burn natural gas all you like, but coal should not be allowed to dump garbage into the air or store it in ponds that break and ruin peoples lives.

  • by PNutts (199112) on Monday December 10, 2012 @04:38PM (#42245601)

    Given the consequences of an accident, the safety record of nuclear power is appalling.

    What does the safety record (which is still 0 fatalities, 0 health side effects, 0 long term ecological disruptions) have to do with the potential outcome of an accident? /p>

    Really? You must live in Washington or Colorado because you're definitely smoking something.

  • by Uberbah (647458) on Monday December 10, 2012 @04:41PM (#42245635)

    That sounds great if you don't pay attention to anything regarding nuclear power construction.

    You're not paying attention if you think the criticism of nuclear power is based on plant construction, fanboi.

    At least in Western models (I don't know much about Soviet designs), very rarely are corners cut.

    You mean like turning off earthquake sensors [crooksandliars.com] or cutting back on emergency and evacuation drills? [commondreams.org]

    We are currently building Generation III+ designs and working on Gen 4 designs, which all have significantly enhanced safety features.

    And the new roof you put on your house will use greatly improved construction methods and materials compared to a roof put up in the 70's. Doesn't mean your new roof doesn't share the same basic hazards as the old one: heat, cold, and precipitation.

    Your new nuclear plants can be stuffed with fanboi pedantry to the rafters, but they will still face the same problems as reactors built in the 70's: meltdown, dealing with disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes, and the greatest flaw of all, the profit motive. 40 years from now, future greedy corporations will be demanding that they be allowed to run the "new, safe" designs of 2012 for another twenty years past their lifespan. They will still be cutting costs on "unnecessary" measures like earthquake monitors, backup power supplies, and preparing for disasters.

    Also, what do you do in a country like Japan? Japan has no natural resources; they import all of their energy.

    You mean what country can afford nuclear power, the most expensive energy source ever invented by humans?

    You have billions in construction and refining costs. Billions in operation costs. Hundreds of billions in long term storage costs of nuclear waste - which will be with us for hundreds of years. Billions in insurance costs, most of which are born by the taxpayer as opposed to the for-profit corporation running the reactor. For a fraction of that cost you can put up solar panels on every public building in the country. Germany gets the same amount of solar energy as Alaska, but that hasn't stopped them from investing in solar power.

    Seriously, do some research before even forming an opinion.

    Seriously, get over yourself and your pedantry, fanboi. You can talk about the safety of nuclear power when every plant is run by the U.S. Navy, all profit is taken out of the equation, and plant managers and regulators are forced to live on plant grounds.

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