Fukushimas Around Us? Nuclear Reactor Vulnerabilities

Could the Fukushima disaster happen to our nearest nuclear reactor?

Daily updates on the worsening situation are here: ENE News www.enenews.com

It doesn’t take an earthquake or tsunami to start a chain reaction of events. All it takes is a electrical grid failure. That’s how vulnerable all nuclear reactors are.

Main points:

  • Nuclear reactors depend on off-site grid power.
  • If the power grid is shut down for any reason, including due to hacking or an electromagnetic pulse or solar storm, back-up generators must instantly come on at full power to insure continuous cooling of fuel rods and reactor cores. Those generators must continue to operate at full power until grid power is restored.
  • The diesel generator backup system currently in place will probably fail in the event of an emergency. These generators often aren’t adequately maintained. Generators must be warmed up and run at low speed for a period of time before going to full speed. And they are only built to be run for a limited period of time at full speed.
  • At least two of the Fukushima generators failed before the tsunami hit. When the generators were turned on, they broke.
  • Utility company wireless Smart Meters are vulnerable to hacking and provide vectors to the grid. Smart Meter and Smart Grid components make the electrical grid much more susceptible to cyber-attacks. Those attacks could shut down a neighborhood, a city, the entire grid, or simply target critical facilities.
  • Electromagnetic pulse weapons and electromagnetic pulses from the sun can also impact the grid.

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“Nuclear reactors depend on external electrical power for their energy requirements.

Arne Gundersen:

…the most likely type of a nuclear accident is caused by a loss of offsite power.  That is what happened at Fukushima:  the power system AROUND the plant broke down.  If that happens, not only will the plant not have power, but the street lights won’t work.  According to the NRC, the street lights DO work.  Not only that, but your home lighting won’t work and your radio and TV won’t work.  But according to the NRC, you will be able to contact the outside world by phones or by radio or by television.

But remember the most likely cause of a nuclear accident is loss of offsite power and that has NEVER been part of an emergency plan, assuming that all of that does not work.

http://fairewinds.com/content/white-house-nrc-recommend-50-mile-fukushima-evacuation-yet-insist-us-safe-only-10

If power is disconnected to these facilities, from whatever cause, generators must be relied on instantly to function. Energy must be available constantly to keep fuel rods and reactor cores cool.

A failure In this system, a failure in being able to shut down a reactor safely, could result in a nuclear disaster at each and every nuclear reactor, not just in California, but across the United States, affecting all of us.

That would create Fukushimas many times over.

Greg Palast in Vulture’s Picnic:

A page from the notebook of an Emergency Diesel Generator expert, R.D. Jacobs, hired to monitor a test for a nuclear reactor’s back-up cooling system.

This is to record that on my last visit,….I pressed [a company executive] saying that we just did not know what the axial vibration of the crankshaft was doing to the [diesel] units. I was unable to impress him sufficiently.

The diesels were “tested” by turning them on for a few minutes at low power. They worked find. But R.D., a straight shooter, suspected problems. He wanted the motors opened and inspected. He was told by power company management to go to hell.

When we forced the plant builder [in Suffolk County, New York] to test the three Emergency Diesel Generators in emergency conditions, one failed almost immediately (the crankshaft snapped, as R.D.[Jacobs} predicted), then the second, then the third. We named the three diesels “Snap, Crackle, and Pop.”

…I knew that all these diesels were basically designed, or even taken from, cruise ship engine rooms or old locomotives. . I’m not an engineer, but I suspect a motor designed for a leisurely float n Bermuda is not fit for a life-and-death scramble. So, I asked [an industry insider], “They really can’t work at all, the diesels, can they?”

That’s when he introduced me to the phrase “crash start.”

On a ship, he explained, you would take half an hour to warm up the bearings, and then slowly build up to “critical” crankshaft speed, and only then add the “load.” the propeller…

That’s for sailing. But in a nuclear emergency, “the diesels have to go from stationary to taking a full load in less than ten seconds.”

Worse, to avoid having to buy additional diesels, the nuclear operators turbo-charge them, revving them to 4,000 horsepower in ten seconds when they are designed for half that output.

The result: snap, crackle, pop.

I learned that, at Fukushima, at least two of the diesels failed before the tsunami hit. What destroyed those diesels was turning them on. In other words, the diesels are junk, are crap, are not capable of getting up to full power in seconds, then run continuously for days….

”So, you saying emergency diesels can’t work in an emergency?”

“Actually, they’re just not designed for it.”

p. 294-297

This is the present system in place to protect all of us in case of a power outage to nuclear reactors.”

From  “Analysis: Smart Meter and Smart Grid Problems–Legislative Proposal, December 2012”

p. 74-76  www.smartmeterharm.org

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