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Saturday, 12 March 2011

Nuclear Safety

I suppose it was to be expected that the Greens and Greenpeace would immediately start screaming about a "nuclear blast" and "nuclear catastrophy" on the same scale as Chernobyl at the Japanese Nuclear Plant. What a pity they believe their own mythology, which has more to do with fiction such as the Forsyth novel "China Syndrome" than reality. The safety systems at the Japanese plant operated, shutting down the reactors immediately the quake began. With this design the fuel rods are ejected into metal canisters which isolates them and stops the reaction. Several news channels have carried this together with expert assessments, yet the anti-nuclear lobby continue to rant about "meltdown" and "nuclear blasts."

The problem in Japan at present seems to be to identify the cause of the explosion, which several news reports say is not in the Reactor House, and I have to say that the video footage I have seen suggests the failure of a pressurised system, possibly a high pressure hydraulic system. The second problem appears to be that some of the containment cells for the fuel rods have been damaged, allowing radiation to leak. One report suggests that the Japanese are preparing to simply flood the affected reactor chamber with sea water and boric acid. The acid absorbs the radiation and reacts with the radioactive isotopes, reducing the threat they pose. This does mean that the reactor will then have to be abandoned as the acid and the sea water will place it beyond repair.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that the ignoramuses of the anti-nuclear lobby are already screaming for the immediate closure of all nuclear powerplants on the grounds that "it could happen here!" That is extremely unlikely. We are not located on a major fault, none of the power plants they want banned, closed and replaced with useless windmills are anywhere near such a fault and even if the core does 'melt down' - very unlikely in a PWR or AGR system - you don't get a "runaway chain reaction" such as that postulated in Forsyth's book.

At this point a little less hype and a lot more common sense and truth would be far more sensible than the Greenpeace anti-nuclear garbage being spouted to whip up fear.

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