The Next Deepwater Horizon

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Remember all those safe, clean, cheap nuclear energy ads from the 50s, 60s and 70s?

Here’s one from Westinghouse circa 2007 ——>

Connecticut has 2 active units, Millstone 3 happens to be a Westinghouse reactor.  It’s licensed to operate until 2045.

Makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over.

Partial Meltdowns Presumed at Crippled Reactors


Published: March 13, 2011

TOKYO – Japanese officials struggled on Sunday to contain a widening nuclear crisis in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami, saying they presumed that partial meltdowns had occurred at two crippled reactors and that they were bracing for a second explosion, even as they faced serious cooling problems at four more reactors.

On Saturday, Japanese officials took the extraordinary step of flooding the crippled No. 1 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, 170 miles north of Tokyo, with seawater in a last-ditch effort to avoid a nuclear meltdown. That came after an explosion caused by hydrogen that tore the outer wall and roof off the building housing the reactor, although the steel containment of the reactor remained in place.

Then on Sunday, cooling failed at a second reactor – No. 3 – and core melting was presumed at both, said the top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano. An explosion could also rock the No. 3 reactor, Mr. Edano warned, because of a buildup of hydrogen within the reactor.

Officials also said they would release steam and inject water into a third reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after temperatures rose and water levels fell around the fuel rods.

Cooling had failed at three reactors at a nuclear complex nearby, Fukushima Daini, although he said conditions there were considered less dire for now.

Crisis Underscores Fears About Safety of Nuclear Energy


Published: March 12, 2011

Critics of nuclear energy have long questioned the viability of nuclear power in earthquake-prone regions like Japan. Reactors have been designed with such concerns in mind, but preliminary assessments of the Fukushima Daiichi accidents suggested that too little attention was paid to the threat of tsunami. It appeared that the reactors withstood the powerful earthquake, but the ocean waves damaged generators and backup systems, harming the ability to cool the reactors.

It was not until Sunday that the increasingly dangerous nature of the problems at Daiichi became clear. But even on Saturday, with Reactor No. 1 there having suffered a radiation leak and an explosion, James M. Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said the nuclear industry would be shaken. While Japan may try to point to the safety of its newer facilities, concerns may run too deep, he said. Decades ago, after the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island accidents, Mr. Acton said, the nuclear industry tried to argue that newer reactors incorporated much better safety features. “That made very little difference to the public,” he said.

Over the years, Japanese plant operators, along with friendly government officials, have sometimes hidden episodes at plants from a public increasingly uneasy with nuclear power.

In 2007, an earthquake in northwestern Japan caused a fire and minor radiation leaks at the world’s largest nuclear plant, in Kashiwazaki City. An ensuing investigation found that the operator – Tokyo Electric – had unknowingly built the facility directly on top of an active seismic fault. A series of fires inside the plant after the earthquake deepened the public’s fear. But Tokyo Electric said it upgraded the facility to withstand stronger tremors and reopened in 2009.

Last year, another reactor with a troubled history was allowed to reopen, 14 years after a fire shut it down. The operator of that plant, the Monju Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor, located along the coast about 220 miles west of Tokyo, tried to cover up the extent of the fire by releasing altered video after the accident in 1995.

1 comment

Comments have been disabled.