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Russia Set To Extend Life of Nuclear Reactors Past Engineered Life Span

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the tempting-fate dept.

Power 215

Harperdog writes "Yikes! Russia is extending the lifetime of nuclear power reactors beyond their engineered life span of 30 years, including the nation's oldest reactors: first-generation VVERs and RBMKs, the Chernobyl-type reactors. This goes against existing Russian law, because the projects have not undergone environmental assessments. 'Many of the country's experts and non-governmental organizations maintain that this decision is economically unjustifiable and environmentally dangerous — to say nothing of illegal. The Russian nuclear industry, however, argues that lifetime extensions are justified because the original estimate of a 30-year life span was conservative; the plants have been significantly upgraded; and extensions cost significantly less than constructing new reactors.'"

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Wilkommen! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38359986)

Das Ich bin haben.

Re:Wilkommen! (1)

Mojo66 (1131579) | more than 2 years ago | (#38361846)

Deutsche Sprache schwere Sprache!

Re:Wilkommen! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38362608)

duolingo.com welcomes you in Russia

Laws... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38359992)

Laws are for people to follow, not corporations or government organizations.

Re:Laws... (2)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360472)

There are two types of laws that engineers have to consider, and I'm pretty sure that corporations and governments cannot violate the laws of physics.

Re:Laws... (4, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360958)

I'm pretty sure that corporations and governments cannot violate the laws of physics.

You fool!

Black Mesa, Aperture Science, and UAC mean nothing to you?

Re:Laws... (2)

eliphalet (1222732) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360886)

But corporations are people too!

So does Canada. (4, Informative)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360004)

The Chalk river reactor.

Re:So does Canada. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38360340)

As does the US, which has re-certified multiple reactors, including both at Nine Mile Point, which were re-certified for an additional 20 years after their initial lifespan.

Re:So does Canada. (5, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360802)

Design life span is a best guess.

Actual use reveals the true life span. Aggressive maintenance can stretch life span even further.

The same is true of small to medium sized hydro dams. They were so over-built that many of them have exceeded their design life. Some have doubled their design life without showing significant degradation, especially with new resurfacing technologies.

It is said that "Engineering is the art of finding the least safe design".
By which it is meant that engineers design to use the least materials, cost, labor, and still achieve a safe result.

When actual measurements and data are poor, or not available, engineers (the good ones) over build.
They design in extra safety factors, excessive strength. The result is you have Brooklyn Bridges, (a whipersnapper compared to the Ponte Fabrico [wikipedia.org] B52s, the aqueducts (some still in use) and similar very over-engineered projects.

That some reactors that were designed when the industry was in its infancy are still safe and suitable today is not all that surprising. People didn't push the envelope as often then.

But it remains to be seen expect that of future designs.

Re:So does Canada. (3, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38361750)

Ponte Fabrico [wikipedia.org]

Shit, I remember reading about that in school. Latin class, to be specific - translating a section of Cassius Dio's Historia Romana about its construction. That alone tells you how incredibly old and overdesigned that thing is.

Re:So does Canada. (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360614)

I think they keep that mess limping along because it's one of the few plants still capable of producing isotopes for medical purposes?

I could be wrong, but still pretty scary.

Re:So does Canada. (1)

Cochonou (576531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360734)

And so does France, with the Fessenheim reactor, which is also 30 years old.

Re:So does Canada. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38361532)

At least PIckering also. Probably Darlington.

Re:So does Canada. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38362180)

But was that done illegally with no environmental assessment? I'm all for nuclear power, but with rigorous oversight.

Rigorous (1, Insightful)

stooo (2202012) | more than 2 years ago | (#38362622)

There is no such thing as "rigorous oversight" in the nuke industry.

Well, (5, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360020)

What could possibly go boom?

Re:Well, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38360222)

As long as it costs less...

Re:Well, (2)

wanzeo (1800058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360324)

Good question. The article says nothing about what makes a reactor have a "lifetime". What keeps them from running them for hundreds of years?

Re:Well, (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360428)

Most metals become brittle when irradiated.

Someone will be along with more details then I can recall offhand.

I would just design the plant to run with brittle metals from day one. Nothing that can't be solved with thicker walls (in many cases anyhow).

Steel also becomes brittle through work hardening. Which is often overbuilt to accommodate the loss of toughness. Nothing lasts forever.

Re:Well, (3, Informative)

y86 (111726) | more than 2 years ago | (#38361400)

Most metals become brittle when irradiated.

Someone will be along with more details then I can recall offhand.

I would just design the plant to run with brittle metals from day one. Nothing that can't be solved with thicker walls (in many cases anyhow).

Modern reactors use a neutron shield that goes with the fuel basket. It can be replaced and greatly decreases vessel embrittlement by becoming the sacrificial element to first absorb/slow the errant neutrons.

The problem is with shutdown and startup. This needs to be done with control as things become harder and have less flex.

Re:Well, (5, Informative)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360440)

Except it does:

During life-extension projects, engineers determine which components are in need of replacement, and which can remain in service if maintained regularly. Some parts of a reactor, however, cannot be replaced -- including the reactor casing and its internal elements, the graphite stack (found in RBMK reactors), primary coolant circuits, primary coolant pumps, and biological shield systems. These parts are crucial for the safe operation of a reactor, particularly a first-generation reactor.

In the case of the Kola nuclear power plant in northern Russia, for example, the reactor casing should be replaced in order to ensure safer operation, but that cannot be done without building a new reactor. In addition, the proximity of the fuel assemblies to the steel walls in the VVER-440 reactor tank -- such as those used in two of Kola's reactor units -- results in higher neutron irradiation than in other types of reactors, so the walls of the VVER-440 become brittle more rapidly.

Re:Well, (4, Informative)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360538)

Material decay under long-term exposure to radiation, most likely. Also, as new technology becomes available, they may expect the plant to be out-dated and no longer worth the necessary modifications to match newer standards after thirty years.

Re:Well, (3, Informative)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38361554)

As I understand it, the RBMK reactors are already a long way from meeting modern safety standards. They have no containment building, they still have a positive void coefficient, the monitoring and control systems are quite limited despite being upgraded and this can't really be fixed, there appear to be a bunch of single points of failure that can't be fixed either, and so on.

Re:Well, (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360674)

No technical limit. Eventually you get to replace the reactor vessel, which for all practical purposes involves disassembling nearly the entire plant, and reassembling it, so you may as well be honest with yourself and call it a brand new plant on the same site. Kind of like the old joke, which is true in my case, that I own my great grandfather-in-laws wood cutting axe, of course its had like 4 new handles and two new heads so there's not much of it older than 50 years or so...

Standard /. car analogy is that eventually a $5 bearing goes out deep in the car innards, and the labor costs to get in there, replace it, and get out, exceed the costs of a new car, or at least exceed the cost of an unbroken car of similar age and quality car.

Much like "reusable" spacecraft have kind of fizzled out because it turns out the recertification process is more expensive than making a new one.

Much like people can spend $75K on a model T restoration, where most people would just buy a much better kia, you could spend the cost of three new nukes trying to rebuild one old nuke, if you really want.

Re:Well, (1)

leucadiadude (68989) | more than 2 years ago | (#38362688)

"Eventually you get to replace the reactor vessel, which for all practical purposes involves disassembling nearly the entire plant, and reassembling it, "

Or you can just anneal it in place to remove much of the neutron damage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annealing_(metallurgy) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Well, (2)

sidnelson13 (1309391) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360514)

Russians reactors: 140% lifespan!

Re:Well, (2)

NonUniqueNickname (1459477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360516)

The lifetime of Russian nuclear power reactors, by design, goes up to 140%.

Re:Well, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38361216)

Anything that has to do with the high pressure steam (turbines, pipes etc). Which is what blew back in '86.
What worries me is that the old RBMK reactors have no containment bar a thin walled building. They were built mostly upwards rather than outwards making them too costly to encase and contain like we do in the west. In other words if something were to happen with those the WORST happens.

But other than the steam parts, not that much.

isotopes (2)

stooo (2202012) | more than 2 years ago | (#38362648)

What could possibly go boom?
Some hundreds of tons of isotopes.
Russia does not really care. Unlike Japan, they can afford to sacrifice (again) tens of thousands of square kilometers.

In Soviet Russia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38360060)

In Soviet Russia, nuclear power power reactors meltdown YOU!

Big deal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38360096)

Most all power plants are life-extended past their first thirty years. Why should nuclear be different?

Re:Big deal... (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360364)

The Russian nuclear industry, however, argues that lifetime extensions are justified because the original estimate of a 30-year life span was conservative; the plants have been significantly upgraded; and extensions cost significantly less than constructing new reactors.'"

1. Conservative estimates are appropriate for things that can melt down. Bigger impacts from "catastrophic failure" justify wider safety margins.
2. The original estimates already factored in maintenance and upgrades over their lifespan. Trying to factor them in again is just plain wrong.
3. Meltdowns are more expensive than construction. See also: Fukushima [wikipedia.org]

Most all power plants are life-extended past their first thirty years. Why should nuclear be different?

4. Nuclear is a comparatively new technology, and there have been a lot of fundamental changes and advances in reactor design in the last 30 years. A coal plant may change out a turbine for a more energy-efficient model during its term, but you can't just pull a reactor core (along with all its infrastructure) and swap in a totally different design as part of an upgrade. Changes like that generally call for outright replacement anyway.

Re:Big deal... (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360566)

You say this other nations haven't been doing the exact same thing for YEARS. Like the SIXTY+ granted by the US:
http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/15/news/economy/nuclear_plants_us/index.htm [cnn.com]

Re:Big deal... (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360978)

You say this other nations haven't been doing the exact same thing for YEARS

Where did he say that?

Re:Big deal... (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360968)

2. The original estimates already factored in maintenance and upgrades over their lifespan. Trying to factor them in again is just plain wrong.

Nonsense.

The original estimates factored in some maintenance, virtually no upgrades, and much of it based on theoretical guesswork.
Now they have operated these plants for years, They can measure the actual degradation of the materials, and the history of failures
of actual parts in all of these reactors.

What you call just plain wrong is just plain engineering and advancements in materials science.

Re:Big deal... (2)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38361646)

The original estimates failed to factor in Chernobyl and a whole bunch of other safety problems waiting to happen. They needed major safety improvements in order to make the reactors even close to safe to run for their intended lifespan, and it appears that even then it was probably a bit questionable as to whether they should have continued to operate them.

Re:Big deal... (1)

leucadiadude (68989) | more than 2 years ago | (#38362702)

"but you can't just pull a reactor core (along with all its infrastructure) and swap in a totally different design as part of an upgrade. Changes like that generally call for outright replacement anyway."

Of course you can.

Re:Big deal... (5, Insightful)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38361068)

Most all power plants are life-extended past their first thirty years. Why should nuclear be different?

There are several things here.

  • a) nuclear plants suffer from neutron damage. Almost any material can be degraded by long term neutron bombardment through neutron capture [wikipedia.org] ; this means that over the long term parts of nuclear reactors have failure modes that may not be present in any other power plant
  • b) nuclear reactor cores are highly radioactive to the level that can even destroy electronic equipment, certainly causes contamination and makes human inspection impossible. This makes it extremely difficult to be sure that equipment degradation has not become serious (compare with aeroplane inspection which uses detailed visual inspection at close range combined with large devices wheeled right up to the plane)
  • c) the parts which are likely to fail (those close to the reactor core) are precisely the ones which really matter and can have worse consequences than the typical failures in a conventional power plant
  • d) reactor physicists (the same ones that guaranteed us that Fukashima was safe) tell us that the new generations of reactors are much safer than the old ones; hydro power, for example, hasn't really had a massive safety change in the last fifty (or even hundred) years
  • e) nuclear reactors are incredibly complex, difficult and precise mechanisms. They have a huge setup and teardown cost which means that the capital investment is huge, even compared to other large power plants. The more often this is done the more likely that it will go wrong.
  • f) nuclear reactors leave large amounts of radioactive waste during decommissioning; one part of this is the fuel, but probably more important is all of the other parts which become radioactive during the lifetime of the reactor (remember neutron capture). The fewer plants that are decommissioned the lower the volume of this waste.

Obviously a), b) and c) push in the opposite direction from d), e) and f). What this means is that basically we should have a smaller number of safer nuclear reactors run for longer by people who we can trust to ensure that a) and b) don't become a problem. Unfortunately people who support nuclear power tend to be in denial about the potential risks and so aren't the right people. I guess it's like politicians. Anybody who wants to be a politician should probably be ruled out from the job / anybody who wants to run a reactor should probably be banned from doing so :-)

In Soviet Russia... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38360110)

...Nuclear Reactors extend YOU!

Awesome! glow in the dark babies! (1, Offtopic)

youn (1516637) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360114)

coming soon near a reactor near you... we may finally get started on this super comics they have been writing about... it's about time :p

Sweet! (2)

Lab Rat Jason (2495638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360194)

Apparently everyone wants to be like the Japanese...

Re:Sweet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38360286)

(must post anonymously!)

Turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so....

(if you don't recognize it, then you're too young! So, go do that goggle thing on the intertubes and stay off my lawn).

In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38360196)

People go nuclear about reactor!

Re:In Soviet Russia... (1)

almitydave (2452422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360860)

... nuclear reactors reengineer your lifespan!

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

Mojo66 (1131579) | more than 2 years ago | (#38361902)

reactor outlives you!

Deja vu... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38360214)

There are quite a lot of stories of Russian failing to take incredibly obvious safety measures that were set down in official guidelines. Especially for huge, safety critical installations.
Please can some international power stop them before it goes wrong!

Re:Deja vu... (1)

Lab Rat Jason (2495638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360322)

Sure, Russia is an international power that could stop them before something goes wrong... right?

Re:Deja vu... (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360462)

Please can some international power stop them before it goes wrong!

But; they have a really big army and might not agree to be ordered around by the Yanks. I know; Let's attack them with Nuclear weapons. It's the only reasonable response to countries which create a radiation risk by building reactors without permission. Of course they might retaliate a little bit, but safety must always be number one priority, so sacrifices have to be made.

Insane (4, Interesting)

lucm (889690) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360236)

A friend of mine was doing electrical panels inspections in Russian nuclear plants (some NGO program), and one time he was in a control center and noticed a door that had no sign. He asked what it was, but nobody knew. He opened it and saw a big rusty pipe. He found out that the pipe was carrying cooling water out of the machine room... The radioactivity level was so high that my friend got a 3-month paid leave to get it out of his system.

I'm no sissy, I could sleep in a haunted houses or dig out bones from indian sacred land, but there is just no way I'll ever set foot in a Russian nuclear plant or a Chinese chemical plant.

Re:Insane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38360432)

So... does your friend have any new super-powers?

Re:Insane (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360658)

Yeah, his hair and teeth fly out so fast that they can injure you!!!

Re:Insane (2)

lucm (889690) | more than 2 years ago | (#38361208)

Not far. He almost got killed in a freak accident after coming back to America. He was working in a power plant (not nuclear), and one day a newbie noticed that a big breaker was off, he flipped it on and the breaker actually popped out of the socket, hitting my friend in the back of the head. Severe head trauma.

The breaker was off because there was a short on a power line following an ice storm. Power is powerful.

Re:Insane (2)

sloth jr (88200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38362118)

Surprised the breaker wasn't tagged. Poor safety culture....

Re:Insane (2)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360668)

If he's turning into a penguin, someone please tell him to stop it!

Re:Insane (2)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360842)

Could be worse. He could be turning into a bed sitting room!

Re:Insane (5, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38361162)

Sorry, that's a fairy tale.

1) There's no way a 'room which nobody knows about' can exist in a nuclear power plant.

2) Especially if it contains components from the freaking primary contour. And the secondary cooling contour is absolutely safe - you can drink water from it.

3) There's no way radiation levels can be large enough to cause significant irradiation in several minutes. Absolutely none at all - primary cooling water is radioactive, but not that much (it's continuously monitored).

4) Power plant operators after Chernobyl are _very_ careful. For a reason.

But what do I know? After all, I have actually worked on a Russian nuclear power plant.

Re:Insane (1)

y86 (111726) | more than 2 years ago | (#38361596)

3) There's no way radiation levels can be large enough to cause significant irradiation in several minutes. Absolutely none at all - primary cooling water is radioactive, but not that much (it's continuously monitored).

This is mostly true. Spent fuel pools can be pretty hot near new and old fuel. Also, the resin in demineralizers can be very raidioactive.

Re:Insane (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38361958)

Spent fuel pools are even more carefully monitored, and are also much simpler in construction. So chances of uncharted pipework leading to/from them are essentially nil.

Ion-exchange resins in filters of course get pretty hot (and are classified as high-level waste), but I somehow doubt that they can be found in a closed room with rusting pipe.

Re:Insane (1)

lucm (889690) | more than 2 years ago | (#38361808)

Sorry, that's a fairy tale.

I am always impressed when someone make that kind of statement, knowing almost nothing of the actual event. This is a two-way street, so for the sake of the discussion, I'll say that you working in a Russian nuclear power plant is also a fairy tale.

Re:Insane (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38362066)

Of course. Yesterday I saw a squad of Martians landing on the Red Square in New York (what? Red Square is in Moscow? Never mind).

Actual event may be anything from "stumbled and got burned by a hot pipe" to "smoked a few pipes of weed with friends". However, some things are just impossible.

Re:Insane (1)

lucm (889690) | more than 2 years ago | (#38362816)

Of course. Yesterday I saw a squad of Martians landing on the Red Square in New York (what? Red Square is in Moscow? Never mind).

Actual event may be anything from "stumbled and got burned by a hot pipe" to "smoked a few pipes of weed with friends". However, some things are just impossible.

What you describe is unlikely, not impossible. Maybe you need to understand the difference, and stop trying to pass your opinions as facts.

Re:Insane (2, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38361452)

The radioactivity level was so high that my friend got a 3-month paid leave to get it out of his system.

That sounds, really, really, impressive and scary to the uninformed. But it's not actually. If your friend exceeded his quarterly allowed dose, it means he took the equivalent of a few transcontinental flights or chest X-rays. (I.E. practically nothing.)
 

I'm no sissy, I could sleep in a haunted houses or dig out bones from indian sacred land, but there is just no way I'll ever set foot in a Russian nuclear plant or a Chinese chemical plant.

No, you're not a sissy. Just badly misinformed and prone to EWW RAD1AT10N !1!11! syndrome.

Re:Insane (1)

lucm (889690) | more than 2 years ago | (#38361898)

I'm no sissy, I could sleep in a haunted houses or dig out bones from indian sacred land, but there is just no way I'll ever set foot in a Russian nuclear plant or a Chinese chemical plant.

No, you're not a sissy. Just badly misinformed and prone to EWW RAD1AT10N !1!11! syndrome.

Well, thinking of that, haunted houses are not that scary either. I'm still on the fence for the indian sacred land thing.

As for my friend, he did not lose his hair or got leukemia, but still, eww.

meanwhile ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38360248)

http://www.youtube.com/verify_age?next_url=/watch%3Fv%3D9ZC3eXI2tC8

earthquake anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38360254)

anyone else feel that?

That's easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38360274)

Just have another engineering study done to prove that the reactor is safe to use... keep repeating this until, eventually, under pressure to provide a cert, one engineering team approves the reactor for use even though it has a giant gaping hole in the side.

Summons Scotty (4, Insightful)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360280)

"A good Engineer is always a wee bit conservative, at least on paper." - Scotty, to La Forge, regarding IRC Tank Pressure Variances Regulation 42/15

This story brings this quote to mind.

Re:Summons Scotty (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360888)

My favorite exchange was this (Paraphrased from memory):

La Forge: But the specifications say no more than X!
Scotty: Who do you think WROTE the specifications?

Russian technology is WAY behind the US . . . (4, Insightful)

mmell (832646) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360300)

. . . we've been doing that for years.

Just sayin'.

Damn those Russians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38360318)

For being just like Americans!

Chernobyl2 on the horizon. (0)

Annirak (181684) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360362)

n/t

Re:Chernobyl2 on the horizon. (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360754)

Laughably I remember after Chernobyl 1, hearing how they'll decommission those icky RBMKs real soon now. The day the last RBMK is shut off will be a good day for humanity. Hope I live that long (I figure I only got 50 good years left in me)

Fukushima 2 on the horizon (-1, Flamebait)

stooo (2202012) | more than 2 years ago | (#38362822)

>> The day the last RBMK is shut off will be a good day for humanity

The day the last nuclear reactor is shut off will be a good day for humanity.
Hope I live that long.

Billions for politician's mansions (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360388)

Billions of dollars are spent on mansions of certain politicians (think, what possibly that is legal, could Putin do to be able to build a billion dollar house at the Black sea side [slashdot.org] ) and nothing will be spent to shut down the old nuclear powerplants and secure their remains and build new ones with new designs.

That's as good a reason as any to get rid of this troll [tumblr.com] from the government.

I can speak with authority on this... (2)

dmomo (256005) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360494)

Having Played SimCity, I can say from experience that this is a terrible idea. They clearly did not consult their advisers who would certainly have recommended upgrading to Microwave or Fusion. But, to be fair, it could be that Russia didn't unlock those yet.

Par for the Course Sadly (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360530)

USA, Canada, Russia... so on and so on...

Can we please build modern reactors? Y'know the kind that can actually use waste fuel so we can reduce the existing stockpile and are physically incapable of runaway reactions.

In the long standing tradition of auto comparisons: you wouldn't feel safe in a 35+ year old car if you drove it every day for all those years would you?

Re:Par for the Course Sadly (1)

Stalinbulldog (925149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360934)

In the long standing tradition of auto comparisons: you wouldn't feel safe in a 35+ year old car if you drove it every day for all those years would you?

I would mention that you dug up an astoundingly horrible analogy. Most people would feel safer in a 35+ year old car that they'd driven every day than they would in a new one, simply because it hasn't failed yet... and you know they don't build them like they used to.

In fact, after taking your analogy into account I'd advise Russia not to replace their reactors, as they haven't failed yet-at least the ones that haven't failed haven't failed. The ones that did... well, they were clearly shoddy craftsmanship.

Re:Par for the Course Sadly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38361066)

Your train of thought was utterly derailed by the jokey bit

congrats

Re:Par for the Course Sadly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38362302)

Most people would feel safer in a 35+ year old car that they'd driven every day than they would in a new one, simply because it hasn't failed yet... and you know they don't build them like they used to.

Assuming you weren't joking, a 35+ year old car that hasn't failed hasn't failed because it was well-designed; it's because it's been well-maintained.

We do this too... (5, Informative)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360546)

So far the US has granted extensions like this to more than SIXTY reactors. How many has Russia given out so far?

http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/15/news/economy/nuclear_plants_us/index.htm [cnn.com]

Re:We do this too... (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360694)

So far the US has granted extensions like this to more than SIXTY reactors. How many has Russia given out so far?

To be fair, no US reactor has yet exploded, caught fire and spread radiation across half of Europe.

Re:We do this too... (3, Insightful)

malraid (592373) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360870)

Yep, never have we spread radiation across half or Europe, only our east coast [wikipedia.org]

Re:We do this too... (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360976)

Uh, you do realise that comparing Three Mile Island to Chernobyl is like comparing spilling your coffee to burning your house down, right?

Re:We do this too... (4, Insightful)

malraid (592373) | more than 2 years ago | (#38361168)

Sure, I'm just saying that because Three Mile Island was very mild to Chernobyl, it doesn't mean that the US is invulnerable to a nuclear disaster. It has happened, and we were lucky. The Russians were not lucky. The Japanese were not lucky. It can happen again. But then I'm sure Chernobyl caused less deaths than coal mining causes every year. It's just a risk that we have to manage and live with.

Re:We do this too... (2)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38362060)

Three Mile Island had a containment building and a generally less hair-raising design than the RBMK reactors, lacking such misfeatures as a highly positive void coefficient of re-activity. This was probably fortunate; I'm not sure quite how serious a Three Mile Island-style incident would've been in an RBMK, but it's unlikely to have been pretty.

Re:We do this too... (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38362828)

I'm not sure quite how serious a Three Mile Island-style incident would've been in an RBMK, but it's unlikely to have been pretty.

Three Mile Island was a literal core meltdown, if only a 'partial' one. You clearly know more nuclear engineering than I do, but I'd hazard a guess that if Three Mile Island were an RBMK the safe Zone of Exclusion would be at least fifty miles, and the only safe path up the east coast would have to bypass Pennsylvania almost entirely.

So pretty damn bad. Look at where the island sits; only 75 miles from Wilmington and 100 miles from Philadelphia.

Re:We do this too... (1)

maztuhblastah (745586) | more than 2 years ago | (#38361484)

You're technically right, but you're being misleading by comparing TMI to Chernobyl and you know it. From the article you linked to:

The average radiation dose to people living within ten miles of the plant was eight millirem, and no more than 100 millirem to any single individual. Eight millirem is about equal to a chest X-ray, and 100 millirem is about a third of the average background level of radiation received by US residents in a year.

So did it spread radiation to "our east coast"? Yes. Did it spread any significant, or even slightly meaningful radiation to our east coast? No.

Re:We do this too... (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#38362384)

And how much contamination, do you think, was caused by Chernobyl outside the plant itself, Pripyat city and some swamps for few tens of kilometers around it?
There was a massive push to make it into an anti-Soviet (it was still USSR then) talking point, so everywhere from Poland to UK people were told that big bad radiation is everywhere.

Re:We do this too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38360906)

US reactors were generally much safer and better-designed.

Re:We do this too... (3, Informative)

coldsalmon (946941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38361040)

The original article regarding the Russian reactors is talking about engineered lifespan, whereas your article is talking about license to operate. This is like the difference between renewing your car's inspection sticker and replacing your tires. One is a legal requirement and the other is a physical requirement. Neither article talks about this distinction, and I'm not sure that they're making it. The Russian plants were licensed for 30 years, and according to the article, their physical lifespan is also 30 years. The USA plants were licensed for 40 years, but that article doesn't make any mention about their engineered lifespans, and I don't know enough to say what the engineered lifespan of a USA vs. Russian plant is. It's certainly possible to keep machines working properly for many decades as long as they are designed that way. If the Russian reactors really do have irreplaceable physical parts that are expected to fail after 30 years, it would be madness to operate them after that time. However, this may not be the case with other reactors which have received license extensions.

Re:We do this too... (2)

mirix (1649853) | more than 2 years ago | (#38362860)

Engineering lifespan on something like this is more of an educated guess, and is( or should be) fairly conservative.

For your example, it's more like when a company produces a radically new tire, with little to no prior experience in the rubber business has to tell the first consumers how long they will last. I'm thinking they're going to err on the side of caution.
Now, after years of running these tires, with regular valve-stem replacements and such, they realise there is a lot of life in them at the end of their original conservative estimate, and extend the rating.

Trust ME! (0)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38360816)

Cmon now! You can trust the Government and Corporations, they are only looking out for your best interest! Don't be a wussy!

US Navy does it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38361238)

Look at the NPTU facilities at the Naval Weapons facility in Charleston. They are two old converted submarines. I went there about 15 years ago so my memory may not be correct but I believe there was some "extra" engineering and inspections done on them and quite a few operational limits imposed to maintain the required safety margin. I will say that reactor design was probably one of the most over engineered and most documented, tested, and retested design of any nuclear power system in the world so I assume they know what they are doing with it. Designed in the early 60's and still going today....

cost cost cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38362220)

"...and extensions cost significantly less than constructing new reactors."
 
That being the key argument

The reactor vessel might fail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38362564)

The reactor vessel material becomes more fragile over time because of the radiation. It is under pressure. There is a chance that it might fail if. It might not fail when the reactor life is extended the first time. But I have a feeling that they will continue to extent the life of the reactors until one fails totally.

Well... (2)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 2 years ago | (#38362612)

Russia is extending the lifetime of nuclear power reactors beyond their engineered life span of 30 years

What could possibly go wrong ?

In Soviet Russia (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38362712)

They understand when a trope is so spot-on it isn't actually funny in that instance; there's no wit, none of the millisecond long confusion and subsequent cognitive leap that makes your brain say "what the fuc....Hahaha that's hilarious!" Not that Soviet Russia jokes were ever hysterical to begin with...

Anyway, in Soviet Russia they get this rule of humor, unnlike on slashdot where I've already seen five Soviet Russia comments in this post...
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