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US Nuclear Industry Plans "Rescue Wagon" To Avert Meltdowns

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the get-on-the-wagon dept.

Government 184

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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Here's a better idea. (2, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#42244167)

Don't build them in areas subject to storms, earthquakes, etc., and don't cut corners on the design, construction, maintenance, and inspections in order to save costs.

I happen to think that nuclear power is a good idea, but if our species isn't mature enough to do the above, we've got no business using it.

Re:Here's a better idea. (4, Insightful)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about 2 years ago | (#42244249)

does such a place exist?

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#42244745)

does such a place exist?

Sure; about 100 km above the surface.

Re:Here's a better idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244951)

does such a place exist?

Sure; about 100 km above the surface.

Does "etc" include "meteorites and space debris that haven't yet burned up in the earth's atmosphere"? If not, then your answer's golden, solely on technicalities.

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 2 years ago | (#42245337)

But then it’s subject to orbital decay. And if I learned one thing from ST:TOS, without power things in orbit deorbit fast.

Re:Here's a better idea. (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#42245795)

But then it’s subject to orbital decay. And if I learned one thing from ST:TOS, without power things in orbit deorbit fast.

A) I was just using that as an arbitrary delineation for space.

B) Good point; I mean, where the hell would an orbiting nuclear power plant get power from?

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

Zalbik (308903) | about 2 years ago | (#42246133)

B) Good point; I mean, where the hell would an orbiting nuclear power plant get power from?

Who cares about that? Where is the moon getting it's power from?!?!

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

Zalbik (308903) | about 2 years ago | (#42246111)

And if I learned one thing from ST:TOS, without power things in orbit deorbit fast.

Yep....that's the real reason the Apollo astronauts went to the moon. Replace the batteries.

Re:Here's a better idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42245821)

does such a place exist?

Sure. Bury it deep, like a military command bunker. There are no underground storms, and it is bomb-proof as a bonus. As for earthquakes, a bad one could kill the reactor but it'll still be contained deep underground. Even if some extreme act of sabotage results in a complete meltdown or the almost impossible nuclear explosion, it'll be contained underground. Similiar to underground nuclear testing.

Re:Here's a better idea. (5, Insightful)

captaindomon (870655) | about 2 years ago | (#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?

Re:Here's a better idea. (2)

captaindomon (870655) | about 2 years ago | (#42244285)

And to what extent do you avoid cutting costs? Avoid 99% of failure scenarios? 99.9%? 99.9999%? How would you justify where you cut the line? It's not a simple answer.

Re:Here's a better idea. (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#42244297)

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?

Why, your back yard. Of course.

Re:Here's a better idea. (2)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about 2 years ago | (#42244631)

That's probably the best place, your backyard.

Everyone's backyard.

Put a small reactor in each neighbourhood. Scale down the energy required, scale down everything, reduce the transmission costs to nearly nothing, and use smaller pebblebed style systems.

Re:Here's a better idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244755)

Small Modular Reactor (SMR) is where it's at. B&W and Westinghouse have plans to design/build these in the near future.

Re:Here's a better idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244909)

FYI a smaller pebblebed would require the use of weapons grade material

Re:Here's a better idea. (2)

Sentrion (964745) | about 2 years ago | (#42245519)

Where did you get your information? Many SMRs are designed to lessen the danger of materials being stolen or misplaced. Nuclear reactor fuel is low-enriched uranium, or has a concentration of less than 20% 235U. This low quantity, non-weapons-grade uranium makes the fuel less desirable for weapons production. Once the fuel has been irradiated, the fission products mixed with the fissile materials are highly radioactive and require special handling to remove safely, another non-proliferation feature.
Reactors designed to run on alternative thorium fuel cycle offer increased proliferation resistance compared to conventional uranium cycle. The modular construction of SMRs is another useful feature. Because the reactor core is often constructed completely inside a central manufacturing facility, fewer people have access to the fuel before and after irradiation.

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42245051)

God Edison, why don't you just switch us to DC and stop killing those Elephants?

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

fan777 (932195) | about 2 years ago | (#42245733)

Would the back yard really be the best place? If disaster struck that might potentially result in more widespread contamination... even if a small percentage of reactors along the fault line or in a hurricane's path were to fail, this would still encompass a larger area compared to some power plant in a remote location.

Re:Here's a better idea. (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#42244401)

To be fair, maybe we shouldn't be putting large population centers in those areas that are dangerous to nuke plants. I'll let you know if I find a safe place for them.

Re:Here's a better idea. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244505)

To be fair, maybe we shouldn't be putting large population centers in those areas that are dangerous to nuke plants. I'll let you know if I find a safe place for them.

We could just put them in major inner city areas. Nothin but niggers there anyways so no great loss if something does happen. They'll be so busy shooting each other over gangsta bullshit that they wouldn't even notice the meltdown.

Re:Here's a better idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244653)

Well if you can't find a place then perhaps it would be wise not to build any more nuclear power plants and it would be even wiser to eliminate all existing nuclear power plants. Use solar, wind, geothermal, and hydro instead as they are far safer than the other solutions.

Re:Here's a better idea. (0, Troll)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 2 years ago | (#42244699)

I think that's the point. Give up on nuclear power. Given the consequences of an accident, the safety record of nuclear power is appalling. The costs per megawatt are high even without counting the externalities of contamination. The only thing nuclear reactors can do, that can't be done more safely and cheaply with coal or wind, is create weapons-grade fissionable material. A bomb-making reactor can be built out in the middle of the freaking desert where it belongs.

Re:Here's a better idea. (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Here's a better idea. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244875)

The safety record is appalling?

http://www-958.ibm.com/software/data/cognos/manyeyes/visualizations/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-sources

(The estimates are neither the highest nor the lowest for nuclear power to give it the least death toll. Check the comments if you want the worst, in which case it will no longer be the absolute best but it'll still be a very good option up there with all the other non-burning tech).

The problem isn't that nuclear safety is bad, the problem is it's very very easy to see the results of nuclear safety failures compared to other safety failures because nuclear plants are so compact relatively speaking that you get a "holy fuck" disaster that kills a bunch of people every few decades instead of thousands of isolated one-offs. And while it's possible nuclear deaths are under-reported, I'm not convinced that it's more likely than other energy forms -- it's relatively easy to look for things that can be attributed to a nuclear accident because again, it's so concentrated by comparison.

Re:Here's a better idea. (2, Informative)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#42244977)

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

If you have any concept of critical thinking, this sentence 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? The same can't be said for any other form of large scale energy production in the US, let alone almost every other human pursuit. Coal kills, and that is appalling.

Re:Here's a better idea. (1, Insightful)

PNutts (199112) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 2 years ago | (#42245867)

So Chernobyl had zero deaths and zero health side effects and zero long-term ecological disruptions? I'd be interested in knowing your sources for that because they conflict with the news reports I was listening to when it happened.

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about 2 years ago | (#42245323)

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

Well, we actually have enough time to have real statistics and not fear-mongering. There have been ~4,000 deaths due to nuclear power accidents, with all but 60 being long-term cancers. Maybe Fukishima will prove to cause an additional 2,000 deaths in 20 years, so lets call it 6k.

In the US in the past 100 years there have been over 100k coal mining deaths. China alone had 6k coal mining deaths in 2004! Wind power (based on available records) has actually had more deaths in the past 20 years (80) than direct deaths related to nuclear power. On a per-GWh basis, wind power would be considerably worse than nuclear, for the exact fact that the long-term safety record is well understood.

Nothing is "safe." You prepare for contingencies and understand acceptable losses. The problem right now is that we aren't building newer reactors from the lessons of the old designs and phasing out aging plants.

Re:Here's a better idea. (2)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 2 years ago | (#42245453)

So how come you compare mining with power station accidents? Do you think uranium magically appears out of rainbow unicorn farts?

Hint: you have to mine for uranium ore (pitchblende). And since it is not a widespread as coal, you have to move through a lot of rock to collect enough.

Uranium mining is not a particularly healthy occupation, that's why, for example, the USSR used prisoner labour for that - prisoners were considered expendable.

Re:Here's a better idea. (2)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#42245805)

You have to move a lot of rock... do you even know the energy density of uranium vs coal?

Re:Here's a better idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42245485)

Nuclear power kills 0.04 per TWh. Hydro is next safest at 0.10. Coal is the most deadly at 161 (world average) killed annually per TWh.

Interestingly, solar has a 0.44 fatality per TWh rate. Falls during installs, mainly. Solar is also 0.1% of the world's electricity supply, nuclear is 5.9%. Statically, solar panels are 11 times as likely to kill you than a nuclear reactor. In reality, obviously, only roofers and electricians tend to die.

Don't forget water (1)

bigtrike (904535) | about 2 years ago | (#42244721)

They need to be located near a large river or lake, too

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

jhoegl (638955) | about 2 years ago | (#42244781)

Arizona/New Mexico/Texas

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#42244831)

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?

I know this was just snark but here goes: There is a significant variation in the US when it comes to disasters. Everyone likes to think that disasters are truly random, but then again everyone (in general) is terrible at assessing risk. You don't have to look very hard to find areas that receive significantly fewer damaging hurricanes, damaging tornadoes, damaging earthquakes, damaging floods/tsunamis, damaging wildfires, etc. Do you really think that everywhere in the US is as prone to calamity as, say, Southern California? Give me a break.

And why should it matter how close they are to population centers? The nationwide grid is pretty good at getting energy from one state to another.

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

Uberbah (647458) | about 2 years ago | (#42245743)

I know this was just snark but here goes: There is a significant variation in the US when it comes to disasters. Everyone likes to think that disasters are truly random, but then again everyone (in general) is terrible at assessing risk. You don't have to look very hard to find areas that receive significantly fewer damaging hurricanes, damaging tornadoes, damaging earthquakes, damaging floods/tsunamis, damaging wildfires, etc. Do you really think that everywhere in the US is as prone to calamity as, say, Southern California? Give me a break.

Wait, who needs a break? As if disasters only happen in Southern California. Fukishima was just fine, until it was hit by a once-in-a-thousand-years disaster. Well, how many once-in-a-thousand-years disasters are you going to have in one year in a country of moderate size? How many in 10 years? 50 years?

So you build your reactors in Minnesota, which has plenty of fresh water and no hurricanes. What if your reactor gets hit with a once-in-a-thousand-years tornado, flood, or earthquake? Or the plants in Minnesota don't get hit with it, maybe your plant in Oregon does. Or Vermont. Or Indiana.....

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

Zalbik (308903) | about 2 years ago | (#42245997)

Fukishima was just fine, until it was hit by a once-in-a-thousand-years disaster. ...
tornado, flood, or earthquake? Or the plants in Minnesota don't get hit with it, maybe your plant in Oregon does. Or Vermont. Or Indiana.....

WTF? Fukishima was not "just fine", nor was it hit by a once-in-a-thousand-years disaster. It was a poorly maintained plant, with a history of safety issues [wikipedia.org] . Heck, in 2007 and 2008, TEPCO and the AEC released reports citing concerns over how the plant would handle a tsunami, or an earthquake of magnitude 7.0 or higher.

Fukishima was not a natural disaster. It was a man-made one due to mismanagement, self-interest, and greed.

Oh yeah, and if there are 7.0+ earthquakes or tsunami-type flooding in Minnesota or Indiana, we have much more serious concerns than a nuclear meltdown, as apparently the Apocalypse has occurred.

Re:Here's a better idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42246125)

So you build your reactors in Minnesota, which has plenty of fresh water and no hurricanes. What if your reactor gets hit with a once-in-a-thousand-years tornado, flood, or earthquake?

As someone who lives in Minnesota:

a) A thousand-year tornado is laughable, and makes you sound like you believe the bullshit weather movies on the Syfy channel. F5 is as high as they go, and they happen pretty routinely. Fortunately, they also usually happen out in the middle of nowhere. In any case, all of the existing nuclear plants in Minnesota had to have been built to withstand an F5 already.

b) Don't put your reactors in a flood plain. We have maps for those. They don't change that quickly.

c) Earthquake? You've got me there. The last earthquake in Minnesota hit in the neighborhood of 100 - 150 years ago and was a 6.something. Do you nutters in California even feel 6's anymore?

So mostly your post is fear-mongering.

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

TheEffigy (2666397) | about 2 years ago | (#42245923)

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?

It's not wirelessly transmitted, with appropriate infrastructure and interstate collaboration then it could be anywhere!

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

lessthan (977374) | about 2 years ago | (#42246079)

Off the top of my head, Yucca Mountain?

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

slinches (1540051) | about 2 years ago | (#42246099)

How about in the desert to the west of Phoenix, AZ? It's about as safe an area as I can think of from natural disasters and Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station [wikipedia.org] is located there.

The desert around Las Vegas would also be a good place geographically, but may not be cost competitive against Hoover Dam.

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#42244423)

Don't build them in areas subject to storms, earthquakes, etc., and don't cut corners on the design, construction, maintenance, and inspections in order to save costs.

There exist no such areas on earth. Every place on the planet can have storms and earthquakes. Plus, you need a large quantity of water available. That limits the geographical areas by quite a lot. Almost all nuke plants are near bodies of water. That alone makes for possible flooding issues.

As for cutting corners, that is largely a myth. Design requirements change over time, and older plants don't all meet current standards. But nothing short of a rebuild would change that. We wouldn't build the plants we build 30 years ago today. But that doesn't mean they cut corners back then. If anything, they overbuilt in the face of uncertainty.

Tell that to Fukushima (0, Flamebait)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | about 2 years ago | (#42244503)

Yeah, overbuilt. Odd how just down the coast they built their sea wall 3 meters higher and stopped the tsunami cold in its tracks. Oops! The TRUTH is nuclear power plants are built to the lowest standard that the NRC will allow them to get away with, period. And that "allow" is tempered with the fact that they constantly beg for more and much of the NRC is made of of ex nuclear power people (understandably so, but still). Now, they don't perhaps do a TERRIBLE job, but they cut it as close as they possibly can. I mean really, look at this proposal they're talking about here, creating one or more caches of emergency equipment and crews that can be dispatched on short emergency notice to any nuclear power plant. Is this concept sort of STUPIDLY FUCKING OBVIOUS???!!!! Is it not like the first or second thing you think of? Isn't something you just always assumed already existed because it was so FUCKING OBVIOUS!! And now 50 years into nuclear power it is only now being contemplated and only because of a massive backlash against nuclear power because the impossible happened and FOUR REACTORS went China Syndrome. This is why I don't care for nuclear power. Truthfully, IN THEORY it can be quite safe, but human beings are not trustworthy enough to handle it.

Re:Tell that to Fukushima (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244887)

Your post isn’t based on reality, and it summarized by your last sentences:

Truthfully, IN THEORY it can be quite safe, but human beings are not trustworthy enough to handle it.

I don’t who said it first, but as a practicing engineering it is proven correct every day:

In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.

Doesn’t matter if it is due to human nature, weather, politics, limited resources, or anything else. If one attempts to make engineering decisions on theory alone, they are bound to fail. It doesn’t matter if nuclear power is safe in theory. It has to be made safe in practice, and that is very hard.

Re:Here's a better idea. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 2 years ago | (#42245595)

No way Westerners would cut corners on something like a nuclear reactor [french-nuclear-safety.fr] . Especially not in a modern third generation one [nytimes.com] .

Serious problems first arose over the vast concrete base slab for the foundation of the reactor building, which the country's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority found too porous and prone to corrosion. Since then, the authority has blamed Areva for allowing inexperienced subcontractors to drill holes in the wrong places on a vast steel container that seals the reactor.

In December, the authority warned Anne Lauvergeon, the chief executive of Areva, that "the attitude or lack of professional knowledge of some persons" at Areva was holding up work on safety systems.

firstly, in autumn 2010, detection of a large number of defects in the adapters' welds located on the vessel closure head;
secondly, in June 2011, during repair operations to correct the previous defects, detection of insufficient thickness in the buttering metal layer located under these welds.

Re:Here's a better idea. (1, Insightful)

Uberbah (647458) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#42246185)

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.

No shit Sherlock. Of course the new roof faces the same hazards - that's why I put the new roof on in the first place. What an idiot you are -pretty much all of your "criticisms" amount to the same thing, ignorant hand waving, bible thumping, and name calling.

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#42244811)

The problem is that most were build 30 to 40 years ago and environmental protesters stop just about every plan to build or upgrade them. They're basically trying to make their own predictions come true. Modern reactor designs simply can not meltdown. It's physically impossible, natural disaster or not. We need to be replacing our old reactors with these new designs... sadly we are not.

Re:Here's a better idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244827)

Don't build them in areas subject to storms, earthquakes, etc., and don't cut corners on the design, construction, maintenance, and inspections in order to save costs.

While we're at it, how about we also replace 25+ year old designs with things that are updated with the knowledge we've learned over the last few decades.

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#42245561)

Nah. The problem with Fukushima was that the pumps got flooded and stopped working. The solution is to simply use a passive cooling system that doesn't need pumps in an emergency like the system on the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor.

Re:Here's a better idea. (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#42245585)

Oh and if you want the reactor to be resistant to earthquakes you simply bury it underground. There are GE nuclear reactors like that.

Don't forget illegal alien Mexicans. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244311)

We need to include at least 200 beaners in the plan to send in to the 'hot zone' to do manual cleanup.

Thunderbirds are Go! (1)

at10u8 (179705) | about 2 years ago | (#42244323)

This scenario evokes International Rescue. Obviously that says I'm old.

Re:Thunderbirds are Go! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#42244365)

I'm thinking more along the line of the big square trucks in "Men In Black". Guess I'm not that old.

Re:Thunderbirds are Go! (1)

OhSoLaMeow (2536022) | about 2 years ago | (#42244707)

"Ladies and gentlemen if you'd direct your attention to this device I'm holding right here..." [FLASH!!]

"People, we've warned you about trying to dry your cat in the microwave oven and now you see what happens when you ignore these warnings."

Re:Thunderbirds are Go! (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about 2 years ago | (#42244739)

Or SHADO. [wikipedia.org] Deploy Skydiver!

Get-off-lawn disclaimer: I'm a bit too young to have caught that when it originally aired.

Good for a few years (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#42244325)

This plan sounds good, and might actually be well planned. But only for a few years.

Then, plants will start using the existence of the backup capabilities as excuses not to build their own. And it will all be perfectly legal, as subtle rule changes are introduced with little public knowledge. You can already see the seeds of this in TFA:

The NRC staff said the industry initiative, called FLEX, may satisfy the proposed order to mitigate certain safety challenges.

The fox runs the nuclear hen house in the US, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been captured by industry.

Still, any plan is better than no plan. The length of time power was out and systems were down due to Hurricane Sandy should indicate just how long such emergency systems have to be prepared to operate. Multiple weeks of fuel must be kept on hand. Alternate water supplies must be identified.

Re:Good for a few years (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244529)

Sandy and similar storms hit the transmission and distribution networks hardest. In most cases the power plant is ready to re-energize the wires LONG before the rest of the system is prepared to handle it (hell, in most cases the plant doesn't even go down). You won't reduce the length of most storm outages by protecting the power plants. Only the rare case of a catastrophic failure at the plant will benefit from this (not to say it's a bad idea, just that it most likely won't affect storm outages as you imply).

Re:Good for a few years (2)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | about 2 years ago | (#42244539)

Exactly! ANY safety plan will always be degraded over time by cost-conscious managers who become confident that nothing bad will happen, until the level of preparedness drops below the threshold where a giant disaster happens, at which point it will all start again.

Re:Good for a few years (1)

Uberbah (647458) | about 2 years ago | (#42245411)

Exactly! ANY safety plan will always be degraded over time by cost-conscious managers who become confident that nothing bad will happen, until the level of preparedness drops below the threshold where a giant disaster happens, at which point it will all start again.

That's the central flaw in nuclear power always overlooked by the nuke fanboys: the profit motive. Corners will be cut, lies will be told, "unnecessary" safety precautions like earthquake monitors and evacuation drills will be eliminated to make an extra buck or two.

Re:Good for a few years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42245653)

You're exactly right! I mean just look at all of the hundreds of nuclear disasters we've had! Nuclear power is destined to fail due to cost-cutting and corner-cutting by mid-level managers, and we should instead embrace idiotic "green energy" schemes that are nowhere near mature enough to satisfy the energy demands!

Please list for us the specific nuclear accidents that killed people, or resulted in widespread release of radioactive contaminants, that were caused by cost-cutting over the past... 20 years. Hell, just name 5.

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Spam (0)

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Good idea..in theory (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244355)

Ok so in cali we have a couple plants. Lets say "the big one" hit and takes cali down. The plant fails and needs this crew for help...oh wait no airports are open because they are all too damaged....what now?

Re:Good idea..in theory (2)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#42244435)

CH-47s [wikipedia.org] don't need runways.

Re:Good idea..in theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42245739)

Truck the supplies in as close as you can get. Have a fleet of heavy lift helicopters in place to airlift them the rest of the way to where they're needed, along with any other personnel and crews to assist.

Simultaneously, military / national guard engineering units go in to begin clearing and preparing a runway for additional supplies to be airlifted in by C-130, C-5, or C-17.

Pretty much the same way it would operate anywhere else when you need to airlift in emergency relief supplies on short notice into an area where there are no serviceable airstrips.

Re:Good idea..in theory (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 2 years ago | (#42245929)

"oh wait no airports are open because they are all too damaged....what now?"

That's easy. Lift a crew in on military CH-47 and CH-53 helicopters, including Skycrane variants which can haul small tracked vehicles and other heavy gear. They can prep runways (you don't need an "airport" in a combat situation, just the runway) by clearing them enough for airlifters to bring the heavy equipment.

It's rather like deploying to a "bare base", which the US military have been training for longer than most Americans have been alive.

So... (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 2 years ago | (#42244371)

... "rescue wagon" is jus a PC way of saying "gigantic nuclear crash cart", I take it?

They have a way with words.

Re:So... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244537)

... "rescue wagon" is jus a PC way of saying "gigantic nuclear crash cart", I take it?

They have a way with words.

Which "they", the Slashdot editors? Yeah they have a way of fucking words up. It seems even a 3rd-grade reading level is more than they can handle.

not a bad idea (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244387)

not a bad idea overall. Probably be cheaper and more efficient than mandating each site has backups for the backups for the backups for the....
It could be a huge example of fraud and abuse though. store/buy old worn out shit repainted to appear new at new prices.

Hell the National Guard does this already just in case they need a few M16s in front of the local walmart. Be a good idea to combine these stores with air national guard sites for quick deployment.

Don't Forget the Submerged Pumps. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244411)

above water.

gas - check
generators - check
inverters and distribution load controlers - check
pump to actually move cold water . . .
pipe to connection with pump to move cold water . . .

Sounds like a great plan, carbon tax covering these leaks, deaths, and ruined countries ones?

bad words follow

STILL no long-term disposal site (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244443)

Yucca scrapped, no new contenders to my knowledge for centralized waste storage...

This is a huge problem in spent pools nationwide.

Re:STILL no long-term disposal site (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#42244919)

Yucca scrapped, no new contenders to my knowledge for centralized waste storage...

This is a huge problem in spent pools nationwide.

Speaking of which... what's keeping us from launching that crap into the sun?

And don't tell me it's cost - money isn't everything, especially when talking about compounds that have the potential to literally foul the planet for centuries.

Yet another reason for solar. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244447)

When the plant goes down, it's called a sunny day..........

And of course power and fuel will be available... (4, Insightful)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 2 years ago | (#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

Re:And of course power and fuel will be available. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244597)

Older plants do have diesel generators in-case onsite grid power is lost, so I'm not sure how this is an "accident waiting to happen"....

Re:And of course power and fuel will be available. (1)

bigtrike (904535) | about 2 years ago | (#42244759)

An onsite generator is not passive safety.

Re:And of course power and fuel will be available. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42245235)

I'm not saying it is...I was just stating that the Gen-2 and older plants do not need to rely on the grid to operate their safety systems. Currently, there are no operating plants with passive safety systems. You won't see this until the first AP1000 plants start coming online.

Re:And of course power and fuel will be available. (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 2 years ago | (#42245963)

"Eventually, you'll have to change it out, and dispose of the old stuff."

No problem. Use the diesel to fuel plant vehicles in order to rotate the stock. Fuel sampling is old news. Military POL troops handle stuff like that under austere conditions worldwide.

This is like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244495)

having a 50 year old car, parts are falling off, hoses are springing leaks, but you patch it up with duck tape and spare parts... and for good measure you buy a AAA membership to get roadside assistance when it inevitably fails. Because we all know, those newfangled models are unproven and just downright dangerous!

Re:This is like... (1)

TheMeth0D (182840) | about 2 years ago | (#42244613)

It's not "roadside assistance" it's a "Rescue Wagon"!

Simple.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244499)

Just build a concrete plant next door. In case of emergency, redirect concrete onto Nuclear reactor. Build huge hill, cover with grass, build houses. Tada!

Re:Simple.. (1)

Sentrion (964745) | about 2 years ago | (#42245639)

Where did you get hold of this classified Soviet technology?

Memphis (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 2 years ago | (#42244507)

New Madrid fault, anyone?

Cooperation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244523)

Have you ever noticed that the only time U.S. industry cooperates is when they can avoid expenses or governmental regulation?

CAFE standards were the 1st instance of auto industry leaders using a collective approach to anything. They were a great idea at first but failed in keeping reasonable pace with environmental concerns because industry didn't want the expense. By the time the Obama administration forced the EPA to update mileage and emissions requirements, it was only to equal the Chinese standards.

FINRA, the Financial Industry (non) Regulatory Agency was the brainchild of industry and was implemented to avoid the threat of outside (federal) oversight. (Needless to say, there a bit more lax than most people might like.)

FDA Fast Track was yet another infiltration by industry into federal regulation and oversight brought about by a concerted effort of industry lobbyist. It wasn't enough that that FDA doesn't even run its own labs or actually conduct the researched used to justify drug approval. The result is that industry can scuttle any negative research and provide only the positive evidence that supports their claims of benefit over risk of a potential candidate for use as a medicine.

The use of a single set of equipment approved by the federal government in the event of a nuclear disaster relief sounds interesting of it face. My hope would be that the teams responsible and the equipment, itself, are better thought out, designed and kept than the blow-out protectors and environmental disaster response plans developed by the oil industry which failed so miserably in the Gulf of Mexico. The blowout protector in that case was shown to have been approved for use even though it had not been tested or maintained in accordance with regulation. It was operated under a waiver granted by the feds at the assurance of Industry.

Good, but this still misses the real point (1, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#42244555)

It is great that the industry is finally doing something. To be honest, I am amazed that FEMA did little about that in the past. However, that is not the real issue.
We are working with reactors that actually expired long ago. These should be taken down AND REPLACED. Not with coal, or Nat Gas, etc. but with a SAFE reactor that can burn up most of the current spent fuel.

GE's PRISMs could do this, but even better would be thorium reactors. It would be in the West's as well as America's and the nuke industry to spend some money helping local companies get their thorium reactor designs tested and passed. These have ZERO chance of a meltdown (unless you can avoid the laws of physics or the NRC allows piss-poor designs). Likewise, these can be factory built which will make them a great deal safer AND CHEAPER than the build-on-site monsters. Note that by using the 'waste' that is on-site, it would be possible to lower the amount of real waste. And with much smaller amounts that need to be discarded 100 years out, well, this becomes today's issue that solves itself down the road.

I call Band-Aid (2)

ElitistWhiner (79961) | about 2 years ago | (#42244701)

Anyone else think there's time to re-act, re-locate, re-spond with their Emergency Erector Set? Chernobyl anyone?

Re:I call Band-Aid (2, Informative)

sinij (911942) | about 2 years ago | (#42244885)

Not Chernobyl hysteria again. Different reactor design, plus in Chernobyl's case safety mechanisms and fallbacks were intentionally disabled in attempt to prevent safety shutdown. They succeeded in overriding safety shutdown and melted whole thing.

In case of Japanese disaster - yes, they had time to react.They probably had enough time to had it fly from US, had something like that was available.

Re:I call Band-Aid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42244981)

That was with Fukushima and that was a pretty bad design, though not as bad as the insane Chernobyl one. What's your point?

Re:I call Band-Aid (0)

Chuckstar (799005) | about 2 years ago | (#42245655)

Chernobyl was a catastrophic failure which occurred over a matter of minutes. Once that failure occurred, there was really not much that could have been done to mitigate the damage. At least not much more than was actually done.

In the case of Fukushima, the ultimate failures occurred over the days following the tsunami. Even emergency systems that might take a day or two to put in place could have dramatically reduced the damage.

Completely different situations. You avoid Chernobyl through better design and operating guidelines. You avoid Fukushima by having better backup plans.

Re:I call Band-Aid (1)

inventorM (1872970) | about 2 years ago | (#42245933)

Don't bring Chernobyl into this. The Chernobyl reactor design was considered unsafe fifty years and three design generations ago, and nobody in the West was building those designs even then. What caused the disaster was that the managers decided to remove multiple layers of safety devices and controls to run unscheduled and unapproved tests, and when the plant caught fire, the response teams had no protective gear, and little equipment to put the fire out. Had the same disaster occurred in the West (assuming that the NRC had approved a basically unsafe reactor design in the first place), the personnel and equipment available to the response personnel would have allowed them to put the fire out without the huge radiation dispersal that occurred at Chernobyl. Additionally, were you to visit the area today, you would see that the area has recovered from what damage was done, and that the local flora and fauna have long since returned to their original state (no more mutant trees or critters than could be statistically expected in most of the world). If I said something empirically wrong, please provide references to research from reputable sources (such as UN science groups) based directly on data.

Two words: passive cooling (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#42245031)

Is it really so difficult for the USA to implement when it's been used successfully for decades in several other countries?

Re:Two words: passive cooling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42245325)

And what currently operating plants do you know of that have passive cooling / safety systems?

Re:Two words: passive cooling (2)

Tailhook (98486) | about 2 years ago | (#42245425)

Is it really so difficult for the USA to implement...?

Yes. Replacing the fleet means fighting interminable battles with activists armed with judges that injunct whatever they're told to. Even when we do grown-up things like create a law and a tax [wikipedia.org] to fund waste disposal it gets wrecked [slashdot.org] by statists [senate.gov] . Capital knows better than to have anything to do with US nuclear; the US electorate are hysterical children, bought a paid for with bennies and led around with FUD.

Nuclear power is out of our league now. We're just not competent to govern such things any longer. Our zombie reactor fleet will subsist until some easily foreseeable disaster creates sufficient hysteria. Our parents in Washington will then act and take them away.

The US military already has almost everything (1)

frank249 (100528) | about 2 years ago | (#42245441)

In the case of a Fukishima type nuclear emergency, the US military already has the most of the equipment need for a quick response such as generators, armoured vehicles, radiation monitors, airlift etc. Under 18 U.S.C. 831, the Attorney General may request that the Secretary of Defense provide emergency assistance if civilian law enforcement is inadequate to address certain types of threats involving the release of nuclear materials. Such assistance may be by any personnel under the authority of the Department of Defense, provided such assistance does not adversely affect U.S. military preparedness.

how about many smaller plants? (4, Interesting)

k6mfw (1182893) | about 2 years ago | (#42245567)

20 years ago, Ed Teller was a speaker at an Engineers Week banquet. He suggested instead of a few large nuclear plants with all complexities of sheer size plus containment vessel and security, make many smaller plants that are more manageable. I wish this was taped, I took some notes and published in one of local engineering society newsletters (did best I could capturing Teller's actual phrases). Seems to be a reasonable idea, a friend who was in Navy sub service said there are about 30 different emergency procedures (or steps?) on dealing with reactor problems. He feels large commercial plants are so complex, certain situations which can overwhelm operators. Of course there are many issues when dealing with lots of small nuclear power plants. I'm just throwing out some things I've heard.

Regarding a "rescue wagon" which I don't think will be practical. Unlike other disaster response plans (i.e. for various natural disasters), events of large scale nuclear disasters are very few in between. Having an effective team with resources will continually on "high state of combat readiness" will be very taxing with highly trained crews waiting years for The Big One. Perhaps if going with large nuclear plants, put in extra protection i.e. backup systems. Yes, these backup systems cost additional money but far cheaper than cost of the disaster itself if it were to occur. And some of these "once in 10,000 years events" do actually happen in your lifetime.

Re:how about many smaller plants? (1)

Chuckstar (799005) | about 2 years ago | (#42245691)

I actually think your argument tends to favor central "rescue wagon" teams. You either need a few central teams that can be airlifted to the site of trouble, or you would have to have an equivalent team in place at every facility. Seems like it would be more effective to have a few central teams, well trained, on 24-hr alert, then have to provide that same level of training and readiness in place at each and every facility.

Fukashima actually came after another disaster... (3, Interesting)

dfenstrate (202098) | about 2 years ago | (#42245583)

Folks,
I'd like to introduce you to "Extreme Damage Mitigating Guidelines" (EDMG), which are procedures created in response to NRC Security Order Section B.5.b. That order was created after 9/11/2001, when crashing airliners into important structures became a known tactic.

The industry response to the B.5.b requirements is not unlike what you would expect for Fukashima contingencies (you've lost large portions of your plant to widespread fires and destruction. How can you mitigate the release of radionuclides to the public when areas x,y and z of your plant are heavily damaged?)

A certain local nuclear power plant I'm familiar with has a diesel-powered pump stored onsite but far away from the power block. It's the exact same type of pump that would have saved the plants at Fukushima, and because of 9/11, we already had the pump, hoses, flanges, and connections required to inject cooling water into the reactor or steam generators under the most adverse conditions. This equipment and the required contigencies plans were in place a few years before Fukushima.

Now the post-Fukushima problem is a natural disaster could conceivably wipe out this B5B pump, putting this contingency plan at risk.
That, presumably, is where this FLEX equipment comes in.
If you can't count on ANYTHING onsite being available, then you need to have it stored safely offsite. If you're going to do that, might as well share the equipment and costs.
One might argue about the size of the regions where this equipment is shared, but the FLEX equipment is:
a backup plan (FLEX)
to a backup plan (EDMG per B5B)
to a backup plan (Severe accident mitigating guidelines and backup pumps and backup- backup generators that pre-date 9/11)
to a backup plan (original emergency diesel generators and emergency operating procedures that have been at the plants from the start.)

Japan did not develop EDMG's after 9/11, and consequently were far behind the US nuclear industry in terms of emergency preparedness.

Now, the NRC has required a number of changes at existing and planned US nuclear facilities in response to the Fukushima meltdowns, however, that builds upon changes already made in response to the B5b regulations that came about a decade ago.

Rescue wagon? (1)

judoguy (534886) | about 2 years ago | (#42245765)

Perhaps a Welcome Wagon would make more sense, as in "Let's build some modern nuke plants".

molten salt? (1)

spongman (182339) | about 2 years ago | (#42245833)

isn't it time we switched to reactor designs that are inherently safe, don't require redundant backup cooling systems?

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