Ukraine Nuclear Plant: “Evacuate or Take Cover”

September 8, 2022

5 Responses to “Ukraine Nuclear Plant: “Evacuate or Take Cover””

  1. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    Sounds like a plan.

  2. John Oneill Says:

    ‘The saying always is, the safest reactor is a shut down reactor’. That’s long been the war cry of groups like the Sierra Club, NRDC, Greenpeace, Riverkeeper, etc etc. Nuclear power is statistically the safest power source, and coal the most dangerous. Often nuclear plants have been replaced by coal, as in Japan and Germany post 2011, so the people patting themselves on the back for avoiding a lethal radiation dose are instead being poisoned by particulates (or in New York, nitrous oxides from the gas turbines that replaced Indian Point.)
    Mark Nelson wrote that we didn’t really want to find out that a nuclear plant was tough enough to keep operating while a tank battle went on in the car park – don’t try that with an oil refinery! A spent fuel cask is also not a ready-made dirty bomb. The uranium is still in solid pellets, surrounded by strong zirconium tubing, not the aerosolised powder you’d need for an effective dirty bomb.
    Spent fuel casks are no easy pushover. The ones used at Zaporizhzhia were designed by an American nuclear operator, Duke Energy, after the break-up of the Soviet Union meant Ukraine could no longer send spent fuel to Siberia. But as well as changing the US design to fit Russian fuel assemblies, the Ukrainians imposed stricter radiation protection standards. ‘One of the biggest challenges was designing the storage basket and cask to meet more stringent radiation shielding requirements imposed by the Ukrainian legislature. The strict shielding requirement required a significant increase in the thickness of the interior steel concrete liner and the walls of the storage cask. Redesigns optimized the liner thickness at 3 inches (compared to the usual 1.5-in.-thick).. file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/rs_2002_1-2_4%20(2).pdfliner)…

    • greenman3610 Says:

      the security argument is certainly relevant in present day Ukraine.
      However, the point that I try to get people to think about is the economic barriers to nuclear in the US currently.
      The experience at VC Sumner and Vogtle has made jumbo size reactors kind of a no-go, that leaves the Small modulars, which have generated a significant amount of interest.
      If we stipulate that the safety, waste, and proliferation problems have been solved, just the difficulty of developing a supply chain, getting an assembly line operating, siting thousands of these things near sufficient water supply, and accessing the High Assay Low Enrichment fuel that these designs require are real challenges.
      If we can believe what a General Electric exec recently said, that the SMRs can be cost competitive with where solar and wind are now, by 2050, that’s quite a few years where you’re going to have to sell customers on electricity that is quite a bit more expensive than renewables.
      The potential for producing industrial heat for many applications will be a draw, but will it be enough to out compete gas any time soon?
      I don’t know the answer to these questions, but my point is, you can’t just go to the nuclear plant store and buy a nuclear plant. Like so many things, it’s complicated.

  3. John Oneill Says:

    The west, in the last twenty years, has not built any reactors, and now finds that they’re not very good at it. They used to be OK -France built 80% of its electrical needs in fifteen years. Germany commissioned 22 GW of reactors in 20 years, which made, before Fukushima, up to 28% of its power ( the same percentage as was made last year by 127 GW of wind and solar.)
    Russia has been building two VVER units in Bangla Desh, about the same size, and with very similar technology, to the two at Vogtle, and like them, due to come online next year – but the Rooppur reactors started construction seven years later than the pair in Georgia, and cost less than half as much. China began building two similar ones in Pakistan, near Karachi, in 2015 and 2016, and both are now at full power.
    The tortuous progress, or lack of it, of Vogtle and VC Summer in the US, and Olkiluoto and Flamanville in Europe, are often given as evidence that nuclear is little use as a climate mitigation tool. But Olkiluoto, which is now ramping up to full power, will produce more electricity than all the wind turbines built in Denmark over the seventeen years of its construction. It should also do it much more consistently. To paraphrase Orwell, all power plants need backup, but some need it more than others. Finland’s nuclear is now running at 90% of capacity, Denmark’s wind at 34%.

  4. John Oneill Says:

    PS Denmark’s solar output is zero atm. Over the last 24 hours, it produced for 12 hours, average capacity 47%. Over the full day, that would be 23.5%. In three months, when winter gas shortages will really be biting, it won’t make even ten percent as much as that. Meanwhile Finland’s reactors should be running at full power, with production slightly higher, as the cooling water temperature will give greater efficiency. Or they could perhaps, in future, forego that couple of points advantage, and run the waste water through a heat exchanger to provide district heating to the city of Turku, 100 km away. Studies have been done on using heat from the Loviisa reactors for the Helsinki district heating network. The Westinghouse designed AP1000 reactors in Shandong, China (the same model as at Vogtle), completed in 2018 and 2019, are already making all the heating for the city of Haiyang.

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