Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japanese Nuclear Situation

From the Dish:
In fact, the current radiation crisis was not caused by the quake itself:
Critics of nuclear energy have long questioned the viability of nuclear power in earthquake-prone regions like Japan. Reactors have been designed with such concerns in mind, but preliminary assessments of the Fukushima Daiichi accidents suggested that too little attention was paid to the threat of tsunami. It appeared that the reactors withstood the powerful earthquake, but the ocean waves damaged generators and backup systems, harming the ability to cool the reactors.
This brings up more questions about redundancy in plant design, and how to prevent the loss of power for cooling systems.  It is very interesting in disasters like this or Katrina, to listen to the discussion of the planning process prior to disasters, and how the disasters undercut those efforts.  One of the problems in New Orleans was that after levies failed, the pumps couldn't be turned on to pump away the water by running normal generators, because the pumps were 12 hZ or something like that, and the on-site generators which produced 12 hZ electric for the pumps had been flooded out.  That is an issue I hadn't realized would be there.  Others knew about it, but they didn't anticipate the failure of the levies.  Too bad these teaching moments come at such terrible times.

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