Live near one of these 10 nuclear power plants?
May 9, 2002 11:51 PM   Subscribe

Live near one of these 10 nuclear power plants? They either have cracks in their control rod nozzles or are particularly "vulnerable" to cracking. An inspection at Ohio's Davis-Besse plant led to the completely unexpected discovery of "the most extensive corrosion ever found on top of an American nuclear plant reactor". Radioactive boric acid leaked out of the cracks and came within a half-inch of burning a hole through the steel containment dome. NRC officials say this kind of corrosion "was never considered a credible type of concern," but nuclear safety groups have been warning for years that NRC inaction on this issue was endangering the public. (more links inside)
posted by mediareport (7 comments total)

oh, nukes are evil, nukes are evil, waa waa waa...
posted by delmoi at 12:58 AM on May 10, 2002

:Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: Tokaimura, Japan accidet report

You think you got nuclear incompetence problems? The guys in this story were mixing uranium in regular steel buckets from the hardware store. This was not an accident, it was absolutely inevitable from their procedures.

"Although it is difficult to believe, they apparently did not understand that the amount of intermediate-enriched uranium that could be safely poured into the vessel was smaller than the safe amount of low-enriched uranium, the material they were accustomed to working with. Yokokawa, the supervisor, told investigators later that he didn't even know what a "criticality" was.

"The chain reaction began when the total amount of intermediate-enriched uranium in the tank reached 16.1 kilograms--nearly seven times the authorized amount (2.4 kilograms). At 10:35 an intense burst of neutrons and gamma rays was emitted.

"Ouchi and Shinohara, who were working next to the tank, saw the telltale blue flash of Cerenkov radiation. They immediately fell ill with the classic symptoms of acute radiation poisoning."
posted by planetkyoto at 1:36 AM on May 10, 2002

View pictures of the Davis-Besse corrosion here. This image is especially alarming once you get a sense of the context of the picture (PDF). That's a six inch deep hole in the carbon steel and only about an eighth inch of stainless remaining at the bottom.
posted by dal211 at 7:10 AM on May 10, 2002

oh, nukes are evil, nukes are evil

Nuclear power plants aren't evil -- they're just anti-capitalist.

waa waa waa...
Yeah, FirstEnergy spokesperson Richard Wilkins sure is a crybaby: "We were not expecting to see that extent of corrosion. This has not been seen in the industry before."

Whatever. The most bizarre part of the story to me was learning that U.S. regulators will no longer be treating the steel reactor core as a "sacred component" that can never be breached. "This really challenges that assumption," says one assistant director at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Nuclear power plants have sacred components? Yow. Sure is funny how France and Japan saw and fixed this exact problem over a decade ago.
posted by mediareport at 8:55 AM on May 10, 2002

Heh, I could have told you that about the D.C. Cook plant. (though it's actually in Bridgman, I think).
posted by dagnyscott at 4:47 PM on May 10, 2002

The plant had visual inspections over the years, but corrosion was overlooked because plant staff and management for years did not realize the significance of boric acid deposits on top of the vessel head, according to FirstEnergy's findings.

I can hear a clue alarm screaming !! That kind of alarm is usually set off by management, but how many technicians were involved ? Mhhh.... double clue alarm !
posted by elpapacito at 9:43 AM on May 11, 2002

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