Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Know nukes.

There's an interesting post and discussion thread at TheSurvivalistBlog on what happens to nukyular power plants when the EMP asteroid strikes during a nuclear war and the dead walk the earth in search of human brains.

The comment section is the really interesting part, mainly because many of the comments are coming from people who glow in the dark for a living and therefore presumably know what they are talking about.

34 comments:

Jeff the Baptist said...

Interesting is a good word for it. The original post isn't very good. I'm not in the nuclear industry, but I spotted gaping flaws in it. The error correction in the commentary is actually very good.

Alan J. said...

Tam, thank you for linking to a very interesting article. I never would have come across it otherwise, and I found the comments very interesting and informative. What concerns and annoys me is how many idiots out there are relying on Jane Fonda, Hollywood, and the New York Times for their information on nuclear technology.

Boat Guy said...

It's good that the comments provide a forum for a little edumacayshun ... apparently it's sorely needed.

Discobobby said...

I'm on the research side of the industry, almost every commercial reactor design was either designed here or has its design roots here. The error correction in the commentary is outstanding. The ignorance in the article and in some of the scaremongering comments is breathtaking.

They really don't think some of the brightest people on the planet thought about an extended blackout scenario? Passive convection cooling isn't that difficult to grasp, but it does make sensationalist nonsense a lot less interesting.

Have fun shivering in the dark, hippie. The only large scale, carbon neutral, constant generation solution the human race currently has will be waiting for you to get a clue. All the coal we burn for power every year releases far more radioactivity than all the nuclear power plants in the world, plus all the carbon emissions you hate. Instead of having the waste concentrated, controlled, contained and protected like nuclear power does, you prefer the waste be belched out into the sky to contaminate the entire atmosphere. But that's invisible and kinda why hippies don't take science classes, so its hard to think about or put it on a protest poster.

Easier to be scared of teh glowy stuff.

Anonymous said...

When you use a Jane Fonda movie as technical reference you pretty much lose any crediblity with me.

Just a quirk I guess.

Gerry

og said...

Time was, you could tour Cook Nuclear or Byron, or Braidwood, and get all these answers for yourself. Since 9/11 that's all pretty well changed.

Nuke engineers were all old timers, well acquainted with Murphy. My uncle was one, he'd started his career as a coal-steam stationary engineer and was brough in and kept in when Cook opened. Everything is fail-safe and has multiple redundancy. If you compare the way US nuke plants work to the way, say, Chernobyl worked, you can see the anal-retentiveness inherent in the systems.

I'd rather live close to an Exelon reactor than, say, Jane Fonda.

Anonymous said...

I've been a reader of The Survivalist Blog dot Net for a long time and the information and community are far beyond and of the other survival type blogs.

It should be noted that this was a quest post and not authored by the regular blog author.

At the start Mr Creekmore noted that he was not an expert on nuclear power and asked for feedback on this guest post from readers. That is what makes that blog so great is the community support.

mikee said...

Larry Niven, in "Lucifer's Hammer" went there and did that a few decades back. In his own inimitably 80's scifi style, of course. Without the zombies, but with cannibalistic militiamen, who were sorta zombielike, before zombies became so cool and all.

http://www.amazon.com/Lucifers-Hammer-Larry-Niven/dp/0449208133

ps: When this blog first started using Word Verification, I commented that I was going to use the verification terms for names in my still unwritten scifi/fantasy novel because they were strikingly unique and odd. TW this time is jacksedge, and I am keeping it in my list to name some minor bad guy later.

Joshkie said...

I always love the Homer Simpson stereotype of people that work in nuclear power plants glow in the dark. Truth be told you get exposed to more hard radiation standing in the sun. The industry that exposes more poeple to harmful radiation is....

Airline pilots and flight attendants.
Less atmospheric protection from the suns harmfull rays.

Thomas said...

Speaking as an 8-year ex-USN submarine nuc officer/(Chief) Engineer officer qualifed (submarines), my God the ignorance and stupidity expressed on that site is stupendous. One or two voices of reason (ex-Navy nucs) but you have to wade through so much crap to get to the one or two posts worth anything, fugettaboutit.

Nuclear power plants do generate decay heat at significant levels for days and even weeks after shutdown, and the amount of heat decays pseudo-exponentially as the short-lived fission products decay away. Immediately after shutdown, that decay heat, if not removed by circulating water through the core, would melt the core (this is what damaged the reactor core in the Three Mile Island accident). I can't speak for the civilian power plants, but there are more than a half-dozen different ways to remove this decay heat (that's MORE than 6 ways) from the core seeing how critical it is to be able to remove this heat or else. At least one of the ways requires no electricity at all (natural convection cooling). After my sea tour on a submarine, I was an instructor and operator at a land-based Navy reactor used to train fleet operators. The land-based reactors have even more redundant ways to remove the decay heat than the submarine reactors that don't operate near land and civilian populations.

Take-home message: for TEOTWAWKI purposes, living near a reactor isn't going to pose ANY credible danger I can think of. A nuclear power plant could well represent the best way to restore massive amounts of clean electrical power after a disaster. I wish my utility would replace the coal-fired plant in my backyard with a nuclear one - the nuc plant would be cleaner, and I'd get less radiation exposure from the nuc plant than I do from the naturally-occurring radioactivity in the crap that goes up the stack at my coal-fired plant!

Ancient Woodsman said...

"What concerns and annoys me is how many idiots out there are relying on Jane Fonda, Hollywood, and the New York Times for their information on nuclear technology."

40 years ago that same combination wielded power enough to influence a nation's foreign policy; if all that can do now is to crank a few readers of a comments-section in an esoteric blog, I'd call that a desirable trend.

Ed Foster said...

Listen to Thomas, or Gone With The Wind on the blog site. That water is there primarily to absorb radiation, especially neutron emissions.

I'm not a former Nukie, but several friends are. Because the Navy trains it's submariners here, and builds it's boats here, we have a surplus of mostly southern boys who married local girls and put down roots.

Connecticut is, to my knowledge, the only state that gets a majority of it's electricity from nuclear, and the industry's parts are made in the scores of small local jobshops that also produce most of the world's jet engines and America's gun parts.

United Nuclear had it's gear made by Barnes Group in Windsor for years, and the guy who ran the program was perhaps the brightest man I have ever met, a colorful dude named Jim McCabe.

I would get an hilarious explanation of the antinuke position from Jimmy on about a monthly basis, whenever another Luddite made a new doomsday scenario. I wish I'd taped him. It was serious ROFL stuff.

Brian Dunbar said...

Read the post. I'm dumber than when I started, like someone yanked out some of my brains and stuffed in sawdust.


At the start Mr Creekmore noted that he was not an expert on nuclear power and asked for feedback on this guest post from readers.


No. He presented his flights of apocalyptic fancy as if they were facts and THEN asked for feedback.

It's no different from listening to a couple of townies at the local tavern blather over their beer.

Nylarthotep said...

Definitely interesting post. Always a bit frightening to see how willing people are to believe utter crap without even doing some research from reliable sources.

Also reinforces my belief that the US will never see major usage of nuclear power because people are terrified of it for no logical reason.

I got out of the nuclear field 10 years ago. I worked as a health physicist for about 15 years. Things like that still get under my skin.

Tirno said...

I worked as an IT gopher my senior year of high school at a nuclear fuel plant across the road from the Hanford area, and even my very basic exposure to the field left we with enough background to be going "Now wait just a damn minute" most of the way through the original post and several of the commenters.

Anonymous said...

Brian Dunbar,

Mr Creekmore did not write the post one of his readers did. The reader writing the post was concerned about nuclear power and Mr Creekmore posted it to help him find answers. No one on the site was or is spreading fear only trying to have a discussion and work out potential problems.

Sorry you can not see the logic in that.

Brian Dunbar said...

Mr Creekmore did not write the post one of his readers did.

I know that. So? I was quoting Mr. Anonymous who _said_ Mr. Creekmore wrote the post. Blame your anonymous peer, not I.

No one on the site was or is spreading fear

Did I say they were? I implied the poster was an ignorant fool.

only trying to have a discussion and work out potential problems.

The only problem the fellow needs to work out is separating fact from fiction.

Anonymous said...

No more nukes! Hack,spit,wheeze. Don't "Bogart that joint". Hey man, can you mainline tofu up your butt?

Tony said...

...Aaand that is why I don't usually read The Survival Blog. Or just about anything else with the term "survival" (or "prepper" or what ever the term of the day is) in it. Oh, it's definitely not that I don't believe that something bad could happen (I'm running out of room under my desk because I've stashed 10 liter jugs of water underneath it to ensure a supply of clean water in case the municipal water system is contaminated, what does that tell you? :) ), but rather I get the feeling that "survivalism" (or whatever you want to call it) is more a religion than anything rational.

It's a pity, really. Rational preparedness (keeping in mind the maxim "there is no such thing as overkill", of course :) ) is something I feel rather keenly about but as soon as a discussion veers into a survival situation, more often than not the discussees seem to feel things like the laws of physics cease to exist or are altered. It's not about being prepared at that point anymore, it's about an imagined fantasy world.

Baddog said...

Hmmm. After 20 years in Nucplant operations, if there is a great natural/manmade disaster looming, I'm grabbing the wife and heading TO the plant. We'll be safer there than anywhere.

Discobobby said...

Ed Foster,
The Chicago area gets 92% of its electric power from nuclear generation. It helps that virtually every US commercial reactor was either designed here or has its design roots here.

Hell yes, head to a plant in a crisis. If they'll let you in. :)

Rick T said...

I know *exactly* where the author got his 'pull rods' fallacy: the TV show Voyage to the Bottom of Sea. About every 3rd episode the captain of the Seaview would have to go in to the Reactor Room to pull rods by hand to keep the reactor from exploding...

I'm an ex Navy Nuc (and did the radiation surveys) and an engineer. My Nuc E professor at Penn State was in the Three Mile Island disaster analysis team and Murphy was in charge that day, they destroyed 80% or so of the core and *still* didn't breach containment...

Anonymous said...

If you eat between 1/2 to 1 kilo of lutefisk a day, you can wade into, up to your eyeballs, any nuclear contaminated water you may encounter come 2012 without turning into a zombie.

I know that's true. I read it on the web.

Borepatch said...

I don't know why, but all I can picture right now is Christopher Walken in "Blast From The Past".

treefroggy said...

Why does the site map include decommissioned nuke plants like Maine Yankee ?

og said...

"between 1/2 to 1 kilo of lutefisk a day"

So THAT's what that crap is for!!! I though it was for tying to a pullthrough and uncloging drains.

Gewehr98 said...

Good for a giggle or three.

This, from an irradiated USAF WC-135 Constant Phoenix crew dawg who could cook microwave dinners just by putting them in his pocket for a bit.

(Yeah, but they're SLOW neutrons!)

Discobobby said...

Rick T: Penn State Nuc E and ex Nuclear Navy? We probably know some of the same people. Rob Daum ring a bell? He's good people, it's a shame we lost him to industry.

Rick T said...

DiscoBobby, I'm a class of 86 E Sci grad and was in the USN from 75-81. The Nuc E department taught a class on statistical transport of matter for the major in our Junior year.

I don't remember a Rob Daum, when was he in State College?

Discobobby said...

Did his Nuc E PhD in the 2000 timeframe, I think.

M.D. Creekmore said...

Folks, I published the post for Jack to help him find answers and to quiet his fears and I think the post followed by the resulting comments accomplished that. At the beginning of the post I posted a warning as to the accuracy of the content.

Tam said...

M.D.,

Like I said elsewhere, I think the comments section is full of some valuable info. Thank you for hosting that discussion!

Tony said...

M.D.: The post itself, however, presents its claims as factual rather than hypothetical, and your warning merely stated that "I am not an expert". The end result was that I at least was left with the assumption that The Survival Blog considers the claims of the post factual, and not bad information that needs to be corrected.

Geodkyt said...

Favorite nuclear exposure factiod:

On US Navy surface nukes (just CVNs these days),the nukes generally have the LOWEST radiation exposure amongstthe crew.

The reason they glow in the dark ain't radiation -- it's that they have complexions that make Marilyn Manson look like George Hamilton, because their duties keep the Big Steel Decks between them and that unshielded fusion reactor in the sky. Dracula calls them "paleface".