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(NBC News)   Researchers in Japan plan a "controlled nuclear reactor meltdown" in nuclear industry's first use of Pee-wee Herman's "I meant to do that" PR strategy   (worldnews.nbcnews.com) divider line 54
    More: Scary, Pee-wee Herman, Fukushima, Japan, meltdown, Tokyo Electric Power Company, nuclear power, electrical power industry, nuclear reactors  
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4904 clicks; posted to Main » on 09 Jan 2014 at 2:20 PM (49 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-01-09 01:02:26 PM  
Viral marketing for the new Godzilla movie.
 
2014-01-09 01:11:29 PM  
They're conducting a controlled failure to better understand how the failure occurs.  I work with civil engineers who build actual buildings just for the purpose of knocking them over. Same idea.

This is a great thing, as it reinforces the idea that not every meltdown leads to catastrophic destruction. It results in a tiny bit of radioactive metal melting.
 
2014-01-09 01:17:44 PM  
The US did this awhile back. The moltan fuel slag will pretty much burn through anything until it spreads out enough to no longer be critical.
 
2014-01-09 01:35:10 PM  

Fubini: as it reinforces the idea that not every meltdown leads to catastrophic destruction. It results in a tiny bit of radioactive metal melting.


Or Godzilla.
I'll just wait and see.
 
2014-01-09 02:24:15 PM  

vudukungfu: Fubini: as it reinforces the idea that not every meltdown leads to catastrophic destruction. It results in a tiny bit of radioactive metal melting.

Or Godzilla.
I'll just wait and see.


Why not both? This is Japan after all, they're big on efficiency.
 
2014-01-09 02:25:04 PM  

b2theory: The US did this awhile back. The moltan fuel slag will pretty much burn through anything until it spreads out enough to no longer be critical.


And that's the history explaining why here in America we have Arkansas.
 
2014-01-09 02:27:09 PM  
I'm sure that this will end up a resounding success and that nothing bad like radiation contamination will not occur.  100% completely safe.  After all, with TEPCO's record of being totally honest, utterly credible, and on top of everything after Fukushima, we should believe them.
 
2014-01-09 02:29:05 PM  
What could possibly go wrong?
 
2014-01-09 02:29:33 PM  
Pee-wee Herman's "I meant to do that" PR strategy

It's more Maxwell Smart than Pee-wee Herman.
 
2014-01-09 02:31:22 PM  
Im planning on going there this summer....not the nuclear plant mind you, i wanted to go see the 1/1 scale gundam. and do some toy shopping.
 
2014-01-09 02:31:36 PM  

b2theory: The US did this awhile back. The moltan fuel slag will pretty much burn through anything until it spreads out enough to no longer be critical.


Yeah that.

It's not the melting fuel that poses the biggest threat in a meltdown. It's the ensuing explosion caused by steam as a result of the out of control heating of the water surrounding the fuel rods.

/not an expert
//do live close to Hanford
///radioactive rabbits and tumbleweeds
 
2014-01-09 02:35:05 PM  
If I recall, I said a lot of things that sounded very close to that (prefaced by "don't worry") back in the 80's, after a long night's bar-crawl that ended up with me in some woman's apartment.
 
2014-01-09 02:38:04 PM  
So I was looking for an appropriate facepalm picture...

www.mightykingdom.com

I'm not a nuclear engineer or operator. I am a lowly little RP tech. All I can say is, WTF Tepco, we have a enough problems without you constantly giving ammunition to our loudest opponents.

/waves tiny flags in support of Vogtle 3 and 4
 
2014-01-09 02:38:08 PM  

hammettman: If I recall, I said a lot of things that sounded very close to that (prefaced by "don't worry") back in the 80's, after a long night's bar-crawl that ended up with me in some woman's apartment.


more detail so we can give you a CSB.
 
2014-01-09 02:40:23 PM  
will it be like when the USSR tested what would happen during a total coolant loss at Chernobyl?  because they WERE running such a test, when the dissaster happened.
 
2014-01-09 02:42:25 PM  

b2theory: The US did this awhile back. The moltan fuel slag will pretty much burn through anything until it spreads out enough to no longer be critical.


I know that the US did it at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory in 1985.   Simulate worst case of what could have happene at 3 Mile Island
 
2014-01-09 02:46:50 PM  
STWAP it Japan, just stop it. I get it, modern nuclear reactors are safe and provide an unlimited source of immense energy. But one of those requirements is building it on STABLE GROUND. Your entire nation is the result of VOLCANIC ACTIVITY and you drill every year on a national scale for EARTHQUAKES, TSUNAMIS, and VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS. Not exactly the ideal place to put a nuclear reactor.

/US really needs to get on the ball about nuclear energy if they want to "save the environment"
 
2014-01-09 02:47:27 PM  

madgordy: will it be like when the USSR tested what would happen during a total coolant loss at Chernobyl?  because they WERE running such a test, when the dissaster happened.


Well that wasn't the intent of Chernobyl's dumbassery but that is what happened in a roundabout sort of way. The point of Chernobyl was to see if, during a turbine trip, the coast down of the main turbine could be used to power the primary coolant pumps while the emergency diesel generators got their shiat together. This apparently being a better idea than buying new generators.

/oh Russian engineering you so crazy
 
2014-01-09 02:56:21 PM  
More than 18,000 people died in the triple disaster.

Wow what an extremely disingenuous way of ending the article.
 
2014-01-09 02:56:59 PM  

dusty15893: b2theory: The US did this awhile back. The moltan fuel slag will pretty much burn through anything until it spreads out enough to no longer be critical.

Yeah that.

It's not the melting fuel that poses the biggest threat in a meltdown. It's the ensuing explosion caused by steam as a result of the out of control heating of the water surrounding the fuel rods.

/not an expert
//do live close to Hanford
///radioactive rabbits and tumbleweeds


My favorite part of the history of the Manhattan Project is the site selection process: "We need somewhere that's such a God forsaken wasteland, if the reactors explode no one will care." "Got just the place, boss."
 
2014-01-09 03:01:47 PM  
This is how the Chernobyl disaster started.
 
2014-01-09 03:02:59 PM  
whither_apophis:

My favorite part of the history of the Manhattan Project is the site selection process: "We need somewhere that's such a God forsaken wasteland, if the reactors explode no one will care." "Got just the place, boss."

So why did they second guess themselves and not build it in New Jersey?
 
2014-01-09 03:03:39 PM  

Fubini: They're conducting a controlled failure to better understand how the failure occurs.  I work with civil engineers who build actual buildings just for the purpose of knocking them over. Same idea.

This is a great thing, as it reinforces the idea that not every meltdown leads to catastrophic destruction. It results in a tiny bit of radioactive metal melting.


Yup.  A couple of years ago there was a program on TV where they did a big scale science experiment--crashing an old jetliner.  It was heavily equipped with cameras and the like and they pancaked it in like might happen to a plane that lost power--the sort of crash where some will live and some will die.

b2theory: The US did this awhile back. The moltan fuel slag will pretty much burn through anything until it spreads out enough to no longer be critical.


Although from Chernobyl we saw that it would take the path of least resistance--while it can burn through stuff below it it would prefer to flow into already open space.  This spreads it out and the reaction goes out.
 
2014-01-09 03:04:56 PM  
I'm all for this, as long as Japan also starts work on their Giant Robot industry.
 
2014-01-09 03:05:46 PM  

xria: whither_apophis:

My favorite part of the history of the Manhattan Project is the site selection process: "We need somewhere that's such a God forsaken wasteland, if the reactors explode no one will care." "Got just the place, boss."

So why did they second guess themselves and not build it in New Jersey?


Turns out you need clean water too.
 
2014-01-09 03:09:55 PM  
i1182.photobucket.com
 
2014-01-09 03:17:35 PM  

Callous: This is how the Chernobyl disaster started.


Why in the name of the holy hand grenade of Antioch are you trying to claim that? For one, it basically states you know nothing about the Chernoby disster because trust me, they had no intent of actually damaging the reactor. For another, we really do have to be careful when comparing Chernobyl to Fukushima because they are physically apples and oranges.

A much closer comparison can be made with Three Mile Island. Yes, TMI is a pressurized water reactor, not an early generation boiling water reactor like Fukushima, but at least we're not having to take thousands of pounds of graphite into account like in Chernobyl...
 
2014-01-09 03:28:53 PM  

Ringshadow: madgordy: will it be like when the USSR tested what would happen during a total coolant loss at Chernobyl?  because they WERE running such a test, when the dissaster happened.

Well that wasn't the intent of Chernobyl's dumbassery but that is what happened in a roundabout sort of way. The point of Chernobyl was to see if, during a turbine trip, the coast down of the main turbine could be used to power the primary coolant pumps while the emergency diesel generators got their shiat together. This apparently being a better idea than buying new generators.

/oh Russian engineering you so crazy


It was that coupled with known issues with the RBMK reactors making it unstable in lower power situations. Once the power dropped too low to start the test the operators disabled the automatic reactor controls for a bunch of the control rods. They then manually pulled out those control rods to bring the power output back up without knowing that the reason for the drop was the reactor was being poisoned with xenon. So when the test began and the automatic system began to compensate for steam voids in the core the automated system didn't have control over enough rods to fully stop the run away process. Did I mention the control room was filled with alarms going off about these conditions for over an hour but were ignored so that the test could continue?

Once the SCRAM button was pressed a poor design in the rods coupled with the situation in the reactor resulted in the fuel rods rupturing and jamming the control rods before they were fully inserted. This was when they operators lost control of the reactor and there was a steam explosion that exposed the core to the atmosphere. There was then a second larger explosion that no one for sure knows the cause of that scattered the core outside the building and ended the nuclear chain reaction. Things just went from there.

The Soviets knew that the RBMK reactors weren't stable at low power (where the test was performed) but the engineers knew that the reactors would always be run in approved conditions. If that was the case then they were safe. An unapproved test by people who didn't fully know what they were doing who overrode the reactor's automatic control systems and ran an unsafe reactor outside of its safety margins managed to cause a steam explosion. Since the reactor was inside what is essentially a tin shack the reactor was able to vent to the atmosphere.

That's a lot different than a controlled meltdown of a single fuel rod in an appropriate biological shield.

\makes you feel safe that there are still 11 RBMK reactors still in operation
 
2014-01-09 03:29:11 PM  
TEPCO has nothing to do with this experiment, and considering that there have been multiple meltdowns in the last decades where nobody died which just shows that a meltdown doesn't have to be a huge catastrophe, I see no reason to go in full derp mode like some people in this thread.
 
2014-01-09 03:33:47 PM  
If they are literally doing it intentionally then it doesn't qualify for a Pee-Wee Herman style "I meant to do that" it is more of a "hold my beer while I try something" style fail.

/may not be a fail at all, I am in know way qualified to make that distinction. But if it is a fail then this is what type.
 
2014-01-09 03:35:22 PM  
1.bp.blogspot.com

Back in the 50s, the US deliberately caused a reactor explosion to see what would happen.   BORAX
 
2014-01-09 03:39:05 PM  

CleanAndPure: b2theory: The US did this awhile back. The moltan fuel slag will pretty much burn through anything until it spreads out enough to no longer be critical.

And that's the history explaining why here in America we have Arkansas.


Radioactive poor scotsmen?
 
2014-01-09 03:43:09 PM  

Ringshadow: Callous: This is how the Chernobyl disaster started.

Why in the name of the holy hand grenade of Antioch are you trying to claim that? For one, it basically states you know nothing about the Chernoby disster because trust me, they had no intent of actually damaging the reactor. For another, we really do have to be careful when comparing Chernobyl to Fukushima because they are physically apples and oranges.

A much closer comparison can be made with Three Mile Island. Yes, TMI is a pressurized water reactor, not an early generation boiling water reactor like Fukushima, but at least we're not having to take thousands of pounds of graphite into account like in Chernobyl...



I think he's referring to the policy of "just because it's an experiment doesn't mean something can't fail and go horribly wrong." Anytime a safety is deliberately toggled off, careful consideration should be go into what other systems are implicitly assuming such a safety.
 
2014-01-09 03:47:04 PM  
What happened to you Japan? You used to be cool.

In the 80s, the Japanese were pinnacle of efficient engineering. Now they are worse the 'Bubba' after a case and a half of Billy Beer.
 
2014-01-09 03:53:57 PM  

TheDirtyNacho: [1.bp.blogspot.com image 640x473]

Back in the 50s, the US deliberately caused a reactor explosion to see what would happen.   BORAX


static2.wikia.nocookie.net 

Now that's my kind of reactor.
 
2014-01-09 03:57:01 PM  
Steps...

1/ invent nuclear weapons and power
2/ bomb the fark out of a couple of civilian cities so you can conquer the evil empire
3/ get general electric to supply nuclear generators to them
4/ biatch and moan about how evil the other guys are when it farks out
5/ profit ?
 
2014-01-09 03:57:13 PM  
Back in the 50s, the US deliberately caused a reactor explosion to see what would happen.

Damm, engineers back then had all the fun...
 
2014-01-09 03:59:50 PM  

DocPeabody: STWAP it Japan, just stop it. I get it, modern nuclear reactors are safe and provide an unlimited source of immense energy. But one of those requirements is building it on STABLE GROUND. Your entire nation is the result of VOLCANIC ACTIVITY and you drill every year on a national scale for EARTHQUAKES, TSUNAMIS, and VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS. Not exactly the ideal place to put a nuclear reactor.

/US really needs to get on the ball about nuclear energy if they want to "save the environment"


Screw nukes the National Ignition Laboratory is going to bring us Fusion. As more safer waste products.
 
2014-01-09 04:18:49 PM  

xria: whither_apophis:

My favorite part of the history of the Manhattan Project is the site selection process: "We need somewhere that's such a God forsaken wasteland, if the reactors explode no one will care." "Got just the place, boss."

So why did they second guess themselves and not build it in New Jersey?


Reactors exploding in New Jersey would be a benefit to the nation.
 
2014-01-09 04:37:02 PM  

Prophet of Loss: What happened to you Japan? You used to be cool.

In the 80s, the Japanese were pinnacle of efficient engineering. Now they are worse the 'Bubba' after a case and a half of Billy Beer.


Never met anyone who could force down so much as a twelve pack of that rotgut Billy Beer....
 
2014-01-09 04:48:17 PM  

whither_apophis: My favorite part of the history of the Manhattan Project is the site selection process: "We need somewhere that's such a God forsaken wasteland, if the reactors explode no one will care." "Got just the place, boss."


Sort of. They did want desolation but that was mostly for secrecy. The other main requirement was a good, stable source of energy nearby (the Grand Coulee Dam as it turned out, was just coming online). Those two things are why that happened. The same applies to the TVA and Oak Ridge. Reactors "Exploding" wasn't the concern. By the time they get to that point they had a fairly good idea of what the critical mass was for what they were making from operating the pile in Chicago.
 
2014-01-09 05:14:32 PM  
MadMattressMack:

It was that coupled with known issues with the RBMK reactors making it unstable in lower power situations. Once the power dropped too low to start the test the operators disabled the automatic reactor controls for a bunch of the control rods. They then manually pulled out those control rods to bring the power output back up without knowing that the reason for the drop was the reactor was being poisoned with xenon. So when the test began and the automatic system began to compensate for steam voids in the core the automated system didn't have control over enough rods to fully stop the run away process. Did I mention the control room was filled with alarms going off about these conditions for over an hour but were ignored so that the test could continue?
Once the SCRAM button was pressed a poor design in the rods coupled with the situation in the reactor resulted in the fuel rods rupturing and jamming the control rods before they were fully inserted. This was when they operators lost control of the reactor and there was a steam explosion that exposed the core to the atmosphere. There was then a second larger explosion that no one for sure knows the cause of that scattered the core outside the building and ended the nuclear chain reaction. Things just went from there.
The Soviets knew that the RBMK reactors weren't stable at low power (where the test was performed) but the engineers knew that the reactors would always be run in approved conditions. If that was the case then they were safe. An unapproved test by people who didn't fully know what they were doing who overrode the reactor's automatic control systems and ran an unsafe reactor outside of its safety margins managed to cause a steam explosion. Since the reactor was inside what is essentially a tin shack the reactor was able to vent to the atmosphere.
That's a lot different than a controlled meltdown of a single fuel rod in an appropriate biological shield.
\makes you feel safe that there are still 11 RBMK reactors still in operation


i106.photobucket.com
 
2014-01-09 05:48:57 PM  

whither_apophis: dusty15893: b2theory: The US did this awhile back. The moltan fuel slag will pretty much burn through anything until it spreads out enough to no longer be critical.

Yeah that.

It's not the melting fuel that poses the biggest threat in a meltdown. It's the ensuing explosion caused by steam as a result of the out of control heating of the water surrounding the fuel rods.

/not an expert
//do live close to Hanford
///radioactive rabbits and tumbleweeds

My favorite part of the history of the Manhattan Project is the site selection process: "We need somewhere that's such a God forsaken wasteland, if the reactors explode no one will care." "Got just the place, boss."



There were other factors, one was it was wartime so being remote means it could be more easily secured, and by being far apart it was unlikely the whole project could be wrecked.

The other issues were energy to run the uranium isotope separators (this became oak ridge), cooling water for production scale plutonium reactors (this became Hanford) and the desert for actual weapons development and testing (Los Alamos).
 
2014-01-09 05:51:11 PM  

RandomAxe: Pee-wee Herman's "I meant to do that" PR strategy

It's more Maxwell Smart than Pee-wee Herman.


That's his name. Don't wear it out.
 
2014-01-09 06:51:39 PM  
Disabling safety systems in order to do a safety test?  That's never caused a nuclear accident, nope, never...
 
2014-01-09 06:59:42 PM  
MadMattressMack:
It was that coupled with known issues with the RBMK reactors making it unstable in lower power situations.

The BWR actually has stability issues art certain operating ranges.  However, they're much much much slower than the RBMK's oscillations, and easily handled.  Look up the Lasalle incident some day...
 
2014-01-09 07:05:49 PM  

DocPeabody: Your entire nation is the result of VOLCANIC ACTIVITY


Uh... they all are, except Sealand.
 
2014-01-09 07:28:18 PM  

Myria: Disabling safety systems in order to do a safety test?  That's never caused a nuclear accident, nope, never...


Actually from what I read it looks like they will be making a very small standard reactor environment with extra non-standard safety features over and above of the normal ones (to control and contain the experiment after the intentional destructive failure experiment is over) in order to closely observe what happens when the normal safety features fail, which is something that you cannot do with a regular reactor for the obvious reasons. I'd imagine that the non-standard safety features include a much more robust containment vessel as well as several other things such as a way to quickly poison the reactor with boron if they start getting unexpected results and a way to safely siphon off and filter any gasses produced.

Think more of a car crash test lab. The car fails as intended during the crash and the data is analyzed from a distance but because of the controlled environment that the crash occurs inside of there is no risk to anyone or anything other than the car itself.
 
2014-01-09 07:28:40 PM  

vharshyde: I'm all for this, as long as Japan also starts work on their Giant Robot industry.


Just started re-watching Gundam SEED Destiny, and I have to agree. Bring on the age of Mecha!
 
2014-01-09 07:34:52 PM  

Radioactive Ass: Myria: Disabling safety systems in order to do a safety test?  That's never caused a nuclear accident, nope, never...

Think more of a car crash test lab. The car fails as intended during the crash and the data is analyzed from a distance but because of the controlled environment that the crash occurs inside of there is no risk to anyone or anything other than the car itself.


I was making a sarcastic reference to Chernobyl. =)
 
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