Skip to comments.A Tale of Two Reactors
Posted on 07/15/2008 1:42:48 PM PDT by djsherin
A nuclear power plant is arguably the most extraordinary product of engineering and scientific know-how in the history of mankind. Once every 18 months or so, a truckload of metal is delivered to the nuclear plant. The metal is uranium, which has been processed to increase the proportion of the isotope known as Uranium-235. This fuel for the power plant is not dangerous and can be held in ones hands without risk. Only a few decades ago, its primary use was to impart an orange color to ceramics such as Fiestaware.
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My father was a contractor (valves, meters, flow equipment) for the Midland, Michigan “nuclear” plant that was forced to go to coal-fired after billions were spent.
Such a waste.
come again.... Since when can uranium be held in your hands with no adverse effects?
The Midland plant went gas-fired.
Never generated a watt of nuclear power.
I recall living in the Northeast when Shoreham got deep-sixed. There was another nuclear reactor outside of Boston that suffered a similar fate, if I recall correctly.
At the same time this was happening, I remember
- New York and adjoining NE states would not permit a new gas pipeline from Canada (Iroquis) to be laid (NIMBY)
- refused to consider any coal plants from being built for power generation
Since this time, we have the unhealthy Senator from Massachusetts blocking wind-power generation in his state.
Result? NY and the NE remains hostage to burning fuel oil to generate power and heat. Those inpower chose to ignore the plight of the ordinary person there and give in to the extremism called Environmentalism.
Why are any of the people in leadership still in power? Of course it is convenient to blame “Big OIL” (that is actually very, very small nowadays) rather than their own misguided policies.
Blame Jane Fonda and that idiot “China Syndrome” movie.
Geez ... how many causes has that moron promoted that has ended up costing millions of dollars or lives?
U-235. Only when an atom of U-235 is split will it give off gamma radiation.
I wouldn't recommend trying to hold U-238 in your hand.
Ummm... you don’t want to hold uranium in your hands.
There are stories out there about a few of the nuclear accidents. One happened, I believe, at a Navy reactor. The techs had been trained over and over about how quickly they could remove the control rods. Well, something happened. So a tech went in and I guess removed a control rod too fast - and the reactor went critical, there was an explosion.
It was shut down, and after alot of cleanup and suiting up they went in. He was gone. They looked everywhere.
Finally somebody noticed him pinned to the ceiling dead, pinned to the ceiling by a control rod.
Go out to Wiki and read some of the stuff that happened at Chernobyl. It’ll scare the socks off of ya!
But regardless, reactor tech has vastly, vastly improved in the last 3 decades or so. So much so that I would feel safe having one in my house to generate power, but that’s not an option.
That was at Twin Falls, Idaho.
You can hold a fuel pellet or fuel rod in your hands, btw. As long as they have not been used. That is, gone critical. After that — no way. Tan tan boo hah.
U235 only puts off a small amount of alpha radiation which is normally blocked by a piece of paper, an inch or so of air, or even the layer of dead skin cells you have on you. Just don't breathe in any U235 dust.
But I just googled, it was Army, not Navy.
Pulled the rod out too far, it went critical from a normal nominal operating range of about half a megawatt, to over 20 gigawatts, in about a twentieth of a second!
Radiological Health Risks of Uranium Isotopes and Decay Products In general, uranium-235 and uranium-234 pose a greater radiological health risk than uranium-238 because they have much shorter half-lives, decay more quickly, and are thus "more radioactive." Because all uranium isotopes are primarily alpha emitters, they are only hazardous if ingested or inhaled. However, because several of the radioactive uranium decay products are gamma emitters, workers in the vicinity of large quantities of uranium in storage or in a processing facility can also be exposed to low levels of external radiation. Chemical Toxicity Exposure to uranium can result in both chemical and radiological toxicity. The main chemical effect associated with exposure to uranium and its compounds is kidney toxicity. This toxicity can be caused by breathing air containing uranium dusts or by eating substances containing uranium, which then enters the bloodstream.
Depends on the isotope. U-232 is fine, 235 is ok. U-238. . . is another story. . . .
That is the SL-1 story, a full scale meltdown in the US that few know about.
I hope no one ever made another reactor that could go prompt critical by removal of a single rod, not to mention one that didn’t have a physical stop to prevent removing it that far.
I'm not the greatest fan of Chernobyl's RBMK design, but to be fair a lot of the reason for the disaster was human error. To start with, the operators purposely disabled all safety systems, running the reactor completely under manual control (the system as designed probably would have safely shut it down in time). They also had poor training in the reactor's design, so some things they did just made matters worse.
If I'm not mistaken, that was the SL-1 research reactor in 1961. Three operators were killed by the accident. (This came up in a discussion on another thread.)
I’m sure it can be processed into fuel rods. Or pellets. I think the reactor stuff has some added ingredients in it, something about modulating the neutron speeds or whatever.
There is, after all, even now a considerable demand for uranium ore. One has to hope and assume it is for power generation and not weapons.