Video posted to KETV’s YouTube channel.
4:05 pm EDT
When a mega-quake followed by a massive tsunami struck Japan last March, the country’s defenses were overwhelmed by the scale of the natural disaster. While the earthquake and tsunami caused catastrophic destruction and significant loss of life, radiation released from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors has not caused a single death. In fact, the radiological consequences of the accident to date are negligible, due in large part to emergency response plans that were in place before the incident.
“The reporting of Fukushima was guided by the Cold War reflex that matched radiation with fear and mortal danger,” writes Wade Allison, emeritus professor of physics at Oxford University in the UK newspaper, The Telegraph. “Reactors have been destroyed, but the radiation at Fukushima has caused no loss of life and is unlikely to do so, even in the next 50 years.”
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8:00 am EDT
12:11 pm EDT
John Richards has worked for Duke Energy (formerly Duke Power) since receiving his master’s in civil engineering from Virginia Tech in 1982. The majority of his 29 years in the nuclear energy industry have been dedicated to the seismic qualification field. Seismic qualification verifies that the equipment vital to safely shutting down a nuclear energy facility can safely operate during and/or after an earthquake. All U.S. nuclear energy facilities have specific seismic protection standards based on the historical earthquake activity in that area, plus an additional margin of safety.
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6:42 pm EDT
Several news articles late this week have reported that Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant may be in “cold shutdown” by mid-December. Although the reports are mostly accurate, there is a difference between the traditional “cold shutdown” of a nuclear plant and what is happening at Fukushima.
First, what is cold shutdown? The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines it as:
The term used to define a reactor coolant system at atmospheric pressure and at a temperature below 200 degrees Fahrenheit following a reactor cooldown.
In non-nuclear speak, it basically means the conditions within the nuclear reactor are such that it would be impossible for a chain reaction to occur. This term usually comes into play whenever a reactor is shut down periodically for refueling or for the final time prior to the long-term before it is decommissioned. When a reactor is in cold shutdown, the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) can be safely opened with great care and additional water is added to the cavity above the vessel for shielding to permit safe handling of the fuel for refueling (replacing depleted fuel elements) or defueling (removing the entire core).
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