Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fort Calhoun

Thom Hartmann talks to Paul Gunter, Director, Reactor Oversight Project - Beyond Nuclear ( on the latest in the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station emergency.

This was upload on June 27 so is a bit dated but Paul provides 2 very important pieces of information.

First, the main threat at the plant, as explained in the interview, is flooding of the diesel generators. Diesel generators are being used to cool the plant's fuel rods. 

Water contamination in the diesel tanks would cut the fuel source for the generators. This would create "common mode failure"for the generators. 

Second, should common mode failure happen, the plant switches to the final set of emergency backup systems that can run (only!) 4-8 hours.

The danger of the cooling system failing is that the residual heat from the fuel rods would amplify and potentially result in a hydrogen explosion. 

I'm assuming that the rods reportedly taken out of the reactors a couple of months ago are in the spent fuel pools.

Spent fuel pools are particularly concerning if they burn. The good news is that I understand that the spent fuel pools take some time (days) to burn off enough water to actually burn.

So, hopefully all will go well at Calhoun and dire circumstances will be avoided.

What I am still unclear about is leakage of highly radioactive water from flooded, or leaking, spent fuel pools. Radioactive water could be leaking into the Missouri already.

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