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What happens to nuclear reactors when the next Carrington event happens?
03-04-2017, 09:08 PM #1
Octo Mother Superior
Posts:42,494 Threads:1,466 Joined:Feb 2011
It's not a matter of if, but when it happens.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859

What will happen to nuclear reactors? How long can cooling systems be sustained offline?

As of November 2016, 30 countries worldwide are operating 450 nuclear reactors for electricity generation

I'm hoping our in-house nuclear expert will chime in to answer these questions that worry me.
03-04-2017, 09:17 PM #2
Adde Member
Posts:535 Threads:44 Joined:Apr 2012
I've been wondering about that myself. In a Walking Dead kind of scenario, I would think the nuke plants would be a hundred times as dangerous as zombie.gif zombie.gif zombie.gif
Energy technology is developing to the point where we don't need this unsafe subsidized load of crap. Even Fukushima is not a wake up call for the IQ challenged that sit at the top.
03-04-2017, 09:27 PM #3
Octo Mother Superior
Posts:42,494 Threads:1,466 Joined:Feb 2011
I had a rather interesting conversation irl with an older man in the business. He thought nuclear power was the best alternative. I asked him if he can guarantee the underground storage will be safe for 10s of thousands of years, but he couldn't.

We can ruin this precious planet real quick and I think we should aspire to do the opposite: leave it in better shape than we found it.
03-04-2017, 11:33 PM #4
Strigoi Member
Posts:615 Threads:41 Joined:Mar 2011
This outcome frightens many.

Un Strigoi printre noi
failboat Show this Post
03-05-2017, 05:37 AM #5
failboat Incognito Anonymous
 
the fuel rods would still need cooling.
i guess there is some sort of emergency generator that would run on gas to cool them.
question is: how long would it be possible to get gas for those generators? without electricity pumps don't work. and without pumps it's getting difficult to get the necessary amounts of gas to cool the rods i guess...
so... it would probably be a matter of weeks - not months - until we get our first reactor meltdowns after a carrington event (or hacker attack).
in other words: we're ƒükkêd .
03-05-2017, 02:46 PM #6
DaJavoo If looks could kilt
Posts:1,846 Threads:45 Joined:Mar 2011
A Carrington event would pretty much toast everything ~ all integrated circuits, all cars on the road (except =/> 30yrs old) all planes in the air, all electronics that are not shielded, etc..

Wires carry and amplify the effects.

Communication wiped out, no advanced medical help, limited travel beyond foot power.

At best guess, only half or better of the planet would be severely affected so it would instantly become a case of haves versus have-nots.

Fail-safe operations would rely on DC power, assuming it would still work. Could some nuclear reactors be shut down and safely contained? I'm sure some would, but not all.

It would truly be an End of Days scenario, from the top of the techno food chain on down.
03-05-2017, 03:24 PM #7
Kreeper Griobhtha
Posts:10,450 Threads:625 Joined:Feb 2011
(03-05-2017, 02:46 PM)DaJavoo Wrote:  A Carrington event would pretty much toast everything ~ all integrated circuits, all cars on the road (except =/> 30yrs old)

Cuba would rule the world.

chuckle.gif

I am not your rolling wheels, I am the highway
I am not your carpet ride I am the sky
I am not your blowing wind, I am the lightning
I am not your autumn moon, I am the night
The night
03-06-2017, 08:03 PM #8
dclements Member
Posts:209 Threads:19 Joined:Jan 2017
(03-04-2017, 09:08 PM)Octo Wrote:  It's not a matter of if, but when it happens.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859

What will happen to nuclear reactors? How long can cooling systems be sustained offline?

As of November 2016, 30 countries worldwide are operating 450 nuclear reactors for electricity generation

I'm hoping our in-house nuclear expert will chime in to answer these questions that worry me.
To be honest I don't know exactly what safety features a nuclear power plant has against EMPs and after reading your OP I send an email to one of my previous professors in the hopes of getting more information. My instincts tell me that a nuclear power plant has enough shielding in it to protect the outside from a release of radiation that it should protect it from much of the effects of a EMP coming from the sun. Also because a nuclear bomb gives off a very power EMP (on more powerful than any that could be caused by a solar flare I believe) goes off I would like to assume that the scientist in charge of designing power plants take that into consideration. However nuclear power plants are not designed for things like direct nuclear strikes or for that matter zombie apocalypse (where it could be assumed no operators would be left alive to take care of the plant) however such scenarios there would be some other much bigger problems at hand to worry about the release of radiation from the fuel rods in the core.

I will try to get more information but I did find this link which can explain some of the issues and the ways that a plant might deal with it:
https://www.decodedscience.org/after-an-...fely/10030

Last thing I can say is that in nuclear power, plants are being designed with better and better passive safety features (ie features that work even if the plant loses all power) and so hopefully this will be less of a problem as time goes on.
03-06-2017, 08:42 PM #9
Octo Mother Superior
Posts:42,494 Threads:1,466 Joined:Feb 2011
Thanks for responding. The comments at your link weren't as optimistic as the article. Also the link at the bottom of the page had some terrifying info and it does lok like we're completely fkd if we're hit with a massive solar storm.

Quote:AMERICA IS FACING THE EXTINCTION LEVEL EVENT OF 124 SIMULTANEOUS FUKUSHIMA MELTDOWNS

According to Judy Haar, a recognized expert in nuclear plant failure analyses, when a nuclear power plant loses access to off-grid electricity, the event is referred to as a “station blackout”. Haar states that all of the US nuclear power plants are built to withstand electrical outages without experiencing any core damage, through the activation of an automatic start up of emergency generators powered by diesel. Further, when emergency power kicks in, an automatic shutdown of the nuclear power plant commences. The dangerous control rods are dropped into the core, while water is pumped by the diesel power generators into the reactor to reduce the heat and thus, prevent a meltdown. Here is the catch in this process, the spent fuel rods are encased in both a primary and secondary containment structure which is designed to withstand a core meltdown. However, should the pumps stop because either the generators fail or diesel fuel is not available, the fuel rods are subsequently uncovered and a Fukushima type of core meltdown commences immediately.

http://www.thecommonsenseshow.com/2014/0...meltdowns/
03-06-2017, 09:04 PM #10
JayRodney ⓐⓛⓘⓔⓝ
Posts:31,184 Threads:1,437 Joined:Feb 2011
The fuel will remain radioactive for 250,000 years or so.
Man has never built anything able to last 250,000 years.
It's kind of a no brainer, we're toast.

wonder.gif
03-06-2017, 09:30 PM #11
dclements Member
Posts:209 Threads:19 Joined:Jan 2017
While thinking about the problem you presented it reminded me of an issue that I encountered while taking my introduction to nuclear power course. The problem is if it is possible to just shut off a reactor in the event of an emergency and if so why they don't just built such a shut off switch if they can.

The strange thing is IT IS POSSIBLE to build a emergency shut off switch and if I can remember correctly some reactors (like the ones one US Navy ships) have them. The problem is if you need IMMEDIATELY shut off a reactor you can build it in a reactor, but it has one problem; to shut a reactor down very fast you have to ruin the reactive properties within the system thereby damaging the reactor itself. This effectively either badly damages in best cast scenarios or completely destroys it.

When I was first learning about nuclear power I thought such 'kill switches' where a good idea (ie it is better to destroy a reactor than allow the problem to get worse) until I found out how often you have a situation where someone might be tempted to use it. In the nuclear power industry there is something called SCRAM (supposed for safety control axe man, where a guy with a axe was supposed to cut the ropes to drop control rods in the first reactor) and nowadays 'transient' condition. For obvious reasons a transient sounds a little less ominous than a SCARM. Anyways both SCRAM or transient condition is a situation where a reactor is behaving in a way that it shouldn't and the operators have to figure out what to do to solve it. Because it happens often enough (such I don't work in the industry I don't know exactly how often, but I get the impression for those that do that it is more often than they would like it to or perhaps than it should) having a kill switch to deal with the problem would likely be very costly in the number of reactors that are ruined from people to quickly using it instead of trying to resolve it through other means.

However even with that being said, if there are situations where either human intervention isn't possible (such as in the cause with theoretical mini or micro reactors that are fully automated) or a reactor too close to the people , such as in a vessel or one operating to close to a city or other populated area, it is plausible to install 'kill switches' in order to sacrifice a reactor before a situation gets any worse than it already is.

One last thing, even if a reactor DOES get shut down by a kill switch or through the normal shut down process, it will still generate residual heat which must be dealt with in some way. It is much much less than the heat generated when it is operating but it is still enough to boil any water in it (and potentially melt the core) if not dealt with properly. There are some that think a system can be built to deal with this automatically and some that don't, but it is likely in order to build a really reliable system to do this without people would be very expensive.

I personally believe that kill switches could be a good thing to have in a nuclear plants as an additional safety measure but I also understand why those that pay for and build the reactors would rather no allow the operators to have such a measure to deal with a problem if it arises.
03-06-2017, 09:49 PM #12
dclements Member
Posts:209 Threads:19 Joined:Jan 2017
(03-06-2017, 09:04 PM)JayRodney Wrote:  The fuel will remain radioactive for 250,000 years or so.
Man has never built anything able to last 250,000 years.
It's kind of a no brainer, we're toast.
Actually, everything is radioactive. Even in your own blood there are trace elements of things like uranium, thorium, etc. that cause you to give off radiation to the other people you get near,just as they give off radiation to you as you get near to them. This also means of course that when you get near other people such as during concerts or other events, you are greatly increasing your exposure to radiation then you would normally get. Also when you are in a plane you are less protected by the atmosphere than you would be on the ground.

Some of this stuff is kind of trivial but some of it is not. For example, until people were concern from radiation from nuclear plants they were not worried about other sources until some guy in the industry mentioned how many more people are exposed to more radiation from their own basements than from plants, which cause people looking into it to buy radiation detectors for their own basements.

In a nutshell, it is meaningless to say something is radioactive to those that understand that EVERYTHING is radioactive and there are PLENTY of other threats than just nuclear power plants. In order for there to be a real problem the amount of radiation has to be a level that is higher than what one could be exposed to from background radiation. As well as the source be in a location where people could access it when going about their day to day business.

I'm not trying to say your concern isn't justified, I'm just asking that you look at the issue in a more pragmatic way.
03-06-2017, 11:06 PM #13
dclements Member
Posts:209 Threads:19 Joined:Jan 2017
(03-04-2017, 09:17 PM)Adde Wrote:  I've been wondering about that myself. In a Walking Dead kind of scenario, I would think the nuke plants would be a hundred times as dangerous as zombie.gif zombie.gif zombie.gif
Energy technology is developing to the point where we don't need this unsafe subsidized load of crap. Even Fukushima is not a wake up call for the IQ challenged that sit at the top.
If a nuclear power plants is not safely taken offline there are a number of things that could happen which is mostly dependent ON WHAT the operators at the plant where able to do before they lost control. In most cases if there is nobody they to maintain a commercial plant the core will generate too much heat boil off any water it has remaining, melt the core and generally stuff like that.

I like to think most wouldn't be as bad as Fukushima (and instead they would be like Three Mile Island where some of the operators did nearly everything wrong to get things under control) but what little I know of commercial nuclear power plants, they are DEFINITELY not designed without human supervision and if the operators did nothing (or perhaps even make things worse) while events unfold there are a any number of things that could happen.

I think in almost all of the worse case situations you have the core melting (US reactor are designed to NEVER go super critical like Chernobyl and explode, but there could be some explosions caused by heat pressure, flammable gasses,etc) and a general mess on your hands. Multiply that by the several hundred nuclear power plants sites that could be affected by a zombie apocalypse and things would get really messy. When you also factor in things like cities catching on fire, millions or perhaps billions of people getting eaten or eating other people, general chaos and fighting among survivors, a melted core at a nearby nuclear power plant I believe is probably one of the most trivial problems a survivor would have to deal with unless they try to hide from the zombies by going into the power plant itself.

However your question sounds like the interesting premise of a horror movie where some survivors have to figure out how to shut down a nuclear plant while at the same time having to avoid deal with zombies during a outbreak of people becoming zombies; although I think most people would rather just head for the hills in that kind of a situation if they could. Also to make thing interesting the people shutting down the plant should not be the ones that actually operate the plant because that would make things too easy.
03-07-2017, 01:34 AM #14
-NIGHTMARE- Member
Posts:657 Threads:5 Joined:Aug 2012
Again:Humans are the dumbest species on planet earth

' Welcome to My Nightmare '
03-07-2017, 09:19 AM #15
JayRodney ⓐⓛⓘⓔⓝ
Posts:31,184 Threads:1,437 Joined:Feb 2011
(03-07-2017, 01:34 AM)-NIGHTMARE- Wrote:  Again:Humans are the dumbest species on planet earth

No question. sad2.gif

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