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Rolling Blackouts Put Nukes At Risk?

by Karl Davies Friday, Mar. 30, 2001 at 2:30 AM

Do rolling blackouts put nukes at risk of meltdowns? This message is copied from the RunningOnEmpty list at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RunningOnEmpty/messages. Click on the URL below.

Calling all California members of this list...

Consider phoning up your local TV/radio/newspaper and telling them that prolonged grid outage might put the nuclear reactors into melt-down, and whether they think that might possibly interest the viewers/readers (let alone affect whether they personally live or die).

It'll help if you actually phone the nuke plant and confirm what the truth is.

If the journalists don't believe it, tell them to phone up the utilities for a specific denial that explains how it couldn't happen.

If it's true that melt-downs are possible where grid and standby electricity all fail, I think you'll get a hearing, and a nice big article or news broadcast. The best is the last, quoted in full.

As preparation, you can look at the following


"Hi -- It's my understanding that even with the control rods inserted fully into the core, there is still a **lot** of heat in the core, and that the core will melt down if the coolant pumps are not running. Furthermore, it takes something like a month (or three!?) for the "residual heat" in the core to be reduced to the point where the core won't melt down if it's left unattended.

This being said, then (again, if my understanding is correct!) how long do the auxiliary generators at nuclear plants run before exhausting their fuel supply? A month at least?

If not, then there's a "China syndrome" problem at every nuclear plant that's currently running.

Of course, if someone else has better information on just how much residual heat is floating around in the core, please let me know.


--Paddock Smith

rural central Texas (San Saba)"

Explain to the journalists...

- That our research in EnergyResources and RunningOnEmpty suggest that North America is facing severe shortages of energy as natural gas availability "unexpectedly" declines, drastically affecting the electric grid.

- That the shortages could easily result in long grid outages, affecting the nuclear plants (*and* delivery of fuel to their diesel alternators) in ways never planned by the original designers.

- That the public ought to be discussing this with a view to preventing "unexpected" melt-downs all over the USA.

- Clarify how the reactors are/can be deactivated so that the whole scenario is avoidable even when no electricity is available, and ask them to ensure that this is reliably implementable.

I'll guide the media strategy if desired ('Main thing is to talk directly to the journalist, saying that you have a possible really hot story. Don't bother with letters to the editor, aim to get decent headlines and photos. Use colourful, quotable imagery like "multiple nuke stations exploding in like a nuclear attack", and "Evacuation of tens of millions of Californians", "California bye-bye", etc."

If anyone does this, please keep us posted in this list, and use us as a sounding board.

Bruce Thomson


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