Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What Happened at the Fukushima Reactor?

With all the media hoopla surrounding the nuclear incident in Japan after the earthquake, the media, as expected, bungled on a lot of accuracy regarding the physics and engineering of such a thing. And the use of talking heads (Michio Kaku, really?) to discuss what essentially required a nuclear engineer to elaborate is beyond comprehension.

So it is nice to find an article like this, written by a nuclear engineer. It also reflected what I had gathered from the news article about the incident. The FACT here is that all these reactors SURVIVED the devastating earthquakes! Let's not for this important point. The structural integrity was maintained at all the nuclear reactors. What happened subsequently is the inability to maintain power to the pumps to continue the cooling process in the core, due to the flooding.

There's a tremendous amount of lessons that the nuclear industry can learn from this, and this can only make these things even safer. But the public also need to pay attention to the details and where nuclear industries got it right! For once, don't be swayed by the bells and whistles, but really, really look at the facts as they are!



David said...

It seems to me that if an earthquake damages a system that causes the nuclear reactor to catastrophically fail, then the reactor didn't really survive the earthquake. Weakest link and all that. Who cares about the structural integrity of the building if there's a radioactive incident?

ZapperZ said...

We SHOULD care because now we know where the PROBLEM is to come up with adequate remedy. You shouldn't simply blow off something without finding out the DETAILS of what went wrong.

Before this, a lot of the issues surrounding the building of nuclear reactors have been in the structural containment in the case of a massive earthquake. This incident shows that, when properly built, the structure problem has been addressed! This is a significant knowledge. But it also reveals other shortcomings in areas that haven't been central issues before. If the structure had been compromised, it would have been a much more significant problem and a more FUNDAMENTAL problem. I would not feel safe is that happened.

The earthquake did NOT damage the system. The flooding did. It could have been due to the tsunami from the earthquake, or been another source. This is what you have to pay attention to, and not simply make some superficial characterization. That's like saying an airplane crashed, so ground all airplanes from now on regardless of what caused the crash. That's awfully silly.