SLEEP TIGHT TONIGHT

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doppel
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SLEEP TIGHT TONIGHT

Postby doppel » Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:43 pm

Not sure if it's Walker's fault or not but here is a little news of note. There are five GE Mark I nuclear plants, just like the one that blowed up real good in Japan yesterday, operating within 175 miles of our fair city. At least they are only forty years young. Old King Coal smiles.

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Re: SLEEP TIGHT TONIGHT

Postby Ned Flanders » Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:09 am

Are we expecting a tsunami caused by a 9.0 a earthquake in the Midwest soon?

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Re: SLEEP TIGHT TONIGHT

Postby Huckleby » Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:51 am

I read a dewy-eyed editorial suggesting that the coming demise of nuclear power will usher in a grand conversion to wind, solar, and other alternative energies.

Forget it. Just forget it.

If we are going to do anything whatsoever about combating global warming, nuclear power will have to be an important part of the strategy. Even if wind and solar could theoretically produce the energy density to power the expanding global population of car/energy hungry people, there is ZERO chance of achieving the massive political consensus to convert to alternative energy.

If nuclear goes down, we are going to see a hard commitment to various hydrocarbons because it is the path of least resistance/pain. Unbridled off shore drilling. Shale oil. More biofuels. Fracting for natural gas.

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Re: SLEEP TIGHT TONIGHT

Postby Beaver » Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:57 am

Where are the five GE Mark I nuclear plants within 175 miles of Madison?

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Re: SLEEP TIGHT TONIGHT

Postby Henry Vilas » Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:20 am

Three in Wisconsin (one in Kewaunee, two at Point Beach) and a bunch in Illinois.

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Re: SLEEP TIGHT TONIGHT

Postby jman111 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:50 am

I thought I just heard this morning that Wisconsin's are not the early GEs, but rather a later Westinghouse design. (sorry, no link) I admit to being completely ignorant of the distinctions in this technology.

This article doesn't include WI in the locations of these in the US.
http://openchannel.msnbc.msn.com/_news/ ... ters-in-us

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Re: SLEEP TIGHT TONIGHT

Postby doppel » Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:06 am

The following plants have GE boiling-water reactors (GE models 2, 3 or 4) with the same Mark I containment design used at Fukushima.

• Dresden 2, Morris, Illinois, 1970, GE 3.

• Dresden 3, Morris, Illinois, 1971, GE 3.

• Monticello, Monticello, Minnesota, 1970, GE 3

• Quad Cities 1, Cordova, Illinois, 1972, GE 3.

• Quad Cities 2, Moline, Illinois, 1972, GE 3.

• Duane Arnold, Palo, Iowa, 1974, GE 4.

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Re: SLEEP TIGHT TONIGHT

Postby snoqueen » Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:14 am

Regarding earthquake hazards, the uniform building code (for buildings, but not specifically for nuclear power plants) places all of Wisconsin in the very lowest risk category except for a small area around Beloit. (This is slightly different from the map shown in one of the links above.) The risk around Beloit is so small the state as a whole, including that area, follows codes for minimum risk.

However, prevailing winds are from the northwest and sometimes southwest depending on which way the weather fronts are moving, and a number of those reactors are upwind from Madison. So we clearly are at risk from wind-borne radiation should one of those things fail.

Can't blame Walker on this one except he did just manage to kill off wind turbines in Wisconsin.

I think we need to add bio-generation to our energy mix. If we collected and used the natural gas from all our municipal sewer plants and landfills we would move closer to a locally-generated, self-sustaining system. Unfortunately these decentralized systems, like wind, don't make as much money for the Koch brothers.

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Re: SLEEP TIGHT TONIGHT

Postby narcoleptish » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:30 pm

I sleep fine. If you worry about a nuclear accident, I'll assume you don't drive a car or fly in an airplane because you're way more likely to die doing that. The positives outweigh the likelihood of the negatives.

Even if the negatives outweighed the positives, that doesn't mean humans would abandon it. I mean, we still have reality tv and the internet.

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Re: SLEEP TIGHT TONIGHT

Postby MadMind75 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:08 pm

Ned Flanders wrote:Are we expecting a tsunami caused by a 9.0 a earthquake in the Midwest soon?

We do live near large bodies of water (the great lakes), and a large-scale earthquake isn't entirely out of the realm of possibility.
The New Madrid seismic zone has had 4000 earthquake reports since 1974.
Image
Or how about the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone, which was the source of the 2008 Illinois earthquake, "one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded in the state of Illinois, measuring a magnitude of 5.4, felt as far as 450 miles away, with a total of 26 aftershocks ranging in magnitude from 1.0 to 4.6."
Image
200 years ago was the New Madrid earthquake, which "remains the most powerful earthquakes ever to hit the eastern United States" and "felt strongly over roughly 130,000 square kilometers (50,000 square miles)."
Image

"New forecasts estimate a 7 to 10 percent chance, in the next 50 years, of a repeat of a major earthquake like those that occurred in 1811–1812, which likely had magnitudes of between 7.5 and 8.0. There is a 25 to 40 percent chance, in a 50-year time span, of a magnitude 6.0 or greater earthquake.
In a report filed in November 2008, The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency warned that a serious earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone could result in "the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States," further predicting "widespread and catastrophic" damage."

The chance is small, but it's there.

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Re: SLEEP TIGHT TONIGHT

Postby Nick Berigan » Tue Mar 15, 2011 6:25 am

You'll have to pry my incandescent light bulb from my cold dead irradiated hand.

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Re: SLEEP TIGHT TONIGHT

Postby kurt_w » Tue Mar 15, 2011 8:18 am

Wisconsin is actually a pretty good place to site a nuclear power plant. You want to avoid plate margins, subduction zones, and other geophysically active areas. You also want to avoid places that are susceptible to tsunamis or hurricanes, but you also need to be near a large and totally reliable water source (for cooling). The biggest hazards here would be an F-5 tornado and flooding (near rivers), plus the more generic risks of aging plants and unknown flaws or designs in construction.

MadMind's post to the contrary, earthquakes are not really a concern:

(1) Wisconsin is twice as far from the New Madrid Fault Zone as Tokyo is from the epicenter of the recent quake.
(2) Facilities much more fragile than nuclear power plants survived the quake just fine at this distance (~750 to 800 km).
(3) There are some technical reasons why most construction sites in Wisconsin would be less vulnerable to the shaking process associated with a distant quake.

The Wabash Valley fault isn't a hazard for Wisconsin. It's too far away and not prone to large breaks.

Tsunamis and Wisconsin

There were sizeable tsunamis on the Mississippi River at the time of the 1811 New Madrid quake (5-7 m, comparable to the Japan one) ... but only much closer to the epicenter, along the portion of the river in Arkansas/Missouri.

There have also been a few events that might be described as "small tsunamis" on the Great Lakes. In 1755 there was a 1.5 meter one on Lake Ontario, but it's not clearly associated with any known seismic event and was probably a meteorologically-generated seiche, not a real tsunami. A 2.5 meter tsunami was reported on Lake Erie following a "shock" in 1823, and a very small one in Green Bay in 1895. The latter was associated with a magnitude 6.7 quake at Charleston, MO.

In the past century, the only Great Lakes tsunami-like events were a ~1 meter event on Lake Huron in 1952, and a 1954 event that hit the Chicago area with 2-3 meter waves and killed eight people. There is a great deal of debate as to whether either of these were true tsunamis (perhaps associated with underwater landslides) or just very large seiches. The case for "seiche" is given here, and for "tsunami" here.

Here are descriptions of the latter two events, from the International Journal of the Tsunami Society:

1952, May 6. A seiche “similar to a small tidal wave at sea, swept the shores of southern Lake Huron today, sending three walls of water over the banks. At Lexington, Michigan, the water poured through the windows of a marine restaurant. A huge log smashed a boathouse as it rode in on the wave. A boat livery at Harbor Beach, Michigan was damaged. Grounds of the Coast Guard station here were flooded. Many fashionable homes were flooded briefly in Port Huron. Water in the St. Clair River rose twelve inches and then dropped within a few minutes.” Although this event was attributed to a rapid change in barometric pressure, it might have also been produced by an offshore landslide.

1954, June 26. At least eight persons drowned when a wave struck nearly twenty-five miles of Chicago’s Lake Michigan shoreline. The wave swept over an eight foot sea wall at Loyola University close to Chicago’s northern boundary, but caused no damage. Normally it was widely believed that a seiche in this area would never exceed a 4- or 5-foot rise or fall in the water level. While such seiches result from squall lines that contain significant pressure changes and occur each year in the Great Lakes, this 1954 event was at least twice as large as any that had occurred up to that time. Seiche related deaths have also occurred in other events. The 1954 event may have had a under-water
landslide in connection with the event that augmented the wave. (New York Times, 1954, Chicago Tribune, 1985)


I do worry a bit about Point Beach and Kewaunee -- but not because of the threat of tsunamis or seiches. What people ought to be concerned about there is the storage of large quantities of spent fuel on-site just a short distance from Lake Michigan. That doesn't seem like a good long-term practice given the risk of groundwater contamination. I'm frankly appalled that after all the work that went into prepping Yucca Mountain as a storage site, they've apparently given up on that, leaving the US with no long-term storage plan. Whatever the environmental concerns at Yucca Mountain are, the idea of waste being stored on-site at Kewaunee, Point Beach, and lots of other NPPs nationwide, for the indefinite future ... well, that just seems like a really bad idea.

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Re: SLEEP TIGHT TONIGHT

Postby Henry Vilas » Tue Mar 15, 2011 9:43 am

When I was a kid and the U.S., as well as the U.S.S.R. and China, conducted above ground nuclear tests, the worry was airborne radiation reaching all across the country. To mitigate the effects of strontium-90 absorption (by the thyroid gland) school children were given pills containing iodine, which is readily absorbed by the thyroid. But the strontium-90 ended up in milk and was then absorbed into children's teeth. Cancer rates went up as a result.

The same radionuclides released in a nuclear explosion could be also be released in a nuclear power plant meltdown. Think of it as a large "dirty bomb."

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Re: SLEEP TIGHT TONIGHT

Postby narcoleptish » Tue Mar 15, 2011 9:50 am

Kurt, how long have you been waiting to casually drop the term "seiche" into a conversation?

Just kidding. Very informative post and I have a question. Does the sea water being used to cool the reactors in Japan become radioactive or polluted in any way, and then is it just pumped out to sea again?

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Re: SLEEP TIGHT TONIGHT

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:04 am

Henry Vilas wrote:...strontium-90 ended up in milk and was then absorbed into children's teeth. Cancer rates went up as a result.


While I'm not necessarily doubting this conclusion -- it seems reasonable enough -- it is always worth pointing out that correlation does not prove causation. Lots of other possible factors could explain rising cancer rates.

kurt_w wrote:Whatever the environmental concerns at Yucca Mountain are, the idea of waste being stored on-site at Kewaunee, Point Beach, and lots of other NPPs nationwide, for the indefinite future ... well, that just seems like a really bad idea.

I couldn't agree more. I am consistently amazed at the shortsightedness of those who opposed Yucca under the auspices of public safety considering that the danger is so much greater under present circumstances. If you want to try to move our energy policy away from nuclear that's a fine and noble goal -- but how does preventing the safest possible storage of current waste help accomplish it?


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