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Why Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant Survived March 193

Kyusaku Natsume writes "In a potentially damning report, the Japanese government panel probing the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown has learned that the nuclear power plant Tokai No.2 avoided station blackout thanks to making a 6.1 m high seawall, but TEPCO failed to do the same in Fukushima. From the article: 'The tsunami that hit the Tokai plant on March 11 were 5.3 to 5.4 meters in height, exceeding the company's earlier estimate but coming in around 30 to 40 cm lower than its revised projection. After the tsunami hit, the Tokai plant lost external power just like Fukushima No. 1 did, because the sea wall was overrun, knocking out one of its three seawater pumps. But its reactors succeeded in achieving cold shutdown because the plant's emergency diesel generator was being cooled by the two seawater pumps that survived intact.'"
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Why Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant Survived March

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24, 2011 @11:10PM (#37827504)

    Fukushima failed because the design was an inherently flawed, older generation fail deadly reactor. Failure to maintain active cooling led to catastrophe.

    This can't happen in newer reactor designs which are currently being blocked by the anti-science kooks inhabiting the public policy debate.

    Blame the anti-nuclear movement and their Luddite mentality.

    Their position is equivalent to a pathological hatred of newer cars, complete with those new-fangled seatbelts and airbags.

    Nuclear policy is made by polls and pundits, not scientists and engineers. We'll always be playing a few cards short of a full deck under such circumstances, whether with nuclear power, or any other significant public policy issue.

  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @11:37PM (#37827674)

    In a major disaster like that, the news literally cannot report on everything. There's thousands of things that, on a slow day, would be newsworthy. In this case, the media focused on the reactors that were failing, and ignored those that merely performed as designed.

    The media rarely pays attention to "systems experienced abnormality, performing according to disaster plans".

    Case in point: North Anna Power Station shut down automatically due to the recent East Coast earthquake. They're still actually shut down, because the government is overreacting and running additional inspections. And yet the only way I even know that is because my father works for the company that maintains their water system, and they called for information regarding that. There's been almost no mainstream media reporting on it. But the facts haven't been hidden - the top Google result for "lake anna power plant" is the official page by the plant operator, with a header about the earthquake response. The information is there, it's just not widely known to be worth reading.

  • by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @11:48PM (#37827724)

    Newsflash: "suppress" isn't a synonym for "not delivered to your door in the morning paper"

  • by palmer.dabbelt ( 1801614 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @11:59PM (#37827796)

    [Cut to: Ships Cockpit. The room is flooded with red light and the message "Danger" repeatedly flashes on the screens. Bender snores loudly. Enter Fry and Zoidberg.]

    Fry: What's happening?

    [Zoidberg turns on another screen that displays the extent of the damage to the tanker. There is a huge gash most of the way along the hull. A gauge at one side of the screen drops as the dark matter levels go down.]

    Zoidberg: All 6,000 hulls have been breached!

    [Fry falls to his knees.]

    Fry: Oh, the fools! If only they'd built it with 6,001 hulls! When will they learn?

  • by Time_Ngler ( 564671 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @12:19AM (#37827884)

    So, we're left with aging Gen I and Gen II reactors and no newer, safer replacements being built.

    By the fact there have been so many nuclear disasters in the past, the companies that run these aren't able/willing to do so safely. So, how can we expect any new model reactors to be safe if built and run by these same corporations?

  • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @12:45AM (#37828002) Homepage
    You assume environmentalists don't want meltdowns. The ones I saw, when Fukushima was melting down, seemed happier than had they won the lottery. Some people want to be right so bad they can't see past their own narrow mindset.

    It isn't about if nuclear is safe or not, nuclear is confusing to them, and the unknown is always scary. It doesn't help that the vast majority would rather humanity go back to the stone age - what's a few billion dead due to starvation and exposure, if we're "green"?
  • by mug funky ( 910186 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @01:04AM (#37828094)

    i don't know about "so many disasters", so much as "1 major disaster, 1 medium disaster caused by a much bigger catastrophe and 1 small gas leak and messed up but contained core".

    it's not good, but it's not bad either. you write like the world is a pulsating green wasteland without so much as cockroaches surviving.

    i agree that greed will fuck up anything. it's up to the engineers to design these things as greed-proof as possible. that's just another safety feature. to that end, i'd rather a new gen reactor designed with a modern nuclear engineer's cynicism than one built in the era of "Peaceful Atoms" and almost sickening faith and optimism.

  • by tp1024 ( 2409684 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @02:28AM (#37828448)
    There is one simple way that would have prevented the tsunami from taking out all emergency generators.

    To comply with international standards and have at least four emergency generators per reactor placed around the reactors with adequate spacing between each of them to prevent common cause failure. For purely geometric reasons (to keep the distance between each other) at least one per reactor would have to have been behind the reactor buildings on higher ground. Which exactly how spacing alone mitigates common cause failure.

    It would also have been helpful had TEPCO installed Passive Autocatalytic Recombiners in their reactor buildings to catalytically "burn" the hydrogen before it can reach combustible or explosive concentrations. (Those do their job by hanging on the wall. No power required.) Or if they had hardened and filtered containment vents.

    Both of those measures were implemented in Sweden, Germany and France some time after the analysis of the Three Mile Island accident, which quite accurately predicted how Fukushima Daiichi turned out, which was deemed unacceptable. Hence the additional safety features. I'm not saying that those are the only countries that implemented such measures, but with those I'm sure. And I stopped making assumptions about those things seven months and two weeks ago.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @03:08AM (#37828572)

    Not to forget. Nuclear power companies, do not rely on pumps for cooling. Pumps should supply cooling reservoirs and gravity should be used to water for cooling purposes.

    The capacity of cooling reservoirs should equal the required the time required to replace those pumps upon failure and maintain cooling demands, whether achieving shut-down or full load requirements.

    Yes it costs more to do it that way but it is still significantly cheaper than failure of the system. Laws definitely need to be changed to make corporate executives legally and criminally liable for the decisions they make. When those decisions kill they should be charged with man slaughter and spend the appropriate extended time in prison.

    And thus you have fallen into exactly the trap that got them into the position they were in.

    The power was out. There was a bigarse battery bank to keep things going. But guess what, thepower was out because an earth quake and a tsunami basically screwed the nation and backup generators which could normally easily be sourced and commissioned within a day or two couldn't.

    When your reservoir runs out of water you better hope there's someone more senior than you there to take the resulting beating.

    The engineering solution is not to propose some contingency to counteract some ludicrous event, it's to prevent the event from happening in the first place and put the pumps in a place not so easily hammered by a wall of water.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JasterBobaMereel ( 1102861 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @06:22AM (#37829260)

    ..the real trap is: Don't run a nuclear power plant beyond it's design life, and don't continue running it when it has failed several inspections

    The reason the sea wall was not higher : It cost too much

    The reason the plant was not upgraded : It cost too much

    The reason the plant was not replaced : It cost too much

Real wealth can only increase. -- R. Buckminster Fuller