Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nuclear plant update

I guess the took my advice from this blurb from Bloomberg news:
Fifteen engineers were able to return to the nuclear plant site after the April 7 quake. They continue to pump nitrogen into one of the reactors, part of an effort to prevent hydrogen explosions at the plant, Tokyo Electric said.

From my many years of haz mat work it is common practice to pump either nitrogen or CO2 gas into a tank first for cleaning. That renders any explosive gas or vapor inert. We are then able to cut into the tank for access without fear of explosion. In this case they are using it to prevent a hydrogen explosion. The problem though is that anyone working near the reactor will have to be wearing a supplied air system meaning they can only work for around 30 minutes at a time before coming out for a new tank of air. That's a tricky proposition when you have to decontaminate for radiation every time you need air. Those fully encapsulating suits they wear aren't cheap. A low end model for some chemicals runs $600. And as was stated before they were running out of everything including boot covers.

Funny how our really old models of nuclear reactors were much safer in that the fuel rods were attached to ropes. The ropes were routed up to a control room and held in a bundle with a large ax overhead. If the reactor were to start running away then a technician would literally grab the ax cut the rope causing the fuel rods to fall into their graphite holders stopping the reaction. This was know as S.C.R.A.M. safety control rod ax man.

14 comments:

dana said...

After Joe left the fire department, others in his age bracket followed suit. Now the fire department is manned by men in their twenties, with the attitude of men in their twenties.

"Why risk MY life for what I get paid. I'm only here for the pension."

The old Rules and Regulations" are now nothing more than antiquated suggestions

The Blog Fodder said...

Sounds like they may get it under control and maybe we won't all glow in the dark BUT have they ever lied to us before?

an average patriot said...

This was one right, first it was 2 then 3 then 4 then one. Every time you think it is under control it is something else.

BBC said...

Seems like it would take a hell of a lot of nitrogen in such a plant.

Funny how our really old models of nuclear reactors were much safer in that the fuel rods were attached to ropes.

I wouldn't know about that, I'm not an expert on this energy, and I don't think these idiots are either.

Demeur said...

Well they just don't make them like the used to Dana.

I'm from TEPCO I'm here to help.

There are 4 to be exact that are not under control.

I wouldn't have known either had it not been for the fact that I've seen photos of the system in Haz Mat class. I guess it worked well as long as the ax man didn't fall asleep.

Bustednuckles said...

I had the pleasure of working with a former Navy welder when I was young and completely stupid once. He welded a small hole in a gas tank on a forklift one time.
He filled that sucker to the top with gasoline and started in.
The side of the tank started glowing red and fire was coming out under the cap. Stupid me, I started to unscrew the cap.
Can you say fireball?
He yelled at me and I screwed it right back on and he finished up. Amazing what oxygen can do.

BBC said...

That welder was a brave man, or a stupid one, or a lucky one.

I have an old blacksmiths soldering iron, the kind with a big head on them that you heat up in a fire, to fix gas tank leaks.

But these days you can use a product called Seal-All to seal small leaks with.

BBC said...

Japan raised the crisis level at its crippled nuclear plant Tuesday to a severity on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, citing high overall radiation leaks that have contaminated the air, tap water, vegetables and seawater.

Are we having fun yet?

Demeur said...

Actually the tank shouldn't have exploded since it was above the upper explosive limit. You can take a cigarette and put it out in a tank of gas. So I'm guessing he didn't fill it quite all the way. Wouldn't explode but it sure would have made a hell of a fire.

Randal Graves said...

Let me ax you something.

BBC said...

In theory you can fill a gas tank up and weld or solder on it, in reality it's a dumb thing to do cuz it backfires on you sometimes.

I've known a few men that found that out the hard way and were badly burned.

Ranch Chimp said...

This crap has been just a awful bloody mess all the way around, and you cant even get a straight anything on any of this ... and believe me ... this they wont push under the rug, and the way were going there will be more. Enough said.

Later Guy

S.W. Anderson said...

Looking at what's going on in Japan, I get the impression non-engineers concentrating on worst-case scenarios and applying common sense could have designed a safer, easier to shut down and recover plant.

When fast-food outfits want to roll out a new sandwich or kids' meal, they typically work it up to what they think is right and then bring in ordinary people to see what outsiders think of it. That makes sense.

I think that approach can and should be put to use in highly technical areas where the "experts" can be so steeped in their way of seeing and doing things that they sometimes part company with common sense and fairly obvious problems and possibilities.

It's like the old joke about why Fred's PC quit working. One IT technician after another comes in and checks one thing after another. The bunch of them go out in the hall, scratching their head and positing increasingly unlikely causes. Meanwhile, a secretary walking through reaches down and plugs the power cord back into the wall outlet, causing Fred's PC to start booting.

Bustednuckles said...

Unfortunately, common sense ain't that common anymore.