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Thursday, August 6, 2009


Just a little fire up at Hanford yesterday. Nothing to see here, folks -- just go on about your business.

Comments (14)

Safety systems worked properly right down the line.

No harm, no foul.

Except for the fire prevention safety system, you mean. The frightening thing about this one is that a fire in the wire cabling trays is what led to the Browns Ferry fire disaster, which put that plant out of commission for many years.

What I am referring to, is that in no way was there a danger of nuclear release, because as soon as any non-normal operational parameter was recorded, the reactor was shut down, and remains shut down until the investigation is complete.

I feel so much better.

Hey, minimize the problem all you want. I guarantee you that the SRO and the plant management and the NRC and the BPA think a fire that causes an outage is both harm and foul. We're just lucky this hit when the temps were cool, not 107F.

Yeh, sure, we're lucky, we have wind generators backing Hanford up.

Anybody remember back in '92 or so when it was our own Reed College nuclear reactor on the fritz? That was fun...there was, like, just this energy in the air. Sort of like Renn Fayre.

"... in no way was there a danger of nuclear release"

You mean MORE radioactive release.

Fire or no fire, Hanford ground water is ALREADY lethal poison, over a mile in every direction, including PLUTONIUM -- yikes! -- detected in the Columbia River silt bed all the way downstream into Oregon.

It doesn't make 3-eyed fish. It makes extinct fish ... and riverbank inhabitants.

Note: there is a difference between the DOE Hanford Nuclear Reservation (place with all the buried nasty crap left over from plutonium production for nuclear weapons) and the Columbia Generating Station - a commercially operated Pressurized Water Reactor.

Let's keep the hyperbole at a minimum please. Everyone knows Hanford is the most contaminated site in the US - this isn't news to anyone. This incident has nothing to do with the leaking tanks of transuranic waste involved in the Hanford Site cleanup, other than being located within 50 miles of the place.

The mind boggles. A site on the mighty Columbia, of all places, was deemed to be the best spot to deposit the worst pollutants on this planet.

A drainage basin larger than the entire country of France, Spain or Afghanistan... Some of the best soils and climates in North America... the economic vein of the green NW. THIS was the best spot to create and dispose of life-ending material?

Fred, you forgot to mention the unlined burial trenches that ring the WNP-2 site (very close to the reactor building), trenches that include such an abundance of screaming hot nasties that DOE doesn't have the first idea about how to attack them (and which, oh by the way, DOE and its predecessors don't have inventories for, which accounts for the constant stream of surprises whenever they try characterizing these trenches) -- see 617-7, 617-11 etc.

Oh, and try "within .5 miles" since the WNP-2 site is fully contained within the Hanford Nuclear Rservation. Since we're avoiding hyperbole.

No one is arguing that Hanford isn't a complete mess. Yes, there's leaking single-walled tanks. Yes, there's unlined trenches filled with amazingly horrible crap. However, none of that has anything to do with an electrical fire, completely separated away from anything that would endanger reactor operations, and the reactor safety shutdown worked perfectly.

It tightens my jaws whenever something as small as this occurs and people start screaming "OMG NUCLEAR" when the same thing could occur in any coal-fired plant in the nation - you know, those same coal-fired plants that release more Uranium and Thorium into the *atmosphere* every year than Chernobyl did; mostly because of the amazingly stupid disaster that was Chernobyl - a positive void coefficient design with no containment dome, and graphite moderation, while intentionally bypassing multiple safety systems.

I'm all for stopping the progress of stupidity, but getting worked up about this is just reactionary and silly.

Don't look at me -- I would shut down coal plants before I shut down any nukes. But to pretend that the "same thing" could happen to any coal plant as to a 1GW nuke is simply nonsense, and you appear too well-informed to believe it yourself.

Your attempt to minimize the consequences of a cable tray fire calls to mind this classic interview:


We should close down a local, small town internet provider I know that had a cable tray fire. And he doesn't even have a fire suppression system but the appropriate type of fire extinguisher.

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