Detail, east Portland photo, courtesy Miles Hochstein / Portland Ground.

For old times' sake
The bojack bumper sticker -- only $1.50!

To order, click here.

Excellent tunes -- free! And on your browser right now. Just click on Radio Bojack!

E-mail us here.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 15, 2011 9:19 AM. The previous post in this blog was Hanford still a disaster waiting to happen. The next post in this blog is By a waterfall, I'm calling you. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



Law and Taxation
How Appealing
TaxProf Blog
Mauled Again
Tax Appellate Blog
A Taxing Matter
Josh Marquis
Native America, Discovered and Conquered
The Yin Blog
Ernie the Attorney
Above the Law
The Volokh Conspiracy
Going Concern
Bag and Baggage
Wealth Strategies Journal
Jim Hamilton's World of Securities Regulation
World of Work
The Faculty Lounge
Lowering the Bar
OrCon Law

Hap'nin' Guys
Tony Pierce
Parkway Rest Stop
Along the Gradyent
Dwight Jaynes
Bob Borden
Dingleberry Gazette
The Red Electric
Iced Borscht
Jeremy Blachman
Dean's Rhetorical Flourish
Straight White Guy
As Time Goes By
Dave Wagner
Jeff Selis
Alas, a Blog
Scott Hendison
The View Through the Windshield
Appliance Blog
The Bleat

Hap'nin' Gals
My Whim is Law
Lelo in Nopo
Attorney at Large
Linda Kruschke
The Non-Consumer Advocate
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place
A Pig of Success
Attorney at Large
Margaret and Helen
Kimberlee Jaynes
Cornelia Seigneur
And Sew It Goes
Mile 73
Rainy Day Thoughts
That Black Girl
Posie Gets Cozy
Cat Eyes
Rhi in Pink
Ragwaters, Bitters, and Blue Ruin
Rose City Journal
Type Like the Wind

Portland and Oregon
Isaac Laquedem
Rantings of a [Censored] Bus Driver
Jeff Mapes
Vintage Portland
The Portlander
South Waterfront
Amanda Fritz
O City Hall Reporters
Guilty Carnivore
Old Town by Larry Norton
The Alaunt
Bend Blogs
Lost Oregon
Cafe Unknown
Tin Zeroes
David's Oregon Picayune
Mark Nelsen's Weather Blog
Travel Oregon Blog
Portland Daily Photo
Portland Building Ads
Portland Food and
Dave Knows Portland
Idaho's Portugal
Alameda Old House History
MLK in Motion

Retired from Blogging
Various Observations...
The Daily E-Mail
Saving James
Portland Freelancer
Furious Nads (b!X)
Izzle Pfaff
The Grich
Kevin Allman
AboutItAll - Oregon
Lost in the Details
Worldwide Pablo
Tales from the Stump
Whitman Boys
Two Pennies
This Stony Planet
1221 SW 4th
I am a Fish
Here Today
What If...?
Superinky Fixations
The Rural Bus Route
Another Blogger
Mikeyman's Computer Treehouse
Portland Housing Blog

Wonderfully Wacky
Dave Barry
Borowitz Report
Stuff White People Like
Worst of the Web

Valuable Time-Wasters
My Gallery of Jacks
Litterbox, On the Prowl
Litterbox, Bag of Bones
Litterbox, Scratch
Ride That Donkey
Singin' Horses
Rally Monkey
Simon Swears
Strong Bad's E-mail

Oregon News
The Oregonian
Portland Tribune
Willamette Week
The Sentinel
Southeast Examiner
Northwest Examiner
Sellwood Bee
Mid-County Memo
Vancouver Voice
Eugene Register-Guard
OPB - Portland
Salem Statesman-Journal
Oregon Capitol News
Portland Business Journal
Daily Journal of Commerce
Oregon Business
Portland Info Net
McMinnville News Register
Lake Oswego Review
The Daily Astorian
Bend Bulletin
Corvallis Gazette-Times
Roseburg News-Review
Medford Mail-Tribune
Ashland Daily Tidings
Newport News-Times
Albany Democrat-Herald
The Eugene Weekly
Portland IndyMedia
The Columbian

The Beatles
Bruce Springsteen
Joni Mitchell
Ella Fitzgerald
Steve Earle
Joe Ely
Stevie Wonder
Lou Rawls

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Reed reactor has no backup electricity supply

The things you find surfing the internet. Here's an interesting document filed with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (motto: "Rubberstamping with the Highest of Standards Since 1954") by Reed College in Southeast Portland. In connection with a license extension application, which has been pending since 2007, the NRC asked Reed what backup electricity it has at its "research" reactor on the college campus.

The answer is, none.

The electrical system is shared with the rest of Reed College. The HVAC system for the reactor is separate from the rest of the campus ventilation system.

The loss of electrical power to the facility results in the deenergization of all the systems at the reactor. There is no backup electrical supply system. Although much of the instrumentation has UPS backup supplies; they are not taken credit for in the analysis. The reactor will shutdown due to the control rod magnets deengergizing and the control rods falling into the core. The HVAC system, instrumentation, and alarms will all denenergize. The HVAC system fans will turn off and the dampers will fail as is. Thus the ventilation system will not go into isolation if the facility looses power. The accident analysis analyzes this condition as a leakage scenario.

It's nice to know that the control rods will automatically fall into the core and stop the nuclear reaction (if everything goes according to plan), but it's not exactly reassuring that everything else will shut off. No alarms? Wow.

On a broader plane, a potentially bigger concern is that the Reed reactor is 43 years old:

The facility and its components were constructed to comply with the building codes of the City of Portland, Multnomah County, and the State of Oregon in 1968. All modifications have been made in accordance with the applicable codes.

The facility was installed in accordance with designs provided by General Atomics and the architectdral designs by Farnham and Peck, registered architects in the State of Oregon.

Forty-three years is old for a nuclear reactor. Instead of running it for another 20 years, which is what Reed is proposing, maybe it's time for the facility to be decommissioned. That would cost about $1 million.

It's doubtful Reed will see it that way. In its initial license renewal application, it had proposed to "uprate" its reactor to a higher power level. It withdrew that request in January of 2010, but it's still seeking 20 more years at the existing level.

It's interesting to us how docile the Reed neighbors and the rest of the city's residents are about that particular facility. Did you know that spent fuel from Reed is trucked through Portland streets to I-205, then to I-84 and out to the nuke dump by Craters of the Moon in Idaho? Me neither.

Comments (24)

What's even scarier is that a bunch of Reedies are running the reactor. Hopefully a few of them refrain from painting themselves blue and taking LSD during the rave week so they can tend to their nuclear beast without hallucinating.

While the automatic scramming of the reactor from the gravity-caused fall of the control rods after an electric power failure may stop the chain reaction activity of the reactor's fuel rod assembly, nothing will cool the apparatus except physical dissipation of the heat from the fuel rod assembly to the control rods, etc.

Might there be a partial meltdown at best, then, and subsequently a resuscitation of the nuclear chain reactions within the structure?

Gives *Sustainability* a whole new glow, doesn't it, Portland?

Kids shouldn't be playing with nuclear power plants.

You'll put your "I" out, kid.

What is important is that the Reed TRIGA reactor, because of it's design and capacity, CANNOT have a melt down, even if the fuel rods are exposed. Water is not necessary to cool the reactor.

As stated in the following article, "The reactor is inherently safe due to the design of the fuel: it cannot have a meltdown, it cannot explode, it cannot have a run away chain reaction, and it is not effective as a 'dirty bomb.'"

Due to the design of the fuel (TRIGA fuel, uranium zirconium hydride) used in the Reed reactor, the nuclear chain reaction slows as the temperature increases, and completely stops below the melting point of Uranium. So the nuclear fuel can't get hot enough to melt.

However, as the nuclear fuel heats up, it does release hydrogen gas inside the fuel rods. My concern would not be that the fuel would melt, but that hydrogen buildup inside the rods would increase the pressure and cause the cladding to burst, releasing gaseous fission fragments. TRIGA reactors are not in containment vessels -- they're in open-air pools, so the fission fragments would be released directly into the reactor bay. Since the ventilation systems would be offline during a power failure, there would be nothing to filter fission fragments out of the air prior to their release from the building. Importantly, note that it says that the dampers will fail "as is". That seems bad; they should fail in the closed position so that the fission fragments are trapped in the reactor bay and do not leak to the outside.

Since the pool is open to the air, another concern would be that during an earthquake, a heavy object could fall into the pool and crush fuel cladding, again resulting in a release of gaseous fission fragments.

Looking through the first-linked document, I see that "the MHA [maximum hypothetical accident] has been defined as the cladding rupture of one highly irradiated fuel element with no radioactive decay followed by the instantaneous release of the noble gas and halogen fission products outside the cladding and into the air."

Surely the cladding rupture of all the fuel elements would be a worse accident that the cladding rupture of one fuel element, so it seems like that should be the MHA instead.

But the next paragraph says that the rupture of one Fuel element is the most severe accident for a TRIGA® reactor.

Tossing in my two pennies:
I also looked up the design...
Disclaimer- I run my opinions past a Professional Engineer that has operated a nuclear reactor and is involved in clean up.

troy, I hope you are being sarcastic
ct, you are on the right track.
Jack, The loss of electrical power isn't that big of a deal, as such, its the lack of understanding/planning for EVERYTHING to go to H in a hand basket. Lets say they did have a back up- didn't help Japan much. "ct" Hits on it- take a close look at what is studied. One fuel rod ruptured, Just the lack of water, Just the lack of electricity...
So when you talk to your Geek, and as they say won't happen, won't happen, start adding things up and watch their face as the truth dawns on them. (example in Japan)OK the rods keeps the stuff apart so they wont react, now the water is gone and the cladding fails, the pellets are in a pile, the hydrogen gas fill the space of the remaining rods and pellets, it reacts with oxygen in the air. Eyes get wide. Boom-dirty bomb. Why is stirring the waste in the Handford tanks such a big deal? Because of all the toxic out of this world chemical soup contains some very heavy atoms- the nuclear ones. The settle to the bottom and cozy up to each other. Not a good thing.
OK example Reed College: (Earth quake scenario seems popular now) power out, rods drop, pool cracked and drained, roof, gantry's etc fall into pool crushing most of the rods, into a pile on the bottom, Hydrogen gas build up, contacts air, boom, College Students Marijuana plants contaminated, unable to sell or safely use.

How dare they TRUCK it out of Portland! They should at least use a delivery tricycle to haul the waste to the city limit.

Sarcastic about what point?

That's all a relief, now that you put it that way. Well, the heck with those backyard chickens, pinwheels and wistful solar panels, I'm gonna get me one of these little nukes, then. Say, can you barbecue a slab o' ribs with one of those? Nuke those zukes, too!

You mean one these little babies?

There's no carbon dioxide release when this reactor operates, making it greener than Mayor Adams.

Ha ha! The Methane Mayor!

What worries me the most is that the guy running the reactor can't spell "lose," and nobody's checking his work.

Jack - We get it you hate nuclear - anything. I suppose you won't be stepping into ANY Health Care Facility ever again then?

It depends. If it's 43 years old and lacks adequate emergency plans, I probably won't.

And this isn't about medicine, Mark. I know that's where you work, but not everything is about you. There is no medicine anywhere need Reed, or Fukushima, or Hanford. They don't heal people at any of those places. Indeed, Hanford's whole reason for existing is mass murder.

Hopefully a few of them refrain from painting themselves blue and taking LSD during the rave week so they can tend to their nuclear beast without hallucinating.

I don't know if this is still the case, but as of about a decade ago they would actually deadbolt the reactor building with a key that operators didn't have during Renn Fayre precisely so that operators wouldn't go and run the reactor so they could look at the pretty blue glow while high.

Until we can harness the power of knee-jerk reactions, nuclear is one of the cleanest, safest power sources available by any measure.

How many coal miners have died? Oil/gas accidents and spills? Transport/transmission costs? Effects of emissions? Petrol refining and processing?

Until solar and geothermal gets cheaper (thanks Google!) and power transmission infrastructure is upgraded to a mesh-style national grid we need to rely on this tech for a while.

The TRIGA reactor was designed for academic purposes. I can certainly understand the viewpoint that Reed doesn't need one, but you haven't presented much ammo for your hypothesis that it is a safety risk. I would continue reading past the first page of the report to the next 40 pages where the safety measures are exhaustively described.

Reading this report (okay, I admit I skipped the equations) actually makes me feel better about the reactor, knowing they are subject to this kind of scrutiny from regulators.

but as of about a decade ago they would actually deadbolt the reactor building with a key that operators didn't have during Renn Fayre precisely so that operators wouldn't go and run the reactor so they could look at the pretty blue glow while high.

Um, no.

I have friends that worked security there in that time frame and while they had lots of stories about handling ODs with kid gloves ("Just pet the wall. Isn't that nice? There you go. Relax. Now, where is your dorm room?") they regularly patrolled the building that houses the reactor and even the security folks could only go so far as the outer room. Access to the reactor room is restricted at all times, not just during Burning Man and May Day.

knowing they are subject to this kind of scrutiny from regulators.

Scrutiny? Hardly. Busy, busy rubberstamping.

Access to the reactor room is restricted at all times, not just during Burning Man and May Day

At least in 2000, reactor operators all had keys to the reactor building, the control room and the reactor bay itself, and could go in there any time they wanted to with no supervision. I have no idea if this is still the case, but it definitely was at one point.

College students, obsolete equipment, and lethal materials -- what could possibly go wrong?

If you do even the smallest bit of reading on the TRIGA (just the wikipedia page even) you'll discover that it was designed specifically for student use.

Being required to respond to a litany of detailed questions about specific safety precautions does not seem to fit the definition of "rubber stamping".


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
Beaulieu, Rutherford Cabernet 2013
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
King Estate, Pinot Gris, Backbone 2014
Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
Apaltagua, Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013
Chateau des Arnauds, Cuvee des Capucins 2012
Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 113
At this date last year: 155
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

Clicky Web Analytics