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.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.
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.
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.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.
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.
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.