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posted by Dopefish on Sunday February 23 2014, @02:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the all-hail-the-almighty-atom dept.

CyberB0B39 writes: "The Department of Energy is set to approve $6.5B for a Georgia nuclear power plant, the first such plant in more than 3 decades. While other nuclear plants are shutting down due to competition from natural gas, Atlanta-based Southern Company is forging ahead with its planned construction of the plant."

[ED Note: "For those that are wondering, the new nuclear plant will be based on the AP1000 design by Westinghouse Electric Company LLC, a company based in Pittsburgh, PA and a subsidiary of Toshiba."]

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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by mrkaos on Sunday February 23 2014, @11:13AM

    by mrkaos (997) on Sunday February 23 2014, @11:13AM (#5147)

    The AP-1000's design still falls short for accident mitigation and the EPR design is better. Briefly the buildings that service the reactor are split into four (main) operational divisions (and the reactor containment). An accident, failure or maintenance in the other areas can be mitigated by the other divisions. It's planning, and being prepared for, problems.

    None of the AP1000 designs incorporate features to ease the teardown and eventual decommissioning of the facility. For example, Yankee Rowe, was a controlled shutdown of a functioning reactor. It cost half a billion dollars to clean-up and it was only 137 Megawatts, less than a quarter of the size of TMI-2. You have to wait decades to allow the *really* radioactive elements to decay. This is because new and highly radioactive elements are created in the reactor core. It's still not something that has been addressed in an industrially proficient way that makes the sites safe or 'greenfeild'. Considering the 104 reactor sites around America are multi-core the United States will be looking at a conservative estimate of a quarter of a *Trillion* dollars, at todays prices, on reactor decommissioning alone.

    While the cost is a concern, decommissioning the reactor core has to be conducted so that it doesn't release any of the new radioactive elements free to bio-concentrate in the food chain.

    The NRC asked a Nuclear industry panel (Westinghouse, General Electric, Bechtel, Sargent & Lundy, Northern States Power and Commonwealth Edison) for
      design recommendations specifically targeted at reducing the opportunities to sabotage a nuclear reactor installation. The AP-1000 incorporates none of the design changes the industry *itself* recommends be applied to reactor facility design. AP-1000 is a rehash of the Standard Westinghouse Nuclear Utility Power Plant (SNUPPs) examples of which are installed at Wolf Creek [] and Callaway, you will note in the picture the uncanny resemblence to the AP-1000 design (and similar capacity).

    Having gravity fed cooling is good and I am not taking away from the enhancements, but they're not enough. As for the containment building, it is the exact right place for additional concrete and steel. Consider TMI-2, it was designed with thicker containment than most other reactors so it was resistant to an aircraft crash. Even that suffered from voids that collapsed in the containment building. Aircraft attack on a Nuclear facility is a viable threat, and gravity cooling won't mitigate containment volume vs thermal power, containment is the last thing you want to loose in the event of an accident.

    The design of the AP-1000 has the ratio of containment volume to thermal power below that of today's operating PWRs. That increases the risk of containment over-pressurization and failure in event of a severe accident. Control rooms are still situated too close to the reactor room. Never has the need for that change to be implemented in reactor design been underlined more throughly than Fukushima. Reactor workers are exposed to much more radiation than need be to control accidents and newer designs *still* don't have this feature. Most obviously, newer reactor designs still aren't underground and these are reactor changes that the Nuclear Industry *themselves* recommended.

    My ism, it's full of beliefs.
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    Total Score:   5