Friday, July 11, 2008

What about Chernobyl? (How do you stop a meltdown)

I just don't get the "What about Chernobyl?" references.

It was a take off of Peter Sellers. In one skit he played the part of a politician giving a political speech at a rally. He said absolutely nothing in many many words. To an interjection "What about XXX", he replied What about XXX indeed sir" and moved straight on

Chernobyl was really, really old technology and from what I gather not maintained very well.

Chernobyl is a badly designed Soviet nuclear reactor and there are still quite a number of identical reactors in operation. I was interested in the event at the time (as I have worked in the nuclear power industry in the UK and Canada). I would have to research the details again to be more specific but there was a control point instability at about 10% power output and as it happened some inexperienced operators started to run some tests on the reactor at this load point one evening with the result that the bottom melted out of the reactor core -- it became unstable, overheated (bit of an understatement) and literally the bottom went through the floor. From what I remember those reactors had poor safety systems not that they would matter much once the reactor was no longer contained. Quite a contrast with the UK where there were 200 tons of liquid nitrogen as a final stop that could be pumped into the reactors at the rate of 100 tons/hour to shut them down. Only a part of this quantity would be needed. And the UK reactors had fully separate twin electric control systems (valves/actuators and piping) with a fully separate additional manual system. So there were three avenues to control the station and it was considered that the continual monitoring would also give hours to make a decision to shut it down. (This was one area where I had worked when in the UK) A far cry from the Russian stations where there was poor regard for personnel safety as well as station shut down. One of the joys of socialism and collectivism where there is no value placed on the individual. You'd think the world would have learned? Apparently not as I think this mob (former communists and camp followers) have now morphed into something just as sinister ... Apocalyptic Predictors of Climate Change. And when they get their hands fully on the controls ....

 I suspect that it was Homer Simpsonov*

No I don't think he had even been invented then but I reckon he would have stuffed up just as well.

*hm, I hope I've got that Russian son-of bit right...

 This was part of an email conversation I had with a friend who is around the blogs. I found it interesting and amusing. I hope you did, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Damn Tibor