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10 Devastating Nuclear Events and Accidents

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posted on Jul, 16 2010 @ 01:23 AM
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10. The Demon Core




On August 21, 1945, an American physicist named Harry Daghlian made a critical mistake while performing neutron reflection experiments on a subcritical mass of plutonium. Daghlian accidently dropped one of the neutron-reflective tungsten carbide bricks on the core making it critical. The event produced a burst of neutron radiation that irradiated Daghlian. He died 25 days later.

On May 21, 1946, Canadian physicist Louis Slotin and other scientists were in a Los Alamos laboratory conducting an experiment that involved creating a fission reaction by placing two half-spheres of beryllium (a neutron reflector) around the same plutonium core. In the experiment, Slotin was holding a screwdriver separating the hemispheres when his hand slipped and the hemispheres of the beryllium reflector closed. This caused the plutonium core to become supercritical and it released an extremely high dose of radiation on the scientists. Slotin reacted very quickly and pulled the two halves apart, stopping the chain reaction, saving the lives of the seven other men in the laboratory. Louis Slotin died nine days later from acute radiation poisoning. The scientist assisting in the experiment received a high radiation dose, which caused serious injuries.


9. Goldsboro B-52 Crash



On January 24, 1961 an American B-52 bomber was on a 24-hour airborne alert mission over the Atlantic seaboard. The aircraft was carrying two Mark 39 nuclear weapons onboard. During the mission, the B-52 was scheduled to meet with a tanker for mid-air refueling. While the plane was being refueled, the B-52 captain, Major W.S. Tullock, was notified that his aircraft had a leak in its port wing fuel cell. The plane was directed to assume a holding pattern off the coast until the majority of fuel was used up. However, the captain soon reported that his plane had lost 37,000 pounds (17,000 kg) of fuel in three minutes. He was immediately ordered to land at Seymour Johnson Air Base, which is located in Goldsboro, North Carolina. As the plane descended to 10,000 feet, the pilots were no longer able to control the aircraft. The captain ordered the crew to eject, which they did at 9,000 feet (2,700 m). The plane broke apart as it spiraled to the ground and the nuclear weapons were separated from the craft.

8. Baneberry Blast



The Nevada Test Site is a U.S. Department of Energy reservation located in southeastern Nye County, Nevada, about 65 miles northwest of the city of Las Vegas. The site was established for the testing of nuclear devices on January 11, 1951. It is composed of approximately 1,350 sq mi (3,500 km2) of desert and mountainous terrain. Between 1951 and 1992, there were a total of 928 announced nuclear tests at Nevada Test Site, which included 828 underground explosions. Sixty-two of the underground tests included multiple, simultaneous nuclear detonations. The site was the primary testing location of American nuclear devices. About a third of the nuclear tests were conducted directly in aquifers, while others were well above the water table. When the final test was performed in 1992, the U.S. Energy Department estimated that more than 300 million curies of radiation remained in the area, making the site one of the most radioactively contaminated places in the U.S.

One of the most notable nuclear accidents at the Nevada Nuclear Site was the Baneberry blast which occurred on December 18, 1970, during the Operation Emery series of nuclear tests. The Baneberry bomb was detonated as planned at the bottom of a sealed vertical shaft 900 feet below the Earth’s surface. However, after the explosion, the bombs energy cracked the soil of the ground in an unexpected way. This caused a plume of hot gases and radioactive dust to be released three and a half minutes after ignition. The reaction continued for many hours.


2. Castle Bravo



Bikini Atoll is an atoll in one of the Micronesian Islands in the Pacific Ocean, part of Republic of the Marshall Islands. It consists of 23 islands surrounding a central lagoon. As part of the Pacific Proving Grounds, Bikini Atoll was the site of more than 20 nuclear weapons tests between 1946 and 1958. Castle Bravo was the code name given to the first U.S. test of a dry fuel thermonuclear hydrogen bomb. The test was performed on March 1, 1954, at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands. The nuclear bomb was the first practical deliverable fusion bomb in the U.S. arsenal. When the weapon was detonated, it formed a fireball almost four and a half miles (roughly 7 km) across the sky within a second. The explosion left a crater of 6,500 feet (2,000 m) in diameter and 250 feet (75 m) in depth. Castle Bravo was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the United States, with a yield of 15 Megatons.

1. Chernobyl Disaster




The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in modern day Ukraine. On April 26, 1986, operators at the power plant conducted a scheduled test on the electric control system of one of the nuclear reactors. For an amount of time the reactors safety system was turned off. The reactor was also operating under improper and unstable conditions. These factors, along with faulty actions of some operators, caused an uncontrollable power surge to occur in nuclear reactor number four. This caused a fatal meltdown in the reactor. A chain reaction of nuclear explosions occurred that severely damaged the reactor building, completely destroyed the reactor, and caused the release of massive amounts of radioactive material. The fallout was propelled into the atmosphere and over an extensive geographical area. The nuclear fires burned at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant for ten straight days.




Source




posted on Jul, 16 2010 @ 01:27 AM
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I selected 5 of the 10 to post. The other 5 can be found at the source provided.

It's very sad about the Chernobyl Disaster. I didn't know anything about it until finding this website. I can only imagine the devistation and pain the people went through.

It's incredible that for 10 days nuclear fires were burning. And the picture just made me feel sad that children had to go through much pain and agony.



posted on Jul, 16 2010 @ 02:20 AM
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Cool find. There where 4 or 5 that I did not know about. I can't believe that the Air Force left one buried in a muddy field. Even more incredible though, is the K-219 and how it was found in 1988 with some nuclear missiles missing.


If true, I wonder who ended up with them. The US? China? Maybe even the soviets went and picked them up. Whoever it was had to have extraordinary underwater capabilities. I don't think DPRK (North Korea) would be able to recover them.


Sorry for going off topic a bit.


ETA: There is a ton of information about Chernobyl. What happened during and after the event. There is work currently being done to construct a new containment cap.

Look for pictures of the disaster. Some of the most shocking, IMO, are the photos of the melted core of the reactor, in a super hot state, in the floors below the reactor room. Lots of liquid metal ran down to the basement after the core blew up.

Don't forget to check out information on the Sedan Crater. It is the biggest accidental release of radiation upon the continental United States. It is also the only US test for civilian use of nukes and it also formed the largest crater from a nuclear weapon used on US soil. Google Maps: Sedan Crater

[edit on 16-7-2010 by sporkmonster]



posted on Jul, 16 2010 @ 02:41 AM
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Originally posted by sporkmonster
Cool find. There where 4 or 5 that I did not know about. I can't believe that the Air Force left one buried in a muddy field. Even more incredible though, is the K-219 and how it was found in 1988 with some nuclear missiles missing.


If true, I wonder who ended up with them. The US? China? Maybe even the soviets went and picked them up. Whoever it was had to have extraordinary underwater capabilities. I don't think DPRK (North Korea) would be able to recover them.


Sorry for going off topic a bit.


ETA: There is a ton of information about Chernobyl. What happened during and after the event. There is work currently being done to construct a new containment cap.

Look for pictures of the disaster. Some of the most shocking, IMO, are the photos of the melted core of the reactor, in a super hot state, in the floors below the reactor room. Lots of liquid metal ran down to the basement after the core blew up.

Don't forget to check out information on the Sedan Crater. It is the biggest accidental release of radiation upon the continental United States. It is also the only US test for civilian use of nukes and it also formed the largest crater from a nuclear weapon used on US soil. Google Maps: Sedan Crater

[edit on 16-7-2010 by sporkmonster]


Yeah it makes you wonder about the missing nuclear missles. Lets just hope they are left missing and in no ones possesion.

And thanks i'll be sure to look up what you have suggested. Especially more info about Chernobyl.



posted on Jul, 16 2010 @ 02:53 AM
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14 years ago I watched a Documentary about the rise of Nuclear power and weapons in the world.. it included two U.S. Hydrogen bomb detonations with yields of 500 and 750 MT respectively.. the next piece of footage showed the largest ever detonation.. the yield still being a secret.

That detonation was incredible.. an entire sparkling energetic field enveloped the burst, which to me looked as if we almost ripped the "fabric of time".. for want of a better description.

Apparently from there the U.S. took their Nuclear Detonations into space.

I was shocked by some of the information in that documentary, things like the largest ground burst irradiating every human on the planet.. and that was before doing the same thing in space.

To this day I have not been able to find that same documentary.



posted on Jul, 16 2010 @ 02:59 AM
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reply to post by Tayesin
 


Are you saying an explosion on the order of 500 MEGATONS? That is really, really, rEEEEeaaaallllllllyy big. The largest event that is acknowledged is the USSR's Tsar Bomba, at 50 megatons.



posted on Jul, 16 2010 @ 04:41 AM
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Yep, that's what it said on the Documentary.. pretty insane when you think about it.

But we humans do some pretty insane things at times without giving a thought to consequences.



posted on Jul, 16 2010 @ 05:13 AM
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reply to post by Tayesin
 


Impossible, the largest ever detonated was 57 megatons. It had to have been 500/750 kilotons which would be completely normal. You must have heard wrong.



posted on Jul, 16 2010 @ 08:29 AM
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reply to post by minute2midnight
 

Perhaps, perhaps not. Perhaps records say as you said. The documentary claimed the final yield of that last detonation in the late 1960's was still a secret.. and that was 1996 I saw it so perhaps I read the writing wrong or the "official" yields are debatable?




[edit on 16-7-2010 by Tayesin]



posted on Jul, 16 2010 @ 10:22 AM
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Originally posted by Tayesin
14 years ago I watched a Documentary about the rise of Nuclear power and weapons in the world.. it included two U.S. Hydrogen bomb detonations with yields of 500 and 750 MT respectively..
510 MT is the grand total of all nuclear tests performed by the USA, Soviet Union, UK, France, and China, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists May 1996:

books.google.com...=onepage&q=510.3&f=false


Total megatonnage expended in nuclear tests 1945-1996:
Total-Atmosphere=427.9
Total-Underground=82.4
Grand Total=510.3


[edit on 16-7-2010 by Arbitrageur]



posted on Jul, 16 2010 @ 12:07 PM
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I think it probably said Kilotons ...not Megatons...for testing purposes. The US would not do megaton testing in Nevada. The fallout would spread over populated areas. The megaton category was reserved for the Bikini area. 500 megaton blast would probably kill the planet.



posted on Jul, 16 2010 @ 12:54 PM
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Originally posted by CaptGizmo
I think it probably said Kilotons ...not Megatons...for testing purposes. The US would not do megaton testing in Nevada. The fallout would spread over populated areas. The megaton category was reserved for the Bikini area. 500 megaton blast would probably kill the planet.


I agree they probably said kilotons in the documentary.

I don't think a 500 megaton blast would kill the planet however, it wouldn't be pleasant.

Since Chernobyl is mentioned in this thread, I suppose it's on topic to mention Chernobyl in this site listing the 10 Greatest Explosions Ever

#8 is Chernobyl:

The blast, which blew the 2,000-ton lid off the reactor, sent out 400 times more radioactive fallout than the Hiroshima bomb, contaminating more than 77,000 square miles (200,000 square km) of Europe. Roughly 600,000 people were exposed to high doses of radiation,

The men who tried to put out the Chernobyl fire knowing they were dooming themselves to certain death by doing so were quite heroic. I wouldn't have wanted to do that especially since dying from intense radiation exposure is an exceptionally miserable way to die.

Anyway back to 500 megatons destroying the planet, look at #5, the 1815 eruption of mount Tambora in Indonesia. That was about 1000 megatons, and it didn't destroy the planet but it did kill hundreds of thousands of people, some directly, and even more indirectly from starvation from the "nuclear winter" effect.

So if 500 megatons or even 1000 won't destroy the planet, what will?

The impact that wiped out the dinosaurs is #4 on that list, it was 100 million megatons. And even that didn't completely destroy the planet, since some small mammals survived that to evolve into us. But it was devastating enough to wipe out 75% of all species on the planet, including the dinosaurs.



posted on Jul, 16 2010 @ 03:18 PM
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The most noteworthy accident for me is the English, Windscale Fire, of October 1957. en.wikipedia.org... here a British, Plutonium making, reactor (for nuclear bombs only, as no electricity was ever produced) caught fire for to 4-5 days (at Sellafield, in Seascale, Cumbria).
Apparently only around 21,000 curries were released (although these estimates are today, widely regarded as incredibly suspect).

But remember the nuclear industry has killed less people than the coal mining industry www.world-nuclear.org... And if there (really) is a problem with CO2 emissions, then the lives (for energy) nuclear power has (currently) saved could be far greater still.
If today’s reactor designs are far improved on those 20 years ago (let alone 53!), and we have designs for Fast Breeder Reactors which can transmute (i.e. destroy) nuclear waste… business.timesonline.co.uk...

Then why not go ahead, and build the new technology that can revival anything we did the past?
If the Victorians had a Health & Safety Act, then the chances are that when the first steam engine (a “Rocket”) exploded, so too would all hopes of trains-mechanised industry (at least for many years, -quite possibly decades).
Everyone knows that the reasons for both Chernobyl and 3 Mile Island were incredible, human negligence, as well, as old reactor designs that no country, anywhere on earth builds anymore.

Sadly we (the public) are being “Greenwashed” by our political enemies, the corporate media into accepting economic ruin for the sake of investments in places like China. As long as green ideology proclaims that nuclear can’t be green, green politics is arrogantly at odds with reality. A shame these aspiring politicians, aren’t
a committee of scientists (as at least these people, know what they’re talking about!).



posted on Jul, 16 2010 @ 04:26 PM
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Originally posted by Liberal1984
we have designs for Fast Breeder Reactors which can transmute (i.e. destroy) nuclear waste… business.timesonline.co.uk...
We do? That's not the impression I get from reading your source link:


“We have developed the highest safety level with [our existing reactors],” she said. “In terms of public acceptance, the remaining issue is the waste. In the future we will be able to destroy the actinides by making them disappear in a special reactor. We can do it already in a laboratory. , we will address this issue.”


What it says is that "with research and development", "in the future we will be able to destroy the actinides" so it doesn't sound like they have any designs ready to go yet, though the successful laboratory results are encouraging.

As that says, the nuclear waste is the remaining issue in terms of public acceptance, so once they actually DO have reactor designs to eliminate the waste, I think public support will be there.

Three mile island was a pretty bad disaster for the USA, it basically killed the nuclear power industry here, but it did show how superior the reactor containment designs in the US were compared to the Soviet Union's design in Chernobyl.



posted on Jul, 16 2010 @ 08:28 PM
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Hey folks thanks for clearing up my misunderstanding. I appreciate it a lot.

Excellent discussion here, so I will read more and learn.

Thanks



posted on Jul, 18 2010 @ 03:53 AM
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No Nuclear reactor in the west has ever killed or injured a member of the public.


What it says is that "with research and development", "in the future we will be able to destroy the actinides" so it doesn't sound like they have any designs ready to go yet, though the successful laboratory results are encouraging.

Certainly more research and development is needed however the US demonstrated a whole lot of it with actual functional reactors.


Experimental Breeder Reactor II - The Experimental Breeder Reactor II operated from 1965 to 1995 as a sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor with a total operating power of 68 megawatts. During its lifetime, the EBR-2 was one of the premier fast spectrum experimental reactors in the world. It proved the feasibility of the integral fast reactor fuel cycle and had one of the most flexible fueling cycles of any reactor ever built. It operated on a variety of plutonium and uranium based fuels including metal, carbide, nitride and oxide fuels.

Fast Flux Test Facility – The Fast Flux Test Facility was one of the most capable and valuable nuclear power research facilities in the world. Located at the Hanford Site in Washington State, the Fast Flux Test Facility consisted of a 400 MW sodium-cooled fast reactor. The facility operated from 1980 to 1992. During that time, it was used for accelerated testing of nuclear fuel and components such as cladding. It also demonstrated the feasibility of fast reactors for power generation. The Fast Flux Test Facility did not operate as a breeder, but it did break several world records for fuel longevity and burnup.

A secondary mission of the fast FFTF was to explore the use of fast spectrum reactors in the field of isotope production for medicine and industry. This capacity was tested and proven to be effective, although it never was used for anything more than small scale experimental production. Irradiation experiments also demonstrated the feasibility of waste transmutation, including neutron transmutation of long lived fission products such as Technetium-99.

depletedcranium.com...


EBR-II is no longer operating. FFTF isn't either although it might be able to be reactivated which is what a number of people are trying to accomplish.

A number of private companies are researching and financing similar projects, but the NRC basically is overloaded with new applications for new reactors that they cannot review the new designs.

www.advancedreactor.net...


As that says, the nuclear waste is the remaining issue in terms of public acceptance, so once they actually DO have reactor designs to eliminate the waste, I think public support will be there.

In my opinion, the current waste is not a problem. We can always bury it in the ground in salt deposits, or in extremely deep boreholes a few miles deep. Both are geological repository options meaning it doesn't matter if anything leaks simply because the geological formation is impermeable. An entire lifetimes worth of electrical energy from a current reactor with fuel reprocessing as done in France would create about a coke cans worth of Nuclear waste. In an advanced reactor that decreases to the size of a ping-pong ball. With advanced reactors the existing nuclear waste becomes an extremely valuable energy resource.


Everyone knows that the reasons for both Chernobyl and 3 Mile Island were incredible, human negligence, as well, as old reactor designs that no country, anywhere on earth builds anymore.

TMI was essentially a complete success. A tiny amount of radiation escaped, and no members of the public were harmed.


Three mile island was a pretty bad disaster for the USA, it basically killed the nuclear power industry here, but it did show how superior the reactor containment designs in the US were compared to the Soviet Union's design in Chernobyl.



Government’s role in shutting down the US nuclear industry

No nuclear power plants in the United States ordered since 1974 will be completed, and many dozens of partially constructed plants have been abandoned. What cut off the growth of nuclear power so suddenly and so completely? The direct cause is not fear of reactor accidents, or of radioactive materials released into the environment, or of radioactive waste. It is rather that costs have escalated wildly, making nuclear plants too expensive to build. State commissions that regulate them require that utilities provide electric power to their customers at the lowest possible price. In the early 1970s this goal was achieved through the use of nuclear power plants. However, at the cost of recently completed plants, analyses indicate that it is cheaper to generate electricity by burning coal. Here we will attempt to understand how this switch occurred. It will serve as background for the next chapter, which presents the solution to these problems.

Several large nuclear power plants were completed in the early 1970s at a typical cost of $170 million, whereas plants of the same size completed in 1983 cost an average of $1.7 billion, a 10-fold increase. Some plants completed in the late 1980s have cost as much as $5 billion, 30 times what they cost 15 years earlier. Inflation, of course, has played a role, but the consumer price index increased only by a factor of 2.2 between 1973 and 1983, and by just 18% from 1983 to 1988. What caused the remaining large increase? Ask the opponents of nuclear power and they will recite a succession of horror stories, many of them true, about mistakes, inefficiency, sloppiness, and ineptitude. They will create the impression that people who build nuclear plants are a bunch of bungling incompetents. The only thing they won't explain is how these same "bungling incompetents" managed to build nuclear power plants so efficiently, so rapidly, and so inexpensively in the early 1970s.

This process came to be known as "ratcheting." Like a ratchet wrench which is moved back and forth but always tightens and never loosens a bolt, the regulatory requirements were constantly tightened, requiring additional equipment and construction labor and materials. According to one study,4 between the early and late 1970s, regulatory requirements increased the quantity of steel needed in a power plant of equivalent electrical output by 41%, the amount of concrete by 27%, the lineal footage of piping by 50%, and the length of electrical cable by 36%. The NRC did not withdraw requirements made in the early days on the basis of minimal experience when later experience demonstrated that they were unnecessarily stringent. Regulations were only tightened, never loosened. The ratcheting policy was consistently followed.

The increase in total construction time, indicated in Fig. 2, from 7 years in 1971 to 12 years in 1980 roughly doubled the final cost of plants. In addition, the EEDB, corrected for inflation, approximately doubled during that time period. Thus, regulatory ratcheting, quite aside from the effects of inflation, quadrupled the cost of a nuclear power plant. What has all this bought in the way of safety? One point of view often expressed privately by those involved in design and construction is that it has bought nothing.

Clearly, the regulatory ratcheting was driven not by new scientific or technological information, but by public concern and the political pressure it generated. Changing regulations as new information becomes available is a normal process, but it would normally work both ways. The ratcheting effect, only making changes in one direction, was an abnormal aspect of regulatory practice unjustified from a scientific point of view. It was a strictly political phenomenon that quadrupled the cost of nuclear power plants, and thereby caused no new plants to be ordered and dozens of partially constructed plants to be abandoned.

imgur.com...

www.phyast.pitt.edu...


The irony is that the plants built after the dramatically increased regulations are statistically no safer than plants build before which means it was all done for practically nothing - you can't improve on an already nearly perfect record. Three Mile Island unit 1 (unit 2 being that one that had the accident that did not injure the public. The costs to prevent this accident only increase cost by a couple of percent) was built before all the useless red tape and is licensed to operate to about 2035 (60 years). It is possibly the most reliable plant in the country with a capacity factor (average power / full power) of 107% during 2008. Anyway, the US government has reversed some of the regulatory reasons for the price escalation because they rightly decided that nuclear energy is required. First new Nuclear plants in the US in a very very long time are under early stages of construction in the US but more needs to be done to reverse the bad decisions of the late 1970s and 1980s. I think the best thing we can do is educate the public on how extremely safe nuclear is, because after all, it IS extremely safe

[edit on 18/7/2010 by C0bzz]



posted on Jul, 18 2010 @ 06:10 AM
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Three mile island was a pretty bad disaster for the USA,

It was only a disaster in terms of the damage it did to the industry, because it did not harm the public. A significant amount of blame should go to the people responsible for destroying the US Nuclear industry, such 'environmental groups'. Without them, global warming wouldn't be such an issue, mountain-top coal mining wouldn't be an issue, thousands of coal miners would still be alive, thousands of people who breathe air would still be alive, and energy would be far cheaper. Perhaps if we followed through with breeder reactor concepts there would be no such thing as Nuclear waste, either.


The Future

Regulatory ratcheting is really the political expression of difficulties with public acceptance. In an open society such as ours, public acceptance, or at least non-rejection, is a vital requirement for the success of a technology. Without it, havoc rules.

It is clear to the involved scientists that the rejection of nuclear power by the American public was due to a myriad of misunderstandings. We struggled mightily to correct these misunderstandings, but we did not succeed.

By the mid-1980s the battle was over. Groups that had grown and flourished through opposition to nuclear power went looking for other projects and soon found them. Many of them learned to distinguish between trivial problems and serious ones like global warming and air pollution. Some of them have even made statements recognizing that nuclear power is a solution to some of those problems.

The regulatory ratcheting, of course, has not been reversed. But the nuclear industry is now developing new reactor designs that avoid most of the problems this regulatory ratcheting has brought. It is relatively easy to accommodate regulations in the initial design stages. Moreover, the new designs go far beyond the safety goals that drove the regulatory ratcheting. The nuclear industry absorbed the message that the public wants super-super safety, and they are prepared to provide it. The next chapter describes how this will be done.

www.phyast.pitt.edu...


[edit on 18/7/2010 by C0bzz]



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