Originally posted by GaryN
We were very lucky with the melt down at Three Mile Island.
Galen Winsor, who was one of a team that inspected TMI, both the hardware and all the operational logs, says it did not melt down. Here is an mp3
audio file, about 45 minutes, where Mr Winsor explained a lot of stuff that people should be familiar with. It's not a religious lecture despite the
opening couple of minutes.
Several things occur to me:
This lecture was apparently delivered in 1986, shortly after the Chernobyl accident. The cleanup of the TMI reactor started in 1979, but didn't end
until 1993. Videos available on the net of the later part of the cleanup show explicitly, and without a doubt, that large portions of the core of the
reactor did melt down, slagging to the floor of the reactor vessel. Now, the papers he says he studied may not have indicated that, but short of a
really big CT on the AEC's part, it did melt down. The evidence was physical.
Secondly, the CP-1 pile built by Fermi in Chicago in 1942, didn't have tubes of aluminum within it for the fuel; the fuel, uranium oxide, was left in
interstices in the blocks; it was pelletized. There is no way the pile could have been rebuilt as described by Mr. Winsor. The pile went critical in
December 1942 (not October), and was dismantled in March 1943; the journals kept by the science staff carry no mention of Mr Winsor's incident.
Incidentally, there was a bizarre occurrence in early piles which did just what he described; the pile would shut itself down; this turned out to be
caused by the generation of Xenon gas as a fission product, which "poisoned" the pile by absorbing neutrons. The "fix" was to run the pile
hotter, driving off the gas. In went unnoticed in CP-1, probably because it was so open the gas merely wafted away, and the pile wasn't run at very
high rates, enough to create significant gas.
There is, of course, no substantiated mention anywhere I can find which accuses Roosevelt and other high admin officials of sending secrets abroad -
not to the USSR, not even to England.
The Chernobyl account is wrong on many minor and at least one majpr point: there is one plant with 4 reactors, not 4 plants; each fuel channel in the
reactor was not a reactor in itself; steam is not supposed to occur within the reactor vessel (it is pressurized for that reason alone). Steam
occurring in the vessel was indeed the crux of the problem. Then he started into "someone slipped the Soviets a mickey", referring to the
aforementioned high level information Roosevelt (and later presidents?) passed being wrong. This was not a new reactor design for the Russians;
several other plants were working with it, but the combination of design defects and operator errors finally came to roost, and the reactor suffered
a steam explosion.
At this point I stopped listening. It is plain that Mr Winsor was not anything like the expert he claimed to be; his misuse of the terms of reactor
engineering say that plainly enough. He is plainly a conspiracy theorist; he practically defines the type of behaviors that characterize them.
Sorry, but it is so.
A couple of links with a little more honest info on Fukushima, and radiation in general:
Fukushima's “Radiation Leaks”
I read this; it is fairly good, and there are no really showstopping errors in it, but some simplifications which might be argued by a nit picker.
A Rational Environmentalist‘s Guide to Nuclear Power
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Glow
This one is excellent - not scholarly, but with a lot of meaty references and data included, A very nice read, and one I'll want to go back and
study again at length. Thanks for that.