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WikiLeaks cables reveal fears over China's nuclear safety

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posted on Aug, 25 2011 @ 11:39 AM
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Well duh. It's ``made in China``...
When everyone in higher ups are corrupt... from the safety inspectors to those who built the nuclear power plants... what do you imagine will happen?

They are much like today's NRC. A bunch of sellouts to the nuclear industry, lowering standards every time a nuclear power plant fails said standards and lies when something goes wrong (TMI, Fukushima).

WikiLeaks cables reveal fears over China's nuclear safety

Cables highlight the regulation weaknesses that permitted cheap technology, 'vastly increasing' risk of nuclear accident

China "vastly increased" the risk of a nuclear accident by opting for cheap technology which will be 100 years old by the time dozens of its reactors reach the end of their lifespans, according to diplomatic cables from the US embassy in Beijing.

Cables released this week by WikiLeaks highlight the secrecy of the bidding process for power plant contracts, the influence of government lobbying, and potential weaknesses in the management and regulatory oversight of China's fast expanding nuclear sector.

In August, 2008, the embassy noted that China was in the process of building 50 to 60 new nuclear plants by 2020. This target – which has since increased – was a huge business opportunity.

"As the CPR-1000 increases market share, China is assuring that rather than building a fleet of state-of-the-art reactors, they will be burdened with technology that by the end of its lifetime will be 100 years old," reads another cable dated 7 August 2008.

For the past 10 years the CPR-1000 has been the most popular design in China. In 2009, the state news agency Xinhua reported that all but two of the 22 nuclear reactors under construction applied CPR-1000 technology.

The cable suggests this was a dangerous choice: "By bypassing the passive safety technology of the AP1000, which, according to Westinghouse, is 100 times safer than the CPR-1000, China is vastly increasing the aggregate risk of its nuclear power fleet. "

"Passive safety technology" ensures that a reactor will automatically shut down in the event of a disaster. This is what happened when the earthquake struck Fukushima, though the fuel still overheated when the cooling system broke down. Plants without this feature are considered even less safe as they rely on human intervention which can be difficult to provide in a crisis situation.

China says it has updated and improved the technology on which the CPR-1000 is based, but the government recognises that it is less safe than newer models.

Just don't forget... that all this might be a plot by the US nuclear industry to get billions of $ in contracts... I doubt it's 100% the reason behind this cable, but it could be 50%... aka, yes the plants that China is building are dangerous... BUT the US is OVERPLAYING the danger of said power plants.

Still, China, or anyone for that matter, is insane to build these plants after what happened... if they really want to build nuclear power plants, they should build THORIUM nuclear power plants, which are much safer.

But guess what, since there's no thorium industry to speak of, there won't be anyone to lobby with money so it gets done... instead, you'll have the uranium mining industry lobbying so they keep their jobs, even if it will probably end up killing us all.
edit on 25-8-2011 by Vitchilo because: (no reason given)




posted on Aug, 25 2011 @ 11:55 AM
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China is investigating Thorium but it won't be ready for at least a decade.

All planned new reactors in the US except one are going to be passively safe reactors like the AP-1000.

CPR-1000 is basically a french 900 mw(e) 3-loop PWR with various modernisations which means it should be safer than most reactors operating in the west. As far as I know the only reason they are using it over the AP-1000 is because the supply chain for it already exists, whereas the AP-1000 is just getting started. The CPR-1000 was originally a french design whereas the AP-1000 is American & Japanese, so the US would likely get more contracts if they went AP-1000 - perhaps this explains the US embassy pressure.

China is mainly building CPR-1000s at the moment although the first AP-1000 is under construction in China also, once the supply chain is sorted out they should start building passive safe reactors. They are also upgrading the CPR-1000 design to generation 3 standard. As far as I know one difficulty with the AP-1000 supply chain is the coolant pumps, which are canned and thus it is practically impossible for them to leak.. but apparantly the technology is sensitive.

Also passive safety means that electricity and human intervention is not required for safety, instead gravity draining water tanks and convection cool the reactor.
edit on 25/8/11 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)

edit on 25/8/11 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 25 2011 @ 12:06 PM
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If China was smart they'd invent shoes that recharged AA batteries when they walk.

1.3 Billion Chinese walking every day could power the lights in China at night.

China's not very smart when it comes to Energy production.

You could use a wire grid of telephone line. Everyone plugs their AA batteries into that grid at night. LED's with a Joule Thief circuit could take that 1.5 volts and run LED's for DAYS....it's an amazing new circuit.



posted on Aug, 25 2011 @ 02:51 PM
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Thanks for the WikiLeaks info, which is always interesting. So far, though, the newer NPP designs I have seen continue to have a number of unaddressed safety issues, with or without the passive safety concept. The history of NPP technology thus far has been replete with either serious design flaws or cheapskate management (think TEPCO, with its electric energy management background) that undermines necessary safeguards for the sake of lower operating costs.
edit on 8/25/2011 by Uphill because: Added a sentence.



posted on Aug, 25 2011 @ 02:52 PM
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Considering they are going to go Thorium; I don't think safety will be an issue.



posted on Aug, 25 2011 @ 03:07 PM
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www.abovetopsecret.com...

china is developing _anything_ they can get a handle on, they are just in need to a quick build-out since their coal mining is already falling short of demand.

the above about the vaunted AP1000 is imho about 90% sales pitch. if you took a look at the schematics,

www.power-technology.com...

you'll see the swimming pool type reservoir on top - now if this isn't compartmentalized on a structural level, quake damage could easily cause leaks, threatening to drain the whole supply prematurely, which tbh, if you looked closely, is only supposed to cool the inner steel shell, not the core itself via heat exchangers - which you'll have to do to prevent a meltdown. not that you could just dribble water into a pressurized core anyway. ie. afaics, the mechanism is only intended to limit the damage one step short catastrophic release, while the early progression during an remains unaffected. note that i didn't address the trigger mechanism required for release, because i know too little about it.


furthermore, the concrete outer shell is open at the top and the edges, therefore it doesn't provide a barrier! in fact the steel shell is going to be the only barrier in case of an accident and is at the same time supposed to act as a cooling surface.

all of which which leads to the question how failure modes compare once cooling actually does fail, especially since in the case of Fukushima - daiichi, 72 hours wouldn't have sufficed, so what would happen next?



PS: Safety is less a question of Thorium vs. Uranium use, but more one of fuel type.

for example: liquid fuels (molten salt) expand with temperature, which can be used as an inherent shutdown mechanism upon overheating. of course you'll still have to deal with the decay heat, but it does rule out super criticality excursions.

breeding fuel from fertile elements (U238 and TH232 in this context) allows for a reduction of fissile content (and therefore excess reactivity) with a fresh load since it's constantly being replenished, which further improved by online refueling. if you're interested in the subject i recommend the following website:

www.energyfromthorium.com...


so in short, yes, Thorium allows you to build safer reactor designs, BUT its use doesn't automatically correct all the flaws of today's nuclear power technology. ie. if Fukushima 1-3 had used Th / U mixed oxide fuel instead of U / Pu, the reactor would most likely still have failed.
edit on 2011.8.25 by Long Lance because: addendum



posted on Aug, 25 2011 @ 05:43 PM
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NuCrane Manufacturing Ships First AP1000® Polar Crane to China


PITTSBURGH, Aug. 15, 2011

Westinghouse Electric Company announced today that its NuCrane Manufacturing LLC (NuCrane) facility in Hutchinson, Minn. has begun shipment of the first AP1000 polar crane destined for China National Nuclear Corporation's (CNNC) Sanmen 1 Nuclear Power Plant currently under construction in Sanmen County, Zhejiang Province, China.


Westinghouse Electric Company, a group company of Toshiba Corporation (TKY:6502), is the world's pioneering nuclear energy company and is a leading supplier of nuclear plant products and technologies to utilities throughout the world. Westinghouse supplied the world's first pressurized water reactor in 1957 in Shippingport, Pa. Today, Westinghouse technology is the basis for approximately one-half of the world's operating nuclear plants, including 60 percent of those in the United States.

Source
Can you say made in the USA?
I hope they put the operational manuals in Chinese and not in English, like General Electric did in Japan.
rbrtj

edit on 25-8-2011 by rbrtj because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 30 2011 @ 03:33 AM
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reply to post by Long Lance
 



you'll see the swimming pool type reservoir on top - now if this isn't compartmentalized on a structural level, quake damage could easily cause leaks, threatening to drain the whole supply prematurely

The AP1000 in its current iteration is not designed designed to be implemented in zones where the risk of a large earthquake is large. If it were chosen to be implemented in such a zone then the design would have to be upgraded.


, which tbh, if you looked closely, is only supposed to cool the inner steel shell, not the core itself via heat exchangers - which you'll have to do to prevent a meltdown. not that you could just dribble water into a pressurized core anyway. ie. afaics, the mechanism is only intended to limit the damage one step short catastrophic release

The Passive Core Cooling System (PCCS) is composed various accumulator tanks, an automatic depressurization system, an in-containment refueling water storage tank, a passive heat removal system and the gravity tanks on top of the containment. If all AC power is lost then the reactor will be depressurized with passive valves and natural circulation will transfer the heat to the refueling water storage tank which will also gravity drain into the reactor. Over time the refueling water storage tank will evaporate as the heat from the core is transferred to it. When the containment pressure is high enough the gravity tank will drain onto containment, keeping the containment pressure low and the refueling water storage tank full of water. The gravity drained tank lasts only 36 hours however one source indicates that air cooling alone is sufficient and a different source indicates that water cooling is only required for the first 36 hours. I'm only guessing here, but if water cooling is required for the first 36 hours, then I presume containment will have to be vented into the atmosphere to release the energy and keep the pressure down. I don't know if there's enough water in the tank to cool the reactor if the containment needs to be vented during the first 36 hours.

Water can be injected into the reactor passively through the use of the accumulator tanks or by gravity draining the refueling water storage tank into the reactor and if things really get bad the entire reactor cavity can be flooded by draining the refueling water storage tank. If the refueling water storage tank leaks then this automatically occurs. Presumably, if all of the safety systems fail (and the AP1000 has active systems on top of this remember) then the refueling water storage tank is drained into the reactor cavity. The reactor will the melt down but should not penetrate pressure vessel. Decay heat would be taken away by evaporation and as mentioned before venting into the atmosphere would depend on if air cooling alone is sufficient.

The safety systems of the AP1000 are not at all a sales pitch but an engineering fact. They are a few orders of magnitude better than typical plants (two to be exact). Provided it was not damaged by the earthquake the AP1000 should of survived total loss of all power for an extended period of time with barely no fuel damage at all and no release of radiation into the environment. If it was damaged by the earthquake then things might get a bit more complicated and radiation release would depend on how damaged it was. For example, if the inner steel containment was breached significantly then convection might draw radioactive material out and cause the containment to lose a lot of water maybe leading to further damage.

In any case, I'm nothing more than an armchair internet expert on this, so check out these sources too if you want:

AP1000 At Diablo Canyon Preliminary Safety Analysis
nicholaushalecky.com...

Ready to Meet Tomorrow's Power Generation Requirements Today AP1000
www.westinghousenuclear.com...

Westinghouse AP1000 Advanced Passive Plant
nuclearinfo.net...

further information:

Westinghouse AP1000 Plant Overview:
160.36.161.128...


breeding fuel from fertile elements (U238 and TH232 in this context) allows for a reduction of fissile content (and therefore excess reactivity)

Two words.

Burnable poison.
edit on 30/8/11 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)

edit on 30/8/11 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 30 2011 @ 04:50 AM
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reply to post by C0bzz
 


i'm certain these gen3+ designs have a in general a greater margin of safety than older ones, i just can't overlook that there is only a single barrier between contaminated steam and the environment in case of a primary coolant leak, because the concrete shell is perforated to facilitate convective cooling. call it a trade off if you like, maybe they even have ways to shut these ports, although none are shown in the (admittedly crude) diagram.

i also wonder how increased containment pressure would be used to trigger water cooling of the outer shell and how reliable such a mechanism is compared to integrated safeties like part of the ESBWR's emergency cooling system which is online at all times and drains in case of a pressure drop, directly into the core.

all i'm saying is that these passive safeties should be used to provide additional margins, not to displace existing features and that, while it sounds good to have hands-off safeties for 72 hours, i have to wonder how relevant it would be in an actual emergency, since noone can seriously expect an NPP to remain completely unattended for three days. blacked out, yes, swamped, yes, but totally abandoned? sure, nice to have, but is it a priority?



posted on Aug, 30 2011 @ 06:31 AM
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i just can't overlook that there is only a single barrier between contaminated steam and the environment in case of a primary coolant leak, because the concrete shell is perforated to facilitate convective cooling. call it a trade off if you like, maybe they even have ways to shut these ports, although none are shown in the (admittedly crude) diagram.


In existing plants the containment is usually over a meter of steel reinforced concrete with a few millimeters of steel liner on the inside. On the AP1000 the containment has 5cm thick steel and also has a shield building (that can handle a direct airliner hit). I guess you go from two materials making the containment to one material of a lower thickness, but you gain passive safety and don't need to worry about external factors like strong winds because the shield building can handle that.

Apparently existing containment have a bit of problems with leaks from corrosion, but I don't know how valid it is applying that to the AP1000 since the structure is different. I am interested in hearing what a structural engineer has to say on this (as opposed to Arnie Gunderson who used to get paid $300 an hour to speak against Vermont Yankee).

Also the difference between core melt frequency and core damage frequency is a factor of 10 which is the same as existing reactors, so presumably the containment is about as reliable as existing ones as in both cases 1/10th of core melt incidents result in a large release.


i also wonder how increased containment pressure would be used to trigger water cooling of the outer shell and how reliable such a mechanism is compared to integrated safeties like part of the ESBWR's emergency cooling system which is online at all times and drains in case of a pressure drop, directly into the core.

There are three kind of valves on the gravity tank, I presume that they fail open as well.


all i'm saying is that these passive safeties should be used to provide additional margins,

In most GEN 3+ the passive systems supplement the active systems, which now are designated non-safety grade.


while it sounds good to have hands-off safeties for 72 hours, i have to wonder how relevant it would be in an actual emergency, since noone can seriously expect an NPP to remain completely unattended for three days.


The point of passive safety is that it happens automatically without any support mechanisms or dependencies required to function. A blackout, diesel pump failure, operational error should not cause a release of radioactive particles. Passive safety is not so the plant can run unattended, but rather the plant does not release radioactive particles into the environment if the staff are unable to intervene, like what happened at Fukushima. Thus there has already been proven to be a real world need for it. With the AP1000, the time in reality isn't 72 hours, but essentially indefinite, just the containment pressure is higher if the tank is unable to be refilled.
edit on 30/8/11 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)

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posted on Aug, 30 2011 @ 09:09 AM
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I dont trust hardly anything made in China. Ive read about exploding chairs, PC monitors, desktop PCs, etc. So the deal with the chinese nuke plants alleged safety or lack thereof is not much news to me.
edit on 30-8-2011 by Gilgamesh77 because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 30 2011 @ 01:22 PM
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Originally posted by C0bzz


In existing plants the containment is usually over a meter of steel reinforced concrete with a few millimeters of steel liner on the inside. On the AP1000 the containment has 5cm thick steel and also has a shield building (that can handle a direct airliner hit). I guess you go from two materials making the containment to one material of a lower thickness, but you gain passive safety and don't need to worry about external factors like strong winds because the shield building can handle that.



www.sciencedirect.com...

a gen-2 PWR's steel shell i found is listed at 38mm (1.5in)

nuclearinfo.net...

states 44.4mm (1.75 in)

thicker for sure but not as much as you implied. the outer shell, while hopefully effective at keeping flying objects out will only be as strong as its weakest spot against vapor pressure from within, which of course means zilch, since it's open to the air. i'm certain the risk analysis supports removing that one barrier in favor of a passively operating system, but there can imho be no denying that the cumulative resistance offered by 38mm of steel and a foot of concrete will exceed that of 44mm steel alone. this particular aspect is a step backwards, which is especially baffling considering the outer shell needs to be strongly built anyway (therefore expensive) to protect against external influence. i suspect that f-ex a siphon based system (think: coffee machine) could perform passive cooling with an option to monitor and if need be, shut off, coolant flow while preserving two usable barriers. i'm also certain the engineers in question could have come up with much better solution.








Also the difference between core melt frequency and core damage frequency is a factor of 10 which is the same as existing reactors, so presumably the containment is about as reliable as existing ones as in both cases 1/10th of core melt incidents result in a large release.


well if there's no accident you don't need the containment, d'uh. But: Even if 'core damage frequency' could be reduced to even more astronomical odds, containments would remain a requirement, wouldn't they, so it seems reasonable to compare containments under accident conditions.



There are three kind of valves on the gravity tank, I presume that they fail open as well.


sure, the difference is that this system is tacked on as opposed to integral. the IRWST would be more comparable to the ESBWR system i had in mind, which leads me to the my last point;




The point of passive safety is that it happens automatically without any support mechanisms or dependencies required to function. A blackout, diesel pump failure, operational error should not cause a release of radioactive particles. Passive safety is not so the plant can run unattended,


even IF the containment cooling tank failed to open, you'd still have plenty of time to casually walk up there and release it manually, wouldn't you? the system is of course connected to the pressurizer accodring to p.6 of

nuclearinfo.net...

requiring a connection and certainly another penetration of the inner containment shell - in order to ensure essentially hands-off operation. Would you say that leaving this system out, eliminating said penetrations but relying on operator input would improve or compromise overall safety? how likely is it that the entire staff will forget to do the only thing they can actually do for several hours on end? how much is a system worth if it is designed only for such an eventuality?







 
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