Dismantling The US's Nuclear Reactors after a catastrophe?

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KillerForHire
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Dismantling The US's Nuclear Reactors after a catastrophe?

Post by KillerForHire » Sun Dec 24, 2017 4:13 am

I don't know much about nuclear reactors but I imagine they would pose a significant threat to any survivors of a near-extinction event.

Are there any organizations with plans & the know how to deal with this potential threat in the event these reactors are just left abandoned without being properly decommissioned?

& how long can they remain neglected before becoming critical?

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Re: Dismantling The US's Nuclear Reactors after a catastroph

Post by KentuckyRifleman » Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:11 am

I have wondered that (what would happen to the plants in the event of a Major SHTF event) myself and I think only the Department of Energy and the actual corporate owners of the plants and I suppose the manufacturers would have that information. It is highly unlikely that the US Govt would allow this info to be given to any outside agency or organization.

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Re: Dismantling The US's Nuclear Reactors after a catastroph

Post by raptor » Sun Dec 24, 2017 10:08 am

Honestly in terms of risk in an extinction event the few nuclear reactors would be the least of your worries. Assuming they were shut down properly they should be ok to leave alone for your lifetime.

Now chemical plants, oil refineries, trains loaded with hazmat, medical radiation devices and similar hazards are far more numerous and much less durable. They will be a significant issue in such a situation due to the volume and widespread distribution of these risks.

A single bulk storage tank in a refinery can easily hold 1 million gallons of hazardous materials.

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Re: Dismantling The US's Nuclear Reactors after a catastroph

Post by KillerForHire » Mon Dec 25, 2017 5:00 am

raptor wrote:Honestly in terms of risk in an extinction event the few nuclear reactors would be the least of your worries. Assuming they were shut down properly they should be ok to leave alone for your lifetime.

Now chemical plants, oil refineries, trains loaded with hazmat, medical radiation devices and similar hazards are far more numerous and much less durable. They will be a significant issue in such a situation due to the volume and widespread distribution of these risks.

A single bulk storage tank in a refinery can easily hold 1 million gallons of hazardous materials.
Like a Linear Accelerator? Can that produce radioactive fallout?

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Re: Dismantling The US's Nuclear Reactors after a catastroph

Post by raptor » Mon Dec 25, 2017 11:09 am

No it takes a surface burst from a nuclear warhead to create fallout in any quantity.

The risk from all of these nuclear sources is a high level of radioactivity that without the proper detection devices goes in noticed.

The same is true for chemical plants and other industrial sources. They can discharge toxic materials if they are not properly securred.

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Re: Dismantling The US's Nuclear Reactors after a catastroph

Post by teotwaki » Mon Dec 25, 2017 11:57 am

KillerForHire wrote:I don't know much about nuclear reactors but I imagine they would pose a significant threat to any survivors of a near-extinction event.

Are there any organizations with plans & the know how to deal with this potential threat in the event these reactors are just left abandoned without being properly decommissioned?

& how long can they remain neglected before becoming critical?
There's lots of interesting info out there, especially at the anti-nuclear power web sites https://www.propublica.org/article/our- ... d-go-wrong

The biggest problem I see is if the fuel rods are still in the main container and loss of all power stops the circulation of cooling water. If the rods have been removed the long term worry is whenever the containment vessel finally degrades and leaks contaminated water into the local area. There are also radioactive spent rods in cooling ponds that rely on the water level being maintained. Unless a nuclear plant has been at least partially dismantled it poses a long term risk.

In a near extinction event you'll have a severe loss of the skilled workforce, tools and materials needed to dismantle a plant.
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Re: Dismantling The US's Nuclear Reactors after a catastroph

Post by JayceSlayn » Tue Dec 26, 2017 8:19 am

teotwaki wrote:
KillerForHire wrote:I don't know much about nuclear reactors but I imagine they would pose a significant threat to any survivors of a near-extinction event.

Are there any organizations with plans & the know how to deal with this potential threat in the event these reactors are just left abandoned without being properly decommissioned?

& how long can they remain neglected before becoming critical?
There's lots of interesting info out there, especially at the anti-nuclear power web sites https://www.propublica.org/article/our- ... d-go-wrong

The biggest problem I see is if the fuel rods are still in the main container and loss of all power stops the circulation of cooling water. If the rods have been removed the long term worry is whenever the containment vessel finally degrades and leaks contaminated water into the local area. There are also radioactive spent rods in cooling ponds that rely on the water level being maintained. Unless a nuclear plant has been at least partially dismantled it poses a long term risk.

In a near extinction event you'll have a severe loss of the skilled workforce, tools and materials needed to dismantle a plant.
teotwaki has it right here. Nuclear reactors are a long-term investment, and only make sense with the capability to provide ongoing maintenance of the site for decades (and protecting of the waste for millennia). Is it reckless to assume this will always be the case everywhere they are installed, to perpetuity? It's maybe a reasonable gamble, but people who try to analyze worst-case scenarios (like ZS) hate these things.

The numerous daughter products in nuclear reactors (we're talking about conventional uranium fission reactors here, not breeders, thorium, fusion, etc.) mean that even when you shut down the main uranium fission reaction, the fuel does not "cool" for a very long time. The heat and reactivity decay somewhat exponentially (with some serious wrinkles - dependent upon a complex balance of daughter half-lives and populations), but it will need active cooling for months before it would even be considered relatively "cool", and semi-passive cooling could be used for years after that point.

Once you shut it down, restarting it immediately can be dangerous, because of things like xenon poisoning. And if you don't know what that is, you should not be trying to operate (or be near) one of these things in the apocalypse. The number of people qualified to operate a given nuclear reactor in a region could be quite small, and while we'd normally expect we can ship in replacements from somewhere else, if something widespread happens to a lot of reactors, the simple task of staffing a response can become a problem real quick.

How long can modern reactors be neglected before becoming dangerous? Assuming their off-site water and electricity are cut, with no other significant on-site damage: maybe as long as a week, or as little as a couple of days. Fukushima is a good example of timeframe here.

How should we plan to deal with them in the apocalypse? Fukushima and Chernobyl are also examples here. Stay the eff away from them for a good long ways, and wait out 20,000 years before going back.
Last edited by JayceSlayn on Tue Dec 26, 2017 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dismantling The US's Nuclear Reactors after a catastroph

Post by woodsghost » Tue Dec 26, 2017 1:28 pm

I could be wrong. My understanding is that Hiroshima and Nagasaki are showing signs of more rapid radiation decay than expected. My understanding is Chernobyl is becoming safe at a faster rate than expected. What I have been told is that radiation is bad news, but does not seem to last the tens of thousands of years we originally thought.

But again, I could have misunderstood or been told wrong, so do your due diligence before taking a walk in the park around a destroyed reactor.
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Re: Dismantling The US's Nuclear Reactors after a catastroph

Post by raptor » Tue Dec 26, 2017 1:41 pm

JayceSlayn wrote:
How should we plan to deal with them in the apocalypse? Fukushima and Chernobyl are also examples here. Stay the eff away from them for a good long ways, and wait out 20,000 years before going back.
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The good news is that the locations of all such sites are well documented. Draw a 50 mile radius around each one and assume that is a no go zone. If you want to be safe draw a 200 mile circle around each one and call that the caution zone.

While you are doing that, do the same thing with chemical plants and oil refineries albeit with a 20 mile radius.

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