brd at iimetro.com.au
Tue Mar 15 22:31:59 AEDT 2011
Core issues: worst-case nuclear reactor scenarios
March 15, 2011 - 5:31PM
What is the worst that could happen at Japan's Fukushima nuclear reactor
The China Syndrome may be the stuff of Hollywood films - where the
unstoppable core plunges through the Earth from one side of the globe to
the other - but what does a full reactor meltdown mean?
And what is its impact on the environment, food stocks and humans?
Nuclear experts point out that Japan's boiling water reactors are
nothing like the reactors at Chernobyl.
Chernobyl, in Ukraine, was the site of the world's worse civilian
nuclear power plant accident in 1986. Graphite - combustible at higher
temperatures - was used to cool the fuel rods and there was no container
structure around the reactor. When the rods failed to control the
nuclear fission chain reaction, explosions occurred, releasing
radioactive plumes that blew across Europe.
The General Electric-designed reactors at Fukushima Daiichi plant use
water rather than graphite, so a similar explosion is not possible.
Experts also stress that a nuclear explosion is impossible, even if
there were no container structures or if they all failed, as the fuel in
the rods are not sufficiently enriched.
“The suggestions of a possible nuclear explosion are ill-founded and not
based on scientific fact,” Professor Richard Wakeford of Manchester
University's Dalton Nuclear Institute told the Financial Times.
Concerns instead centre around the possible melting of the fuel rods in
email: brd at iimetro.com.au
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