AW: [ RadSafe ] New Concepts in Nuclear Power

George Stanford gstanford at
Sun Mar 22 20:54:44 CDT 2009

         Sorry, Franz.-- not kidding at all, but 
I can see why you might think I was, since you 
are not intimately familiar with the details of 
the Chernobyl accident. .  Like most major 
accidents, the one at Chernobyl was the result of 
the confluence of a number of unlikely 
circumstances, including operator error, 
violation of procedures, poor design, lack of 
containment, and --- yes -- loss of flow.  Change 
any one of those, and no accident.  More to the 
point, however, is the fact that the accident was 
triggered by a deliberate shut-down of coolant 
flow, in a safety test (ironically).  See for 
instance,  the Wikipedia entry at 
and space down to the section headed, "Planning the test of the safety device."

         I also refer you to a piece by Charles 
E. Till, former director of the IFR project at Argonne National Laboratory.

>Till. Charles E., “Reminiscences of Reactor 
>Development at Argonne National Laboratory.” 
>W.B. Lewis Lecture, Canadian Nuclear Society, 
>Saint John, New Brunswick , June 4, 2007
>or <>
         Here's an excerpt, regarding a safety 
demonstration at an IFR prototype (EBR-II) in Idaho in 1986:

>         Then in the afternoon, after startup 
> again, the pumps were turned off, the flow 
> coasted down, but after an initial transient, 
> so did the power in lockstep with the flow 
> coast down. In both the reactor had quietly 
> shut itself down. DOE duly issued a press release. Nobody paid any attention.
>         Then the loss of flow accident 
> happened. And it happened on the world stage, 
> with riveting TV coverage, and the greatest possible concern – at Chernobyl.
>         An alert science reporter at the Wall 
> Street Journal, Jerry Bishop, made the 
> connection immediately. He remembered the press 
> release and he made the connection himself. A 
> reactor in Idaho had lost its coolant flow, and 
> at full power, in this same month, and NOTHING 
> WHATEVER had happened. He contrasted this with 
> the tragedy unfolding at Chernobyl.
>         His article caused an immediate 
> sensation – in the right congressional 
> committees that year, and resulted in 
> substantial increases in funding, sufficient 
> for the first time to put people and facilities 
> to work on every aspect of the IFR.

         "Loss of heat sink" means loss of load 
-- i.e., there's suddenly nowhere to dump the 
heat that is being generated in the core, and so the core overheats

         Yes, I did indeed have the temerity to 
point out a misconception or two of yours -- 
after all, even a person of your eminence cannot 
expect to be right ALL the time.  And now I'm 
afraid I will have to do it again.  If you 
re-read what I said back then, you will see that 
I most definitely did NOT say that "fallout from 
a nuclear weapon is negligible."  What I said was 
that local fallout from an air-burst nuclear 
weapon is negligible, notable examples being 
Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  And, as I recall, I 
quoted a passage to that effect from Samuel 
Glasstone's authoritative treatise, "The Effects of Nuclear Weapons."

         You are prudent in having "severe doubts 
on the reliability" of what I write,  However, 
anything you doubt you can check out for 
yourself, since I try diligently to cite 
sources.  My reliability is therefore irrelevant 
-- my unsupported opinion is as useless as anyone else's.

         I hope this helps to clarify the picture..

         With best wishes,



At 05:43 PM 3/22/2009, Franz Schönhofer wrote:

You must be kidding when stating that the Chernobyl accident was a case of
"loss of coolant flow". According to your "expert" statement, obviously tens
of thousands of real experts must have been wrong, as all reports on this
accident must have been. (Again I have to strengthen that I have been
heavily involved in the consequences of the Chernobyl accident on Austria -
which includes also a certain background on the causes.)

Of course I am not so thoroughly knowledgable about TMI and I do not really
understand what "loss of heat sink" means, but I was rather of the opinion,
that the main problem there was a lack of coolant water, which I would
understand as a "heat sink".

You have some time ago written, that fallout from a nuclear weapon is
negligible, you have on RADSAFE talked down to me, who had been the head of
the Terrestrial Working Group on the Mururoa Project of the IAEA like to a
first year student about the French weapon programme on that atoll.

Therefore I have severe doubts on the reliability of what you write. Of
course the IFR seems interesting and I will check it.

Best regards,


Franz Schoenhofer, PhD
MinRat i.R.
Habicherg. 31/7
A-1160 Wien/Vienna

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: radsafe-bounces at [mailto:radsafe-bounces at] Im Auftrag
von George Stanford
Gesendet: Samstag, 21. März 2009 15:00
An: radsafe at
Betreff: Re: [ RadSafe ] New Concepts in Nuclear Power


          And then there's a project that I was part of -- the IFR
(Integral Fast Reactor).  For those who don't know, the IFR is a
metal-fueled fast reactor coupled with pyroprocessing to recycle the
fuel, and it has the potential to do the following:........

--  Be passively safe against the two most worrisome "accident
initiators": loss of heat sink (TMI) and loss of coolant flow (Chernobyl).

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