[ RadSafe ] Melting a reactor??

Bernard L. Cohen blc at pitt.edu
Mon Jan 3 12:28:21 CST 2011

It could melt thru the reactor vessel, releasing the molten material 
inside. It could build up pressure to break open the containment., 
releasing volatile materials into the environment.  Of course there are 
systems galore to prevent these things from happening. Also, the new 
generation of reactors has natural heat dissipation features which 
eliminate the requirement of continually circulating water to avoid 

On 1/2/2011 9:15 PM, Steven Dapra wrote:
> Jan. 2
>     This quote is from an editorial page article written by Charles 
> Faddis and published in the NY Times.
> "But there's no way to quickly shut off a reactor: the heat that 
> builds up inside it is so intense that even if something goes wrong, 
> cooling water must continue to circulate through its systems for days 
> before it is safe.
> "If the cooling system malfunctions, even if the rest of the plant is 
> operating safely, the heat will literally melt the reactor and its 
> concrete containment shell, releasing radioactive gas into the 
> atmosphere  in other words, a partial nuclear meltdown like that at 
> Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979."
>     Is it true that reactor heat will melt the containment vessel 
> ("shell")?
>     The link to the Faddis' NYT article is:
> http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/06/opinion/06Faddis.html?_r=1
> Steven Dapra
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Bernard L. Cohen
Physics Dept., University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Tel: (412)624-9245  Fax: (412)624-9163
e-mail: blc at pitt.edu  web site: http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc

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