[ RadSafe ] Melting a reactor??

Stewart Farber radproject at sbcglobal.net
Mon Jan 3 12:36:57 CST 2011

Happy New Year to all --another chance to
 try and get it right,

The NY Times piece cited in the link kindly provided by Steve Dapra about "Melting a reactor?" is an OP-ED missive by a contributor to the NYT named Charles Faddis, who is basically hyping a book he authored about defects in Homeland Security.

The New York Times identifies the author of the op-ed piece [ NOTE: NOT a NYTimes editorial -- praise be to any higher spirit one worships or respects ] as:

the author of “Willful Neglect: The Dangerous Illusion of Homeland 

Mr. Faddis'  exaggerated, and non-scientific remarks about the consequences of a nuclear reactor accident and a core melt, and his association as an officer of the CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE Agency, give another prime example of the term oxymoron. 

It is unfortunate this op-ed contribution highlights yet another example of the shortcomings of some "officers" at the CIA which may have contributed to some of the major failures of so-called "intelligence" provided to our government in making vital decisions so negatively affecting our Nation.

The TMI accident proved that US designed LWRs were even safer than any safety analyses had predicted. Basically as a simplification based on actual experience, the core did melt, due to plant operators misinterpreting their readouts. They shut off the main coolant pumps and vital safety systems which partially melted the core and destroyed the pressure vessel. The accident could hardly
 have been worse if terrorists took over the control room, and tried to destroy the plant.

But most importantly, the core melt radioactivity was essentially retained in-containment by passive physical-chemical reactions with the concrete of the containment building- not by active safety systems, as with Emergency Core Cooling having operated per design. It was documented at TMI that core melt activity was not able to "melt" through the concrete containment and breach containment.  After the TMI accident, top safety specialists from many foreign nations analyzed what happened at TMI and concluded LWRs were even safer than anyone had predicted. The French, German, Japanese, and Russian governments all accelerated their LWR nuclear power plant programs after TMI because LWRs had proven to be so able to withstand the consequences of a core melt accident. Conversely, the US cancelled 100 reactors which were in the
 process of being licensed and built in 1979 and squandered an estimated $1,000 billion in sunk costs and potential integrated fuel savings over the operating life of the reactors never built. 

In the early 1970s, it was projected that there would
 be 800 to 1,000 LWRs operating in the US by the year 2000. Instead there are around 100 in operation representing those already operating and in advanced stages of startup/construction in 1979. Had 1,000 reactors been built, the US would have been able to achieve energy independence -not needing to be importing any oil for transportation. We'd largely be running our economy on energy from non-fossil fuels, limiting greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from fossil fuel burning,  and even have the electric energy so many proponents foolishly expect to be there when electric cars are supposedly to be plugged in by the millions.

Stewart Farber, MSPH

Farber Medical Solutions, LLC
Linac, Medical Imaging, and Rad Instrumentation Brokerage

Bridgeport, CT 06604

[203] 441-8433 [office]

farber at farber.info

--- On Sun, 1/2/11, Steven Dapra <sjd at swcp.com> wrote:

From: Steven Dapra <sjd at swcp.com>
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Melting a reactor??
To: radsafe at agni.phys.iit.edu
Date: Sunday, January 2, 2011, 9:15 PM

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,
 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:


Steven Dapra

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