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Nuclear Power

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Todd Robinson UIUC

on 30 October 2013

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Transcript of Nuclear Power

Nuclear Safety
Nuclear safety is the protection of people and the environment from the potentially harmful effects of radiation (e.g., radiation leaks, plant damage resulting in radioactive release and exposure of workers to high levels of radiation)
Often used interchangeably with security but they are different.
Nuclear safety has been viewed as both a domestic problem and an international problem
Raises issues of governance, who should ultimately be responsible for nuclear safety?

Nuclear Power
Nuclear Security
First power reactor produced in 1951 by the US (test of concept) - EBR-1 in Arco, Idaho
First commercial power reactor put into operation by the UK in 1956 - Calder Hall
436 Nuclear reactors currently in operation
China currently constructing the most nuclear reactors (28 as of 2013)
Nuclear Power, Safety, and Security


Nuclear Reactors Under Construction (2013)
Nuclear Reactors in Operation (2013)


Nuclear Power as % of National Energy Production

Nuclear Reactors and Earthquake Zones
Nuclear Power vs. Other Forms of Energy Production
Are Nuclear Reactors Safe?

Case Study:
Three Mile Island

Case Study: Chernobyl

The Storage Problem
Nuclear security is the set of measures that are in place to prevent the theft, diversion or sabotage of nuclear material or a nuclear facility by an insider or an outsider.
Again, both a domestic and international problem
US has the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
IAEA performs this function
"freeze frame" or "diversionary pathway analysis"
Relationship Between Safety & Security
Safety and security of a nuclear facility share a common objective – ensure the protection of the local population, society at large, and the environment
Physical barriers such as containment for preventing releases to offsite are also effective at keeping offsite attackers from reaching critical areas of the plant
Safety tools such as PRA used for determining vulnerabilities in the plant can also point to critical areas for preventing radiological sabotage
Strong similarities in developing mitigation measures (i.e. emergency planning) for severe accidents and radiological sabotage
Similar issues in establishing a safety culture and security culture which are never ending processes
In the 55 years that nuclear power has been produced, there have only been three accidents, that's nearly 14,000 reactor years.

People routinely talk about the scale of these accidents, but how do they compare to Exxon Valdez, or the Gulf Oil Spill?
Nuclear power produces a tremendous amount of energy, only thing comparable is fossil fuels

Case study: Germany
Eliminating all use of nuclear power
Encouraging development of sustainable energy (wind, solar)
Forced to rely on coal because of limitations
Storage of spent fuel rods one of the major issues
Fuel rods are irradiated for millions of years
1982 US Nuclear Waste Policy Act
Case study: Yucca Mountain
Congress approved construction in 2002, but the Obama administration stripped funding, rendering it DOA
Las Vegas residents vehemently opposed its constructions, citing the fact that their are no nuclear plants in the state (although they receive 13% of their power from nuke plants outside of the state)
Occurred March 28, 1979
Partial meltdown of one of the island's two reactors
Average exposure to population was 1 millirem (x-rays are ~6)
Led to complete overhaul of the NRC's safety procedures
The Chernobyl accident in 1986 was the result of a flawed reactor design that was operated with inadequately trained personnel.
The resulting steam explosion and fires released at least 5% of the radioactive reactor core into the atmosphere and downwind
Two Chernobyl plant workers died on the night of the accident, and a further 28 people died within a few weeks as a result of acute radiation poisoning.
UNSCEAR says that apart from increased thyroid cancers, "there is no evidence of a major public health impact attributable to radiation exposure 20 years after the accident."
Resettlement of areas from which people were relocated is ongoing.
Safety culture in USSR was virtually non-existent, no shared best practices due to their isolation
Full transcript