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From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Steve Austin Rants and Raves
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 1999 04:54:11 EDT
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt

J P Rourke wrote:

> First question: Wasn't there a debate amongst the engineers of the
> prescence (or absence) of a hydrogen bubble that they thought was
> growing larger, and if large enough to expose enough of the fuel that
> they could have a meltdown?  And that many of the fuel bundles did
> indeed meltdown?  BWB can say it was a great vindication of the Mark IV
> containment vessel, but every vessel has its limits - and from what I
> read (not in the national news media) they were only guessing that it
> could contain it, and some of them were guessing it wouldn't.

Speaking as an engineer who spent 3.5 years on the Island after the

Separate the containment from the reactor building.  There was a
brief concern that hydrogen buildup in the reactor vessel might go
explosive.  The problem was, while the engineers were doing their
calculations and determining that this speculation was just that -
speculation, the media was hyping the event with a hysterical
frenzy.  Unwittingly fed, unfortunately, by the plant management who
were novices at dealing with the media vultures.  One of the early
things we did was convert to scrambled walkie-talkies so that the
media scum couldn't plaster our shop talk on the 6:00 news.

Regarding the containment.  It was designed to withstand 15 psi of
pressure.  Durning a hydrogen burn, the result of melting fuel
cladding reacting with water, the building was subjected to a peak
pressure estimated to be in excess of 60 psi.  Narry a whimper. 
Strain gauges in the building tendons reported All Systems Normal. 
Hey, when these things don't have to fly, lots of concrete and steel
make huge safety margins.

The most amazing thing was to work every day on the Island, arrive
home (which was 1.5 miles from my trailer office door) and hear the
talking heads on TV screaming about a "Three Mile Island", I could
not recognize.  Some reports were outright fabrications.  Others,
bearing a germ of fact, were so distorted that I found linking the
reported event to events that really happened to be almost

The funny thing about the TMI hysteria is that, IMHO, the fire at
Browns Ferry NP in 1975 was MUCH worse.  In that incident, an
electrician set the control room wiring spaces on fire by using a
candle to seek out air leaks.  The fire trashed most of the wiring
going to the control room and forced the evacuation of the control
room.  When I arrived the next morning, my first job was to help
string thermocouple wire from field sensors to an ad-hoc control
room so that the operators could know what was going on in the
plant.  You've seen those war movies where the GIs are running with
spools of demolition wire?  That was exactly the environment at BFNP
that morning, only everyone was in Anti-C clothing and wearing
SCBAs.  Breakers feeding critical cooling pumps were being held in
with sticks because the control wiring had been burned up.  A real
mess.  The difference?  Back then the media had not yet perfected
the technique of taking fabricated news stories to the bank.  And
the fact that the Tennessee Valley Authority had MUCH better
publicity flaks.

From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Steve Austin Rants and Raves
Date: Sat, 28 Aug 1999 03:24:25 EDT
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt

Rich Ahrens wrote:
> Neon John wrote:
> > The funny thing about the TMI hysteria is that, IMHO, the fire at
> > Browns Ferry NP in 1975 was MUCH worse.  In that incident, an
> > electrician set the control room wiring spaces on fire by using a
> > candle to seek out air leaks.  The fire trashed most of the wiring
> > going to the control room and forced the evacuation of the control
> > room.  When I arrived the next morning, my first job was to help
> > string thermocouple wire from field sensors to an ad-hoc control
> > room so that the operators could know what was going on in the
> > plant.
> You're the first person I've encountered who was there. I was told in a
> class I took a couple years later that a major contributor to the
> seriousness of this incident was that both sets of cables for redundant
> wiring ran through the *same* chase. True? Sounds like some pretty
> lame-ass engineering if so.

Worse. That type reactor has quadruply redundant sensors on any
safety signal.  They are arraigned as two sets of half-scram
channels (train A and train B).  A single trip on a train generates
a half-scram.  Another trip on the other train trips the reactor,
initiates emergency action, etc.  At BFNP, the cable trays for the 4
channels were stacked on on top of the other with about 4 feet of
vertical separation.

This was not as lame as it sounds because a) there is normally no
identifiable source of ignition in that room (called the spreading
room because that's where all the cables spread out from the control
room) and b) there is a CARDOX inerting system that will fill the
room with CO2 in the event any of a number of very sensitive fire
sensors indicated anything out of the ordinary.

The fire was an example of how multitudes of seemingly unrelated
events can conspire to create an accident scenario.  The inerting
system was manually blocked because people were working in the
room.  The mandated fire watch was posted while the CARDOX system
was off but he was on the floor and could not react quickly enough
when the fire started.  Where the cables passed through the wall,
the penetration was sealed with a flammable foam.  Ordinarily OK
because there is no source of ignition and there is an inerting
system.  The engineers didn't count on a guy with a candle!  

The control room is maintained at a slightly higher pressure than
the rest of the building so that any airborne contamination in the
plant could not reach the control room.  Thus the penetration seals
had a significant differential pressure on them.  The official
method of looking for defective sealing was to wave a candle around
near the penetration and look for flame deflection.  There had been
occasion in the past where the electrician had let the flame play on
the foam and it caught fire but was easily swatted out with the
hand.  In this case, the leak was substantial and the draft pushed
the fire through the penetration.  The other side of the penetration
was about 35 feet in the air.  The plant manager would not allow the
fire brigade to put water on the fire (low voltage control cables)
for fear of electrocution.  Too high up for dry chemical to reach. 
It burned for several hours before the PM allowed the Athens, Al
fire dept to come in, put water on it and put it out.

The fire was caused by:  Poor design, poor management (the previous
fires had been reported but no corrective measures were taken), bad
emergency response (no water on the fire) and lack of proper
training (the fire brigade trained primarily for transformer and
turbine explosion-related fires.)

There are two guiding principles in nuclear plant design - a) Single
Failure Criteria and b) Defense in Depth.  SFC means that no failure
of any single piece of equipment or system can be allowed to put the
plant's safety in jeopardy.  This is usually addressed with
redundant systems, physically separated and fed from separate power
sources.  DID means that if there is some sort of unanticipated
single point failure, then multiple layers of protection address the
problem.  An example would be the 3 different types of emergency
cooling systems (SIS, HPSI and LPSI) systems for the reactor. 
Another would be the multiple layers of containment.  During the
fire, SFC failed because of the common location of the control
cables.  But DID worked.  Normally the SIS (Safety Injection System)
would use electrically driven pumps to cool the reactor after a loss
of coolant event.  The fire temporarily disabled the SIS system. 
But both the HPSI and LPSI (high and low pressure safety injection
systems) operated normally because they both used steam-driven pumps
that needed no external power and had a self-contained hydraulic
control system.  As long as the cooling reactor made steam, the
pumps ran.

The result of the fire was that the NRC required all plants to
fireproof all Class 1E (nuclear safety-related) systems.  At BFNP,
this involved rewiring to physically separate the trains, encasing
the new cable trays in metal and encasing the old trays in something
called Flamemastic, a goo that looked like sheetrock cement with
asbestos in it.  Unfortunately, this stuff insulated so well that
some power cables overheated and burned out.  Ouch!

Another result of the fire was the addition of a third guiding
principle in plant design - Probabilistic Risk Analysis.  This
process involves analyzing all credible failure modes of every piece
of safety equipment, assigning a probability of failure and a
consequence weighing factor and then using specialized statistical
methods to identify cascading failure paths and system's failure
interactions.  PRA came into use after the BFNP fire but its use
became mandatory after TMI where dozens of seemingly unrelated
events cascaded to a core melt Loss of Coolant Accident.

The worst part of the fire was that the hydrochloric acid produced
as PVC insulation burns was spread throughout the plant.  Chlorides
cause inter-granular stress corrosion in stainless steel so every
single metallic surface in the plant had to be cleaned and then
tested for residual chlorides.  I spent most of my tenure there
supervising cleanup crews.  TVA drafted literally every warm body in
the system who didn't have a mission-critical job for this cleanup. 
I had everyone from people off the street to other engineers and
secretaries in my crew, all of 'em operating rags and mops!

What does this have to do with airplanes.  Hmmmm.  Oh, I know.  NP
reactor buildings are designed to withstand a direct impact from a
loaded 747 (the biggest plane around when most plants were
designed.)  So there! :-)


From: (B. Alan Guthrie)
Newsgroups: sci.environment,
Subject: Re: Nuclear Fule (Re: Changes to our CO2 emissions levels)
Date: 30 Jul 1997 14:24:05 GMT

In article <5rlgi3$hiv$>, David Hatunen <hatunen@shell.> wrote:
>In article <5rl560$>,
>Hugh Lippincott <> wrote:
>>The Westinghouse PWR was clearly pioneered in the nuclear subs,
>>but GE also worked on the subs, and they produced BWRs.
>But GE didn't produce NSSS for subs. The PWR got its advantage in teh
>commercial industry because Rickover was given the job of building
>Shippingport after successfully ramrodding nuclear subs. The PWR was now a
>proven design, so it was used even more.

  No, GE does design NSSS for the US Navy at its Knolls Atomic Power
  Lab, near Schenatady (sic), NY.

>>Babcock & Wilcox's PWR design was even more different and so
>>the lack of training of the &%$*$#@ submarine trained operator
>>at Three Mile Island (in combination with the weakness of the
>>valve design chosen by B&W) is responsible for the TMI mess
>If I recall correctly, B&W PWRs have much smaller pressurizers, too,
>allowing less margin for error.

   I think that the B&W pressurizer is about the same size as the
   Westinghouse pressurizer.  The difficulty, though, is that due
   to the Once-Through Steam Generator, and its low secondary-side
   inventory, the B&W pressurizer should probably be several times
   larger than it is, so that transients can be better handled.

   Part of the problem at TMI-2 was that the reactor did not trip
   with the turbine trip.  Thus, the primary system went on a
   rather large pressure transient and popped open those unfortunate
   valves.  If it had had an anticipatory reactor trip when the
   turbine tripped, then the pressure transient would not have been
   as severe (for Westinghouse plants, the primary pressure actually
   drops by 100-200 psi (as I recall) on a turbine trip from full
   power, since the reactor will be trip when the turbine trips).
   I am reluctant to extrapolate the Westinghouse dynamics to B&W
   dynamics, but it does seem safe to argue that an anticipatory
   reactor trip at TMI would have reduced the pressure transient.
   Whether the relief valves would have lifted and stuck, I dunno.

B. Alan Guthrie, III          |   Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?
                              | |   My opinions only

From: jgd@rsiatl.UUCP (John G. De Armond)
Subject: Re: myth busting
Message-ID: <2239@rsiatl.UUCP>
Date: 15 May 90 05:29:45 GMT (Timothy S Storey) writes:

>I wouldn't call it a very good safety record where large populations are
>contaminated by one accident.  (The three accidents that I can think of
>are Cherynobyl, Three Mile Island, and one in the UK where dairyland was
>contaminated and the cows were giving irradiated milk.)

What 'ya say we concentrate on the US program since we have traditionally
been the leader in the industry and because a US accident is what we're
concerned about.  Chernobyl has been adequately addressed in this forum.
As has the British incident.  And since there was NO detectable radioactivity
at the site boundary of TMI at any point during the accident, by definition,
no one was contaminated.  So the record for the civilian nuclear
program in regards to civilian contamination is totally unblemished.

BTW, the term is "contaminated milk", not irradiated.  If the milk had
been irradiated, there would have been no detectable effects.
Contamination, on the other hand, is a problem.  Proper useage of scientific
terms is important.

>I suppose it would greatly depend on what industry you are comparing
>it to, but there is a large fear factor involved with radiation. When looking
>at how little was known about the effects of radiation, and how little is
>still known, the fear is not without reason.

Actually radiation is the best characterized and most well known of any
human toxin.  Its effects on the human body have been characterized over
a wider dynamic range than any other toxin.  And even when a scientist
states that the effects of extremely low levels of radiation are
statistically undetectable, he has already bounded the problem to a
microscopic scale.

>It is not sabotage to be concerned about a technology.  It is this near-
>perfect (read sarcasm into this) safety record of the nuclear industry
>that has caused the backlash against it.

Actually the backlash has been caused by the stupidity exampled by the
woman at TMI who claimed that she could taste the I-131 that we were
releasing during the containment purge - even though the isotopic mix
was almost pure Kr-85 and even though the I-131 that WAS there had
long since decayed.  The backlash is furter caused by the stupidity
demonstrated by the media in giving this woman front page billing.

Or how about the stupidity of Gov. Thornburg taking it on himself to
counter his scientific advisors and call for an evacuation around
TMI when in fact, no hazard existed?  Or how about the stupidity
demonstrated by the Middletown borough in refusing to allow TMI to
dispose of its sanitary sewage by connecting to the sewar system
on the grounds that it might be contaminated?  (And of course,
disregarding the utility's offer to install continuous monitoring
on borough property and maintain it for the borough.)

No, the major thing the utilities did wrong was not having the
foresight of God and the power of Big Brother to control mass thought.

>And you can't claim that the
>industry is now new and improved and without serious faults when there
>have been reactors being built that have been determined to be unsafe.
>(I would certainly call cracks in the concrete before completion to be

Why don't you name a few?  We'll more than likely be able to pull up
the facts that demonstrate that the plant in question was not at all

>I don't think I would support a power source that could release large
>amounts of toxins or diseases either... (must be something in my
>genetic structure, eh?)

Why you do every day.  Any combustion process releases some toxins even
it it is only carbon monoxide.  Should we shut down all generating
plants and read News by candle light?

>No it doesn't.  The problem does not disappear because you can't see it.
>There are only so many stable enough sites to dispose of the waste, and
>at the rate that the nuclear industry would be generating waste if allowed
>to, these sites would be filled very quickly (less than 25 years)
>I suppose we could do what the French do and dump the stuff into some
>ocean trench to irradiate some sightless fish, then no one will ever see
>the problem (not even the residents fo the location).

As someone else has calculated, at the rate of about a quarter cup of
waste per reactor year, I do believe we could store it ALL in one
place indefinately.  And since time is always on the side of the
health-physicist, it gradually becomes a non-problem.

(I got tired of responding to the rest of his tripe.  Someone else take
a shot. )


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: nuclear power
Message-ID: <5648@rsiatl.Dixie.Com>
Date: 5 Jan 91 07:27:08 GMT (Lucius Chiaraviglio) writes:

>In article <1928@ke4zv.UUCP> gary@ke4zv.UUCP (Gary Coffman) writes:
>>In article <> (Charles K
>>Hughes) writes:
>>>  I don't think the "allergy" is irrational given 3-mile island,
>>>Chernobyl, lists of missing nuclear fuel, 55 gallon drums of nuclear waste
>>Actually Three Mile Island showed that primary confinement works even in
>>an induced loss of cooling accident. Chernobyl showed that even the worst
>>scenario put up by the anti-nukes, core meltdown, *no* confinement,
>>and a core fire for God's sake, didn't result in the fearmongers predicted

Three Mile Island showed us even more than Gary states.  As a person who
spent over 3 years at TMI after the accident, designed their Post-Accident
radiation monitoring system, qualified their diesel generator system, ad
nausium, I speak with a bit more authority than simply having an education
via the 6 o'clock news.

What TMI demonstrated is that under the worst case scenario, that is, a
scenario in which there is bulk melting of the core, the systems work
and there is no danger presented to the public.  In point of fact, TMI
WAS a WORST CASE LOCA.  The core was allowed to remain uncovered
long enough for the bulk of it to melt.  But instead of burning through
the reactor vessel, evaporating 2 million gallons of water in the sump,
burning through 35 feet of concrete in the building foundation and killing
millions as it enters the water table, the liquid core simply ran to the
bottom of the vessel and was quenched by the residual water contained
therein.  What remained was what you'd expect of a ceramic material
after being quenched while white hot.  A mass of fractured rubble.
The authorities on the subject that I've discussed (I'm not a
core dynamics expert, my speciality is radiation measurement systems)
pretty much agree that TMI represents the worst case accident.

The perceived hazards stemed from the medias' hysteria, the govenor's
hysteria and the plant staff's self-admitted mishandling of the
public relations.  The last part is somewhat understandable since this
was the first time to have to deal with this kind of event.  Plus, of
course, the country was still suffering from the "malaise of the spirit"
induced by the Georgia White Trash, um, I mean Jimmy Carter.
Though I've never seen any numbers published, I wonder how many people
were hurt by the hysteria-induced evacuations?  I wonder how many people
suffered stress problems or were in car wrecks while leaving?  There
were casualties from TMI but none related to the accident.

>	Chernobyl did result in a lot of casualties, and we probably have a
>lot of delayed casualties in store, considering what radiation exposure from
>nuclear weapons testing has done to many of its victims.  Sounds pretty bad to

Chernobyl sounds like a minor incident to me. The prompt casulties numbered
perhaps a few hundred.  Not unlike that from a flood or airline accident.
Regrettable but not earth shattering.  The delayed casulties must be
evaluated statistically.  From that perspective, they must be considered in
the same class as other statistically measured deaths.  Similiarly,
the risk must be compared with competing technologies.  If one compares the
estimated few thousand excess cancers from Chernobyl over the next
50 years to the estimated few hundred thousand deaths due to the coal
cycle, Chernobyl looks like a pretty safe place to be.  By any rational
evaluation, Chernobyl was a rather minor event as disasters go.

>In areas where the pollution that could be eliminated by installation of
>nuclear power is worse than having a Chernobyl disaster every once in a while
>(any claims that our reactors are immune to a disaster that bad must be taken
>with several grains of sodium-22 chloride :-) ),

I know that it is impolite to confuse this argument with facts but I must
do so.  You are flat wrong.  A Chernobyl-style event is physically impossible
with America's reactor designs.  For a Chernobyl to happen, the following
events would ALL have to take place:

*	All reactor safeguards would have to be bypassed.  Not impossible but
	highly improbable and technically very difficult.

*	The reactor core would have to have a positive temperature coefficient
	of reactivity.  American reactors are designed with a large NEGATIVE
	temco not only for safety but because it makes them much easier to
	regulate.  There is sufficient negative reactivity designed in that
	most cores will start shutting down with a 50 degree rise in temperature.

*	The reactor would have to be capable of running dry.  This is impossible
	since water is also the moderator in American designs.  In fact, the
	power is controlled over a fairly wide range in BWR reactors by
	controling the steam void fraction.

*	The containment would have to be breeched or left open.  Short of a
	military assault on the reactor, this is pretty much an impossibility.

*	Several chemical and physical laws would have to be broken.  Example:
	The big killers at Chernobyl were the most abundant long lived
	fission products, Cs-137 and the iodines, primarily I-131.  In an
	aqueous environment such as in a reactor coolant system, the Cs and
	I combine to form a chemically inert and non-volatile compount
	cesium iodide.  This is exactly what happend at TMI.  The Cs and I
	concentrations in the containment atmosphere were orders of magnitude
	less than the models predicted because most of the stuff was in
	solution or plated out on the containment surfaces.

An extreme demonstation of the intrinsic safety of American reactors was
the BORAX experiments conducted in the desert in the late 60s.  In this
experiment, a small scale model but functioning reactor was constructed
in the desert.  As the final experiment, the control rods were forcibly
and rapidly ejected from the core by explosives.  The core went prompt
critical but shut down within milliseconds as the water boiled from the
massive heat generation.  The vessel exploded from the steam pressure
but the fuel elements retained their structural soundness and no melting

>arguably the installation of
>nuclear power is worthwhile, IF no better alternatives are available.  Claims
>that I have seen that no better alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels
>are available have been less than entirely convincing.

That sir, is simply because you've not looked any further than the newspapers
for your education.  If you had given even a cursory review to the literature,
you would not need convincing.  Of course it is easy to simply dismiss all
the world's experts as self-serving but if you do that, then who ARE the
experts?  Dan Rather?  Hardly.

The fact of the matter is that there is no energy source proposed or
in production that is better than nuclear power.  Especially when the
entire fuel cycle impact on the environment is rationally assessed,
nuclear is the big winner.  With a fully closed loop fuel cycle, little
new raw uranium would be required and the quantity of concentrated high level
waste would be miniscule.  There have been several designs proposed and
some tested for "waste burner" reactors.  These are specially designed
nuclear reactors designed to transmute reactor waste into either inert
isotopes or into radioactive isotopes with short half-lives.  The little
that remains is easily contained using technology now in common use in
the rest of the world.

The problem is that the public has chosen to ignore the experts and
instead believe what the media and the vested interests have told them
to believe. As a result, we've given up on the nuclear option for this
century.  And when we finally wake up and realize that we must again
go back to nuclear, we'll have given the market over to the Japanese
and the French who will gladly sell us reactors that they've perfected
in the meantime.

So Lucius, you CANNOT say that you've examined the facts and have decided
that nuclear is dangerous.  AT most, you've formed an uninformed opinion
based on non-facts as presented in the media and the pop-science press.
Take the time, read the literature, maybe attend some conferences
and then come back with an INFORMED opinion.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Is nuclear energy "polluting"? (was Re: Is car pooling f
Message-ID: <>
Date: 27 Jul 92 00:41:03 GMT (Paul Houle) writes:

>	Yes,  many people don't realize that transport properties determine
>how dangerous different radioisotopes are.  About 30 megacuries of radioactive
>noble gases were estimated to be released from the TMI accident.  That's
>alot of radiation

Wrong and no.  30 megacuries is not a lot of "radiation" because the curie
is a measure of radioactivity.  The amount and quality of radiation
emitted by a curie of radioactive material is strictly dependent on
the elements present.

Thirty megacuries of mainly Kr-85 (~80 kev gamma, 0.4% abundance) (if
that number is valid - I don't have my TMI file handy.) released
as it was over several days, emitted such a trivial amount of radiation
that it was never detected at the site boundary.  In the case of TMI,
that boundary is only a few hundred feet away.  That, despite the
fact that Kr-85 is a very heavy gas that tends to lay around
in low spots despite significant draft.  (I've had to use smoke
ejection fans to clear out the basement of a lab where we
spilled a few thousand curies of Kr-85.)

>-- but noble gases don't stay in the body or get
>concentrated in the ecosystem,  so this isn't as severe as it could be.

Correction, it was zero severe.

>	Probably between 10-20 curies of radioactive iodine were released;
>this stuff is really bad because it concentrates in the thyroid.  Had 30
>MCu of radioactive iodine leaked from TMI,  this would have been a serious
>health problem...  But 30 MCu of noble gases is much less severe.

The release of I, if any, was postulated.  None was ever measured.  It
should be noted that essentially the entire core inventory of I was
released at TMI as the fuel melted.  This I either plated out on
internal surfaces (minor contribution) or immediately combined with
the cesium also released and made cesium iodide which happily stayed
in solution in the primary coolant.  It should also be noted that the
inventory of I in the core quickly (minutes) drops below 30 MCi (note
the correct abbreviation) number you hypothesized due to decay.

You really ought to know what you're talking about in this group and
not just read that greenie stuff to us.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Breeders
Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 18 May 93 18:52:34 GMT (P Angelo /RA/208G/osra 7550) writes:

>>I'm one of Yackadamn's favorite "zealots" (defined as anyone who knows 
>>more about the subject than he.) but I oppose the IFR as it stands now.
>>Not the concept which is quite sound.  I oppose the goverment spending
>>taxpayer's money on such projects.  (along with money wasted on solar,
>>wind and whatever else they can think of spending money on.)  If there
>>is sufficient need for IFR (or whatever energy source), the industry
>>is more than capable of funding it itself just as it has INPO.
>There is sufficient need to once and for all, to remove an argument which
>feeds fuel to the fire; that being the spent fuel from the 110 commercial
>nuclear reactors, the excess plutonium from naval reactors and weapons,
>and the need to further utilize the uranium supply. If a project such as
>IFR can be funded $700M so far, to achieve results in passive safety and
>actinide recycle it has, then it would be a bigger waste to throw it all
>away under the banner of debt reduction. A project such as this is a 
>mere drop in the federal bucket. Worse, if funding is stopped, then 
>momentum is stopped, and the technology will have suffered the fate of unworthy
>and unnecessary pork, such as the nuclear plane, MX missile, Clinch River
>(which IFR is NOT)

A million here, a million there and pretty soon we're talking real money. 
Yes, I agree $700M is small in the big picture of what the government 
spends that it doesn't have.  But by the same token, it is a drop in the
bucket for the utilities and other private industry to fund too, if they
think it is a worthy project.  

Note that I have no particular problem with the IFR itself.  I'm not
real fond of sodium cooled reactors but I will defer to those who know a
bit more about it than I.  My argument is two-fold.  One, the government
is spending money it does not have and that spending is bankrupting the 
rest of the country.  Secondly, there is NO constitutional justification for
the federal government to be involved in research.  I perhaps could have
turned my head (lots of people did which is what got us where we are today)
when the goverment was only taking a quarter of the nation's wealth AND
lived within its bounds like we have to do.  But now that the government is
taking over half of my income and spending a large chunk more that someone 
will have to pay for, it is time to draw the line.

>The detractors of the IFR want it to die, inorder to keep their waste argument
>in tact. In fact, the IFR totally emasculates all their arguments, as it is
>a truly meltdown-proof reactor.

That is irrelevant to this discussion of whether the government ought to be
funding this experiment.

>Sometimes the government must take responsibility of unpleasant and unpopular
>(politically incorrect) undertakings until such time that the market place
>can accept the risk of such ventures. 

Bullsh*t.  This is the neosocialist, big-daddy-knows-best attitude that 
has gotten us where we are today.

>It is this practice which put a man
>on the moon, undertaken AIDS research, and other ventures requiring tremendous
>capital to intiate (more than the market can bear)

Again, bullsh*t.  Going to the moon was a neat achievement but not exactly
vital to the country's well-being.  As to other "Big Research", contemplate
that the "market" might view such long term projects much more favorably
were not so much time and money wasted on the goverment and on surviving
the goverment.

>I believe it is a very good idea for the member utilities of INPO to kick in 
>2-4 $Mil each to fund the IFR research, but what incentive to they have if
>very short sighted PUCs disallow the investment to be recouped, through 
>prudency hearings. What incentive do they have if they are not allowed by
>law, to recoup any CWIP (Construction Work In Progress). 

CWIP IS being allowed in some instances these days and the prognosis looks 
good.  The lesson of the 70s was not lost on many PUCs.  Besides, the solution
to the "PUC problem" is to simply eliminate them and have competition 
at the meter head.  A structure similar to the telephone industry whereby
a heavily regulated transport company owns the copper that delivers the 
services of any number of long distance companies would work fine.

>Remember, the 
>nuclear utilities have contributed billions and billions in premiums to 
>Price Anderson (Atomic Energy Act of 1954) and not recieved a fraction of
>it back. In fact, the liablility claim on TMI-II correct me if I am wrong,
>is capped at .5 billion, with cleanup to ultimately cost what it cost to
>build the plant (5 billion).

I've not kept up with Price-Anderson but having worked at TMI, I CAN comment
on the cleanup.  A HUGE chunk of that $5 billion or so has been spent on
non-essential, DOE-funded research.  Whether this research has any merit
of its own is not the issue.  The issue is wrapping all these costs into
the "cleanup cost" and then citing TMI's huge cleanup cost as justification
for something or another.

Look, let me make a suggestion, Angelo.  I know you're emminently
qualified to discuss nuclear issues and are one of the good guys.  But
your social perspective is badly distorted by working for the
government.  I know.  My history is similar.  My first job was working
for TVA, a job I spent almost 10 year at.  The move out of government
employment was to say the least, a strong culture shock.  Even more so
when I started my first company and found myself on the other side of
the table from the government.  I learned that projects "get funded"
(love that nice 3rd person language) using money taken, in many case
involuntarily, from the citizens just like you and I.  I learned that
the faceless hordes employed by the government suddenly take on the face
of the opressor when I had to deal with the goverment.  Then it dawned
on me that a lot of things I had taken for granted as a government
employee were just flat wrong

My suggestion is this.  Contemplate very carefully as you argue for your
pet project to "be funded" just how that comes across to those of us who
pay the bills.  Then contemplate how distorted your worldview may be
from your being on the public payroll.  A really radical suggestion is
consider moving over to the private side and see how we live.  I'll
guarantee it will change your perspective.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Integral Fast Reactor???
Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 93 05:53:26 GMT (T Orth FP/207/  8505) writes:

>|> improperly trained operators would result in a destroyed core at TMI?

>All of the reactors on duty at TMI had extensive experience...probably too
>much experience, with both navy and commercial reactors.

That was the problem.  All were navy nukes trained to follow orders and
procedures without question.  Jokingly refered around the plant to the
Rickhover Effect.  Not just my opinion either.  Being friends with most
of these fellows, I got it directly from them but if you need official
support, consult Kemeny.


Newsgroups: sci.physics,
From: John De Armond
Subject: Skyshine (was Re: Princeton has Fusion?)
Message-ID: <>
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 93 06:23:20 GMT (Jim Carr) writes:

>It is true that skyshine from Kr was a major radiation source from the
>TMI accident.

There wasn't any skyshine as it is normally defined.  That is,
scattered radiation detected against the normal fluence direction.
There WAS a beam of gamma through the roof of the containment
building but it was not significant except in the beam.

At some long interval after shutdown, long enough that the short
lived isotopes are gone, the predominent radiations are from
Kr-85, Ba-133 and Cs-137.  As you've already determined, the
gamma from Kr-85 is very low abundance and low energy.  In contact
wtih high Z materials (steel, etc), there is some Bremsstrahlung
radiation but it is also very low energy with a short range.
The spectrum of radiation from such an environment is overwhelmingly
dominated by the 0.661 MeV gamma from Cs-137.  The gammas from
Ba-133 can be seen but they are minor in comparison.

What you may be thinking of is several years after the accident,
immediately before the first manned entries, the containment was
vented of (so sue me if my memory is foggy) about 47,000 Ci of
Kr-85.  The concentration of Kr-85 was very slight, considering
the several million cu ft volume of the containment, but
the media whipped the populace into a frenzy over it.  During
the actual venting, Kr could be detected at the mouth of
the vent but none was detectable at ground level immediately
under the stack nor anywhere else, for that matter.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: A Nuclear Disaster; Asteroids, Dinosaurs, Bombs, Power Plant
Message-ID: <>
Date: Sat, 19 Mar 94 06:54:52 GMT (Joseph A. Green) writes:

>In article <> Emmett Michael JORDAN <> writes:
>>      [deleted stuff]          By
>>April 1, 1979 a huge hydrogen bubble had likewise formed at the
>>Three Mile Island plant in critical danger of exploding and breaching
>>the containment. Sheer luck prevented a similar explosion and release
>>of radiation.

Oh my gawd, the delphoids have invaded  What do they do,
give away free lobotomies as subscription bonuses?

>Where did you get this information?  From what I have seen of the
>RECORDED containment pressures and what seems to be a zillion
>related analyses (most all of which employ conservative assumptions
>such as 100% Zr-H2O reaction) that the resulting pressure from a H2
>explosion would not have resulted in a breach in TMI containment integrity.
>From memory I don't even think they approached design pressure let
>alone the 2-3X higher that the containment is likely to withstand.

Don't need to do any calculations.  There WAS a hydrogen explosion inside
the containment at TMI.  Oh they euphemistically called it a "burn"
but both the record and the people who were there show it to be an

The record shows that at approximately nine and three quarters hours
after the turbine tripped, there was a containment pressure spike
which drove the 30 psi stripchart recorder off-scale.  This spike was
accompanied by a deep rumble that shook the entire facility including
the control room and was duly recorded on the plant's sesimic monitors.

The instrument loop which measured containment pressure used an ancient,
very slow pressure transmitter with a time constant in excess of
two seconds.  When this loop was computer modeled and the recorded
data submitted to the model, it showed that the containment reached
almost 100 psi (3X design pressure) and held that for almost a second.
Yet the strain gauges attached to the containment reenforcing tendons
showed no abnormal stress.  In other words, the building was not
stressed anywhere near its limits.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: A Nuclear Disaster; Asteroids, Dinosaurs, Bombs, Power Plant
Message-ID: <>
Date: Sat, 19 Mar 94 21:29:19 GMT (B. Alan Guthrie) writes:

>Some hydrogen did escape from the vessel into the containment
>atmosphere where it apparently burned.  However, its concentration
>was too dilute for an explosion to occur.

Essentially all the hydrogen escaped with the exception of a few
cubic feet that got trapped in the reactor head.  The "burn"
was very much an explosion.  I've been inside the Unit II containment
and the evidence is everywhere.  The concentration did not and could not
have reached the concentration whereby a detonation could have

>I had been working at Babcock & Wilcox for about eight months
>when the TMI accident occurred.  On March 30, our department
>head called us together and gave us a run-down on the situation,
>dwelling at some length on the hydrogen bubble and worrying
>about its explosive potential and the problem of its expansion.
>I realized at the time that the bubble could not explode because
>of a lack of oxygen, but I was fresh out of grad school, and I
>figured that these grizzled veterans knew what they were talking
>about, so I kept my mouth shut.  If only I'd have spoken up and
>punctured the myth of the hydrogen bubble explosion ....

The gizzled veterans WERE correct.  They were concerned that the
radiolysis of water by the fuel would contribute enough oxygen
to make the bubble flammable.  Recall that in the beginning
they had no idea even how much hydrogen may be trapped.  For their
initial matchbook calculations which may have been off an order
of magnitude or so, they had to assume the worst case, that hydrogen
had collected down to the coolant nozzles.  My officemate at TMI,
a B&W engineer, was the person who devised the nifty little unit
used to measure the bubble volume.  It was nothing more than a small
positive displacement pump and a pressure transducer.  It operated
on the principle that one could pump water into the primary system,
observe the change in pressure and compute the compressible
volume.  This test showed the bubble to be small and to be shrinking
steadily as the coolant dissolved and swept it away.

Anyway, here's how the public side developed:

Grizzled veterans:  There is a remote theoretical possibility of enough
	hydrogen and oxygen collecting to form an explosive mixture.  Let's do
	some calculations and measurements and see if theory stands up to

B&W Management: There is a theoretical possibility of of a hydrogen explosion
	inside the reactor vessel.

GPU management: There might be a hydrogen explosion in the reactor vessel.

Walter Cronkite et al:  The reactor vessel will be destroyed by a hydrogen
	explosion any time now during this nuclear nightmare.

Gov. Thornburg and company:  OH MY GAWD, run for the hills!  Grab the women
	and children and run for your lives.  TMI is going to explode and kill
	everyone in the state.

Typical evolution of a public event.


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