August 13, 2008

Indian Point Worst Case Nuclear Accident Scenario is not Credible


There was a 2004 study that posited a worst case nuclear accident scenario. This is related to a previous analysis of the deaths per TWH from different energy sources.

It assumes super-terrorists making a successful attack on the Indian Point nuclear reactor with a plane and then assume that optimal weather and optimal everything else for maximum casualties.

I do not believe the starting point of the scenario. Successful hijacking of a plane post 9-11. Since 9-11 pilots do not come out of the cockpit no matter how many passengers or crew are killed. If you are worried about terrorists doing this then do not secure all of the rich targets in the USA or other places but kill terrorists like Al Qaeda which is being done. There have been no major terrorist operations of this scale and the public and the system are ready to resist this scenario. Also, a simple defense is to setup about 10-15 story poles with sparse cabling so that any jet would run into that and be destroyed before hitting any of the nuclear containment structures. The netting or cabling would be like somewhat larger versions of the netting over a golf driving range or baseball backstops.



The report considered an attack on the Biblis B PWR by a small jet (Airbus A320) or medium-sized jet (Airbus A300) travelling at speeds from 225 to 394 miles per hour, where the peak speed of 394 mph was determined through the use of simulators. GRS concluded that for an event in which the jet did not penetrate the containment, but the resulting vibrations caused a primary coolant leak, and the control room was destroyed by debris and fire (a condition similar to a station blackout), then control of the sequence of events would be “ uncertain.” Biblis B was designed for protection against the crash of a 1960s-era Starfighter jet and as a result is equipped, like most German reactors, with a double containment. In contrast, Indian Point 2 and 3, while of the same 1970s vintage as Biblis B, were not designed to be resistant to airplane crashes, and do not have double containments.



I do not believe the radiations deaths figures that are quoted or the resultant cancer deaths.

the $2 trillion is based on the 99.9 percentile case of a BS scenario. 95% was $1 trillion.

Nuclear plant security is adequate

Anti-Radiation drugs far (5000 times ) better than potassium iodide are being developed.

Spalling concrete with material going deeper into the floor concrete and the ground does not create the bad scenarios that are postulated.

Indian Point is safe.

Indian Point will stay open.

The full independent Indian Point safety report is here.

Pg 127-133 are the relevant part for the airplane strike scenario.

Visual inspection of the concrete for signs of cracking and spalling are required by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Section 11 IWL Code and are performed regularly. The structural integrity of the buildings and its leak tightness are regularly verified by testing. The buildings were pressurized to 54 pounds per square inch (psi) (115 percent of the accident rating) – Unit 2 was tested in March 1971 and Unit 3 in January 1975. Integrated leak rate tests are performed periodically to pressurize the containment buildings to 47 psig and measure total leakage. During these tests, the building expands several inches and the concrete is therefore expected to experience minor cracking due to the physical growth of the structure. Visual inspections are performed during and following the test to observe for unexpected cracking or spalling of the concrete. The last tests were performed on Unit 2 in 2006 and on Unit 3 in 2005 with no structural concerns identified.


Numerous tests and analyses by research organizations conclude that the large commercial aircraft and turbojet engines in use today would not penetrate a containment structure like that at IPEC, even on a direct hit at 350 mph. Structural integrity and leak tightness of the buildings would be maintained. Furthermore, the energy of impact would be absorbed by the structure, causing only minor movement, and would not dislodge or damage equipment on the interior of the building.

In order for terrorists to hijack and then succeed in crashing an aircraft into the IPEC facility, there would need to be a collective failure of all of the barriers – regulatory, procedural, institutional and societal – which stand in the way of such an event. These include:

- Multiple terrorists would have been able to avoid detection by federal, state
and local law enforcement agencies to plan a coordinated attack, to acquire
the weapons they need to take over the aircraft, and to penetrate airport
security.
- The terrorists would have to successfully wrest control of the aircraft from
its crew and successfully resist the opposition of one or more sky marshals,
if aboard, and of perhaps 100 determined passengers. (Evidence from
United Flight 93, the apprehension of shoe‐bomber Richard Reid, and the
widespread recognition that the pre‐ 9/11 tactic of passive acceptance by
airline passengers of hostile acts in the air strongly suggests that this is
unlikely.)
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Controllers, who
continually monitor the adherence of aircraft to authorized flight patterns,
would have to have been ineffective in detecting the airspace violation and
mobilizing the interdiction capabilities now in place.
- The terrorist hijackers would then have to successfully maneuver and
control their large aircraft near the ground at a high rate of speed, in the
difficult terrain surrounding IPEC, and score a direct hit on a target (an IPEC
reactor containment or fuel pool) that is tiny by comparison with the World
Trade Center. This would be an extraordinary feat of airmanship.

The walls of the IPEC containment buildings are constructed of reinforced
concrete of thicknesses varying from 3½ to 4½ feet. This concrete is
reinforced with layers of large (most are 2¼ inches in diameter) welded
steel bars. The critical areas of the containment building are located at the
lowest level of the building where the concrete walls are the thickest. The
wall surfaces are all curved, adding substantial strength in comparison to
flat surfaces. The buildings are completely lined, on their interior surfaces,
with welded steel sheets. They are airtight and leak resistant, and are
regularly inspected and pressure tested.

Given structural design and configuration of the IPEC containment buildings and fuel
storage facilities, the redundancy and separation of accident mitigation systems, the
design and redundancy in fire protection, the capability of on‐site firefighting and
emergency response, and the availability of off‐site support systems, the Panel concludes that the probability of a large aircraft part striking the buildings with nuclear fuel inside and causing a significant release of radioactivity is extremely low, to the point of being non‐credible.

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