Preppers, our plans will FAIL and here is why.
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Preppers, our plans will FAIL and here is why.

This is a discussion on Preppers, our plans will FAIL and here is why. within the General Prepper and Survival Talk forums, part of the Survivalist, Prepper, Bushcrafter, Forest Rangers category; Hello everyone, Let me start off by reassuring you; I'm not here to crush your hopes for survival, but merely to get you fellow survivalist ...

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Thread: Preppers, our plans will FAIL and here is why.

  1. #1
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    Preppers, our plans will FAIL and here is why.

    Hello everyone,

    Let me start off by reassuring you; I'm not here to crush your hopes for survival, but merely to get you fellow survivalist men and women to avoid a potentially fatal mistake in your quest for survival in the post-civilized world. As many of you have and still do every day, I often try to find oversights in my survival strategy and my job has brought to my attention an immense danger that doesn't appear to be getting any kind of attention at the moment.

    You see, I'm a software engineer and I've recently been hired to work on a management software for spent fuel pool pumping systems for a Canadian utility company which operates several CANDU type nuclear reactors. That said I'm not a nuclear engineer, but as I've been working in the power generation industry for about a year in the era of nuclear energy, I have acquired a few close friends which append to be nuclear engineers and the discussion we've been having recently have made me realize that the biggest threat for long term survival is far being from what I've imagined. That said, in order to be able to perform my duties, I've also had to go through a few weeks crash course on nuclear reactors operation, safety measures and most importantly, spent fuel management.

    First, what most of us already knew


    So yea, the not so big news is that there is no such thing as a "walk away safe" nuclear reactor, which means that every single reactors currently used for power generation will eventually go through a full blown solid nuclear fuel rods meltdown if left unattended for more than a few days/weeks. So basically, that means that for every nuclear reactor on the planet, an area potentially greater than the state of Alabama will be contaminated with dangerously high levels of radiation equal or greater to the levels that were released in the exclusion zone of Chernobyl. And believe me, that's a pretty conservative estimation considering that there were people on the site of the incident to try and mitigate the consequences of the meltdowns and the same goes for the Fukushima Daiichi incident. That said, a full blown meltdown doesn't means that there will be a breach of containment 100% of the time especially if the reactor is equipment with proper passive cooling systems which are likely to as least prevent an hydrogen explosion in the containment building ( The kind both Chernobyl and some of Fukushima's reactors experienced ). That said, even in the event that the containment is not immediately breached, if civilization doesn't rebuild within one to five years, its very likely that large scale contamination will still occur as containment buildings need to be maintained.

    So let me give you a quick time-lapse of what would happen to the reactors in most case;

    Day 1: No one came to operate the reactors, most modern reactors will automatically shutdown ( stop the process of splitting atoms by inserting enough control bars to stop the reaction) just because they require to be constantly monitored in order to operate fission. At this point external power is most likely still reaching the reactor so the active cooling system are still running, but the reactors. Reactors that aren't critical anymore ( operating fission ) do not generate enough steam to keep the turbines running and therefore stops producing power.

    Day 2: The grid is most likely down as the fossil fuel power plants are no longer operating, there might still be some juice in areas with active hydro-electric damns, solar plants or wind turbines, but for the most part, there is no longer any power from the grid reaching the nuclear power stations. At this point, the diesel generators will kick in and keep the active cooling system up and running for up to a week.

    Day 7-9: No one came to refuel the diesel generators, active cooling system fails. Every single reactor not equipped with a passive cooling system will meltdown within 4 to 24 hours and the same goes for reactors equipped with PCS* that aren't automatically activating or were otherwise disabled.

    Day 10: Many reactors that melt down will experience breach of containment and hydrogen explosion from the residual heat which is the result of radioactive decay.

    Day 11: Many reactors will catch fire and emit massive clouds of radioactive particles.

    Day 12-15:Many reactors equipped with PCS will have exhausted the water content required for it to work. ALL of these reactors will meltdown within 4 to 24 hours. No breach of containment will occur as it is unlikely that the containment building will experience a hydrogen explosion.

    Day 16 to year 1:Most reactors will experience breach of containment because the nuclear magma will slowly make its way into ground and the underground waters.

    Year 1 to year 5Many damaged containment buildings will collapse causing further contamination.

    The issue is, its far from being the worst part of the problem


    So yeah, nuclear reactors are a pretty big issue, but wait up, there is more. Most of the world's dangerous nuclear material stockpile isn't inside active reactors. The amount of spent nuclear fuel still producing enough residual heat to boil away gigantic pools of water is far superior to the quantity of nuclear material present at any time in all active nuclear reactors in the world combined. And believe me, this spend fuel is way more dangerous than material liberated by, per se, nuclear bombs. The issue is that we have pretty much the same problem than with the nuclear reactors; Pools need to be actively cooled for a 30 years and the emergency diesel generator can only provide cooling for about three days to a week.

    A pool containing spent fuel will start boil in less than 18 hours for the first 15 years of it being in containment and about 50 to 70 hours for another 5 to 10 years. The thing is, this pool will not only boil, it will dry up while of course releasing and dangerous mixture of hydrogen and air which, of course, will eventually explode when the fuel rods ignite. But yeah, the thing is, an average cooling pool contains A LOT of spent fuel. Some specialists estimated that that if the content of a generic fuel pool was to catch fire and explode, there would be several tons of radioactive material released in the environment ( The equivalent of 500 Hiroshima ). So yea, just the 75 active spent fuel storage facilities in the US would be enough to contaminate the entire north hemisphere. And yea, don't forget that there are also several hundred of these facilities around the world.

    The winds would bring the contamination literally everywhere in North-America. The US and Canada would therefore become a huge radioactive wasteland in just a few months. And so will most of the northern hemisphere. And I'm talking huge areas of red forest, a COMPLETE contamination of the food chain, which also means that merely breathing hairs from big mammals will likely kill you. Plants will give you radiation sickness as the rain will concentrate the radiation in the ground and water masses. The ocean will probably not be "radioactive", but the radiation will still concentrate in the food chain, making it pretty much impossible to eat fish for humans.

    So yea, there isn't much we can do, but I there would still likely be areas with "safer" levels of radiation, such as areas mostly untouched by the great winds and of course, a big part of the southern hemisphere would probably be pretty much free of contamination.

    TL;DR :

    PS: Please note that being a Quebecer, English is my second language and it's far from being perfect. Please send me a PM if you find typos or poorly constructed sentences.
    PPS: Feel free to correct me on any inconsistancy, as I said, I'm not a nuclear engineer.
    *: Passive cooling system

    Q & A
    Quote Originally Posted by Prepadoodle View Post
    Tsutomu Yamaguchi was a Japanese businessman who was in Hiroshima the day it was bombed. He survived and went home to Nagasaki in time to survive THAT bombing. He died in January of 2010. More than 150 people survived both bombings, but as far as I know, he was the last of the dual survivors.

    I'm guessing it would be a high priority to keep the cooling ponds in operation. An armored division uses more than 500,000 gallons of diesel per day and manages to keep supplied, even when operating halfway around the world. They could keep the nuclear plant's generators supplied if they had to. (assuming they want to, of course)
    Yeah, but a 1000 kW at ¾ load will consume about 52 gallons of fuel every hour. For each four reactors at the facility I visited, there were 8 of these emergency generators. So were talking about providing between 15k and 40k gallons of diesel every day for ten to 20 years and that’s just for a single plant. You have to keep in mind that we'd still need to bring the fuel over to the generators, most likely using trucks. That said, if we averaged the consumption of a nuclear reactor active cooling system at around 10k gallons of diesel every day, it means that we would need about 1 040 000 gallons of diesel every day, and that’s just to keep the reactors from melting down. We’d still need to truck it to every reactors in the US and we haven’t even started to estimate how much more fuel it would require to keep the 75 spent fuel storage facilities from burning up either. Just to give you a quick idea, the US strategic petroleum reserve if estimated at around 700 million barrels, which is not merely enough to hold on for than two years.

    But of course, keep in mind that this estimation is probably very inaccurate as all reactors aren't build the same and the majority of reactors in the US aren't CANDU.

    Quote Originally Posted by roy View Post
    The nearest reactor to me is 200 miles away. Take a look at Chernobyl. The world ended.
    That is not merely far enough, at least for long term survival.

    Quote Originally Posted by roy View Post
    Spent fuel rods are a combination of U235 and U238. neither flamable. The pools are pools of water, not flamable. How will this catch fire?
    First of all, spent fuel rods contain many different fission products, gasses, metals and oxides. Only about 3% of the total mass of the spent will consist of U235 and U238 and a very large proportion of the mass will be the original U238, another rough 3% of the mass will contain fission products, decaying elements and elements of all kinds.
    That said, the residual heat of decaying element will gradually bring the temperature of the rods to the melting point. At around 1800 °C (3300 °F), the zirconium alloy cladding with react with the uranium oxide contained in the fuel rod and form zirconium-uranium oxide which can do up to even higher temperatures, eventually igniting pretty much everything and most importantly the pressurized mix of hydrogen and air that is very likely to have accumulated in the containment building.

    Quote Originally Posted by BigCheeseStick View Post
    Nuclear power is steam power. The nuclear reaction produces heat in the cooling tanks, producing steam, that runs steam powered generators. Until the nuclear reaction is stopped COLD it's still producing it's own power and needs no backup generators. The backup generators are there in case of a system failure where the steam generators (being totally separate from the reactor) are shut down completely.

    As I understand it (may be mistaken!), an "emergency" shutdown of the reactor would take only a few hours, or even only 45 minutes depending on they age and design of the reactor. Normal shutdown could take several weeks because their going to deplete all the stored energy in the rods rather than waste it.
    A nuclear reactor that is not critical doesn't produce enough energy to keep its steam turbines running and therefore cannot keep its active cooling system running. A nuclear reactor can SHUTDOWN ( stop the process of splitting atoms ) in just a few minutes by inserting enough control rods to absorb enough neutrons to stop the chain reaction , but the residual heat from decaying materials will still eventually cause a meltdown, exactly like it happened in Fukushima. No reactor is walk away safe.

    If there is no one to maintain the reactor when its in active state, IT WILL SHUTDOWN. Therefore it won't be producing energy anymore and as soon as the grid stops providing power, the generators will kick in.


    THIS TEXT WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR PREPPERFORUMS.NET BY WERNESGRUNER, FEEL FREE TO COPY IT AND SHARE IT, BUT PLEASE INCLUDE A LINK AND CREDIT TO THIS POST
    Last edited by wernesgruner; 10-10-2013 at 02:13 PM.

  2. #2
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    Oh well, than I'll cook hotdogs off my burning flesh so at least I'll have a good last meal. I know the reactors are a large potential threat, we'll have to deal with it.
    BigCheeseStick likes this.

  3. #3
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    What a fragile existence we have.

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  5. #4
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    Tsutomu Yamaguchi was a Japanese businessman who was in Hiroshima the day it was bombed. He survived and went home to Nagasaki in time to survive THAT bombing. He died in January of 2010. More than 150 people survived both bombings, but as far as I know, he was the last of the dual survivors.

    I'm guessing it would be a high priority to keep the cooling ponds in operation. An armored division uses more than 500,000 gallons of diesel per day and manages to keep supplied, even when operating halfway around the world. They could keep the nuclear plant's generators supplied if they had to. (assuming they want to, of course)


    Success Is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm - anonymous

  6. #5
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    We will be ok. Just like the homy video that claims they will invade and take every thing. They do not understand a real man and women ability to survive.
    We shall over come. I am not worried about a nuke plant.
    New life as a house husband, major shift in duties.

    Karl Marx said, "Destroy their culture, rewrite their history. Ruin their art and literature, and defame their heroes, by offering fabrications to scandalize that which they considered good.
    After reading this Obama said I am on it.

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    I'm glad the OP came and posted this - spent fuel rods catching fire quite possibly could be the worst SHTF scenario possible. If they were to go up in flames there would be insanely huge amounts of radioactive material released it would easily destroy life for decades all around the world.

    So we would have to do something along the lines of keeping the cooling ponds up and running for YEARS in a major SHTF scenario or even purposely pull out the 'hot rods' and let them burn while the cooler rods are left in containment.

    Dunno, but it is ****ing scary beyond anything. And from what I understand the final disposal location was shut down so ALL the US ponds are overfilling with used fuel rods.

    Not sure what to do to prepare for this... any help Mr(or Mrs.) OP?

  8. #7
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    Maybe we should store them in Iraq
    PaulS likes this.


    Success Is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm - anonymous

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    The Answer

    Over the years I have looked at purchasing unused missile silos that the gov was auctioning off. I even looked at an entire complex in North Dakota. In each case they all had the same big problem. The underground structures all filled with water when they shut the facility down. There was no one to run the pumps so it completely filled.

    The answer to the above problem is to put the storage facilities underground, deep enough so that they will fill with water if SHTF without pumps or people.
    Even if the water stopped(dried up), being underground naturally shields from radiation and explosion. If the core turned to molten it would burn down into the crust until the earths molten core was reached where it would not be a problem.

    I have always wondered why they were not underground and I have always assumed it was all about $$$$$$
    Last edited by split; 10-10-2013 at 08:20 AM.
    Nathan Jefferson likes this.

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by split View Post
    Over the years I have looked at purchasing unused missile silos that the gov was auctioning off. I even looked at an entire complex in North Dakota. In each case they all had the same big problem. The underground structures all filled with water when they shut the facility down. There was no one to run the pumps so it completely filled.

    The answer to the above problem is to put the storage facilities underground, deep enough so that they will fill with water if SHTF without pumps or people.
    Even if the water stopped(dried up), being underground naturally shields from radiation and explosion. If the core turned to molten it would burn down into the crust until the earths molten core was reached where it would not be a problem.

    I have always wondered why they were not underground and I have always assumed it was all about $$$$$$

    That's what Yucca mountain was supposed to do, but they stopped funding it a few years ago and the spent fuel ponds local to reactors continue to fill up more and more.

    Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  11. #10
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    Uhmmmm, the whole theory here is every nuclear power plant worker on the planet walks off the job at the same time (NOW THAT'S A UNION!)?

    Fail.

    The closest thing to this possibly happening is the "rapture" in the Bible. Even then only those whom are TRUE believers in The Lord will be going anywhere. Care to take a guess at what percentage of nuclear power plant employees qualify? :D :D :D

    Sorry to be a #$%@ and burst the fear bubble, but I'd bet on Zombies becoming a reality to be at least a BAZILLION times more likely of a SHTF scenario. And a Zombie Apocalypse is in my prayers every day for decades now!
    Reality: Hidden Content

 

 
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