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Old 03-17-2011, 12:45 PM
 
Location: Union County
6,004 posts, read 9,226,212 times
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Considering the events in Japan, has anyone re-thought their opinion on nuclear energy? Specific to the Charlotte metro, we have 2 plants (total of 4 reactors) within reasonable distances.

I understand this is a far cry from a 6 reactor facility get the double whammy of earthquake/tsunami which couldn't feasibly happen here, so I keep it in perspective. But I found myself on Duke Energy's site for the first time today looking at the facilities. These are very old facilities that must be storing significant amounts of highly radioactive "spent" fuel rods.
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:02 PM
 
Location: location, location!
1,921 posts, read 1,876,161 times
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Ha. I was just on Google Maps earlier today, checking out the distance from the McGuire and Catawba facilities to my home. Sure, it makes you think. Of course, switching to fossil fuels isn't such a great solution, and "renewable" sources just aren't ready to take the full load yet.
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:23 PM
 
Location: Up above the world so high!
45,246 posts, read 95,012,470 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeykid View Post
considering the events in japan, has anyone re-thought their opinion on nuclear energy? Specific to the charlotte metro, we have 2 plants (total of 4 reactors) within reasonable distances.

I understand this is a far cry from a 6 reactor facility get the double whammy of earthquake/tsunami which couldn't feasibly happen here, so i keep it in perspective. But i found myself on duke energy's site for the first time today looking at the facilities. These are very old facilities that must be storing significant amounts of highly radioactive "spent" fuel rods.

No.
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:30 PM
 
488 posts, read 735,393 times
Reputation: 558
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeyKid View Post
Considering the events in Japan, has anyone re-thought their opinion on nuclear energy? Specific to the Charlotte metro, we have 2 plants (total of 4 reactors) within reasonable distances.

I understand this is a far cry from a 6 reactor facility get the double whammy of earthquake/tsunami which couldn't feasibly happen here, so I keep it in perspective. But I found myself on Duke Energy's site for the first time today looking at the facilities. These are very old facilities that must be storing significant amounts of highly radioactive "spent" fuel rods.
No and I live close to one of the plants. I know people who work there and know that the safety is above approach. I actually met a Federal inspector at Outback (bizarre I know) and he told me that Duke's plants are the best of the best.

No worries here!
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:33 PM
 
Location: Charlotte, NC
3,361 posts, read 9,455,384 times
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USA reactors are among the safest on the planet.

Read this today from Duke:

We have received quite a few calls on this subject since the unfolding of events in Japan. In brief, I can say that we are completely confident in the safety measures that we have in place at our units. And please remember, that it is the tsunami that has caused most of the damage to the nuclear units in Japan, and not the earthquake.

Seismic history and water supply are critical considerations in locating a building site for a plant. Our nuclear plants are not located in the same proximity to the ocean as Japan’s, so we can eliminate the tsunami effect, but here is operational information that may help with concerns about earthquakes / tremors in our service area.

• Nuclear plants in the United States are built to withstand an earthquake equivalent to or greater than the largest known earthquake in the region they are located. For Duke Energy plants, this is based on the Charleston, S.C., earthquake that occurred about 200 years ago. Steel reinforced concrete containment structures, coupled with multiple, redundant safety and plant shutdown systems, are designed to withstand the effects from earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods.

• All three Duke Energy nuclear stations have seismic instrumentation to record earthquake-induced ground motions at the site. The instruments in the control room are very sensitive and detect extremely low levels of ground motion. Plant operators use the recordings to evaluate the level of earthquake motion at the site and determine if it must shut down. Our procedures require us to shutdown at when low levels of ground motion are detected.

• Duke’s nuclear plants can shut down safely even if outside power sources are disrupted. An independent backup power supply is available to cool the fuel in an emergency situation.

• Step-by-step procedures are used by operators to respond to any type of natural disaster. While Duke Energy operators routinely train on these procedures, they have never had to implement these procedures for earthquake events.

• If a plant shuts down due to an earthquake, a detailed physical inspection is done to evaluate the impact of an earthquake at the site and the condition of the plant structures, systems and equipment. In the event of an earthquake, Duke Energy staff would analyze the recordings and the inspection results before restarting the reactor.

• Operators then perform extensive inspections prior to restarting the plant. If an earthquake exceeds the maximum operating basis and has to shutdown, the plant cannot restart without U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval, following extensive inspections to determine if it is safe to resume power production.
Here are some resources for additional information:
General Information – links to several topics and plant-specific information.
A link to our website with information on the subject:
Duke Energy Monitors Events in Japan--Duke Energy

I hope this helps. However, if you have other questions, I will be happy to respond.

Thanks,
Davis

Davis Montgomery
Duke Energy Carolinas
District Manager
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:36 PM
 
488 posts, read 735,393 times
Reputation: 558
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingscotsman View Post
USA reactors are among the safest on the planet.

Read this today from Duke:

We have received quite a few calls on this subject since the unfolding of events in Japan. In brief, I can say that we are completely confident in the safety measures that we have in place at our units. And please remember, that it is the tsunami that has caused most of the damage to the nuclear units in Japan, and not the earthquake.

Seismic history and water supply are critical considerations in locating a building site for a plant. Our nuclear plants are not located in the same proximity to the ocean as Japan’s, so we can eliminate the tsunami effect, but here is operational information that may help with concerns about earthquakes / tremors in our service area.

• Nuclear plants in the United States are built to withstand an earthquake equivalent to or greater than the largest known earthquake in the region they are located. For Duke Energy plants, this is based on the Charleston, S.C., earthquake that occurred about 200 years ago. Steel reinforced concrete containment structures, coupled with multiple, redundant safety and plant shutdown systems, are designed to withstand the effects from earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods.

• All three Duke Energy nuclear stations have seismic instrumentation to record earthquake-induced ground motions at the site. The instruments in the control room are very sensitive and detect extremely low levels of ground motion. Plant operators use the recordings to evaluate the level of earthquake motion at the site and determine if it must shut down. Our procedures require us to shutdown at when low levels of ground motion are detected.

• Duke’s nuclear plants can shut down safely even if outside power sources are disrupted. An independent backup power supply is available to cool the fuel in an emergency situation.

• Step-by-step procedures are used by operators to respond to any type of natural disaster. While Duke Energy operators routinely train on these procedures, they have never had to implement these procedures for earthquake events.

• If a plant shuts down due to an earthquake, a detailed physical inspection is done to evaluate the impact of an earthquake at the site and the condition of the plant structures, systems and equipment. In the event of an earthquake, Duke Energy staff would analyze the recordings and the inspection results before restarting the reactor.

• Operators then perform extensive inspections prior to restarting the plant. If an earthquake exceeds the maximum operating basis and has to shutdown, the plant cannot restart without U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval, following extensive inspections to determine if it is safe to resume power production.
Here are some resources for additional information:
General Information – links to several topics and plant-specific information.
A link to our website with information on the subject:
Duke Energy Monitors Events in Japan--Duke Energy

I hope this helps. However, if you have other questions, I will be happy to respond.

Thanks,
Davis

Davis Montgomery
Duke Energy Carolinas
District Manager
Thanks Davis! Yeah Duke!!!! As I said I am only a few miles away from one and I have not given it a second thought. I know Duke is great - thanks again for great energy that is SAFE
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:56 PM
 
1,661 posts, read 3,041,417 times
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Can we say Nucular. No matter. This is how the Japanese are being reassured there are no problems.

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Old 03-17-2011, 02:04 PM
 
Location: Union County
6,004 posts, read 9,226,212 times
Reputation: 5372
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingscotsman View Post
USA reactors are among the safest on the planet.

Read this today from Duke:

<snip>

I hope this helps. However, if you have other questions, I will be happy to respond.

Thanks,
Davis

Davis Montgomery
Duke Energy Carolinas
District Manager
Thanks for that...

For the record, I've always considered the reactor itself to be very safe. However, my thoughts have drifted to the spent fuel rod storage because ultimately that is what will doom the Japanese plant. I had no idea about that risk prior to this disaster. Those rods have to be continually cooled for many, many years even with the plant completely off and / or decommissioned.

It makes me very glad that we have 2 reactor sites and not 6 - relative to the amount of used rods they need to store / maintain.
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Old 03-17-2011, 02:17 PM
 
1,661 posts, read 3,041,417 times
Reputation: 550
The big problem at Fukushima is the storage of the spent fuel rods. When these assemblies are pulled from the reactor during refueling, they are still hot enough to melt, highly radioactive, and have to spend a decade or more in water pools to cool down enough to move to long term storage. They will be highly radioactive for 1000s of years. They have to have a constant pool of water circulated around them or they can melt down just like the reactor. It can be worse than a reactor meltdown because of the number of rods stored in these pools. They are not stored in containment domes. This is the very problem at the Fukushima plant in Japan. It's believed a great deal of the radiation is actually coming from the spent rod assembly pools, which have lost cooling water, instead of the actual reactors. The hydrogen explosions have blown the tops off the lightly built structures around these storage facilities which are now exposed to the environment.

In the USA there is a continuing controversy as to where the rods will be entombed for long term storage. (1000s of years) No state wants them and lawsuits have delayed where they will end up. Furthermore, power companies in the last decade or so have started to use re-processed weapons grade plutonium from retired nuclear bombs.

Not much information is available about this but here is an article that Creative Loafing wrote a few years ago (2005) about about the situation in Charlotte.
Surrounded by Nukes | Charlotte | News | Cover
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Old 03-17-2011, 02:34 PM
 
10,082 posts, read 10,238,289 times
Reputation: 8486
We live within 5 miles of the Catawba Station and was actually here in our home before Catawba was built.

I have no problem with them but I did have problems when they attempted to test mixed oxide or MOX fuel in one of their reactors.

Why worry now, no one was concerned when the MOX fuel test rods failed and the reactor had to be shut down and the rods removed. MOX fuel mixes conventional uranium with plutonium taken from the nation's surplus stocks to fuel nuclear reactors that produce electricity. Duke is part of a program to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons grade plutonium, keeping it out of terrorists' hands.

Testing of the fuel was expected to take more than four years, covering three refueling cycles at Catawba's Unit 1. Instead, the MOX was removed in May 2008, after two cycles and less than three years of testing.

The problem was that alloy "guide tubes" in the MOX assemblies, in which control rods are inserted to shut down the reactor, grew in length. It's not unusual for metals to expand in the intense heat of a nuclear reactor. But these grew more than expected.

A French company AREVA made the MOX test assembles at the Catawba plant. The test assemblies that failed at Duke have been sent to a federal lab in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Last edited by CarolinaWoman; 03-17-2011 at 03:44 PM..
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