Rod Adams 
Member since Dec 29, 2017


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Re: “Safe, clean, and reliable

To rightword 2

In a way, you are correct that the media reporting on Three Mile Island was just doing its job in trying to tell the public what was going on at the plant.

As is their habit and prerogative, they made sure that the story was reported in as dramatic a way as possible, and they took their traditional angle of severe distrust of company spokesmen.

After spending many hours digging through the historical documents and reports, Ive found that the people closest to the problem had the best understanding of the situation and were taking effective action to minimize damage.

Because there was only a single phone line in the control room and dozens of bureaucrats at the local, state and federal level who thought they were supposed to be in charge, there was a severe communications breakdown. Numerous inaccurate or incomplete reports were passed, akin to the elementary school game of telephone.

Some of the government officials were technical specialists in areas not closely related to nuclear plant operations, but they were thrust into roles as experts.

One of the most consequential of the many errors made in communications was misunderstanding a radiation measurement taken directly over the plant and interpreting it to have been taken at the power station fence line several hundred yards away. Based on that single, unverified and inaccurate report, the confused NRC commissioners recommended a partial evacuation on day 3, after the public had been told that everything was under control. That single action, reported with grave seriousness by Walter Cronkite - and never corrected, is what turned TMI into the famous event that it was.

Otherwise, it would have been a footnote in industrial history.

Rod Adams

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Rod Adams on 12/29/2017 at 3:23 AM

Re: “Safe, clean, and reliable

To rightword 2

One of the persistent myths propagated by the antinuclear industry is that nuclear plants are uniquely vulnerable to earthquakes and other seismic activity. Many decades worth of experience with robust nuclear plants in the real world indicate that they are resilient and rarely suffer ANY damage at all in earthquakes. Since the systems in the plants that are important for ensuring safety must adhere to even more stringent requirements, there isnt a documented case anywhere of a nuclear plant suffering a safety equipment malfunction as the result of an earthquake.

Catastrophic and complete power failure, yes. Earthquake, no.

Its also intriguing for me to know that the Hosgri fault discovered near Diablo Canyon after the site was chosen and construction was well underway was discovered by a pair of Shell Oil Company geologists who apparently just happened to be conducting seismic surveys off the coast of the site. Oil and gas companies have no desire to harm their competitors - right?

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

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Posted by Rod Adams on 12/29/2017 at 3:09 AM

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