I too remember a long time ago, of off site contamination.
fact is a old babcock wilcox plant in vandergrift area had to be
decontaminated and the entire area was checked because some materials
were taken and used for building projects. hot spots all up and down
strictly speaking it wasnt a nuke plant but was invloved in processing
nuclear materials...... perhaps that caused the confusion?
a westinghouse plant near new stanton had similiar issues.. forget
name of plant? it was closed a long time but is again being used. i
drove by there recently.
off site contamination has always been a issue..........
This thread suggests that the character of those hired to work on
reactors is a bit less than desirable. I've not read of contamination
from stolen items being a problem around military weapons facilities.
DoE might benefit from instruction by DoD on how to screen employees,
and implement security practices.
military has theft problems too. recently some navy guys tried selling
alunimum, as scrap. except it was titanium.
too traceable the guys were arrested when they brought in the scrap.
although this wasnt nuke related
DOE doesn't have anything (directly) to do w/ _commercial_ nuclear power
-- that's the NRC's province.
DOE handles the defense weapons material/research sites (Hanford, Oak
Ridge, Savannah River, etc., ...)
The CT Yankee was shut down 11 years before it was scheduled to shut
down, after a history of safety problems, both minor and major,
including the final straw when it was discovered that the backup
cooling system was totally useless and they came within 52 minutes of
boiling off the water. They determined that the safety system was
defective from day one and had been useless for all of it's 28 years.
They knew it, and had been lying to cover it up all that time. After
the decommisioning, they continue to have safety problems, including
finding a leaking containment wall a couple of years ago. I think it
was leaking into the Connecticut River.
The ratepayers took a major radioactive bath paying for all this
malfeasense and stupidity. The State sued them over it and got a
Their initial operational license was issue in '66 or '67 iirc, and they
shut down in '96 (?). That would be right at original 40-yr design life
by my calculations (I'm only a NucE, so arithmetic can be hard. :) ). I
don't know their situation well enough to know what they had earlier
intended if anything re: filing for extended operating license.
I'd have to read in more depth to know whether the motives you impugn
behind actions are or are not reflective of actual facts. The utility
certainly did not design the system--I would have to research far than I
care to where the shortcoming(s) would actually fall (that is, the
reactor vendor or the A/E. I don't know ottomh whether C-Y was a
turnkey unit or not). I don't dispute something apparently went wrong
but I do tend to doubt seriously motives that are ascribed by outsiders,
particularly those who appear to have an agenda.
Another side to the financial aspects...
Absolutely no question they have training even before they can step on
site even if they're simply "casual labor". The extent of access to the
site and level of training will be dependent on their job responsibilities.
OTOH, crooks are a fact of life and even cleared people w/ DOE Q or DOD
Top Secret clearances have been known to do naughty things so even that
is no guarantee if malfeasance is an intent...
I did a search at the NRC Docket and found nothing on this incident.
Doesn't say it didn't happen, only at least the search terms I used
didn't uncover it.
I don't know about that -- 20+ years w/ DOE Q in Oak Ridge worked most
all other DOE facilities at least some (other than Rocky Flats--wouldn't
go to Rocky Flats; even _I_ have my limits :) ). Of the incidents I
recall over that time, I venture they were about proportional to the
ratio of employees vis a vis contractors--that is, I don't think the
population of "crooks" was much different between the two classes of
employees from my observations. Some of the headline cases from NM and
CA were, but those kinds of cases are the rarity as well in the humdrum.
In addition, I'll note the scenario outlined above has happened in other
locations I'm aware. However, in those where there was actually any
contamination released offsite, in each that I'm aware of testing of
employees' clothing uncovered traces left by their handling the material.
I can certainly imagine the local press made every effort to make the
incident seem as bad as they possibly could which undoubtedly would
reinforce the opinion that something really, really bad happened when in
all likelihood it didn't.
That such incidents are to be avoided w/ all reasonable precautions is,
of course, true. I don't know of one within the last 15 years or so
which tends to indicate current procedures are adequate. The last
sizable case I know of happened in Oak Ridge during
demolition/decommissioning of the old gaseous diffusion barrier
buildings from the era of the Manhattan project.
Not sure where this part of the thread started or what the point was
but after a plant operates for a while the entire plant becomes
The rods emit neutrons which are mostly absorbed by the sheilding
but some do escape. Anything that absorbs a neutron becomes unstable
(from the extra neutrons) and is radioactive.
There's little contamination in the sense of material spreading around
the building but the reactor and it's sheilding do become radioactive.
That's where the reprocessing comes in.
All that stuff can be separated by material type.
The radioactive bits of the concrete or lead or whatever can be
separated out and isolated.
Instead of tons of radioactive material that lasts for 1000s of years
you have a little of the dangerous stuff and a lot of stuff that's
very safe or has a short half life.
There are essentially no neutrons "escaping" outside
containment--they're absorbed by something long before.
Contamination that is "spreadable" is mostly carried by the cooling
water and other processes and is, for the most part, gamma radiation
that is the major issue. There are a few alpha and beta emitters, but
both being charged particles (especially alphas) are so easily shielded
as to be of much less practical problems.
Reprocessing is only really practical for the spent fuel. Contaminated
portions of reactor internals, etc., are not really viable candidates
but they're also generally not the long-lived isotopes that are
contained in fission products nor nearly as "hot" so as to not pose a
major health hazard (that is, the amount of shielding is fairly minimal,
they don't create enough heat to pose a thermal cooling problem, etc.,
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