Covering the SOPA / PIPA Protest in San Francisco

2012/01/21 § Leave a comment

SOPA PIPA Protest in San Francisco – interview with James Halliday, co-founder of substack startup. Also spoke with Seth from EFF, MC Hammer, and the organizer Jonathan Nelson from Hackers and Founders.


Historic Floods, Dams, and Nuclear Power Plants

2011/06/16 § Leave a comment

They are sandbagging at the Calhoun nuclear power plant about 20 miles north of Omaha Nebraska. “Sandbags” and “nuclear power plants”, as Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds Associates says, are words which shouldn’t be used in the same sentence.

Fortunately, the Calhoun power plant is shut down for refueling. However, the fuel pool needs to be continuously cooled and loss of power would boil off the water in about 80 to 90 hours. Catastrophic inundation of the plant could compromise the ability to keep power to the fuel pool pumps. There are other nuclear power plant downstream the Missouri and Mississippi River.

Upstream to the Calhoun nuclear power staton are dams strung like pearls holding back the watershed of the Missouri basin. All of the dams are at capacity and are considered part of the aging infrastructure of the United States.

The highest of six major dams is the Fort Peck Dam located in northeast Montana in the United States and is the largest hydraulically filled dam in the United States. The dam creates Fort Peck Lake, the fifth largest man-made lake in the U.S. with a shoreline that is longer than California’s coastline. It holds a back a lot of water.

Downstream from Fort Peck is Garrison Dam, the fifth-largest earthen dam in the world, constructed between 1947 and 1953 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

As of June 15th, the Plains Daily reported that the inflows all exceeded the outflows for the at capacity reservoirs:

“Fort Peck:
Reservoir levels increased 0.1 feet to 2252.2 (100% of 2250.0 maximum pool elevation)
Inflows: 79,000 cfs
Outflows: 65,800 cfs

Reservoir levels increased 0.3 feet to 1853.7 (100% of 1854.0 maximum pool elevation)
Inflows: 180,000 cfs
Outflows: 140,000 cfs

Reservoir levels unchanged at 1618.6 (101% of 1596.5 maximum pool elevation)
Inflows: 156,000 cfs
Outflows: 150,000 cfs”

If one of the dams goes, then all the dams downstream would most likely fail which would result in flooding of the Missouri River, and inland tsunami in the United States.

The nuclear power plants along the Missouri and Mississippi River would have several days warning if you had a catastrophic failures of any of these dams. Presumably the plant managers have contingencies in place which anticipates dam failure scenarios.

Besides the nuclear power plants, the inundation of oil refineries down the Mississippi could have disruptions to the nations energy supply.

The cascading effects of one of these dam failures could wash away the Old River Control Structure and cause the Atchafalaya River to permanently capture the flow of the Mississippi River and leave New Orleans and Baton Rouge high and dry.

Forget the reactors, its the cooling ponds stupid.

2011/03/16 § Leave a comment

It all comes down to the spent nuclear fuel (SNF) pools at Fukushima.

The explosion at reactor No. 3 was huge, the question is how the SNF pool escape damage?  Helos above the plant carrying seawater must have been attempting to fill the spent nuclear fuel pool since the reactors are under pressure and can’t be filled with airdrops.

Earlier reports cited NGJ saying that the spent fuel pool in reactor 4 temperature has reached 89C, so another 11C to go before boiling.  So the reactors No. 1 seems to be ok, and the reactors No. 2 and 3 have a possible containment breach which is not good. Though the cooling ponds for No. 3 and 4 being compromised might make this the worst nuclear disaster imaginable.

Here is a November 2010 powerpoint from Tokyo Electric Company detailing how fuel storage works at the huge Fukushima complex.  I was wondering where is the Common Spent Fuel Storage Pool located and how is it holding up after being inundated by the Tsunami?  Is this the Common Spent Fuel Storage Pool and does anyone have an after tsunami image?

Also, I don’t understand how it is possible that they can’t keep the cooling ponds at No. 5 and No. 6 cooled after 5 days now? Its just a pool and the reactors were empty according to this report.