technicians were last night battling to save from meltdown nuclear reactors with failed emergency cooling systems. Only a few weeks away from the 25th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear accident, no one can be under any illusions of what could result if the technicians lose their battle.
Absolutely the worst that could happen, absolutely the worst possible outcome, is that the reactors end up as a puddle of cold metal at the bottom of their containment vessels.
That’s it. The chain reaction is already shut down. All that is left is the residual heat which the water is cooling. If the water doesn’t cool it then yes, the rods and fuel might melt. At which point they might stay liquid until they hit that 2-3 metres of reinforced concrete underneath them where they will solidify.
So the worst possible outcome is a 40 year old reactor which cannot be used again.
There cannot be a nuclear explosion, there is no possibility of a fire as at Chernobyl (because there is no graphite to catch fire). We can have, as we have had, a hydrogen explosion, but that’s outside the reactor and outside the containment vessel. No radioactivity released as a result.
Just to give you an idea of the “raised levels of radioactivity” that have been reported. Between 500 and 1,000 microsieverts per hour. The top end of that range is about half what you would get if you had a CT scan.
Or, if we use the Banana Equivalent Dose (you do indeed absorb radiation from eating a banana, a pile of bananas will indeed set off a radiation detector) the mid range there is like eating 20 bananas a day for a year. One banana a day for a year is around 35 microsieverts.
So, we’ve just had the fifth worst earthquake in the past century, the 7 th worst we have on record, a 30 foot wall of water sweeping in at 500 miles an hour and the worst part of the nuclear power system is that if you were standing right there, right at the plant, you might get the same radiation dose as a fruitarian?
And you want to use this to tell us that nuclear power is dangerous?
I’ve got bells on the other one which will jingle if you pull it.