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Nuclear Reactor Withstands Tornado

Posted By Nicolas Loris On June 13, 2008 @ 1:29 pm In Energy | Comments Disabled

The tornadoes that blew through the Midwest yesterday damaged homes and buildings including a research nuclear reactor facility [1] at Kansas State University. The reactor, a TRIGA Mark II model, has been operating since 1962 [2], making it one of the oldest operating models of its design in America. One might think a hazardous explosion or a reactor core meltdown would occur if a tornado slammed into a 46 year old nuclear reactor, right? Wrong.

Shutting down a nuclear reaction is a relatively simple process, and K-State’s research reactor was deactivated before the storm. By simply inserting control rods that absorb the neutrons which fissure uranium fuel, the nuclear core becomes inert.

This “non-incident” at Kansas State’s reactor is another demonstration of nuclear power’s safety. If a tornado can damage the housing of a nuclear reactor and not trigger a hazardous situation, is there any reason to fear the normal operations of a nuclear power plant?

And what about other natural disasters like earthquakes? Opponents of nuclear often claim that building new plants anywhere near an earthquake fault line could be a huge risk. However, it is estimated that approximately 20% of the world’s nuclear reactors are built in areas of ‘significant seismic activity [3].’ Countries that have more significant seismic activity than the United States, such as Japan [4], have built their reactors to shut down automatically and can have them up running again in days.

Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2008/06/13/nuclear-reactor-withstands-tornado/

URLs in this post:

[1] research nuclear reactor facility: http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN1228437320080612

[2] has been operating since 1962: http://triga.ga.com/install_usa.pdf

[3] significant seismic activity: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf18.html

[4] Japan: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf79.html

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