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French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced today that he is calling for a reform of global nuclear standards by the end of this year

Since the 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck Japan causing troubles with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, there has been a certain amount of nuclear hysteria. For instance, some journalists have sensationalized Japan's nuclear situation, and despite the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's conclusion that nuclear plants in the U.S. were safe, two U.S. senators still pushed for an expensive study to determine if these plants are safe. 

Now, it looks like France is showing some concern regarding the use of nuclear power after visiting Japan recently. French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced today that he is calling for a reform of global nuclear standards by the end of this year.  

"Dear Japanese friends, know that in this appalling catastrophe, the world is watching and admiring you," said Sarkozy. 

In addition, Sarkozy said France would like to host a meeting this May consisting of the bloc's nuclear officials "to fix new norms in the wake of the crisis" in Japan. France is taking it upon itself to lead the assistance of Japan, since, according to Reuters, France is the most dependent on nuclear power.  

"We must address this anomaly that there are no international safety norms for nuclear matters," said Sarkozy.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a U.N. body, sets standards and recommendations, but they are not "legally binding" and member states are responsible for safety.

Japan is certainly having some issues with cooling the reactors' fuel rods, making sure crops grown near the plant are not contaminated, keeping an eye on the amount of radiation in the water, and the increased pressure to expand the 12-mile evacuation zone. But government officials have noted that the situation has become much more manageable as of late, and that levels of radiation outside of the plant's range are low-risk. 

In fact, a reading of downtown Tokyo's radiation levels today showed 0.18 microsieverts per hour, which is low in regards to global standards.  

"All the experts agree that living in Tokyo now does not represent a health risk," said Sarkozy.

But Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan agreed with Sarkozy regarding the call for global nuclear review.  

"In order to avid recurrence of such an accident, it is our duty to accurately share with the world our experience," said Kan.  

According to the report, a total of 28,000 people are either dead or missing due to the earthquakes and tsunamis, and the damage may exceed $300 billion. 

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RE: No secrets
By Solandri on 3/31/2011 9:09:35 PM , Rating: 4
Atomic blasts are limited to about 0.5 megatons. Above that, the power of the explosion blows apart the uranium/plutonium fuel so quickly that it can't fission anymore and no more energy is generated. So even if you somehow got the uranium fuel rods in a reactor to somehow collide with each other in the right amounts and right geometry at ~1000 mph, the maximum theoretical yield you'd see is about half a megaton. In practice, they're usually 1-15 kilotons. They had to work really, really hard to get the geometry and masses just right for the Hiroshima bomb (~16 kt).

To get larger explosions, you need a thermonuclear device. That's a fission bomb used to kick-start a fusion bomb. Fusion bombs need high concentrations of tritium and deuterium fuel (as heavy water) contained within a heavy metal casing (usually uranium or lead). The atomic explosion from the fission bomb compresses the casing and heavy water and heats it up. It adds neutrons, which convert more of the deuterium into tritium. That's important because the hydrogen in tritium and deuterium fuses more easily than just deuterium or plain water.

Aside from trace amounts of deuterium and tritium in the cooling water, non of these components nor their geometry are present in a nuclear reactor. So even if you somehow got the right mixture of fuel, geometry, and high-energy explosion to initiate an atomic blast in the reactor's fuel, it simply cannot generate a 1+ megaton explosion.

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