Archives For Nuclear power safety

C1Thresher

…for my boat is so small and the ocean so huge

For a small close knit community like the submarine service the loss of a boat and it’s crew can strike doubly hard. The USN’s response to this disaster, was both effective and long lasting. Doubly impressive given it was implemented at the height of the Cold War. As part of the course that I teach on system safety I use the Thresher as an important case study in organisational failure, and recovery.

Postscript

The RAN’s Collins class Subsafe program derived it’s strategic principles in large measure from the USNs original program. The successful recovery of HMAS Dechaineux from a flooding incident at depth illustrates the success of both the RANs Subsafe program and also its antecedent.

Interesting article on old school rail safety and lessons for the modern nuclear industry. As a somewhat ironic addendum the early nuclear industry safety studies also overlooked the risks posed by large inventories of fuel rods on site, the then assumption being that they’d be shipped off to a reprocessing facility as soon as possible, it’s hard to predict the future. 🙂

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As my parents in law live in Chelyabinsk I have to admit a personal interest in the recent Russian meteor impact. Continue Reading…

Resilience and common cause considered in the wake of hurricane Sandy

One of the fairly obvious lessons from Hurricane Sandy is the vulnerability of underground infrastructure such as subways, road tunnels and below grade service equipment to flooding events.

The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night”

NYC transport director Joseph Lhota

Yet despite the obviousness of the risk we still insist on placing such services and infrastructure below grade level. Considering actual rises in mean sea level, e.g a 1 foot increase at Battery Park NYC since 1900, and those projected to occur this century perhaps now is the time to recompute the likelihood and risk of storm surges overtopping defensive barriers.

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In an article published in the online magazine Spectrum Eliza Strickland has charted the first 24 hours at Fukushima. A sobering description of the difficulty of the task facing the operators in the wake of the tsunami.

Her article identified a number of specific lessons about nuclear plant design, so in this post I thought I’d look at whether more general lessons for high consequence system design could be inferred in turn from her list.

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Earthquake and Tsunami damage to Daiichi Fukushima 1 (Image Source: Digital Globe)

Bernard Sieker of Bielefield University has put together graphs of the just released TEPCO plant instrumentation data on the Fukushima Daiichi plant (1).

The operators TEPCO had apparently heavily instrumented the plant prior to the tsunami.

My thanks to his colleague Peter Ladkin in publishing this link on the York Safety Critical Mailing List. Aa Peter points out the data is instructive.

So class homework, put together an event timeline against the instrument data, extra points for pictures. 🙂 Continue Reading…

For those interested the interim report by Mike Weightman, the UK’s Inspector of Nuclear Installations, on lessons from Fukushima has been released.

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