Saturday, November 8, 2008
Soviet/Russian Nuclear Submarine Patrols 1981-2006
|The annual number of patrols performed by Russian nuclear-powered submarines has plummeted from 235 in 1984 to less than 10 today. In 2002, the strategic submarine force did not manage to send a single boat on deterrent patrol. (click on graph to download PDF version)|
During the Cold War, the patrol areas for Soviet ballistic missile submarines gradually changed as new capabilities were introduced. Most important was the range of the missile, which permitted the submarines to pull back into patrol areas ("bastions") closer to the Soviet Union.
Delta IV Class
|Russian nuclear submarines are spending most of their life at pier side.|
Friday, November 7, 2008
Once everyone gets over the elation of our first black president in the White House, not having Sarah Palin to worry about, we need to start looking more carefully at how Obama got elected.
John W. Rowe is also chairman of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear power industry’s lobbying group, based in Washington. In addition, Mr. Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod, has worked as a consultant to Exelon.
The Obama campaign, as of late May 2007, had accepted $161,000 from executives and employees of Exelon, the nation’s largest nuclear power plant operator. Exelon at the time, was Obama’s fourth largest patron.
I'd like to be in the room when Robert Kennedy Jr. and John W. Rowe have to reach a compromise. Let's hope that compromise is Indian Point!
I remember Congressman John Hall's swearing in ceremony two years ago inside the meeting hall where Entergy plays host to the community. Many of the speakers congratulating his victory introduced him as the man who would shut down Indian Point, yet when John took the stage, he didn't make any mention of it.
A couple of months later, at Pace University, Hall talked about a meeting he had with a representative of the NRC at his office in Washington DC. He expressed concern that unless the NRC denied the relicensing application of at least one nuclear power plant, the NRC would lose all credibility in the eyes of the public. The NRC official asked him, which one should that be, and John answered Indian Point, which got a rise from the crowd.
Since then what has any of the local public officials really done to further along the opposition to the relicensing? When it came time to give thanks and support to the grassroots organizations that contributed to the filing of hundreds of contentions opposing the new license, at a press conference in White Plains, all the credit went to Riverkeeper, when everyone knew, the owner of this blog, Green Nuclear Butterfly, was in fact the individual most responsible for the research and writing of all documents filed.
Those involved in the fight to shut down Indian Point, know the story, inside and out. The grassroots efforts to stop the relicensing of Indian Point were derailed by the stupidity and greed of a certain lawyer in Rockland County, with the assistance of a few co-conspirators, who feared full blown revolution on the shores of the Hudson, not realizing this was probably our only hope to create a strong winning coalition!
Riverkeeper did succeed in forcing Entergy to install a new cooling system to the tune of $1.7 billion dollars, to make Indian Point safer, which Entergy is now fighting on appeal. It will not stop the plant from getting a new license or operating for another 20 to 40 years.
Recently Entergy announced, boasting with renewed confidence that nothing the public could do would derail their new license, that they were going to start dumping 500.000 gallons of contaminated waste water into the Hudson river. By now anti-nuclear organizers along the Hudson are so beaten, they'd let Entergy get away with anything.
Which is why we need a national anti-nuclear movement to take over the fight to shut down Indian Point. Local organizers have failed. It's been a constant stream of divide and conquer, petty quarrels, missappropriation of money, resources, and research materials, undermining from within.
I'm told there are only two ways to shut down a nuclear power plant. The NRC has to want to, or a sitting U.S. president has to write a decree. Obama could shut down Indian Point!
Will Robert Kennedy Jr. who has been deafeningly silent concerning Indian Point in the last two years, side with the nuclear is clean and green and the solution to global warming gang, or remember his past allegiance to the anti-nuclear movement, especially now that so much data is reaching the maintream about the links between radiation and breast cancer?
Obama is sending mixed messages. You can't support Van Jones's Green Collar Jobs initiative, while at the same time, support the relicensing of old, dangerous nuclear power plants. The two are mutually self-exclusive. Obama's presidency may not resolve the ideological riff between the anti-nuke and pro-nuke camps, but at least, it would seem, a genuine dialog may become possible.
Once again, the GE EdgeLab at UConn in Stamford, Connecticut, has extended a standing offer to provide their think tank facility for a meeting of the minds between the two camps, pro-nuclear engineers, and anti-nuclear scientists. If President Obama, long time Riverkeeper member Robert Kennedy Jr. and John Rowe are ready to put all the data on the table, General Electric has offered the conference center for that closed session.
Aging nuclear power plants are a great risk to our endocrine system. They will all need to be shut down within the next 20 years, over 400 of them worldwide. There is no active strategy in place to handle such a Gargantuan task. We're robbing Peter to pay Paul, threatening the future of the human race. We should not be building new reactors until we have solutions to the old ones. This will require international collaboration.
Let me remind everyone of what John Hall said to the NRC official, shutting down Indian Point would be a great way to start a positive dialog between all parties involved, and once again, the CT Technology Council is offering all Union members currently working at Indian Point new jobs in the green economy. Let's replace nuclear radiation with solar radiation. Future generations will thank us for it.
Director, Rock The Reactors
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
First, naval nuclear power has some advantages over civilian nuclear power. First is size. the naval reactors are much smaller than civilian reactors, and are of a different design, so they are moire self-contained than civilian reactors, and they are in a much more restricted environment, which tends to make them a bit safer--clearly the Navy doesn't want it reactors to be blowing up all the time, so they take great pains to build in heavy safety safeguards, and profit is not an issue, so if they need an extra safety valve, radiation monitor or better fire protection, they put it in. reactor personnel are very thoroughly trained, since they cannot call on the manufacturers for help when they are at sea, and, of all the departments that make up the ship's company, only the reactor department is always fully staffed and never subject to being moved to other duties, either temporarily or permanently.
That said, one must always remember that the function of naval ships is, when necessary, to sail in harm's way. We have never had one of our nuclear ships engaged in a battle at sea where shots, bombs or missiles were exchanged, so we have never had to face the prospect of the contamination that might result from a breached reactor in battle. I suspect that it would not be insignificant. However, we have had two nuclear submarines lost at sea, and the Russians more than two.
Neither of our lost subs were carrying nuclear missiles. Both the Thresher and the Scorpion were lost in deep sea accidents. They were both "attack" subs, rather than ballistic missile subs. Scorpion was returning tot he US from an operational deployment when it's accident occurred (circumstances not known for sure and all suggested causes have been rather controversial) so it was carrying nuclear weapons, but not missiles, probably just torpedoes). Thresher was on a test voyage after a major overhaul and so was carrying no weapons at all. Whether either reactor was destroyed in the accidents, I do not know, but it is known that neither reactor was involved in the cause of what happened.
All reactors, land-based or sea-based, discharge more or less small amounts of radioactive water, mostly containing tritium. Ships are supposed to catch the water to be released and bring it back to port with them, but it doesn't always happen, as recent admissions about radioactivity releases in Japanese waters reveals. It is worthy of note that at one point, the Navy had in its inventory, a submarine detector that worked by looking for the gamma radiation emitted by all reactors, which ended up in discharged water into the boat's wake.
So how long does one submarine last for?
Not being a submariner, I don't know the answer to that question, but it's at least 15 years, maybe more. I think you can figure out the answer by looking at the commissioning and decommissioning dates for nuclear submarines in "Jane's Fighting Ships," which includes that kind of data. It might also be found in Wikipedia.
I left Enterprise in 1969, as it was entering the shipyard for its second refueling, which was scheduled to put reactors in that had a 15-year lifetime. So it has been refueled at least once since then, probably around 1985 (I retired from the Navy in 1976, so didn't follow those details much after that). Whether the reactors installed in 1985 had a 20-year lifetime or a longer one will determine if it has been refueled a fourth time. In any event, that one is likely to be its last, since it has now been in service for over 50 years, a very long time for a warship. It will be refueled a fourth time (if it hasn't already), and it is scheduled for decommissioning sometime around 2030, by which time it will have been in service for 75 years.
But submarines have a much shorter lifetime, especially modern ones with maximum depths well in excess of 1500 feet. Cycling to and from those extreme pressures accelerates the metal fatigue of the hull, and that is mainly what limits their useful lifetime. Nuclear reactor lifetime can be adjusted to pretty much whatever limits are imposed by hull life.
USS Thresher (SSN-593) (sank, 129 killed)
USS Scorpion (SSN-589) (sank, 99 killed)
Both sank for reasons unrelated to their reactor plants and still lie on the Atlantic sea floor.
 Russian or Soviet
Komsomolets K-278 (sank, 42 killed)
Kursk K-141 (sank recently, 118 killed)
K-8 (loss of coolant) (sank, 42 killed)
K-11 (refueling criticality)
K-19 (loss of coolant)
K-116 (reactor accident)
K-122 (reactor accident)
K-123 (loss of coolant)
K-140 (power excursion)
K-159 (radioactive discharge) (sank recently, 9 killed)
K-192 (loss of coolant)
K-219 (sank after collision, 4 killed)
K-222 (uncontrolled startup)
K-314 (refueling criticality, 10 killed)
K-320 (uncontrolled startup)
K-429 (sank twice, 16 killed)
K-431 (reactor accident)
The Soviet icebreaker Lenin is also rumored to have had a nuclear accident. While not all of these were reactor accidents, since they happened to nuclear vessels, they have a major impact on nuclear marine propulsion and the global politics. Many of these accidents resulted in the sinking of the boat containing nuclear weapons on board, which remain there to this day.
See also: List of military nuclear accidents
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I received 18% of the votes in the State House District 135 of Connecticut
against John Stripp, GOP (i) 5,237 81%
Remy Chevalier, Green 1,215 19%
Monday, November 3, 2008
There's now 95 comments below it... and for good cause, the author came right out and said it!
And I quote:
"... radiation is the only known cause of breast cancer in mice."