I have an important request for Atomic Insights readers. Our old friend, Arnie Gundersen, has once again violated the admonition that it is better to remain silent and thought to be a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
In this recent video, he describes how he was commissioned by a group called the AP1000 Oversight Group to find fault with the AP1000 design so that its nearly complete design certification process can be delayed once again. What I am asking for you to do is to pick apart the lies that the video contains. References and links are welcome.
Here is a start – Gundersen (spelled as Gunderson in some reports) continues to assert that the fuel pool for the Fukushima Daiichi unit 4 “blew up” despite the fact that both the NRC report and the INPO timeline report on the accident events clearly state that the fuel in the pool was never uncovered and that the source of the hydrogen that caused the explosion came from a cross connected pipe from the unit 3 containment vent.
According to the way I read the NRC Fukushima task force report, the real problem with the spent fuel pools was a result of overactive imaginations on the part of “conservative” responders. Because the NRC response center participants were unsure of the conditions in the fuel pools, they assumed the worst and recommended potentially hazardous actions to evacuate American citizens. Here is the quote, which the report authors phrase a little differently. (pg. 45)
The lack of information on the conditions of the fuel in the Fukushima spent fuel pools was a significant problem in monitoring the course of the accident and contributed to a poor understanding of possible radiation releases and to confusion about the need and priorities for support equipment.
(In the Navy, that kind of language in a report might be labeled as CYOA.)
Gundersen continues to assert that there is something going on in the Fukushima reactors called an “inadvertent criticality” despite the fact that there has been no criticality in any of the Fukushima Daiichi units since seconds after the initial earthquake caused the reactors to scram. The incredibly tiny quantities of fission product gases that were reported a couple of weeks ago were determined to be from spontaneous fission, a process that nuclear engineers understand happens at a predictable rate in formerly operated reactor with minor actinide build up.
My final contribution to the debunking effort is my utter disbelief of Gundersen’s characterization of the AP1000 design certification as having been “fast tracked.” The NRC has been reviewing the advanced passive concepts that support that certification effort since it received the application for the AP600 in the early-mid 1990s.
The AP1000 was, in fact, certified in January 2006 but then the NRC changed the rules on aircraft impact protection and the company determined that there was a better way to assemble concrete containments. The previously certified design was revised and the application resubmitted in May 2007, about 56 months ago. Westinghouse has submitted three additional revisions since then to respond to various concerns and questions. The design certification process for the AP1000 has been anything but a “fast track process” and the NRC has been excruciatingly thorough in its evaluation of the design.
Please continue the debunking effort in the comment section. I am looking forward to reading what you have to say; I have taken a day of vacation so that I can visit Washington, DC. I will be attending an event announcing the release of what promises to be an interesting report from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) titled Small Modular Reactors: Key to Future Nuclear Power Generation in the U.S.